Arkville cell tower nears completion

Staff Report
Construction of a much anticipated cell tower is nearing completion in Arkville.
The tower went up rather quietly over the course of the last few weeks. Verizon, which is the wireless carrier, hopes to be able to put the tower to use in December. Permanent cell phone service for the Town of Middletown appears to be just weeks away.

“We’re going to be putting our equipment on that site hopefully by the end of the year,” said John O’Malley, the company spokesperson. “We’re waiting for electricity and land-line service as well.”
For the local tourist and real estate industries, the permanent wireless service could help provide the much-needed shot in the arm that they’ve have been looking for.

According to Eric Wedemeyer of Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties, many potential homebuyers and visitors stress the importance of being able to “stay connected” to their jobs in New York City.

Technology welcome
“We’re attracting a younger and technology savvy buyer who demands a high level of services,” said Wedemeyer. “It is important that we continue to recognize the changing demographics for our communities and cater to their needs for our future economic well being.”

The tower is located off county Route 38, which is commonly referred by local residents as “The Crossroads.” It’s been almost exactly a year since Margaretville businessman Peter Molnar and project consultant Allen Hinkley of Roxbury went before the Middletown Zoning Board of Appeals to request a zoning variance for the project. It was the first step of the plan to put a cell tower on a 19-acre subdivision of Molnar’s property.   Since then, a road has been built to provide access to the tower and easements have been obtained from owners of neighboring properties.

Neither Verizon nor SBA Communications, which built the cell tower, has been willing to comment on the cost of the project. Though it appears to be progressing right on schedule. According to Robert Czarniawski, SBA’s project director, his Boca Raton based-company is one of the largest cell tower owners in the nation with expertise in acquiring land, building sites and leasing space to carriers.

Some Middletown wireless customers might not notice much of a difference, since temporary service has been available for over a year. In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, the Margaretville Telephone Company worked with Verizon to provide service through a portable cell tower, known as a “Cell-on-Wheels” or COW located in Margaretville.

Other projects
“We’ll pull the mobile cell site out of there,” said O’Malley, but he explained that the COW won’t come down until the tower in Arkville is online first.

The project is the first phase of a broader plan to improve wireless service to much of the region. Cell tower sites have also been proposed for the Grand Gorge-Roxbury area, as well as for Andes.