First Selectman Dan Steward recently said that if he is elected to another term in November, his focus will be regionalization. But that effort could meet a setback if New London at Ocean Beach.
“If they put this tower up, that would harm regionalization,” Steward said. “There are other ways to enhance cellphone coverage in the area.”
Recently, non-profit organization Save Ocean Beach voted to approve putting a 140-foot cell phone tower at the New London-owned park, as the tower could bring in $1.2 million in revenue. But neighbors of the park from both New London and Waterford have opposed the plan, saying it would lower property values and would be an eyesore.
Steward agreed with the neighbors on both counts.
“I’m worried about aesthetics,” the first selectman said.
Meanwhile, such an obstructive tower doesn’t have to happen, Steward said. Instead, a 60-foot tower could be put on top of the Port 'N Starboard banquet hall to get cellphone reception. That would be far less of an eyesore, as opposed to a massive tower right near the parking lot, he said.
“This is the most beautiful beach they have,” Steward said of New London. “There are other opportunities that are not going to create all types of havoc with the community around it.”
Also, New London dispatch has issues in the area, and needs a radio tower. However, Waterford’s new $6.5 million dispatch center can cover all of New London, and is state-of-the-art technology.
To be part of the system, New London would have to buy new radios and other equipment, Steward said. That would still be cheaper than trying to fix it with radio towers, and it would bring the city into a state-of-the-art system, he said.
“It’s an opportunity for New London not to have to spend so much money,” Steward said.
Steve Alligood has been appointed as the spokesman of the group against the cellphone tower, which is composed of Waterford and New London residents. Having Waterford’s first selectman on board is great, he said.
“I’m very happy with the response from the town of Waterford and Dan, helping us research us this cellphone issue,” Alligood said. “’(Steward)’s been very supportive with everything we need.”
Alligood added that Steward, who worked for phone companies for 28 years, is “a wealth of knowledge on the subject.” With Steward’s help, the group is looking for other ways to solve the problem without having to put in a massive tower, Alligood said.
“There are other alternatives to getting cellphone reception,” Alligood said.
August 1 Meeting
On Aug. 1, the New London City Council will vote on approving the new cellphone tower. Steward and Alligood have both said they will be there, and both said they hope the council does not approve the project that night.
Patch called Councilman Wade Hyslop, who refused comment, saying the discussion will be held at the meeting. New London Mayor Martin Olsen and councilman and Republican candidate for mayor Rob Pero did not return Sunday afternoon voicemails.