By DANIEL KITTREDGE Action on the proposed lease of a city-owned property off Phenix Avenue to a company seeking to place a cell phone tower at the location has been delayed, while members of the community are being invited to walk the site this weekend.
Action on the proposed lease of a city-owned property off Phenix Avenue to a company seeking to place a cell phone tower at the location has been delayed, while members of the community are being invited to walk the site this weekend.
The City Council on July 22 unanimously voted to continue consideration of the lease agreement submitted by Mayor Allan Fung until its August meeting.
Under the terms of the proposed pact, Crown Castle Towers 06-2 LLC would lease the land – located behind 493 Phenix Ave. – for 25 years at a cost of $36,000 a year. The agreement previously received the backing of the council’s Public Works Committee.
The request to continue consideration of the lease agreement was made by Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos, who will lead a walk at the site this Saturday, Aug. 3, starting at 10 a.m. Participants will meet at the corner of Phenix and Metropolitan avenues, and children are welcome. The walk will last approximately one hour.
Stycos said he fears that an access road sought as part of the lease agreement endangers old growth forest at the 20-acre site, and he believes there may be alternative locations available nearby that would not require an access road.
“The reason I suggested the continuance is so people can go look at it themselves … I don’t think we have a lot of properties like this left in the city that are pretty much untouched,” he said.
Ward 5 City Councilman Chris Paplauskas – who represents the area in question – notes that cell phone towers in similar locations have not disturbed wooded areas. He did, however, support the continuance.
“I think it could potentially be done right … If we’re going to do it, we should do it right,” he said.
Ward 4 Councilman Ed Brady and Ward 2 Councilman Paul McAuley also spoke in favor of the continuance. Council President Michael Farina also asked the mayor’s administration to explore alternative approaches for the proposed cell phone tower that would not result in tree disturbance.
In a regular email update to constituents, Stycos said he hopes the council “will preserve this valuable natural area.” He also described the natural features of the location.
“The forest, located behind the police firing range, is an intact upland woods with large rock outcroppings, a fern covered ravine and mature oak, butternut and maple trees,” the update reads. “Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management aerial photos show the land forested 80 years ago. It represents a rare publicly owned example of what western Cranston looked like before development. The land adjoins the Providence Water easement, a popular walking spot that crosses Phenix Avenue near the Western Hills Middle School tennis courts. The woods feature wild blueberries and sassafras, few invasive plants and well used trails.”