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***CHIEF ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR NEW TOWER***

After more than forty years, the Town will be losing its emergency communications antennas on Cedar Mountain, Police Chief Stephen Clark has announced.  The State of Connecticut has generously provided the Town with broadcasting space on the roof of the former Cedarcrest Hospital for decades, but as that facility is gradually mothballed, and eventually demolished, the State has notified the Town that it needs to make other arrangements.

Accordingly, a variety of alternatives have been examined for maintaining police, fire and ambulance communications without disruption.  After a series of discussions with Tilcon, Connecticut, the owner of the Balf quarry on Hartford Avenue, the Town has been offered a new site on Cedar Mountain, adjacent to Balf’s old radio tower at the edge of the quarry.  The plan calls for the Town to lease an approximately 10,000 square foot parcel of land, construct a new Town-owned tower and demolish the existing Balf radio tower.  The initial agreement would be for a period of 25 years, at $1.00 per year, and renewable for an additional 25 years.

At 175 feet in height, the new modern monopole type tower would be only several hundred feet north of the existing hospital roof, but somewhat higher.  The rusty lattice type 100 foot high Balf tower, built for two-way radio communications between trucks and the quarry, would be dismantled and recycled.  Chief Clark noted “The added tower height will improve communications throughout the Town.  Moreover, a modern tower would be the first step in implementing an up-to-date digital technology system for all of Newington’s emergency communication needs.”

Use of the tower would be restricted to public and not-for-profit entities and Balf.  No cellular or private communications equipment would be allowed.  Therefore, the number of antennas on the tower would be limited and would not contain the arrays of bars and panels commonly visible on private cell towers.

To fund the work, Chief Clark has included a request for $240,000 in the Capital Improvement Plan budget currently being developed by Town Manager Tanya Lane.  The Town Council will be considering that line item as part of the entire capital plan for fiscal year 2017-2018.  Assuming the Town Council approves the expenditure, the new tower could be constructed and operational in the Fall of 2017.