May 27, 2010


College students leave behind memento

Shoes hanging from utility lines on Monroe Heights mark their departure

SneakersBob Ellis/staff photographer
Pairs of sneakers hang from utility lines over Monroe Heights.

Staff Reporter

Dozens of pairs of sneakers thrown over utility lines and hanging by their tied laces appeared in recent weeks around the SUNY Cortland area, joining others that had been there for a year.
They were most noticeable on the lower block of Monroe Heights, near Groton Avenue, where 21 pairs hung by their laces. Ten of them were clustered in front of 4 Monroe Heights, a house that was unoccupied this academic year.
The brands ranged from Nike to Reebok to others. A couple of pairs were women’s sneakers, including a pair of red Nike sports cleats that blew off its wire Wednesday.
Five other pairs hung on Lincoln Avenue.
College officials said they were unsure of the significance, if there was any.
In urban areas, sneakers dangling from utility lines is supposed to mean drug dealers are doing business in that location, but Cortland’s appeared to be thrown onto the lines by seniors as they prepared to graduate this past weekend.
That is the most likely reason, said Rich Peagler, SUNY Cortland’s director of counseling services.
“If it’s one pair, it might be a drunk student seeing if he can do it, but 25 pairs? That’s something else, a group effort,” Peagler said.
Mike Holland, assistant to the vice president for student affairs, said he had no explanation but had read that among other reasons, sneakers hung from a wire meant someone moving on, such as a senior, and also could mean a memorial.
The sneakers would have to be removed by whichever company owns the line, said Courtney Quatrino, National Grid spokeswoman. Most of the shoes on Monroe Heights hung on a cable belonging to Time Warner Cable, while others hung on lines belonging to Verizon or National Grid, according to a Time Warner technician who was working in the area.
“We do care about it. Any time anything is thrown or hung from a line, it’s dangerous,” Quatrino said Wednesday. “Those lines are highly energized. We warn the public to stay 10 feet from any line. Sometimes people get something caught in a line, like a kite, and want to retrieve it.”
John Bonomo, spokesman for Verizon, said his company has dealt with sneakers hanging from lines for years.
“You see them in old movies or old pictures,” he said. “There are many reasons why people hang sneakers. We will remove anything we need to, that impedes our technicians. One pair of sneakers, we wouldn’t bother, but a lot of pairs is a problem.”
Quatrino said sneakers usually end up on telephone lines because they hang lower than electric lines.

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