The Massapequa Park Village Board has voted to buy a piece of land for use as a possible cell tower.
The board voted 3-0 Monday to purchase the strip of land on the southern side of Sunrise Highway west of the.
The vote came after a public hearing on the proposal in which Village Mayor James Altadonna said the village was hoping to avoid erecting the tower, but had to act because the Massapequa Water District, which currently leases it's water tower to several cell providers, has to paint the tower. The district's contract with Verizon ia also set to expire.
"The water district must be painted," Altadonna said. "So [cell carriers] need to stay in the area and they need to have coverage in Massapequa Park."
The mayor said he was concerned that if the village didn't make plans to erect a tower, wireless companies would start looking for tower sites too close to area residents.
"What could possibly happen is there's going to be smaller towers around our community, which is something none of us want."
Massapequa water commissioner Tom Hand was among those who spoke at the meeting and said that "negotiations are ongoing" between the district and Verizon.
Altadonna expressed hope that the negotiations would be sucessful saying, "we'd love for them to stay where they are."
The mayor said that the Village would make about $36,000 on the deal but appeared to bristle at the suggestion from an audience member that he could make more than $90,000 from carriers, saying, " Our job is to try to protect the residents as best we can, not to worry about the monetary value. Yes the monetary value is very good, but if we leave money on the table we're OK with that as opposed to having [the tower] in someone's backyard.
Alfred Amato, a lawyer for Verizon, told the board that the company feels the new tower is a better location for his company.
"With this current site we have substantially more coverage than with the water district site," he said.
Amato also said that Verizon's contract with the Water District contained a "kick out provision." Bit Water District General Counsel Mike Ingham angrily denied Amato's contention saying, "The only way that we would be able to terminate those leases, would be if there were regulatory issues that make it impossible to keep [Verizon] on there."
A Verizon spokeswoman issued a statement saying the company was "pleased with the board's decision."
"We look forward to continuing to work with the board to support the public safety needs of the residents of Massapequa Park," the statement said.
Representatives from the Water District did not immediately comment after the tower was approved.
Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Pravato, who is on vacation was absent for the vote and the remaining seat vacated by the death of trustee Harry Jacobson has not yet been filled.
The Board also voted 3-0 to approve a toughening the Village law regarding sex offenders.
"We're looking to tighten the law and be more agressive," Altadonna said. "There's a carve-out in the existing law that basically says if you domiciled or if you lived here prior to your concviction, you can come back. We're looking to null and void that carve out."
The mayor said that the tougher law will aply to all levels of sex offenders.
"What we feel is once you're a predator, no matter what level, anybody who puts a child in danger, to this board, really doesn't deserve a second chance," he said. "People say this is harsh, but I'm looking to the state to pass mandatory laws to keep these predators behind bars."
Altadonna acknowledged the law could face a court challenge, but said. "We are going to enforce it."