Utilities Commission

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Utilities Commission: Consultants Studying Whether Irwin Park House’s Garage Could House Cell Service Equipment

A Danbury-based wireless infrastructure company that’s doing consulting work for the town continues to look for an alternative site within Irwin Park after the community argued against a proposed tower in the property’s southwest corner, officials said Monday. Homeland Towers is looking at the garage that’s connected by a breezeway to the main house at Irwin to store “all the equipment so it would be out of sight,” according to Utilities Commission Chairman Tom Tesluk. “The idea of placing an antenna or two shorter antennas behind the garage—we are not talking about the barn toward Weed Street, but the garage up on the hill—because that is a higher elevation of what was discussed before, it should have some benefit with its relative height,” Tesluk said at the group’s regular meeting, held in Town Hall. “I don’t think we will see anything from them until September.”

The comments came during an update on New Canaan’s efforts to improve cell service in areas that currently lack it, such as western and northern parts of town. Commissioners in May, noting that some remarks had been uncivilly delivered by opponents to the idea in a public hearing, agreed to find alternative sites to West School and a specific area of Irwin Park. Continue Reading →

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Town, Eversource To Ink Deal Bringing Natural Gas to New Canaan Starting Next Year

The town’s highest elected official on Monday night said he’s poised to sign an agreement that will bring natural gas to New Canaan public buildings, businesses and some homes, signaling the introduction in earnest of a widely anticipated energy source following years of stop-and-go efforts. First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and representatives from Eversource unveiled a plan to bring a 4.7 mile “trunk line” up Route 106 from Stamford to serve New Canaan High School, South School, Saxe Middle School, the YMCA and Waveny Care Center, as well as East School, in 2018. After that, Eversource’s program manager for gas expansions, Chris Luca, told members of the Utilities Commission at their regular meeting, the company in 2019 will lay an additional five miles of lines to bring natural gas to residences along the South Avenue corridor, from Farm Road toward the downtown. Additionally, Eversource will offer natural gas to residences where it makes sense along the route to East School—the proposed route calls for a line to run down Harrison and then up Main and along Lakeview to the school. And then in 2020, the natural gas line build-out will come to the business district, Luca said. Continue Reading →

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Town Officials Decry Lack of Civility from Cell Tower Critics, Agree To Pursue Alternatives

Taking to heart residents’ concerns about proposed cell towers at Irwin Park and West School, especially with respect to people’s health, town officials said Monday night that they’re actively looking at alternatives. During a meeting that saw members of the Board of Selectmen and Utilities Commission admonish some for what they called disrespectful and uncivilly delivered remarks at a recent public hearing, officials said they’ve asked consultants to find out whether a different location in Irwin would still work and whether there are alternative sites in western New Canaan to the elementary school there. “We are going to set aside West School for now while we look for different choices,” Utilities Commission Chairman Tom Tesluk said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and attended by about 15 people. The commission has discussed its early-stage proposal since last week’s public hearing and concluded that “coming up with additional options and alternatives is an important part of what we are going to enter into.”

Specifically, the commission has asked consultants from Boca Raton, Fla.-based wireless telecom consulting firm Cityscape to look at relocating a proposed cell tower from the southwest corner of Irwin “up the hill, closer to the garage” and “to actively explore and determine what we would need up there” to achieve sufficient cell coverage in that part of town, Tesluk said. “With respect to West School, it is a trickier situation because at the moment finding alternative locations on the west side is difficult. But that is not to say that we are not going to look for alternatives. Continue Reading →

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Residents Clash with Utilities Commission Over Cell Tower Proposal

More than 100 New Canaan residents gathered at Town Hall Monday night to express their thoughts and ask questions regarding the Utilities Commission’s preliminary proposal to build cell phone towers at Irwin Park and West School in efforts to improve service in the north and west sections of the town. The meeting, which opened the floor to the public and was in session for more than three hours, was at times tense and acrimonious as residents and commission members clashed over how the process has gone thus far and how it could affect the town in both the short- and long-term. Utilities Commission Chairman Tom Tesluk opened with a presentation extensively detailing the plans for the proposed cell towers, but stressed that the purpose of the meeting was to garner feedback from residents and provide an opportunity for the consultants hired by the town for the project the chance to answer questions. He also reiterated that the official decision on the construction of the towers would ultimately be up to the Town Council and not the commission. “There has been a certain sense in this town, at a point, that maybe this is a done deal, maybe there’s been a Pearl Harbor sneak attack of powers, but I promise you there hasn’t,” he told the crowd. Continue Reading →

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Commission Seeks Feedback On Cell Tower Proposal

New Canaan residents are invited to public hearing to be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Town Hall to share their views on a proposal from the Utilities Commission to install 110-foot tall cellular towers at Irwin Park and West School. For the past several years the Utilities Commission, under the direction of the Board of Selectmen, has been studying various approaches to improving wireless coverage in town. The northern sections of New Canaan, in particular the northwest quadrant, suffer from serious wireless coverage gaps—some as large as 10 square miles—due to the town’s unique topography. Not only is this an inconvenience for residents, it also presents a serious public safety risk, as the town’s police, fire and EMS services all rely on cellular technology for emergency communications. During Thursday’s Town Council meeting, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said “there have been incidents in the past where people have tried to make 911 calls from the north section of town and have not been able to get through.” He said a few months ago, a tradesman who was working in the northwest corner of town seriously injured his leg and almost bled to death because he was unable to reach 911 using his cell phone. “There have also been incidents of motor vehicle accidents where people couldn’t get through,” Krolikowski told the council members, adding that people who have been in accidents have sometimes had to “drive toward town until they get a signal.”

Wendy Dixon Fog, captain of New Canaan EMS, added that emergency medical technicians rely on the cellular network to get data and information about patients while they are on scene or in transit. Continue Reading →

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