Cellphone service for Verizon customers in Sag Harbor would be improved if the Village Board approves Verizon’s request to install an antenna in the cupola of the Municipal Building.
The company has also approached the village with a request to erect a 150-foot cell tower on the same village property in the Long Pond Greenbelt that caused an uproar when it was targeted for a new impound lot for the Village Police Department in 2018.
If a tower is built on the greenbelt property, Verizon has offered to allow other cell providers to piggyback on its tower.
The company has agreed to pay $12,000 a year, with 2 percent annual increases, for the use of the cupola. It has offered to pay $26,400 a year for the greenbelt property, also with a 2 percent annual increase. The lease for both sites would run five years with options to extend either one for up to 20 more years. If additional companies added equipment to the greenbelt tower, the village would receive a percentage of that revenue.
At a February 26 work session, Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said that if the village accepted the offers, revenue from the Municipal Building cupola would be earmarked for renovations so that the village “can keep this historic building standing.” Revenue from the greenbelt property would be earmarked for “environmental improvements,” including tree planting and water quality projects, both at that site and elsewhere in the village, the mayor said.
Police Chief Austin J. McGuire said cellular service in the village is poor and any improvements would be welcome. He told the board cell towers are designed to direct 911 to the appropriate emergency call center, which for Sag Harbor is the dispatch center at the Emergency Services Building in East Hampton. “Pretty much anyplace you call from in the village, you get the Town of Southampton,” he said. Transferring those calls takes valuable time in an emergency, he added.
Trustee Aiden Corish agreed that good service has become a necessity. “People depend on cellphone service now as the first point of contact,” he said. But before proceeding, he said the village needed to find out if it was getting a good deal or not.
Trustee James Larocca agreed, saying, “We have no idea what this is worth,” and adding that when he heard the offer he thought, “That’s no money.”
Village Attorney Denise Schoen said the village was required by law to get the best deal possible for taxpayers, and the board agreed it would obtain an appraisal before moving forward.
Dai Dayton, the president of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt, attended the meeting with the group’s vice president, Sandra Ferguson. Ms. Dayton told the board her group was not there to take a stand for or against the tower, but she read a statement voicing concern about continued development in the greenbelt, and citing two recent projects by PSEG Long Island.
The company last month agreed to pay approximately $29,000 for an easement to tunnel a power cable under the village property and a vernal pond in the greenbelt. It recently undertook extensive tree trimming along the power lines that run through the area.
She said her group was happy the village was now recognizing the parcel as part of the greenbelt and added it “should be accorded special attention” to protect it.
She urged the village to join Southampton Town, Suffolk County, and The Nature Conservancy, which invested millions of dollars to acquire land in the greenbelt, in doing its part to protect the area.
Trustee Thomas Gardella said the village should create a management plan for the property to delineate what the village can use and what must be protected.