Charlestown opposes installation of communications tower for emergency services

Charlestown opposes installation of communications tower for emergency services



CHARLESTOWN — The Town Council on Monday conveyed its opposition to the state’s plans to put a 178-foot emergency services radio tower along Route 1, saying the move is not in line with the town’s efforts to protect its historic character and scenery.

The four council members present, including returning member George Tremblay, voted to direct Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz to draft a letter to the Federal Communications Commission opposing the plan. The FCC is the regulatory agency that would approve the tower.

A one-month FCC public comment period on the project will close on March 27.

“It’s incompatible with all the effort we’ve made to maintain that scenic highway,” Tremblay said. “This thing would be an eyesore.”

The tower would be located off Route 1 northbound, about 182 feet from the state Department of Transportation’s salt storage garage on Cross Mills Road. Plans also call for construction of an equipment shelter and a diesel generator atop a concrete pad.  

It would also be adjacent to several homes along Old Post Road, including Donna Deyorio’s.

“It’s going to be visible from my backyard,” she said. “We’re known for our scenic views and people coming from miles to see all we have to offer. This would be a huge distraction. I would not want to go, ‘Oh, I want to go to that beach. Look at that beautiful tower.’ Somehow, it just doesn’t go together.”

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.

Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency Director Peter T. Gaynor said the tower would help to fill in several “dead spaces” of portable Motorola radio coverage for police, fire 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.

“We’re one of the few states with a complete border-to-border 800 MHz system,” Gaynor said.

Gaynor said the agency looked at several alternative sites, but that the 4782 Post Road site was the only “viable location” for the tower.

“It can only be in a few locations to be connected to the system and the network, and that it’s usable by police and fire personnel,” he said.

rblessing@thewesterlysun.com


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