Spectra served as the technical advisor to the New York State Office for Technology (OFT) in all aspects of environmental quality review process (SEQRA) for development and implementation of the $2 billion Statewide Wireless Network project. Spectra served both as OFT’s consultant and as environmental compliance advisor. As the largest single technology project ever undertaken by the State of New York, the goal was to establish a statewide communication network to provide a secure, interoperable, communications system for all federal, state and local entities.
The five-year project proceeded in two distinct phases: comprehensive environmental review followed by individual site evaluation. The environmental review phase involved preparing the Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS, Draft and Final) and other documents required for the SEQRA process. Spectra participated in scoping and the public participation aspects of SEQRA, including 16 hearings held across the state. To accommodate evaluation of up to 1100 antenna locations across the state, the scope of the GEIS covered a wide-range of issues, many of which reflected diverse regional interests, and addressed the alternative wireless communication technologies. To achieve the intent of a generic assessment, Spectra categorized and described virtually all of the natural and cultural resources in New York State, described the potential impacts of antenna site preparation, construction and operation on flora and fauna, historical, archeological and visual resources, aviation safety, human exposure to electromagnetic radiation, and other impact/receptor combinations, and evaluated the means of mitigating each potentially significant impact.
The second phase involved evaluation of individual antenna sites selected by the contractor. Spectra developed a selection hierarchy and a process for evaluating each site for consistency with the parameters established in the GEIS. Spectra visited approximately 50 sites to document the existing conditions, evaluated the contractors’ environmental reports and proposed mitigation measures, and recommended the action to be taken by OFT, to approve the site selection or require further study.
The issues pertaining to the specific proposed sites typically centered on the potential visual and aesthetic impacts of the proposed wireless towers. The degree of public interest and number of site-specific activities made skillful management a critical component of the project.