By Neil Schulman
Sea Bright — If the borough wants a cell phone tower, which could improve reception and generate revenue, it will need to act soon. But some people aren’t sure that such a large structure belongs in the middle of downtown Sea Bright.
At the Feb. 4 Borough Council meeting, Councilman Brian Kelly said that back in 2012, council had voted 4-2 to move forward with plans to build one. After Superstorm Sandy hit, that went on the back burner.
Officials say that the phone companies are once again asking for a decision on placing a tower.
Kelly said that the borough could generate a decent amount of revenue from the tower, which could help the struggling community’s budget.
“We’ve had a bit of a cash crunch,” he said.
It would also help residents and visitors, who often complain about weak signals and dropped calls.
The down side, which critics brought up during the last vote, and brought up again, is that the tower would need to be placed in the middle of the downtown area. And, at over 100 feet tall, it would be prominent, and not necessarily attractive.
“I’ll renew my objections. This is a big mistake. Once it’s up, it’s going to be a permanent eyesore,” said Councilman Marc Leckstein.
Leckstein said that the location, near the borough’s downtown businesses and beachfront, is “the jewel of our town,” and a tower would not fit in.
Kelly said that last time studies were done, experts determined the municipal lot was the only appropriate place in the borough.
“As far as I can tell, it’s either there or they’re going to pull the plug,” Kelly said.
Leckstein also said that cell phone technology is changing, and broadcasters may be moving away from such huge towers to propagate the signals.
Council has asked a committee to look at it in more detail, and will get a recommendation on whether to continue at the next workshop meeting.
While the last vote on installing a tower came in 2012, Sea Bright has been discussing the issue for much longer; council has had discussions about possible sites since at least 2006.