punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Ugh... my poor yard!

The Gas Company has decided to replace all our pipes in the neighborhood.

I was first alerted to this when a small set of construction equipment started at both ends of my long street, and started digging up people's yards asunder as well as stripes of the street. My son, when walking to school, has noticed that some people have lost significant portions of landscaping, and when they put back your sod, they toss some hay on it, and that's the end of that. A girl at his school said they got no warning, and one day, her garden was gone.

I wondered if they were coming to our house. At first it seemed as if they were only doing a few houses here and there, and I didn't know who it was because they are doing it with unmarked equipment. The men don't even have uniforms other than safety vests. Then it seemed they were not skipping as many houses as I thought, and in fact, now everyone's yards were getting ripped apart in a 2-foot wide stripe of sod that went from the street to who knows where in their back yard. Fences broken, bushes dug up and tossed aside... I began to worry. But I never got notice of anything even as both ends of the construction narrowed down to the middle where I lived.

Last week, I found a green notice in my yard (it was supposed to be a door tag, but oh well) that the Gas Company needed to "dig in your yard to access your meter." Then MSUTILITY sent some hobos to paint all over my yard where the lines were (again, no uniforms, anyarm thought they were burglars casing our house at first). The most alarming thing I noticed was the gas line goes under a large tree, then under my driveway, right to the house, banks left under the sidewalk around my house, and the goes under my sidewalk past the entrance to anyarm's apartment, and then to the meter. Oh. Shit. Are they going to dig up my driveway and the sidewalk right next to my house?

The tag had a number to call to schedule the appointment. No one answered at that number for a few days, but finally an answering machine picked up after the fourth call. Turns out, this is a guy's cell phone. But he did call me back the next day (a Saturday, even) to discuss the problems. Get this: our Gas Company hired this guy (named Mike) as a general contractor, which then hired companies to do the work for him. I suppose this is not too unusual, but right away there's the layers where people usually hide during "the blame game" when something goes wrong. I could tell Mike was a little stressed out, probably from being yelled at by people around here, and said he remembered our house the second I described what I saw.

"Yeah, what we can do it cut off the old pipe, and let it just sit underground. We'll lay new pipe in that space between you and your neighbor's house. We'll have to dig up your sidewalk on the side of your house the meter is on, but that's not so bad because most people had their in the back yard and lost their gate and fence as well." He also assured me he hired "some company" that will come by and replace the sidewalk and all the other damage they do. "They'll start sometime in late April," he assured me. I am not assured.

The trouble with his scenario is that there is no straight unobstructed line between the street and my house: it's occluded with large trees. The only "straight" path is already taken up by the power lines. And I think I know why.

* Our house used to be 10 feet shorter. When it was added on to, they rerouted the gas lines around the new space. Who "they" were I don't know, but I will tell you the former residents didn't do anything according to code, so it could have been "some guy."
* This also widened the driveway to fit two cars instead of one car like everyone else has.
* Two of the trees were not there when the addition was made. The maple tree next to my driveway was added right after the new addition was built in 1996, and the tree in the middle of me and my neighbor's house was added in 2001 by our neighbors; it's birch tree, and has gotten quiet big.

What I think they will do is cut down the birch tree, and possibly my maple tree, which is not that big a deal of a loss, really (the maple is growing roots into my driveway, buckling it, and it was planted in such a way its own roots seem to be strangling it). But I am rather upset and having my sidewalk ripped up. I am not comforted that "some company" will "fix it up." I suspect "no company" will "show up" or if they do, they'll lay down a line of gravel or put down a shitty set of slate stones or something. This will put the entrance to the guest apartment about a foot over naked bare ground, which will also be freshly dug. And given the previous messes they have made to all the other houses... I fear this will be a long fight.

I am going to take a lot of "before" pictures. I am not sure how this will help, but at the very least it will serve to the memory of my previous nice looking side yard.

And I have to spend time home from work that day so they can relight all my pilot lights and so on. Which means no heat while they work.

Any advice on how to lessen the pain or prepare intelligently for this?
Tags: gas, house, incompetence, utility, workers
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