The installation of the temporary “cell on wheels” that is to be sited on Gann Road in Springs until a permanent emergency communications tower is designed and constructed elsewhere in the hamlet has been delayed because of “supply chain issues,” the East Hampton Town Board was told on Tuesday.
In an update on the overhaul of the town’s emergency communications system that started in 2017, Eddie Schnell, the town’s communications director, said that the initial goal to have the 88-foot-tall cell on wheels — communications equipment mounted on a trailer, also known as a COW — installed early last month was postponed to Memorial Day. That date, too, may be unlikely, he said, as the town still awaits equipment including transmitters, receivers, and a site controller.
The tower itself is in Yaphank, Mr. Schnell said. “We need to build it” once the equipment arrives, he told Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc. “When it gets here, it gets here, and we’ll get it up as soon as we can.”
A permanent 185-foot emergency communications tower for Springs is to be erected at Camp Blue Bay on Flaggy Hole Road, owned by the Girl Scouts of Nassau County.
Mr. Schnell said that a majority of the town’s emergency communications system users moved to the new digital system that provides greatly increased capacity and reliability in April 2021. The system is used by the Police Departments of East Hampton Town and Village as well as Sag Harbor Village, fire departments, and most town and village departments that use radios. “We had a very accelerated cutover plan to get ready for last summer,” he said.
There are just over 1,100 subscriber radios on the system and around 2,800 additional radios of neighboring agencies, such as Suffolk County and New York State police and federal officials, that are “co-programmed so that they could come here and operate on the system if they’re here,” he said. “A lot of hardware in the field.”
Power was turned on at the GATR (Ground Air Transmit Receive) site, a joint project with the East Hampton Town and Suffolk County Police Departments on a hill east of Lake Montauk, on Monday, Mr. Schnell said. “Now we can start scheduling putting the radios in and getting the site on the air.” The hoped-for date for that is shortly after Memorial Day, he said.
A new tower at Montauk’s recycling center “should be on the air next week,” he said, adding that an upgraded UHF paging system that fire departments use to activate volunteers’ pagers will also be online next week. “That’s been a long time coming.”