NCPD to move equipment from water tower to new structure

Purchase of new 200-foot police tower keeps Elmont water tower repairs scheduled for early summer


The Nassau County Police Department is planning to build a 200-foot tower to house police equipment currently mounted on the Elmont water tower, which has delayed the water tower’s repairs, originally scheduled to begin last year, according to a statement released by County Legislator Carrié Solages.

Solages met with the police department and the Water Authority of Western Nassau County, which oversees the water tower, on Jan. 22.

Elmont residents began calling for repairs to the water tower in the fall of 2020. Dwayne Palmer, who has lived in Elmont since 1996 and has led the effort, said in a previous Herald story that the tower’s north side looked “disgusting” and “dilapidated.”

Palmer and Elmont residents have cited decreasing home values, as well as high taxes and water bills, as reasons to repair the tower.

After the NCPD pledged to remove its antennas and other equipment from the structure by spring 2021, Palmer contacted the water authority in October, having noticed that it had not been removed. The authority informed him that the NCPD had requested an additional nine to 12 months to remove the equipment.

The antennas are key to the police department’s operations, and must be relocated before the repairs to the tower begin. “The water tower hosts vital NCPD communication equipment and an on-site generator to ensure police, ambulance and other emergency radios remain operational at all times,” Solages explained.

Solages was told by the NCPD that the minimum height necessary for the equipment to function properly is 150 feet. The police department originally planned to move the equipment to another tall structure. “Over the past several months, NCPD officials have worked to find a location to house the equipment,” Solages said, “but, unfortunately, no existing sites provided the height for the range the equipment needs.”

The water tower repairs were rescheduled for May to July of this year when the police department requested more time to remove the equipment. If the new tower is built in time and the new equipment is functional, the current equipment on the Elmont water tower will be removed by the May-to-July deadline, Solages, who has worked with residents on the issue since 2020, said.

Solages, who had previously expressed concerns about the NCPD’s removal of equipment, sounded optimistic about the new plan. “While the timeline is longer than many of us want,” he said, “I’m hopeful that we can begin moving forward.”

“I have concerns, but this seems like a good plan,” Palmer said, explaining that he fears further delays, potentially created by cold weather and permit issues, to the installment of the new tower, and therefore to water tower repairs. He said he supported the plan if it could be implemented without delays.
The last repairs to the Elmont water tower were made in 1996.

Michael Tierney, superintendent of the Water Authority of Western Nassau County, said the agency was prepared to begin work on the tower as soon as the NCPD’s equipment is removed.
In 2007, when it was first mounted to the tower, the WAWNC and the NCPD signed a memorandum of understanding that bound the police department to remove the equipment in the future if the tower needed repairs, Tierney said.

He stressed that the NCPD had not denied its responsibility to remove the equipment, but he said there was a “lack of communication” about doing so last summer.

Tierney confirmed that the licensing for the equipment had expired, and that the water authority had terminated its agreement with the NCPD last summer.

“We made the [2007] agreement because we felt it was good for the community,” Tierney said. But, he added, “We were pretty much getting nothing back from them” last summer. “We ran into a snag with regard to timeliness.”

Detective Lieutenant Richard LeBrun, commanding officer of the department's Public Information Office, shared a statement with the Herald from the NCPD. 

"The Nassau County Police Department has been actively working with the Water Authority of Western Nassau County to relocate communications equipment mounted to the Elmont water tower," the police department said in the statement.

"In the near future, NCPD will temporarily move its equipment to a site capable of providing full radio coverage and ensure that public safety is not impacted." 

Palmer said that residents are supportive of the new plan, but will not accept further delays. “It’s understandable,” he said of the plan, “but we cannot wait.”

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