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Select Board to seek consultant advice before issuing cell tower RFP

The Select Board has decided to commission a study from Isotrope Engineering before issuing a request for proposals for a cell tower to be built on town land. Assistant Town Administrator Marie Sobalvarro presented a draft of the information needed from the consultant to the Select Board at its Feb. 16 meeting.

Isotrope will be asked to determine which parcel of town-owned land (including the site of the Bolton Road water tower, Hildreth house, and others) would generate the most cell coverage, with a focus on providing coverage along roadways in south Harvard, where existing coverage is currently spotty. Isotrope would also be commissioned to review the finalized RFP once the town decides where to locate the new cell tower. The Bolton Road site is currently the only one approved for a tower, so locating it at any other site would require a town meeting vote.

Select Board member Kara Minar suggested that the board place extra importance on providing coverage to areas where Harvard’s emergency service radios have bad coverage (such as the town beach), so that emergency responders can use cellphones as a backup communication system when responding to issues in these areas. Select Board Chair Alice von Loesecke argued that providing reliable cell coverage to citizens who do not currently have it is of equal safety importance, because they rely on cellphones to contact emergency services whenever their landline phone service is interrupted.

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