The Scarsdale Village Planning Board last week approved Verizon Wireless’ applications to co-locate antennas on the communications mast atop the Scarsdale Public Safety building on Tompkins Road and Scarsdale Village Hall on Post Road.
The planning board determined that the two sites “were properly classified as eligible facilities and unanimously approved both applications” during the board’s meeting on March 22, according to Village Manager Rob Cole.
The approvals clear the way for Verizon to add its own cellular facilities at both buildings following the village board of trustees’ Feb. 28 vote to allow the telecommunications company to move ahead with its plan. Village hall already has operational AT&T services, as well as Sprint services that are no longer in service, while the public safety building has an emergency services radio antenna.
Verizon service could be improved by the new cellular facilities at some point between late summer to late fall, Trustee Sameer Ahuja previously told the Inquirer.
The village board of trustees’ vote last month allowing Verizon to start the process of adding its telecommunications facilities to village hall and the public safety building came after a contentious public comment session, both from residents in favor of fixing the longstanding cell service dead zone along the Post Road corridor, as well as from those who worried about the potential health impacts of the new cell services — which are expected to be within levels deemed safe by the Federal Communications Commission.
“I don’t understand how you can sleep at night,” Scarsdale resident Robert Berg told the village board of trustees at the Feb. 28 meeting after criticizing the plan for new cell towers, which will be only a few hundred feet from some surrounding homes. “If you vote in favor of this resolution, it would be an outrage. You don’t deserve to sit on this dais.”
Amber Yusuf and Ronald Schulhof, president and vice president of the Scarsdale Board of Education, respectively, advocated at the Feb. 28 meeting for the village’s plan to fix cellular service gaps around town, especially around Scarsdale High School.
“The board of education supports the village’s efforts to address telecommunication gaps and urges the village to continue prioritizing gaps that impact school property to enhance school safety,” Schulhof said. “The board of education appreciates a partnership with the village board on this issue. This has been a topic of conversation for some time. We know the significant amount of work undertaken by the village board, village management and technology advisory council’s work toward this stage.”
The heads of the Scarsdale Police Department, Scarsdale Fire Department and Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps all advocated for allowing Verizon to add new facilities to fix coverage gaps at a previous village board meeting on Feb. 28.
“Recent issues involving poor cellular coverage include responses to Quaker Ridge School, (and) the middle and high school, which were not drills, and each of these responses required communication between school officials, different sections of the police department command personnel and outside agencies, and the lack of service severely hampered our operational response,” Police Chief Andrew Matturo said Feb. 14.
The planning board voted 4-0 on March 22, with one member absent, to approve Verizon’s applications.
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