The Park, Beach and Recreation Commission sent a strong, clear signal Wednesday night when it refused to allow a Verizon cell tower in Eisenower Park.
"Most people at our public hearing last month said that it shouldn't be at the YMCA, that Eisenhower Park would be a better site," chairman Dan Worroll said. "But there should have been a third choice -- no tower at all."
"I think it is about time that we put our foot down and say to people 'your voice matters,' " he said. "Enough is enough. I can't support any tower in Eisenhower Park. It is a park, not a commercial property."
Cellco Partners Inc., which does business as Verizon, had applied to the Connecticut Siting Council to erect a 120-foot tower on land behind the Woodruff Family YMCA on Orange Avenue. But the company voluntarily withdrew that application earlier this summer when homeowners in the neigborhood -- laced with farms, athletic fields and schools -- vigorously protested.
Residents of Flax Mill Terrace and other streets surrounding the 330-acre North Street park also protested when Eisenhower was offered as a compromise site. The park is bisected by 110-foot high voltage power lines that were approved by the siting council over the city's objections.
Commission members noted Wednesday night that the cell tower would be even taller than the poles carrying the power lines, and that the state does not permit cell towers on its property.
Although only a handful of residents attended the City Hall meeting, several reminded the commission that its function is to manage the public recreation facilities.
"Setting up the schedule of who can use the fields is one thing," Steve Borer said. "But this is something else. This is development and I don't want to see anything permanent in Eisenhower Park. People have been making that clear, but this administration has shown a total disregard."
Cellco Partners Inc. is considering alternate sites, including the Barretta Garden Center property across North Street from the park, company lawyer Ken Baldwin said earlier.
"But that doesn't mean that the Y is off the table," he said. "The plan would be that Verizon would reapply to the siting council with several possible sites, including the Y, Eisenhower Park and the Barretta Gardens Nursery for the council to evaluate."
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