Point of Beginning

Letters to the Editor

August 27, 2003
POB readers sound off on topics from recent issues.

Editor’s Note
June 2003

I too believe we need to do something to educate children [about] our profession. Last March, I was invited to give a presentation [about] my profession at a local junior high school’s job fair. I was asked to keep it short and to make it interesting with visual and hands-on aids, if possible. I decided on a Power Point presentation and one of our backpack GPS units for show. I [wove] Washington, Abe Lincoln and Henry David Thoreau, and three high-profile news stories/disasters with surveyor involvement together for this presentation. I asked the group if they knew what a surveyor was. The majority thought for a moment and [one] said, “They’re those people who ask questions.” I was slightly embarrassed for us at that moment, but knew I had an opportunity to plant a seed. I can say without question that this is one of the most important jobs I have ever done, but of course I didn’t realize it at the time. I found [many] of these young people to be interested and eager to [learn] how to get into the profession of surveying. All we need to do is show them the way.

D. Michael Jackson, PLS
via E-mail

Call Before You Dig
June 2003

Although I am not against one call [systems] as [they apply] to excavators, I strongly object to the concept that a surveyor automatically becomes an excavator once he picks up a shovel to search for property corners. I encountered a gas line placed illegally on an adjoiner’s property (without benefit of an easement). I asked for proof of easement but was quickly reported to the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) for not requesting a markout before setting monuments. I have since been harassed by BPU, offered a “settlement” of $5,000 and informed that if I did not accept the settlement, BPU would not only bring suit for $25,000 for not calling for markout for that one instance, but also that I would be sued for not having made any calls since.

Operators at One Call refuse to accept calls for markout for surveying since they consider this [to be] “design” [work], putting us further at risk. [So], we are forced to lie by saying we are digging when in fact we may only be uncovering buried property corners. I cannot conceive of calling for markouts in an area of several blocks that our surveying operations often cover.

In all the uproar, it appears that nobody has conceived of the idea that maybe it would be best if gas and other utility lines should be buried below 36" and out of harm’s way…

Since my adventures with the gas company, I have modified my proposals, making clients responsible for markouts and have resorted to setting far less property corners than we have traditionally been setting… [This is] not the way I would prefer to operate, but BPU fines could put me or many a small company out of business.

Richard E. Stockton, RLS
Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

The ideas and opinions expressed by our readers do not necessarily reflect those of POB. Send your thoughts to the editor atbrownl@bnp.com.