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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Cell tower at Silver Hill to go up this summer

Published 5:16 pm, Thursday, May 8, 2014

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  • Frank Morabito, facilities manager at Silver Hill Hospital, 208 Valley Road, New Canaan, Conn., shows the future location of a cell phone tower in the northern section of the property on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Photo: Nelson Oliveira / New Canaan News
    Frank Morabito, facilities manager at Silver Hill Hospital, 208 Valley Road, New Canaan, Conn., shows the future location of a cell phone tower in the northern section of the property on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Photo: Nelson Oliveira

 

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After a decade in limbo, the cellphone tower at Silver Hill Hospital, 208 Valley Road, finally will be built.

Sigurd Ackerman, Silver Hill president and medical director, said the tower would improve cell service in an area where it "is awful."

"Some people here are able to get AT&T, but in some areas, signals are just unobtainable," he said. "And that's true for up and down Valley Road."

Ackerman said T-Mobile proposed building the tower on the site in 2002, but the hospital's board of directors at the time rejected the idea.

"We weren't interested," he said.

But in 2003, then-First Selectman Dick Bond "came to Silver Hill and asked if we would reconsider," according to Ackerman.

The board agreed to the project, but it took years of negotiation and planning until the Connecticut Siting Council approved the project in 2012. However, T-Mobile missed the deadline to begin the project and sold its lease to Phoenix Partnership, which will be in charge of the construction from now on, Ackerman said.

The plan is to have the tower up by the summer, he said, but it only will be running when all providers are ready to go.

Silver Hill's facilities manager, Frank Morabito, noted that the 120-foot tower will be a monopole unit, which means the antennas will be hidden inside.

The tower will be on the northern side of the Silver Hill property and will have room for up to three cellphone service providers. Ackerman said Verizon and AT&T are interested.

The project is separate from AT&T's proposed tower for the transfer station. The company wants to build a 150-foot cellphone tower at 394 Main St., where the transfer station is, but the project has not yet started.

Ackerman said Phoenix Partnership will be leasing at least 1,250 square feet of hospital land, but there's a pending request to increase it to 1,925 square feet.

First Selectman Robert Mallozzi said the tower at Silver Hill will be "super important" to New Canaan.

"It's taken a long time, but it'll dramatically increase cell service in that area of the town," Mallozzi said.

New Canaan's wireless reliability is low, mostly because of the town's topography. The town has a 25 percent wireless reliability, according to a 2013 report by the Utilities Commission.

Part of the reason why the town and the hospital are excited with the project is because of safety. Ackerman said communication with emergency services has proven weak in the past.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson