Senator and councilman working to improve cell service in mountainous areas of Rt. 9W

BY DYLAN SKRILOFF

Photo found at HarrimanHiker.com

Senator Bill Larkin (R-39th District) and his possible successor Councilman Tom Basile (R-Stony Point) announced they are putting their collective minds together to solve a major nuisance for residents of Senate District 39 who drive along the U.S. Route 6 and Rt. 9W corridor.

The often windy, mountainous area leads to spotty-at best-cell phone coverage. The lawmakers see this as not only a nuisance, but a hindrance to travelers safety and well-being. In the 21st century we have all grown accustomed to relying on our cell phones in emergencies, but for most travelers heading north on Rt. 9W, no such safety blanket exists.

Larkin and Basile issued a joint press release stating: “The two officials are working to bring together necessary government agencies, cell service providers and others to rectify the problem while protecting the natural character of area parkland.”

According to Larkin, “This issue is not about convenience it is about public safety…Councilman Basile and I have been working together in an effort to ensure Hudson Valley motorists and residents are provided with appropriate cell phone service. This endeavor has included working with multiple agencies and developing important public/private partnerships.”

Councilman Basile said, “I experienced first-hand the dangers of this digital blackout. Last summer when a young driver from Monroe, traveling south on Palisades Parkway, lost control of his vehicle during a rain storm and struck a grouping of trees I experienced difficulty getting an adequate signal to call for help.”

Basile said he penned a letter to Larkin in December about the problem.

Basile continued, “What makes this situation even more unacceptable is the close proximity of the service blackout to residential areas in my town. As you move further north, the service disappears entirely for miles. This is not just a safety issue for motorists, but also hikers in the park.”

Larkin concluded, “We are confident that by working together with the state and private sector providers, we can finally address this problem and ensure adequate communications coverage that respects the natural environment we all treasure.”

Basile recently announced he intends to run for Larkin’s senate seat should the lawmaker and World War II vet decide to retire after several decades of service. Basile said he has raised over $100,000 in campaign funds in a race that will be heavy-hitting due to the delicate balance in the New York Senate.

Basile’s expected opponent is Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Woodbury). In anticipation of competing in a senate district that leans Republican, Skoufis has begun to issue many press releases with a more conservative tone.

Larkin has not officially made a decision about his electoral future but many in the political arena expect New York’s elder statesman to call it a political career this year.