Charlestown pitches existing site for emergency radio tower

Charlestown pitches existing site for emergency radio tower

CHARLESTOWN — Leaders in Charlestown are trying to persuade state officials that it makes more sense to improve emergency radio communications by using an existing transmission tower instead of  building a new tower off Route 1 at Cross Mills. 

Town officials met with Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency officials and Motorola two weeks ago to make their case.

“We don’t need a 10th communications tower in this town,” Town Council President Virginia Lee said. “We’ve got nine already. Can’t we use one we’ve got and not build a whole new one?”

Lee said the meeting with state officials took place at the police station, which has a radio tower.

“They came away impressed,” Lee said. “All of the power and cable lines go right by it.”

Next, state officials and Motorola will make an assessment of the site, Lee said. 

“We’re looking forward to them saying, ‘OK, we can do it at the police station,’” she said. 

Rhode Island EMA Director Peter T. Gaynor previously said the agency looked at several alternatives,  but that the site at 4782 Post Road was the only “viable location” for the 178-foot tower.

As recently as July, the council was contemplating legal action against the move, and in April it allocated $25,000 to take “any and all action” regarding the proposed tower.

The Emergency Management Agency proposed building the tower off Route 1 northbound on state land about 182 feet from the state Department of Transportation’s salt storage garage on Cross Mills Road.

The council voted to oppose the proposal in March and to notify the Federal Communications Commission. Councilors asserted that the structure alongside Route 1 would be an eyesore. They also questioned whether the state had thoroughly explored alternative sites.

The state designated Route 1 as a scenic roadway in 2002.

The tower is intended to be part of an 800-megahertz radio network proposed after the Sept. 11 attacks and built with federal Homeland Security money. 

It would augment an existing radio tower at the town’s police station by providing 800 MHz radio reception to areas of Charlestown that the existing tower does not cover.

Gaynor said the tower would help to fill in several dead spaces of portable Motorola radio coverage for police, fire departments and other emergency responders, such as the U.S. Coast Guard.

The state has 27 towers already installed as part of the $10.2 million system.

A decision on the tower’s construction ultimately rests with the FCC.


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