Thursday, January 6, 2011

MSCommNet, Part III

I saw this in the Bangor Daily the other day... It looks like the town of Veazie has recently adopted rules that will make it difficult for the MSCommNet program to install their proposed tower on Buck Hill (where, the article notes, "some of the town's most scenic views and priciest real estate are located"). Tower opponents would rather see it moved to an alternate site in Orono, but local public safety officials say that the proposed site will better help address radio dead spots in the area, and the state Chief Information Officer says that the new rule will "have a serious adverse impact" on local agencies including police, fire, and rescue services.

I don't know how I feel about this. On one hand, the proposed Buck Hill tower will be 180' tall; that's a big tower. On the other hand, though, I've been through more public meetings than I care to count where residents took a "my way or the highway" approach based on emotion rather than understanding or knowledge. That makes negotiation and collaboration virtually impossible, and no one wins in the long run.

I don't know what this means for the Deboullie site, or if it even means anything at all. The last news I heard about the northern tower was that the State was looking for alternative sites; I don't have any details for you, though. I think I am allowed to tell you at this point that if the Deboullie tower goes forward, we've discussed the option of creating a fire-tower look-alike that will house the communications equipment. The equipment would be in the tower's cab, so people wouldn't be allowed in there, but the tower would also have a viewing platform so that people could get up and enjoy the views. That's the kind of collaboration that dies when residents are unwilling to negotiate. Would the tower be exactly the same as it is now? No, of course not. Is the tower that's there now exactly the same as the original tree tower from 1919? Same answer. My thanks to Bill Cobb of the Forest Fire Lookout Association for letting me illustrate this with pictures. The first is 1919, and the second is around 1921:

I'll be very happy if the northern tower is moved to another site, but if it's not, I welcome collaboration.

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