CAROGA — Caroga Town Supervisor Scott Horton isn’t satisfied with plans to dismount a pay phone from local grounds.
Instead, he wants utility provider Frontier Communications to make the increasingly rare service operational again at Town Hall for residents and seasonal travelers burdened with poor cell phone service in the southern Adirondack community.
“This is the only pay phone I know,” Horton said. “There might be other ones, but it’s safe right next to Town Hall and it’s right there on a main highway. I’m frankly disappointed, and then maybe we’ll push back on this a little bit.”
Due to low usage, Frontier, in a mid-March letter, notified the town of plans to shut off the line within 30 days and bring over a maintenance worker to uninstall the fixture.
The phone is still there but doesn’t appear to function. When code enforcement officer Anthony Fancher tested the device on Monday, there was no dial tone.
Frontier didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Pay phones — and especially working pay phones — are a tough find in the greater Capital Region. Canada Lake Store & Marine down state Highway 29A still has a pay phone booth, albeit one long out of operation. The store has wanted Frontier to take the fixture away for years.
Stewart’s Shops — one of the last mainstream vestiges of pay phones in upstate New York — began replacing the service with register area landlines in 2017. The company expects to end the service altogether this year.
There were once as many as 2.6 million pay phones in the mid-1990s. Providers started dropping the coin-operated service as cell phones grew in popularity.
Horton, who plans on contacting Frontier about keeping the device, believes that the service could fare better around the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course.
“I would like the phone to stay,” Horton said. “When we were talking and it was brought up about the spotty service in town, and especially if you’re not on AT&T Network, you may not have service at all.”
Verizon’s LTE service covers a spotty portion of the town’s lower half and T-Mobile barely covers any of the area, according to the Federal Communication Commission. AT&T’s service areas straddle much of the area’s state-maintained roads, especially close to the hamlets of Caroga Lake and Wheelerville.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.