A 220-foot-tall tower that has stood in Sag Harbor since the mid 20th century came down on Tuesday, erasing from the skyline an unsightly—but storied—local landmark.
Located on property off Middle Line Highway now owned by Myron Levine, the The H-shaped tower was erected by Western Union in the early 1950s, according to Levine. “It was actually the last tower in the line that relayed telegraph messages,” he said.
The tower used to have large microwave dishes mounted to it. In the late 1980s, Cablevision bought the tower and the property it sits on. Roving trucks used to the tower to relay video to television stations.
The cellular carrier Verizon began a 20-year lease of space on the tower in 1991. Levine had bought the parcel next to the tower property in 1988 and finished his home there in ’91. The tower was on the western side of his house, about 300 feet away.
“The tower never really bothered me that much,” Levine said. “We looked at it almost like a sculpture.”
When the financial market collapsed in 2008, and Cablevision decided to sell off all nonessential property, according to Levine, the tower property went up for sale. He said that Cablevision—perhaps because of the advances in communication technology—no longer needed the tower.
“I decided to buy the property so I had control over it as opposed to someone else having control over it,” Levine said. When he purchased it in 2008, he worked out an agreement with Verizon. At the end of the company’s lease in 2011, Verizon would have to replace the tower with a modern one placed in a better spot on the same parcel.
Verizon agreed, and a spot further west was picked. However, because of zoning and planning restrictions, the new tower wasn’t actually completed until recently. Levine said the 190-foot tower looks just like a flagpole, and all of the antennas are internal, rather than mounted on the outside of the pole.
With the new tower now in service, Verizon took down the original H-tower Tuesday.
Besides “getting rid of an unsightly horrific looking tower,” another benefit to the community is that there will be improved cellular service not just for Verizon, but for other providers as well, he said. While the old tower only had the structural integrity to support Verizon’s equipment, the new tower can accommodate as many as six carriers. “One carrier takes the lead and they have cost-share agreements with the other carriers,” Levine explained. AT&T is on the new tower and T-Mobile has shown an interest. “The service should substantially improve,” he said.
He added, “This is one of those unusual situations where it was a win-win-win for everybody.”