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New Canaan Officials Still Want Cellphone Coverage

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.
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.
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.