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Damascus considers tower, budget

By Linda Drollinger
October 23, 2013

Verizon has submitted conditional-use applications for the installation of two broadband communications towers, one to be located on Jurgensen Road near Callicoon, NY and the other to be located on MacCubbins Road in Beach Lake. The announcement came from Damascus Township Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey Dexter at the board’s October 21 monthly meeting.

Dexter elaborated, saying that the towers are currently planned to provide broadband service only, which means that they will convey data transmissions (text and e-mail service) but will not provide voice calling service to cell phone customers. “Voice service is what the people of Damascus really want,” Dexter asserted, before remarking that the township could make that provision a condition of installation approval. Noting that both towers will bear tree camouflage, Dexter drew attention to what he thought might be the primary objection to the installations—a blight on pristine Delaware River Valley views.

Marty Kunstman, vice chairman of the Damascus Planning Commission, outlined five conditions to be negotiated with Verizon at the public hearing scheduled for November 25 at 7 p.m:

• Any roads damaged during the installation process will be restored by Verizon.

• Verizon will observe legal weight limits on all township roads during installation and maintenance of towers.

• All towers must have at least three arrays.

• The current plan for broadband use only should be expanded to include voice calling capability.

• The two towers planned for installation are inadequate to provide service to the entire township, providing service to the river valley only. How/when will the entire town receive voice calling capability?

The board next turned its attention to the first draft of the 2014 budget. Dexter acknowledged that the first attempt to produce and review a budget was marred by software glitches that had generated unreliable figures. However, migrating existing data from Quickbooks into Excel has created a viable first draft document to which the board can make necessary adjustments. The public is invited to Damascus Town Hall at 60 Conklin Hill Rd. for a hearing on the proposed budget that will convene at 7 p.m. on October 24.

In other news, volunteer firemen remind the public that October is Fire Prevention Month, an excellent time to change smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries and to replace electric smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are more than seven years old with a newer model. Newer models offering battery backup cost approximately $25.