Shandaken cell service expands

By Jay Braman Jr.
It took almost five years, but the cell tower at Glenbrook Park in Shandaken is now active.
Ellen Webner, a spokesperson for AT&T, said Tuesday that the communications company has expanded wireless coverage in the area.

“Today AT&T is proud to announce a new mobile Internet cell site is providing new coverage in the Catskills,” she said. “New areas of coverage include Allaben, Big Indian, Bushnellsville, and Shandaken and along Route 28 between Big Indian and Phoenicia and on Route 42 between Shandaken and West Kill.”

Last September Shandaken Supervisor Rob Stanley announced that AT&T would become the first company to rent space on the tower, which has stood dormant for several years.
In 2007 the town agreed to a lease with Mariner Tower II LLC, allowing the company to build a cell tower at Glenbrook Park following years of debate over the best way to bring wireless communication to town. While many believed the plan to be faulty, a majority of town board members decided it was time to roll the dice and hope for the best.

Stanley, who was town councilman at the time, was the only board member opposing the plan, maintaining his stance that allowing the company to build only one tower is like cutting out the center of a pie, leaving unappetizing scraps for other companies that would otherwise consider building a wireless network for the entire town.

To date no other wireless advancements have been made, except for a couple of weeks following Hurricane Irene when a temporary signal booster was installed at the Phoenicia Firehouse for emergency services, sending a cellular signal into the vicinity as far away as Woodland Valley.

On Wednesday Stanley said that Mariner Tower officials are in talks with Verizon Wireless about renting space on the Glenbrook tower, but there is no agreement yet. Verizon already occupies space on the South Mountain Tower in West Shokan in the Town of Olive and on a tower in Highmount.

“We are pleased that AT&T is up and running,” Stanley said. “We hope Verizon is next.”