APA reviews temporary cell tower, utility poles, mine demolition
By Gwendolyn Craig
Expecting an influx of athletes and spectators from all over the world in the next several months for the 2023 World University Games, the state is looking to bolster its cellular coverage in the Adirondacks this winter.
The State Department of Transportation, Crown Communications and Verizon Wireless are seeking Adirondack Park Agency approval to install a temporary 60-foot cell tower on wheels (called a COW) on Route 9 in North Hudson. It would be housed in a DOT maintenance yard from Dec. 1 to Feb. 7, 2023 if the agency grants permission.
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Verizon Wireless lacks service in that region and contends that travelers and emergency service providers would benefit from a COW, according to the APA application. The World University Games is an 11-day winter sports competition beginning Jan. 12. Events will be held in Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, North Creek and other Adirondack municipalities. More than 2,500 athletes from 50 nations are expected to participate, according to the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.
The project is under APA review as a new land use or development within the park. A spokesman for the agency said the project is still under review.
New York State Electric & Gas is seeking APA approval for an overhaul of its utility poles and transmission lines from its Raquette Lake Substation to its Blue Mountain Lake Substation.
The major project application involves replacing or removing poles along 13 miles of mostly state Route 28 in the towns of Long Lake, Arietta and Indian Lake. The line currently has 318 poles in various degrees of decay, according to NYSEG. The project would install 249 new poles and reduce the total number of poles by 51. Some would be wood, others laminated wood and others steel.
The proposal is intended to provide reliable electricity “and to maintain safe operational standards,” according to NYSEG’s application.
NYSEG says it would have to remove some trees and saplings on state lands, though it was not clear exactly how many from the application. The project site crosses the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, the Blue Ridge Wilderness and Sargent Ponds Wild Forest, maps in the application show. NYSEG delineated 91 wetlands in the project site, and some poles may need to be placed in waterways and wetlands. NYSEG has several tree clearing permits with multiple land owners along the line, all signed in 1954. The permits allow for trimming, cutting and removing trees and brush within 25 feet of the electric line.
NYSEG hopes to start construction in March and be finished by Oct. 30, 2024. A spokesman for the APA said the project is under review.
The former Republic Steel Mineville No. 7 Complex could be demolished.
Solvay USA, a manufacturing company based in Belgium, owns the historical site in Moriah near Switchback Road. It has plans, “to demolish several aging structures on the site, including buildings, silos, and conveyors,” according to an APA application. Hazardous materials will be disposed of off-site, and clean wood and tree debris will be left on site. Solvay’s application suggests it will dispose of about 4,431 cubic yards of concrete and masonry and 855 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is reviewing Solvay’s proposal as the site is considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Solvay plans to document and photograph the site before demolition. A spokesperson for the state’s historic preservation office said “we are awaiting finalization of the proposal from Solvay for the documentation of the structures before they are demolished. This documentation would serve as mitigation for the adverse impact.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is also reviewing the project for materials management and for its potential impact on endangered species. The project site is within five miles of a northern long-eared bat and Indiana bat hibernaculum, therefore the DEC asked Solvay to limit tree cutting to between Nov. 1 and March 31, records show. The DEC declined to disclose if the hibernaculum was at the Barton Hill Mine in Moriah where a developer was looking to build a hydroelectric facility. “DEC does not provide additional location specifics to ensure protection of endangered/threatened species,” a spokesperson wrote.
Solvay does not plan any future development on the property. It is not clear when work could be done, and a spokesman for the APA said the project is under review.
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