COVID-19 slows the process, but better service ahead

East Hampton Updating Communication System




Antennas have been temporarily placed on this 150-foot tall tower, which will eventually boost East Hampton’s emergency communications. A new tower will go up in the sandy area on the righthand side of this one, which will bring the antennas to an optimal height. Independent/T. E. McMorrow

East Hampton Town’s emergency communication system is still getting its upgrade despite the COVID-19 pandemic crippling the nation.

Part of the plan calls for a 185-foot-tall tower to be built on the west side of the access road into the Montauk recycling center, north of the two towers already there.

“That new tower is going to take way too long to get bids for and be built,” said Eddie Schnell, the town police department’s lead communications technician, who is heading up the modernization effort. “Everything is getting pushed back because of the coronavirus. So, what we are doing is we are adding the new equipment to the old tower, and once the new tower is ready, we are just going to move the equipment over.”

The old tower he is referring to is the 150-foot-tall one first passed when driving into the recycling center, on which the antennas were added March 3. There also is a 180-foot-tall tower constructed by the United States Coast Guard station at the site.

For now, all there is left to do at the Montauk recycling centerSpis the actual wiring of the antennas. That leaves it with the same status as antennas on three other towers — near the airport in Wainscott, on the Amagansett Fire Department’s property, and in Noyac — that are part of the emergency communications modernization program.

There are already operational antennas in place on the communications tower behind the courthouse off Pantigo Road in East Hampton.

In Springs, litigation has tied up the project between two possible sites, one on the Springs Fire Department’s monopole, the other at the Girl Scout’s Camp Blue Jay site on Flaggy Hole Road. Schnell said the town is prepared to proceed with either site.

With no end to the COVID-19 crisis in sight, Schnell said the project may no longer be completed by the summer. Once it is completed, there will be a period of fine-tuning, to get the antennas to work in perfect harmony, Schnell said.

t.e@indyeastend.com