The residents who live surrounding the Terryville Fire Department Station 3 on Canal Road can already picture it in their heads — a metal tower rising to the sky, an eyesore for all to see. It’s a project that Port Jefferson Station resident and protest organizer Teresa Mantione said was going to tank their property values.
“They have the reason it’s their property, but we live all around here,” Mantione said. “It’s all about money. They are going to get a lot of money for this project.”
Multiple residents whose homes surround the Canal Road fire station said they thought a cell tower would be an eyesore, and they feared their property values would be dramatically reduced if the tower is constructed.
James Rant, a commissioner for Terryville Fire District, said the cell tower has so far been tabled, and the district is not even sure if they will make any more headway on the project. Otherwise, he said the district was looking to help all residents in the district, as a lease agreement for a cell tower could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for the district over several years.
“This wouldn’t be paid for by the district, but the cell providers,” Rant added. “This was explored as a means of bringing revenue into the district.”
Andy Ram, who lives directly across the street from the firehouse, said he would be looking at it every day as he walks onto his lawn.
“There was no consultation,” Ram said. “We pay taxes here, and this is the first time I learned about this.”
Protesters also claimed the fire district has not been upfront in informing the community about their decision.
The fire district had included a legal notice in the March 16, 2017, edition of the Port Times Record on proposals for a cell tower on Canal Road and Jayne Boulevard, though recent news has been quiet on any new cell towers. However, even with the legal notice, residents said they had little news by the fire department online or in other print forms.
Sal Pitti, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, joined in the protest saying he felt the fire department did not do enough to reach out to the community. He added the department had neither presented nor talked to civic leaders about the project.
“They could have easily gone through so many other routes to let members know this was going on,” Pitti said.
Bill Freda, a 16-year volunteer and former captain in the fire department, has a backyard that looks at the surrounding trees to the rear of the fire station property. Later in the year, when the leaves fall from the trees, he fears he will have a front-row view of the new cell tower.
He said volunteers in the department had little to no knowledge of the new cell tower, and he fears the tower will directly impact his and neighboring property values.
“I’m taking a huge hit on this — this wipes out my investment,” he said. “I wish they could put this somewhere else or rent space on another tower.”
Rant said he was skeptical that a new cell tower would hurt local property values. Though he lives next to the Lawrence Aviation superfund site, he said he has seen very little impact on the price of his home.
Protesters point to studies such as a 2014 survey by Washington, D.C.-based National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy which said 94 percent of those respondents said cell towers would impact interest in a nearby property.
In addition to the protest, more than 150 people have signed an online Change.org petition saying they don’t want a cell tower at the fire station.
“They did not follow proper procedure and laws,” Port Jefferson Station resident Jim Hall wrote on the site. “Do not want this in my neighborhood. It’s a money grab.”
This post has been amended to change Bill Freda status to ex-captain in the fire department.