MTA Agrees to Move Monopole

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Tarrytown Residents Triumph:

 

by Alexan­der Roberts – 

The end came in a dra­matic state­ment by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) shortly be­fore 10 p.m. on the eve of the MTA’s monthly board meet­ing. The agency that had hastily erected a 150-foot mono­pole ad­ja­cent to the Franklin Courts pub­lic hous­ing com­plex an­nounced it would take it down by March 2019.

“The MTA has com­mit­ted to re­mov­ing the mono­pole from the Tar­ry­town Train Sta­tion site and re­lo­cat­ing its es­sen­tial law en­force­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment. We have worked with our part­ners at the Thruway and the State Po­lice to iden­tify al­ter­nate sites, and we are con­fi­dent we will be able to find one that can be ac­ti­vated by March. That means we do not ex­pect to put the Tar­ry­town Train Sta­tion tower into ser­vice and will be able to dis­man­tle it.”

The MTA Po­lice said the tower, which ap­peared on Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 15th, was crit­i­cal to its sys­tem-wide plan to en­hance emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tions.  With its late night state­ment, the au­thor­ity hoped to blunt a furor that had united the Tar­ry­town com­mu­nity.

In ex­er­cis­ing its pre­rog­a­tive as a state agency to by­pass lo­cal zon­ing, the Au­thor­ity sited the mono­pole just 30 feet from the Franklin Courts play­ground.  This would have been il­le­gal un­der vil­lage land use reg­u­la­tions be­cause it lies in a ra­dius where col­lapse could en­dan­ger chil­dren in the play­ground and more than a dozen homes.

STAND­ING ROOM ONLY

 At a pub­lic meet­ing on the is­sue or­ga­nized by David McKay Wil­son, Tax Watch Colum­nist for The Jour­nal News, there was stand­ing room only at Vil­lage Hall.   Speaker af­ter speaker de­nounced the MTA for by­pass­ing the nor­mal zon­ing process, plac­ing low-in­come ten­ants in Tar­ry­town’s only pub­lic hous­ing at risk, and de­spoil­ing views of the Hud­son River.

“It’s an out­rage,” said New York State Sen­a­tor An­drea Stew­art-Cousins, “when you  can wake up  and find some­thing like this in your back­yard ad­ja­cent to a play­ground and out­side some­one’s win­dow.”

Sen­a­tor Stewart-Cousins joined As­sem­bly­man Tom Abi­nanti, Tar­ry­town Mayor Drew Fix­ell, and  res­i­dent Dan Hanover on a panel mod­er­ated by Wil­son.  The MTA de­clined to send a rep­re­sen­ta­tive. As­sem­bly­man Abi­nanti said the tower, “looks like a big fin­ger stick­ing up in the air.”

TOWER LA­BELED “MON­STROS­ITY”

But the drama of the night came from cit­i­zens stirred to ac­tion by an ef­fort led by long-time res­i­dents Dan and Nancy Hanover, who started a pe­ti­tion against the mono­pole that gar­nered 300 sig­na­tures on Change.org. “We saw this mon­stros­ity on our front porch and we were told there was noth­ing we could do about it,” they said.

Charles Dick­ens, a re­tired teacher liv­ing at Franklin Tow­ers of­fered to or­ga­nize res­i­dents of pub­lic hous­ing. He noted, “They picked that spot be­cause they fig­ured that low in­come peo­ple would­n’t com­plain be­cause they’re too busy with day to day liv­ing.”

Mayor Fix­ell ac­cepted crit­i­cism from sev­eral res­i­dents who said he should have done more to op­pose the cell tower when it was pro­posed in 2015.  The mayor said the vil­lage did, in fact, com­mence a com­plaint be­fore the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion that year, charg­ing vi­o­la­tion of the Na­tional His­toric Preser­va­tion Act be­cause of the tow­er’s im­pact on the view­shed of the his­toric Tar­ry­town Train Sta­tion.  The FCC de­nied the com­plaint in March of this year, clear­ing the way for con­struc­tion. “We can’t go back in time,” said Mayor Fix­ell, “but we can move for­ward.”

VIL­LAGE PRO­POSES AL­TER­NA­TIVE SITES

The vil­lage sub­se­quently pro­vided the MTA with four al­ter­na­tive sites that would re­duce the vi­sual im­pact and not threaten lo­cal homes.

The sites of­fered in­clude the new New York State Po­lice bar­racks on Pauld­ing Av­enue, which will have its own ar­ray of an­ten­nas, the Tar­ry­town wa­ter tank in the south­ern part of the vil­lage, a park­ing lot owned by the vil­lage along Green Street near Losee Field, and the tourist build­ing at the end of the shared use path for the Mario Cuomo Bridge. An MTA source told The Hud­son In­de­pen­dent that se­lec­tion of one of those sites was “highly likely.”

Vil­lage Ad­min­is­tra­tor Richard Slinger­land pro­moted in­for­ma­tion about how the pub­lic might speak be­fore the MTA Board at its monthly meet­ing Oc­to­ber 24th, ramp­ing up pres­sure on the MTA.

Al­though most res­i­dents de­cided not to at­tend af­ter learn­ing of the MTA’s de­ci­sion, life­long Tar­ry­town res­i­dent and mother, Haydee Mc­Carthy, did tes­tify.  Af­ter thank­ing the board for its de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate the mono­pole, she asked that Tar­ry­town res­i­dents be al­lowed to be part of the re­lo­ca­tion process. She commented,  “We will not be sat­is­fied with just shift­ing this into some­one else’s back­yard. … We will not be go­ing away un­til our homes and our chil­dren are pro­tected.”

Editor’s note:  This story has been amended to delete an assertion in the original version that the village might be willing to share revenue for rental space on a relocated tower. Mayor Fixell has since clarified that Tarrytown will not allow commercial antennas to be co-located on any pole on village-owned property.

 

 

 

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