Fire Tower Replacement Proposed For Ward Pound Ridge Reservation

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Tom Cohn, right, presents a schematic at a Westchester County Board of Legislators' committee meeting.
Tom Cohn, right, presents a schematic at a Westchester County Board of Legislators' committee meeting. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- An effort is under way to replace a dismantled fire tower on the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

Tom Cohn, president of Friends of the Trailside Museum and the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, discussed his proposal with members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators’ Labor, Parks, Planning & Housing Committee at a meeting on Tuesday morning, June 24.

The proposal involves replacing the 60-foot tower with a structure that is the exact same model. The estimated cost of the erecting the structure is around $140,000 to $145,000, according to Cohn. The price does not include other factors, such as work on an access roadway that would be used for the construction.

The group intended to pay for the entire cost through private funding. The friends group has more than $100,000 in funding and the plan, according to Cohn is to use a “substantial” part of it. Cohn, at the meeting, was also open to possibility of private funding of tower staffing.

After the meeting, Cohn discussed the history of the tower. The structure, first erected into the 1920s, was used until the 1970s, although Cohn felt that he did not have enough information concerning the tower’s dismantling.

The reservation, which straddles Pound Ridge and Lewisboro, is a county park. County government approval is being sought. County department officials were also present at the meeting to discuss the proposal.

Committee members expressed interest in the concept.
Legislator Peter Harckham, who chairs the committee, is among those interested in the idea. His colleague, Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky, felt that it is “definitely worth exploring.”
Several issues have yet to be resolved, however. 

Outstanding matters include specifics for safety – concern about people climbing the tower was raised – code compliance and possibly retrofitting. Next, the plan is to reach out to people familiar with similar initiatives in other communities and to ask questions.

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