June 8, 2012

Pound Ridge goes Third World

Even Charles Dickens couldn’t have imagined a longer or more tortured process than the one Pound Ridge has gone through to build a cell tower in Scotts Corners.

T-Mobile’s approach to constructing a tower on the ambulance corps property at 89 Westchester Ave. has been a mystery to town officials. After three years of seeking approval to build a cell tower in Pound Ridge, T-Mobile served a lawsuit on the town on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010.

T-Mobile was issued a permit more than a year ago. Now it is Pound Ridge residents who are left on hold — desperately seeking service. That leaves the community completely in limbo.

Without this tower, the companies that could co-locate to provide service — Verizon, AT&T and Sprint — can’t do business. Nor can their customers, the residents and working people of Pound Ridge. The lack of an agreement with Verizon is particularly worrisome, since this is by far the most popular service among Pound Ridge residents.

The most compelling reason to bring cell service to Pound Ridge is for emergency services response. There is no 9-1-1 service for cellphones, an untenable situation in the heart of the town. Even with the cellphone signal boosters known as “femtocells” that are used by some businesses in town, cell service is woefully inadequate.

In this day of wireless and digital communications, very few businesses can operate without cell service. If the town wants to build a retail tax base, it has no chance. In this day and age, people expect to have seamless cell service. This hole may be quaint in a town that prides itself on its historical heritage, but that doesn’t mean we want to go back to outhouses and candlelight. We wonder how much risk is actually incurred by the lack of coverage in a community only 40 miles from the heart of New York City.

No steps were taken by T-Mobile to renew the structure’s special use permit until two weeks ago, when a half-completed form was submitted with missing information. The town bounced it back to T-Mobile for completion. Building inspector Jim Perry said that the completed application was received on May 30, 11 days after expiration.

What are the reasons for the T-Mobile delay? We’ve asked them a number of times, and we’ve gotten statements none too illuminating.

“There are approvals needed, and that process will secure necessary permits, and following that, I will be better able to give you a time line,” Jane Builder, a spokesperson for T-Mobile, said last summer.

Then, in mid-December: “Our goal remains to improve wireless coverage in Pound Ridge by constructing the site at the ambulance corps. We have recently come to a settlement agreement with the town, which includes several requirements for us to accomplish before we can continue. At this time, our focus is on completing our compliance with the settlement agreement so that we can bring this site on-air next year.”

May 2012: “T-Mobile’s goal remains to improve wireless coverage in Scotts Corners by developing a wireless facility at the ambulance corps. Until recently, we were fulfilling the requirements of a settlement agreement with the town, a necessary step before we could continue with the construction process. We now look forward to beginning the actual construction of this facility, which will include obtaining all necessary permits and developing a schedule for completion.”

Deputy Town Supervisor Jon Powers summed it up best: “I have no idea what they are talking about.”

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Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

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  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

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  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

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  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


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  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

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Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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