At the Pine Bush Central School District’s Board of Education meeting last Tuesday night, Michael Crosby, a radio frequency engineer at Verizon Wireless, provided a presentation for a mini cell tower that would improve phone reception in Circleville.
The objective of his project is to increase capacity and improve coverage in Circleville. This specifically pertains to Circleville Middle School, Pakanasink Elementary School, Circleville Elementary School, portions of Route 302, Goshen Turnpike, Susan Lane, Berry Lane, Alton Road as well as neighboring commercial and residential areas including the village/residential portion of Circleville.
The cell site in Scotchtown is currently overloaded and suffers from terrain challenges for radio frequency propagation. It is overloaded because it is the only cell site in the Town of Wallkill and provides coverage from a long distance. In order to obtain capacity from the cell site in Scotchtown, a new dominant server must be created. Verizon Wireless proposes that the current cell site attach its antennas to a new 62’ tall pole. This will provide the necessary coverage and capacity improvements needed.
After Crosby’s presentation, the board allowed for public comment. A question was asked regarding health concerns raised by the cell tower. Tim Mains, Superintendent of the Pine Bush Central School District, said that the mini tower gives off much lower electromagnetic transmissions than a major tower. He added that the chances of someone having health problems as a result of the mini cell tower are very low. The board decided to move along with the permitting process for the mini cell tower and approved a negative declaration, which is a document that states that after initial study there is no substantial evidence that the project may have a significant impact on the environment.
As this project goes through the permitting process, there will be additional public hearings. The faculty wants to improve cell phone service so calls can be made in the event of an emergency.
Mains noted that there were two instances during his early tenure where the shaky cell service failed in a time of emergency. One example occurred when a fight broke out at a modified basketball game. Many spectators attempted to call 911 and were unable to get a signal. Another instance occurred when an employee collapsed and two teachers attempted to call 911 but could not get a signal. The board hopes to improve cell phone service, so moments of terror and frustration like this do not happen again.