Thursday, August 14, 2008

I-87 Adirondack Northway Cell Towers Update

The Glens Falls Post Star is reporting on recent permits approved for cell towers along the Northway (I-87):

The applications recently approved include several Verizon permits in Warrensburg, Chestertown, North Hudson and Schroon Lake. Verizon plans eventually to operate 18 towers near the Northway, from Lake George all the way to Peru, just south of Plattsburgh.

Earlier this month, the Park Agency approved a permit to construct a 100-foot tower on Route 9 in Lewis that is expected to cover three miles north and south of the site along the Northway, near Exit 32.

In September, the Park Agency will decide on another Verizon application for a permit in Chesterfield, near Keeseville at Northway Exit 34.

One of the biggest issues with the towers has always been the destruction of the Adirondack viewshed, which is crucial to the tourism industry. The APA’s towers policy is being credited by John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council for the swift and appropriate placement of new towers:

The Lewis tower will not interrupt the park scenery for passersby, as it will be hidden from view by a hill and trees, [Adirondack Park Agency Spokesman Keith McKeever] said.

Advocates for environmental preservation, who previously expressed concern over the development of cell phone towers in the region, are pleased with the recent wave of applications and approvals, including the one in Lewis.

“They carefully picked a site that was going to be away from public view and made it large enough to carry more than one company,” said The Adirondack Council’s director of communications, John Sheehan. “That’s exactly the way we were hoping they would carry out the communication expansion in the park.”

Sheehan credited the Park Agency for making its requirements for tower development clear to phone companies. The agency requires that towers be built on sites that aren’t highly visible from roadways and other public areas.

If it’s true, it will be another example of private-public cooperation in protecting the park’s natural resources, but as Adirodnack Almanack predicted over a year ago, there will still be plenty of areas that will not be reached by cell service:

Some gaps in reception, or dead zones, will still exist, [APA Spokesman McKeever] said. “There’s going to be some dead zones when you’re going through a mountainous region like this.”

McKeever recommended people use emergency boxes located every two miles on the Northway if they have an emergency in a dead zone.

Neither of the two people killed on the Northway during severe weather last year would have been helped by a call box, and it’s yet to be seen if the new towers are going to cover the areas where they died.

The cell phone issue was named #1 on Adirondack Almanack’s Top Stories of 2007.

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John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John's Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.




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