MACC wants to install antenna

WILTON – As part of its on-going plan to improve radio communications within their service area, Milford Area Communications Center would like to install a monopole antenna at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School.

“We need more poles to eliminate dead spots,” Fire Chief Jim Cutler told the School Board at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12. After looking at a variety of sites, he said, “WLC is a perfect spot.”

That “spot” is on the hill behind the school in the pine grove behind the softball right field.

Police Chief Brent Hautanen said, “It would provide better coverage at the school,” where there are problems inside the building, and fill in other areas such as Main Street, which also has poor reception. “Radio waves don’t go through granite.”

While the board was receptive to the idea, provided the pole was located some distance from the school buildings, they said it was a decision for the town and the school district to make. They voted approval for the project to continue but said they need a lot more information.

Jason Johnson, speaking for MAAC, which covers the area from Milford and Mont Vernon to Lyndeborough, said there are three towers in Wilton, located on Pead Hill, on Route 101 near Monadnock Water, and at High Mowing School on Abbott Hill.

The WLC tower would improve coverage north “up Route 31, around the S curves” and as far as the Lyndeborough Post Office. The tower would be used by fire, police, and highway departments.

The planned tower is a 180-foot monopole, located 100 to 150 yards from the ball field. “It is a self-supporting pole set in concrete,” he said, without guy wires, and would be similar to the one at the Lyndeborough highway garage. “It’s like those fake trees you see, but we’d rather not have the branches. This is part of the on-going plan of needed improvements we began in 2012.”

Security is self-contained, usually in a steel box, he said. The site would occupy approximately 30 square feet.

“(The pole) is designed to not be climbed,” Johnson said in answer to board questions about students. “It is almost impossible.”

Asked about construction equipment and possible damage to the area, Johnson said installation is “frequently by helicopter,” but any damage caused would be covered as part of the construction costs.

Principal Brian Bagley said the chosen area is used by the school with a nature trail and the frisbee golf course is in the area. Both of those can be worked around.

There are a lot of steps to take, hoops to go through, Board Chairman Harry Dailey said. “We will need a public hearing at the very least, and probably a warrant article,” because it would be on publicly owned land.He asked if the “March time frame would work.”

Johnson said it would, and said he could provide an engineer with the project to describe the project at a public hearing.

Superintendent Bryan Lane said there would be parent questions about “emissions and radio waves, that kind of thing.”

Johnson said, “We can make a full presentation by the company doing the work. The plan is being professionally evaluated.”

Cutler and Hautanen agreed the tower “is for the public safety.”

The board tabled the discussion and will take it up again “during the regular budget season.”

Financing is through the inter-municipal agreement, Johnson said, and put the total cost of the five-year, four-town improvement project “at around $2 million.” Wilton would pay their proportionate part of that.

With the board’s approval, Johnson said they will “move forward with the plan.”