Update 10/24 — MTA Deputy Communications Director Aaron Donovan announced late last evening that the transit authority has decided to remove the tower from it’s location adjacent to the playground and apartments of the Franklin Courts housing community.
“The MTA has committed to removing the monopole from the Tarrytown Train Station site and relocating its essential law enforcement communications equipment,” says Donovan. He adds that in working with the Thruway Authority and state police, the MTA hopes to have a new monopole up and operational at one of the proposed alternate sites by March. “That means we do not expect to put the Tarrytown Train Station tower into service and will be able to dismantle it.”
Jamie Weiss-Yagoda, one Tarrytown resident notably helping to lead the charge against the tower, says “I’m absolutely delighted to hear that the MTA has listened to the concerns of Tarrytown residents and state and local officials and that has arrived at the conclusion to remove the tower.” She adds, “We are grateful for their decision to find a suitable alternative and want to stress that this should be one that is as far from homes, schools, and playgrounds as possible — ideally, half a mile at minimum — to ensure the health and safety of our community.”
The decision came ahead of today’s MTA board meeting, at which several dozen Tarrytown residents had planned to speak against the current tower.
Tarrytowners were dismayed several weeks ago to find their traditionally lush views of the Hudson obstructed by a new, gleaming white communications tower. Though they say the massive tower is certainly an eyesore, it’s more problematic than simply impeding the view and lowering property values.
The 150-foot monopole is designed to help improve communications for the MTA Police as well as state police and even the state Department of Homeland Security. Unfortunately for local residents, a lack of communication between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the town, and homeowners meant that the tower seemed to many to have basically appeared overnight.
“You can kind of see it out one of my windows, but on my block, for some of my neighbors it’s pretty bad,” says Dustin Glick, a Tarrytown resident who moved here from Astoria just a couple years ago.
“You know, you move to Tarrytown and it’s expensive and there’s lots of taxes.… It’s just outrageous that somebody could put this piece of industry in between houses and the waterfront — and we’re only a few blocks from the waterfront. It just seems so rude and unnecessary.” Glick, a cartoonist, has taken to the Internet in an effort to inform and motivate more locals to add their voices in opposition to the project.
Of greater concern is the fact that the 15-story tower, while constructed on a narrow strip of MTA-owned land, is just thirty feet from a playground and only about 100 feet away from an apartment building in a nearby Franklin Courts affordable housing complex. Residents worry that the tower itself, as well as the potential for elements like lightning or falling snow and ice, could post health and safety risks to those living in the vicinity.
“Did they do it next to the nice houses and the Crest?” Glick asks. “No. Did they go to Irvington where the average income is like $140,000* per house? No. They stick it next to the projects.”
Reached for comment, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told Westchester Magazine, “We have heard the concerns the community has raised most recently, and we are continuing to look at alternative sites for the tower in consultation with elected officials, the State Police and the Thruway. We are having productive conversations, and we want to come to a solution that all parties feel is mutually beneficial.”
“Ongoing site work is necessary to ensure the safety of what has been built,” Donovan added, regarding to installation of a permanent fence and other construction that took place after the MTA had agreed to consider new locations.
According to Donovan the tower is not yet in use, and residents are hoping to convince the MTA to relocate the project to an alternative location before it ever is. Following a campaign by Tarrytown residents that has included Facebook, a Change.org petition, and a booth collecting over 200 signatures at this past week’s TaSH Farmers’ Market, the group is planning to make their appeal directly to the MTA at their scheduled board meeting on October 24.
“I understand the whole ‘NIMBY’ [“Not In My BackYard”] thing,” Glick says. “These things have to go somewhere. Everybody wants their cell phone service — supposedly this is for emergency services as well— but why there? Is it really the best place? Or is it just the most convenient place where there’s the least amount of people to complain about it?”