Town of Inlet awarded grant for emergency communications tower
INLET — Last week, this town and its surrounding communities took a big step toward building a tower for effective and efficient emergency and cellular communications.
That step came in the form of a $352,000 grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission, an economic development partnership between the federal government and the states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
According to Mitch Lee, who is serving as public relations officer for the tower project, for some time the town of Inlet and the surrounding hamlets of Big Moose Lake, Eagle Bay and Raquette Lake have struggled with the reality of emergency communications and cellular communications difficulties.
“Rugged terrain and hills block emergency radio signals,” Lee said. “Such communications failures endanger the lives of community members, visitors and even emergency responder volunteers.”
Last September a committee was formed with the clear objective of finding an appropriate site and building an effective emergency communications tower. Committee co-chair Joel Millikan explained that a partnership developed among the affected parties from surrounding communities, and there was a commitment to get the project done even if it had to be self-financed through crowdfunding. The committee, in turn, partnered with CAP-21 (the Central Adirondack Partnership for the 21st Century) to be the clerk of the works for the project.
Members of the committee and affected communities developed a video that explains the situation and the need. Then they built a website (adirondacktower.org) to broadcast the video and began the crowdfunding process with Adirondack Gives, funneling donated funds through CAP-21. Adirondack Gives is a crowdfunding website run by the Adirondack Foundation, based in Lake Placid.
As of Wednesday evening, $8,655 had been donated through the Adirondack Gives site, but AdirondackTower.org reports having already raised $160,000. With that and the NBRC grant, the town should be able to afford the reported $448,400 cost estimate for the tower. (Editor’s note: Fundraising information has been added to this paragraph since the original publication.)
Inlet town resident and landowner Peter Funk will lease a site for the tower to the town at the top of Heroux Hill for $1. The location has road access and appropriate electricity for the purpose.
There are plans to rent tower access to cellular communications providers, but the No. 1 goal at the moment is emergency communications.
According to project co-chair Joel Millikan, “The tower is targeted for completion by the end of year 2019. A general overview of the work schedule puts engineering to be completed during autumn 2018. This would allow work to continue for [state Adirondack Park Agency] clearance during the upcoming winter and tower construction to begin in the spring of 2019.”
In addition to the Inlet tower, the NBRC grants announced last Thursday included $248,364 for the Adirondack North Country Association to help business owners transition to retirement, $500,000 to the town of Crown Point to relocate a sewer district and wastewater treatment system, $111,326 to SUNY Canton to take over a former grocery store and $250,000 to Jefferson Community College toward a workforce training center in Lewis County.