Gardiner Highway Superintendent Brian Stiscia is hoping that the Town of Gardiner finds an alternative location for its proposed second cell tower.
Wireless Edge is seeking to get approval from the Town Board and the Town Planning Board to construct a 110-foot tower to improve cell phone coverage in the western portion of the town.
The proposed site is at 630 South Mountain Road where the 10-employee Town Highway Department is located.
Though Stiscia said he is neither for or against the tower, he feels its location on town property could be a danger to his workers.
Stiscia gave a tour of the proposed site of the cell tower to the Wallkill Valley Times and pointed out the massive tower would be just 50 yards from where his crew often works.
“The winds up here are very strong coming off that mountain,” Stiscia said, pointing at the scenic Shawangunk Ridge behind him. “You often get high wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour out of the north in the winter. My guys are working over here. You have a hundred-foot cell tower. What if ice comes off it? A one in a million shot, but one of my guys could get hit with a piece of ice. I’m just concerned about their safety. Safety is always a priority up here.”
Stiscia is also worried about the foundation where the cell tower will be located. The ground where it is supposed to be built is largely fill material.
“From what I was told, they (Wireless Edge) can get all their permitting first and then deal with the foundation later,” he said. “I find that kind of odd because you’re going through all this time and trouble to find out whether the foundation they’re going to put it on is substantial or not. To me, I’d want to know what I’m building on first.”
Stiscia, who has headed the town’s highway department since 2014, said the highway facilities could be moved to a more centrally located site in the town such as the transfer station in the future.
“This could be turned into park in the future because it is a beautiful piece of property,” he said. “If a cell tower goes up, I think it will lose its aesthetic value.”
Stiscia also understands the concerns of nearby property owners who have complained that the 110-foot tower will spoil the views of the Shawangunk Ridge and decrease the value of their homes.
Though a number of Central Hudson transmission lines are clearly visible on the Shawangunk Ridge, he said those were put on the ridge before most development began in this mountainous area of Gardiner.
“When you moved here, you knew that (transmission lines) were here and you accepted it,” Stiscia said. “Now they’re looking to put something here that was not here before.”
Stiscia then pointed to a nearby piece of property over the town property line.
“The guy that just bought this lot right here has to look at the cell tower,” he said.
Stiscia, who has been an EMS (Emergency Medical Services) worker for many years, said he certainly understands the importance of having good cell service in the town.
“I think the biggest thing is if it (the proposed tower) improves cell coverage,” he said. “If it really doesn’t, why build it?”
On April 5, a total of 22 speakers all voiced opposition to having a second cell tower at the proposed site at a Town Board public hearing on Wireless Edge’s application for a Special Use Permit for the tower. On April 12, the town board listened to a presentation by radio frequency engineer William Johnson to obtain more information about cell coverage from the proposed tower.
The board took no action after hearing Johnson’s report and kept the public hearing open until its next meeting in May.