RAY BROOK - A key Adirondack Park Agency committee gave its support March 12 to a proposed cell tower project on the campus of Paul Smith's College.
The recommendation came after a presentation to the APA's Regulatory Programs Committee by environmental programs specialist Virginia Yamrick, who tried to dispel any concerns about the tower's potential visibility from Lower St. Regis Lake and surrounding areas.
Verizon Wireless is planning a 74-foot tall telecommunications tower, which will be disguised as a white pine tree and will provide cell service in parts of the towns of Brighton and Harrietstown.
Yamrick said the tower will be constructed in a 50 by 50 foot area Verizon has leased from the college off State Route 30, adjacent to a campus parking lot and several residence halls.
Because the tower is visible from Lower St. Regis Lake, the APA requested the upper part of the tower be a simulated tree. The actual cell tower is only 69 feet tall, but the simulated branches add five extra feet.
Yamrick noted other locations were researched. However, Verizon staffers established the proposed location on the college campus allowed for the best possible service for its customers. Regulatory committee chair Lani Ulrich said the cell tower project is a perfect fit for Paul Smith's College and its mission.
"Paul Smith's is training and inspiring students who are going to be caring for the environment in the future; what a wonderful spot for this solution to be used," Ulrich said.
The agency received a pair of letters concerning the tower. Adirondack Council conservation director John Davis asked commissioners why they did not push harder for the cell equipment to be added to an existing structure.
"Rather than APA merely insisting that Verizon allow 'co-location' on its new tower, why does not the agency insist this cellular equipment be located on an existing structure?" Davis wrote. "Co-location should mean using structures already in place, not adding to new structures."