New Canaan Officials Still Want Cellphone Coverage

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Geoffrey Pickard, a member of the New Canaan Utilities Commission, wants more people to fill out a town survey on cell phone coverage. He also wants coverage to be improved. Photo Credit: Melvin Mason
New Canaan Emergency Management Director Mike Handler says he'd like to see cell phone reception improved in cases of emergency. Photo Credit: Melvin Mason

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – New Canaan Emergency Management Director Mike Handler says he would help in any way he could to improve cellphone service in town. But in the end, some people will have to deal with the sight of cell towers near their homes for it to happen, he said.

“Someone has to make a tough decision,” Handler said. “There’s no need for surveys. This is not a revelation.”

Handler offered his thoughts two weeks after Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to most of the town. While he and other emergency officials tried to reach out to residents in as many ways as possible before and after the storm, from using email, the postal service and updating the Office of Emergency Management’s Facebook page, Handler said New Canaan would be better served with better cell coverage.

In an ongoing survey on cell coverage, more than 90 percent of respondents are saying cellphone service in town is not adequate and they support new cell towers to improve service. Possible sites investigated by wireless companies have been met with opposition by neighbors in recent years, including a site near the Norwalk Armory near the Merritt Parkway and a location not far from West School.

Geoffrey Pickard, a member of the town’s Utilities Commission, said a new tower will be built near Silver Hill Hospital off Valley Road. It should be operational by the end of next year, he said.

Pickard said that while just 12 percent of respondents to the survey reported that they had a cellphone call to 911 dropped, that’s too many.

“If you’re the person calling 911, you want that call to go through,” Pickard said. “All calls made on a cell phone in the Town of New Canaan should be completed. The only way that’s going to happen is if we add a few more cell towers to fill out the area.”

Pickard wants more residents to fill out the survey to further demonstrate the need to improve cell coverage.

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NCMommy:

Whenever we have a power or cable outage, I must walk to Kiwanis Park in order to get cell phone reception. If there is an outage in the middle of the night, I have to get dressed and walk away from my home in order to report the outage. This is a dangerous procedure to do when there are high winds, torrential rain, debris blowing around and it is pitch dark outside (as was the case with Hurricane Sandy).
I lost power at 10 p.m. I had to leave my home to call NC OEM and CL+P while trying to avoid debris blowing around.
The cable company and CL+P ask for a cell phone number whenever I report an outage. I tell them not to bother calling me because I don't get service in my home in New Canaan. If multiple families do not report outages within an hour, CL+P deletes the report of an outage from that caller from their records. This has happened to me because there are just a few families on my grid (including Kiwanis Park).
On one occasion I had a "life threatening illness" and was taken away from my home by ambulance. Thank God the call was made when I had phone/utility service.

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