One of the issues in Town I fell behind in covering this fall is what’s happening with the Town’s flagpole(s) on Common Street.
As I covered this summer, Southborough selectmen (and vocal veterans and residents) were upset by unauthorized changes made to the flagpole last summer. The company responsible was ordered to restore the flagpole to original condition.
The issue has continued to drag on much longer than Town officials had hoped. The the eyesore of a flagless, partially deconstructed flagpole still stands in front of the Town Hall. Yet, there has been progress and plans are in motion.
A replacement flagpole will be built and AT&T customers will continue to have cell coverage in Town. It appears the antennae will be housed in Pilgrim Church’s steeple.
The flagpole situation was a result of Crown Castle seeking to increase the size of its antennae for AT&T wireless.
The company had proposed differing versions of a larger or differently shaped flagpole. All had been rejected by the Board. Finally, instead of seeking new design approval, the company pulled a permit to do work on the pole, purportedly with paperwork indicating there would be no significant change to the design. When a large cylinder was added (see image right), Town officials notified the crew to stop the work.
Initially, Crown Castle continued to seek approval for alternative designs, stating that otherwise they would not renew the lease this fall. They also told officials that without an antennae, cell service in town for AT&T customers would suffer.
In July, Selectmen unanimously ruled that respect for the symbol was more important than lease payments. In September they discussed getting Town Counsel involved. In October, they held a closed Executive Session on the matter.
This fall, a much shorter flagpole was installed in time for Veterans Day. (See image right.) According to Town Administrator Mark Purple’s report to selectmen, it was a temporary measure. Once the new pole is installed, the short structure will be removed, allowing a tree to be planted there as originally intended.
In November meetings, Purple informed selectmen that AT&T will be installing a new antennae in the Pilgrim Church steeple.
At the December 15th Board of Selectmen Meeting, Purple updated that Crown Castle’s plan for the new flagpole is 15 feet from the original one. The company explained that under new regulations, footings in the original spot were insufficient to support a new 110 foot pole. The lighting and all landscaping around the original pole will be moved or recreated.
I reached out to Crown Castle to see if there was an update on the timing of when the flagpole would be fixed. I’m still waiting for that answer. If I do hear back, I’ll add an update.
*The flag was at half staff on Tuesday in honor of Capital Police Officer killed as a result of the insurrectionists at the Capital.