Boro Council debates cell tower at Fair Haven fields


Staff Writer

FAIR HAVEN — The Borough Council is considering solving two problems with one structure.

At the council meeting last Monday, the issue of building a cell phone tower in the town was once again discussed, and this time many residents were calling for a combination of the tower with lights for Fair Haven fields.

Since open space regulations would allow the combined cell tower and lights to be erected at the fields, it would be possible to combine the two elements.

“Marrying the cell tower to the lights is proven technology,” said Bill Folker, Lewis Point Road. “It’s the nicest-looking thing you could put in town.”

An estimate was submitted for the cost of the combined structure in 1999. At that time, the estimated cost was between $135,000 and $140,000. The council discussed whether the money would come from the capital improvement fund.

Councilman Thomas Gilmour said that the council will consider the idea, but he is concerned about how some residents will react to the combination.

“At the next meeting,” he said, “we’ll have people standing up in their chairs yelling, ‘We don’t want lights in Fair Haven fields.’

Councilman Garrett Bess said that although some people would like better cell phone reception in the town, they might not appreciate the lights in the fields.

“I have a fear that we will get caught in a quagmire,” he said, “if we try to marry them together.”

Other residents, although not opposed to the combining of the services, had other questions about how the borough will fund such technology.

“The money from the cell tower alone will not fund the lighting,” said Bob Krueger, McCarter Avenue.

There were residents who did speak out against the lights in the fields, but not because of the possibility of the lights affecting nearby homes.

“We can’t maintain the fields we have,” said Jerome Koch, River Road. “I don’t understand how lighting them for more use will help.”

Mayor Joseph Szostak voiced his own concerns about the impact of the lights.

“I am an animal lover,” he said. “If there are nocturnal animals that will be affected by these lights, then we need to find out what that impact will be.”

Folker said that games go later in the summer time because the sun is out later. He thinks that same time allotment should be available all year long.

“Nine o’clock is 9 o’clock,” he said.

Gilmour said that if the council is going to seriously consider the combination of the cell tower and the lighting for Fair Haven playing fields, more information is needed.

Borough Administrator Julie Keizer said that Cingular has asked for permission to do a balloon test and a crane test, which would evaluate whether the field would be a good place for the tower.