AT&T wants to construct a 170-foot cell tower at Coote Hill Road in Sherman, prompting concerns that the project could mar the town's scenic beauty.

A town meeting is set for Friday, Aug. 16, to decide if $15,000 will be appropriated for a study of the infrastructure required to provide cellphone service in the town.

The study would be a companion to the Emergency Services Communications study done at a cost of $20,000 three years ago.

But Sherman's emergency responders in the volunteer fire department are concerned that the cell tower question has taken center stage -- overshadowing their need for improved communication for volunteers responding to accidents, fires and medical emergencies.

An Emergency Communications Committee has been working to find a solution.

It was formed after December 2010, when Sherman voters turned out in high numbers to defeat Litchfield County Dispatch's proposal to install a 190-foot cell tower at Sherman Town Meadows.

With the defeat of the tower, LCD equipment was instead mounted on the new firehouse, creating only a temporary solution to a serious problem, Litchfield County Dispatch Director Joe Del Buono said at the time.

"We still need more improvements," Fire Chief Chris Pritcher said Monday. "The equipment in the firehouse helped, but still leaves the southern and northern ends of town in a lurch."

The goal is to build up a radio system of good coverage throughout town, Pritcher said. That means having sites where communication links would be installed to bounce dispatch and command messages to responders in the field and back to Litchfield County Dispatch.

"Litchfield County Dispatch has frequency strong enough to reach us, but we can't feed back to them," Pritcher said. "We also need a repeat fire ground system for better communication between personnel on the scene."

Resident Stan Greenbaum said, "There is a significant consensus in the town that cellphone and emergency services communication needs to be improved.

"However, many people feel that towers being proposed by private cell companies are commercial overreach," he said. "We would like to see service improved" without destroying the town's scenic beauty.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322.