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Decision on Old Field cellphone pole postponed until election

Old Field officials will wait until after village elections next month before deciding whether to approve construction of a cellphone pole, Mayor Michael Levine said.

He said last week that he wants to await the seating of two new village trustees before voting on the plan to build a 140-foot monopole in Kaltenborn Commons, a 3-acre village-owned park at Quaker Path and Old Field Road.

Trustees Timothy Hopkins and Robert Whitcomb are not seeking re-election in the March 20 vote and will be replaced on the five-member village board by two new trustees, said Levine, who is seeking a new term.

Levine, who said he opposes the monopole, said the earliest the village board would vote on the plan would be May.

“I want this responsibility to be shouldered by the incoming board, rather than the outgoing board,” Levine said. “This may be a dead-in-the-water issue, depending upon how the incoming board looks at it.”

Village officials are weighing whether to approve the use of the park for the pole. If they do, they would hire a vendor to construct and operate the facility, Levine said.

While he and many residents concede that cellphone service is poor in the tiny North Shore village, many are opposed to building a monopole near homes. Some residents have cited fears that the pole would emit dangerous radio waves; others said the pole would be ugly.

“Even though we have a problem with cellphone coverage, I think monopoles are unsightly,” Levine said. “I know if I had a piece of property within sight of a monopole, I wouldn’t be happy about it.”

An earlier plan to build the pole near a former lighthouse fell apart when the U.S. Coast Guard did not provide written permission to use the site for that purpose, Levine said.

Village resident Jeff Schnee, a former trustee, said he is forming a citizens advisory committee to seek alternatives to the monopole. He said residents should consider purchasing Wi-Fi equipment for their homes.

“A 140-foot tower probably is not the most appropriate way of providing cell service, especially when there are already ways of providing cell service,” he said. “There’s a lot of different alternatives that we can look at.”

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