November 01, 2006

Springs Tower Tanked

The board of fire commissioners was split on the idea from the outset. Neighbors were anything but. They came out en masse in September, opposed to the notion of a giant cellular phone tower on the Springs Fire Department property on Fort Pond Boulevard. In response to the outcry, the commissioners have decided against moving forward.

This week, Ken Brabant, head of the fire district's board of commissioners, reminded that the district was merely investigating the notion of constructing a 125-foot wireless communications tower on its land in Springs. The idea was on the table as a revenue-producer that might lower residents' taxes.

During a public hearing on the idea earlier this fall, however, some 60 residents came out, with most passionately opposed to the tower. They cited both the aesthetic blight such a structure might entail, as well as its potential to damage nearby property should it fall.

The board went out to take a look at a similar tower soon after the hearing, Brabant and Bruce Bates, another commissioner, related. Traveling to the Cherry Creek golf course in Riverhead, and seeing the erection for themselves was a convincer. The "tower" itself is little more than a flagpole, Brabant explained, but all the accompanying equipment boxes are "just too big." They were "certainly unsightly," Bates concurred. The equipment boxes would require "significant screening."

A close-up view, combined with neighbors' opposition, served to tank the tower idea.

Suzanne Janis, whose home abuts the fire department property, was among neighbors thrilled with the news. "We applaud the efforts of the fire department in taking into consideration the concerns of their neighbors, and we're grateful to them," she said.

Paula de Seve was among the more vocal opponents to the idea. She commented: "Everyone on Talmage Farm Lane is delighted and relieved at the decision. The commissioners were apparently surprised by the strong resistance to the proposed tower and, having seen a similar installation in another town, realized the peripheral apparatus for the tower would overwhelm the firehouse property."

For de Seve, the best part of the exercise was community solidarity. "When the people of Springs got together and asked the commissioners to drop this plan, they were heard, and the commissioners responded as our neighbors."

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