Nearly a year after AT&T first approached selectmen with a plan to replace the flagpole in front of the Town House, the board voted unanimously last night to reject the proposal.
The existing flagpole houses three AT&T antennae. The company wants to install new 4G antennae, but the current flagpole is too small to support them. Over the past year AT&T has presented a number of flagpole designs, but none of them has passed muster with selectmen.
The latest proposal was for a flagpole 16-inches in diameter from top to bottom with a cylindrical cap on top. With no taper to the pole, Chairman John Rooney said the design looks more like a “tube” than a flagpole. The current pole is 18 inches at the bottom and just over 9 inches at the top.
“You need to take into account where it’s located,” Rooney said of the flagpole’s prime location next to the town common and in front of the Town House. “A 16-inch tube is not acceptable at that location.”
“I’d prefer to see something that looks like a real flagpole,” American Legion Commander Steve Whynot said. Representatives from AT&T met with Whynot and Veterans Agent John Wilson to discuss the design proposal. In letters to selectmen, Whynot and Wilson said they could “reluctantly” accept the design if there was no other option.
Other options are what selectmen want AT&T to explore. In particular, they would like to see the 4G antennae located somewhere other than the flagpole.
Selectman Dan Kolenda, an Iraq War veteran, said finding another location would be the best solution because it would leave the current flagpole in place and it would give AT&T more flexibility if they want to upgrade the antennae in the future. According to the town’s zoning code, the antennae would need to be located on town property.
“I could only accept (this design) if there is not other option. I’m not convinced there is no other option,” Kolenda said.
AT&T currently pays the town somewhere in the neighborhood of $24K annually to lease the flagpole. They offered to raise the fee to $40K for the new flagpole.