On the quiet streets of the Westerleigh section of Staten Island, American flags wave from colonial homes and Blue Lives Matter ribbons are wrapped around trees.
And attached to utility poles are thin PVC pipes — and that has some residents angry.
"We're very concerned about the safety of the installation," says City Councilman Steven Matteo. "They sent in some pictures where some of the screws that were put in were loose, didn't look like they followed procedure."
Matteo says more than 25 people have called him to complain. The pipes were put up a month ago to create an eruv, a kind of symbolic fence that figuratively extends the boundaries of Jewish households, allowing activities in public like pushing strollers and carrying keys that are limited to the home on the Sabbath.
A local official says it was commissioned by a synagogue, Young Israel of Staten Island, without approval from Con Edison, Verizon, or the city Transportation Department.
A leaflet being circulated by the Westerleigh Improvement Society is encouraging residents to call utilities and elected officials to complain about the eruv. An attached news article touts the growing Orthodox Jewish community in Westerleigh and nearby neighborhoods, causing some to wonder whether the issue is really over the eruv at all:
"The implication is pretty clear that it's a matter of bigotry and it's not a matter of safety," says a local resident, Mendy Katzman.
In a sign of how sensitive the issue is, the Westerleigh Improvement Society declined NY1's request for comment, as did many longtime residents that we approached.
But lawn signs have appeared across the neighborhood, declaring "Not Selling: Westerleigh Strong," apparently a reaction to incidents of Orthodox Jewish people from Brooklyn offering to buy homes at prices above market value.
In response to multiple complaints about the eruv, Con Edison sent inspectors out to the affected areas. And while the utility says that proper procedures were not followed in erecting the eruv, it adds the eruv does not pose a threat to public safety.
Con Ed also says it is working with Young Israel of Staten Island to retroactively meet insurance and other requirements for the eruv approval or the pipes could come down.