By DANIELLE DUROCHER
Cell coverage in the Adirondacks continues to be a problem for St. Lawrence students that are traveling through and living among the mountains. More than half of the student body needs to travel through the Adirondack Mountains to reach campus. According to data received from the admissions office there are 876 New England residences, 252 Southeastern New York residences, and 327 North Country students who are affected by the non-existent or defective cell services throughout the Adirondacks.
Steve Bogart, Technical Services Coordinator, says “there are about 500 to 600, maybe more, cars on campus registered to students.” Not all students drive themselves, some are driven back and forth by parents and others travel by Cape Air. Students will be traveling through the Adirondacks during the winter months to visit the popular skiing areas within the Adirondacks such as Whiteface, Gore, Titus and Pisgah. Travel will become safer with increasing cell service.
Fortunately there was an increase in cell tower development over the last four years that was triggered in part by politicians and the public. However, the cell tower building in the Adirondacks is down this year and according to Adirondack Park Agency spokesman Keith McKeever, “doesn’t know exactly why the building is down, but perhaps because the cell companies are trying to catch up on other permits.” Cell coverage is difficult to achieve in the Adirondacks McKeever says, “Because the terrain is mountainous and the vegetation cuts down the signal.”
State Senator Betty Little says, “The Adirondacks is a rural region with unique characteristics. Much of the land in the Adirondacks cannot be built on ever due to constitutional protection.” Roughly half of the Park is owned by the State, an area covering approximately 3 million acres. State regulations unique to the Park require an extensive review of new sites. That requires a lot more photo simulations of what a tower will look like when constructed compared to what is required outside the blue line of the Adirondack Park.
Little’s preference “would be for an environmental and economic development policy in the Adirondacks that recognizes the economic importance of wireless and is more flexible, especially in well-developed areas where there is a lot of public support for towers and wireless service.” Together APA and Senator Betty Little will work with wireless companies to create a travel friendly zone.