, Newburyport, MA

September 26, 2013

Better cell reception coming to Salisbury Beach


---- — SALISBURY — Salisbury Beach residents take heart: The days of searching for reception bars and yelling, “Can you hear me now?” into cell phones could soon be over, for Verizon just made an offer to put a cell tower atop the beach’s water tower.

In this day of wireless technology, the dead zone at Salisbury Beach has irritated residents, business owners and visitors for more than a decade. When replacing the water tower on North End Boulevard, Salisbury officials made a point of designing it to accommodate a number of cell phone towers, for two reasons. First, to improve reception, and second, to create another lucrative source of revenue for town coffers.

But the first time Salisbury sent out a request for proposal to cell phone companies, no one responded. However, the second RFP worked, with a bid from Verizon that includes a $30,402.48 initial payment, and a three percent escalator each year for the remaining 19 on the proposed contract, according to Town Manager Neil Harrington. The total will bring Salisbury almost $817,000 in revenue over the next 20 years.

“If all goes well and the contract can be executed shortly, we are hopeful that the installation can be completed before the start of the 2014 summer season,” Harrington told selectmen recently.

“I’m very happy. Our association has lobbied hard for this for years,” said Salisbury Beach Betterment Association President Ray Champagne. “Verizon is a major carrier, and we’ve had tremendous problems in communication, not just residents, but for vacationers who come here.

“And the other side of the coin is there are no pay phones any more. Everybody has these cell phones and pads these days. For vacationers, (wireless) is their only communications link. This is great news.”

Champagne said he’ll be putting out the news to members soon.