LONDONDERRY — A plan to bring a cell tower to town property at 120 High Range Road would support the community's emergency and public works communications, officials say.
At at Planning Board meeting earlier this month, fire officials presented information on the tower plan, a project that would place a 120-foot tower to land to enhance and improve the town's communication service between departments and the community.
The discussion was non-binding, and no decisions were made.
Fire officials Mike McQuillen, Battalion Chief of Operations, and Battalion Chief Jeremy Mague presented the plan to the board.
The tower is a way to improve communications and fill in a gap with current infrastructure, fire officials said.
"It's part of the communications upgrade we started a few years ago," McQuillen said.
The town's communications infrastructure is aging and needs upgrades.
And thanks to a more than 60% voter approval at the polls in 2018, the community will get those upgrades to better the technology and service to the town's system.
That includes constructing new towers. The current project presented will be identical to the tower at the Central Fire Station.
The town's communication system dates back to post-9/11 when federal grant money supported agencies and their equipment and dispatching needs.
It's also been difficult, officials said at past meetings, to find replacement parts and equipment due to the system's age. More development in the community has also increased the need for better coverage and updated services.
There are zones where there are gaps in communication. Part of the upgrade plan is to improve those areas of the community where better coverage is needed.
In this case, the location chosen is a good one because it's best suited for utilities and generator hookups and also could accommodate future expansion near the Department of Public Works garage located nearby, officials said.
The public was invited to voice opinions and concerns.
Jim Paquette lives on Pillsbury Road and is near a cell tower. He asked what the safety levels were concerning frequency and/or radiation and if he should be concerned about having grandchildren play in his yard.
"Should I be concerned?" he asked.
Fire officials stated they would get additional information on those levels that could be transmitted and provide that to the town.
Also, no balloon test had been done as of this day to show if the proposed cell tower would be visible from area neighborhoods.
Planning Board member Art Rugg said having the communications systems upgraded will serve the town well.
"It gets a little frustrating," Rugg said, "they often have to use a telephone."
Putting this tower in place will keep improving Londonderry's network and will serve emergency and public works departments well, McQuillen said.
"We will have that secure network." he said.