By Ray Carbone
BRADFORD – When about 50 residents gathered at the elementary school to discuss the town’s future this summer, there was thing that concerned people who were interested in developing the town’s tax base.
“I don’t see how you’re going to get any businesses to come to Bradford, unless we have a cell tower,” said one person, as others nodded in agreement.
Walter Royal, the town’s building inspector and code enforcement officer, knows about the problem.
“There’s no signal in town,” he said last week. “There’s a couple of places where you can get a signal and you can make phone calls, but most people find that you can’t. You may be able to text something but not make a call.”
As a result, many residents still have a landline even though that service may not work for emergency services during a local power outage.
Now town leaders are cautiously optimistic that a long-delayed solution could be near.
Several weeks ago, Walter Royal (Bradford’s building inspector/code enforcement officer) was able to connect with a Verizon employee who promised to look into the delay.
Royal said he’s recently spoken with a representative of Verizon, the telecommunications company, and was told that the company hopes to provide improved cell service to the community before the end of the winter.
A new cell antennae is slated to be attached to a tower that’s located on a hill behind the local office of the local school bus company, Student Transportation of America (Valley Fire Equipment), on Route 114 near the intersection with Route 103, said Karen Hambleton, the town’s administrator.
The cell tower was originally erected five years ago by the Structure Consulting Group, a real estate advisory firm based in Arlington, Mass. that services the telecommunications industry. At the time the consulting firm told town leaders that it was working under a contract with Verizon, and that cell service typically follows within a few months of construction.
“But there’s been no activity,” explained Hambleton last week. Several public safety organizations are already using the tower, she added, which is “one of the reasons we’re cranky.”
In the spring, Verizon submitted its antennae application, but the town heard nothing more from the company in months.
Several weeks ago, Hambleton tried to connect with the consulting firm. When she was unsuccessful, she asked Royal to look into the issue.
Royal said that the original contact number associated with the project was no longer in service, so he reached out to someone at a Verizon facility in Fryburg, Maine.
When that proved unprofitable, he went back and looked at the application and found a contact name and phone number – but in tiny print.
“The plans were shrunk down, so they’d fit on an 8½ ”-by-11” page. So, I had to blow it up, I had to enlarge it,” he said. “And, when I did, there it was!”
Several weeks ago, Royal was able to connect with a Verizon employee who promised to look into the delay.
“He said he’d expedite it to have the base equipment put in this winter and the antennae up (soon afterwards.),” Royal related. “He said he’d told his higher-ups at Verizon that I was really (angry) at them. I think he was getting a little upset, probably because he thought the project was much further along.
“But no one could see his name on the plans.,” the town employee laughed. “Now I know his name… And I know where he lives!”
The above photograph of the Student Transportation of America/Valley Fire Equipment building on Route 114 in Bradford, was taken b y and is the property of Carbone Productions, LLC. This story first appeared in the InterTown Record newspaper, published in Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, December 18.