NEW CANAAN, Conn., -- When Dr. Sigurd Ackerman’s cellphone rings in his office at Silver Hill Hospital, it illustrates the reception problem in the Valley Road area of New Canaan.
“Hello…hello…hello, I can’t get it,” said Ackerman, putting his cellphone away. It's just another example of poor to nonexistent cell phone coverage in that part of town.
But that may become a thing of the past after work started Thursday on the 1,925-square-foot lot where a new 120-foot monopole tower should be built in the next two months. It will be located on the northwest corner of the hospital, which is located at 208 Valley Road.
T-Mobile originally proposed a 150-foot tower in 2002 at the city of Norwalk’s 1st Taxing District water treatment plant, which is next door to the hospital, said Ackerman, president of the not-for-profit psychiatric hospital.
However, that plan drew opposition from neighbors. In 2003, then-First Selectman Dick Bond approached the hospital about placing a cell tower on its property.
Ackerman said the hospital ultimately agreed to the idea.
The project proceeded in fits and starts. T-Mobile had to return to the Connecticut Siting Council to get approval for the tower after its original approval expired, he said.
T-Mobile then decided to step back and sold its lease to Phoenix Partners, Ackerman said. Verizon Wireless and AT&T will be located on the tower.
“Everybody is eager to have this happen,” he said. “Nobody is going to drag their feet here.”
Although cell coverage will improve for the area, it may not be any better on the hospital grounds. The signal will be directed out to the surrounding area and not down to the its property.
Ackerman said he’s hoping something can be done to adjust the signal to allow the hospital to have a strong signal.
Frank Morabito, the hospital’s facilities manager, said that when T-Mobile originally began the process, its engineers believed the town needed 10 to 12 cell towers. Morabito said the hospital’s tower is only the second.
“I hope it works out well for everybody, our neighbors, Silver Hill,” Morabito said.
Some in town have grumbled that the hospital agreed to the tower in order to make money from the rent, Ackerman said. He said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We did it as an accommodation for the town,” he said, adding the hospital had to spend for legal work as well as for environmental and engineering consulting.
The tower will not be eyesore, Morabito said. It won’t have any antennas sticking out because they will be located inside the pole, he said.
Ackerman said the tower could be ready by late summer or early fall.
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