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Crane put up to test visibility of proposed cell tower in Smithtown

Developers used a crane to observe the aesthetics of a cell tower on West Main Street. Neighbors have said the tower would be an eyesore.

A crane was used to test the visibility

A crane was used to test the visibility of a proposed cell tower in Smithtown. Credit: Amy L. Plympton Fortunato

The giant crane standing over Smithtown on Tuesday morning wasn’t brought in to build anything but to act as a stand-in for a proposed cellphone tower.

Greg Alvarez, a lawyer for Elite Towers, the Deer Park-based developer that wants to build a 120-foot tower at 300 W. Main St., said the crane was part of an “aesthetic” test to see how much of the tower would be visible from a distance. 

Results were not immediately available but will be included with a town-ordered study of the environmental impacts of a tower built there. That study could be finished in the next two months, he said.

Alvarez has said that the tower is the best remedy for a gap in cellphone coverage in the area that can result in dropped calls and in 911 calls being erroneously routed to Connecticut. Skeptical neighbors have complained that the tower would be an eyesore in the environmentally sensitive area around the Nissequogue River.

The Smithtown Town Council will vote on approval of Elite’s application after Department of Environment and Waterways staffers evaluate the environmental impact report and recommend approval or disapproval.

Town spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo said the council would follow the DEW’s recommendation. Town boards usually, but not always, follow staff recommendations in such cases.

The tower would hold communications equipment for Verizon Wireless and AT&T as well as local first responders, including the town public safety department. Garguilo said first responders typically have the option to locate their equipment on cell towers.

Reaction from civic leaders was mixed. Amy Fortunato, who has run as a Democrat for town council, called it a “necessary ugly” to improve emergency cell coverage.

“I’m not in favor of approving that cell tower at that location,” said Tim Small, president of the civic association Smithtown United. Small said he supported searching for a less prominent site.

But Alvarez said that Elite’s preliminary location studies, based on available real estate, aesthetics and radio frequency analysis already submitted to the town, demonstrated that West Main Street location is superior.


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