A controversy has erupted on New York’s Long Island, where the owner of the Islandia Marriott — soon to become a casino — wants two Amateur Radio repeaters and antennas removed from the roof of the hotel that’s been their home for nearly 30 years. Town of Babylon ARES Emergency Coordinator and RACES Radio Officer John Melfi, W2HCB, said removing the repeaters would severely hamper the ability of Long Island radio amateurs to support communication in the event of a disaster or emergency. The repeaters, which can take advantage of emergency power at the building, serve the towns of Islip, Babylon, Brookhaven, and Smithtown as well as the American Red Cross.
“People don’t understand what these [repeaters] mean to the community,” Melfi told ARRL. An ARRL Hudson Division Assistant Director, Melfi is also the president of the Great South Bay Amateur Radio Club (GSBARC), and club members pressed the two repeaters into service a year ago after a major snowstorm shut down Greater New York City. The club said removing them will be a “devastating blow” to Amateur Radio emergency communications. The WR2UHF repeater is part of the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP), Melfi said, while WD2NY is a D-STAR machine. Owned by Preston Waterman, W2PW, both are affiliated with GSBARC. Melfi said that Waterman had an agreement in place with Marriott to use the site.