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Munsey Park antenna tower falls to community protest

A new tower erected by the Manhasset-Lakeville Water

A new tower erected by the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District, left, is pictured from Manhasset Woods Road in Munsey Park. (Oct. 16, 2013) Credit: Barry Sloan

A controversial antenna tower in Munsey Park is coming down nearly as quickly as it went up.

Two weeks after the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District erected a 190-foot antenna tower in a residential area of the village, sparking intense community opposition, district commissioners voted to take it down.

Donald O'Brien, chairman of the board of water commissioners, read a statement at the district's board meeting Tuesday, saying the board had thought the tower, erected next to an existing water tank on district property, posed "minimal disruption" to neighbors.

"We now know that we miscalculated on that score," he said.

The project was designed to address gaps in radio communications in the northern part of the district for fire, water and town officials, especially in emergencies.

But neighbors of the parcel protested at the district's Oct. 15 meeting, angry about what they said was a lack of communication about the district's plans and concerned about potential safety threats the tower posed.

The district halted work on the tower after the mid-October meeting, and now plans to remove the structure completely. The radio equipment will be attached to the water tank instead.

The district spent about $200,000 on the tower so far, and it will take an additional $55,000 to remove it, according to the district's attorney, Christopher Prior.

Sean Haggerty, deputy mayor of Munsey Park, said he was "ecstatic" about the district's decision.

"The lines of communication were open between the village and the water authority to help them understand the residents' feelings, and it came to a great solution," Haggerty said.

The district also decided to accelerate its plans to replace the 1920s-era water tank, and will design the new tank to hold the radio equipment in such a way that it won't always have to be removed during tank maintenance -- a costly process the district was trying to avoid by using the freestanding tower, Prior said.

He did not have an estimate of how much the radio configuration on the new tank would cost, Prior said.

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