GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) – The Diocese of Bridgeport is negotiating with T-Mobile to allow the company to install a telecommunications tower in the noted Putnam Cemetery.

The cemetery, the final resting place of President Bush’s grandparents and several other prominent Connecticut residents, would be among only a handful of burial grounds in the state with telecommunications towers on their grounds.

The diocese rejected past requests from companies who wanted to install towers in that cemetery and the other 14 that it operates statewide.

“The people who are laying in the cemetery are not going to complain, but the people who have families there may take offense,” said Ray Capo, director of cemeteries for the Bridgeport diocese.

However, T-Mobile’s 110-foot tower would be disguised as a flagpole and placed in a secluded site away from the grave plots near the mausoleum.

“This one I could live with,” Capo told the Greenwich Time.

Installing telecommunications towers in Greenwich and other residential areas in southwest Connecticut has become increasingly difficult for wireless carriers.

Residents have fought several proposals, saying that the structures are too tall, look unnatural and do not blend with their neighborhoods.

Putnam Cemetery would only be the second cemetery in Connecticut in which T-Mobile has installed equipment. The other is in Bloomfield Cemetery, officials said.

Cemeteries in Monroe and Westbrook also have approved tower installations, according to state regulators.

Several churches statewide also have negotiated contracts in which companies have paid to install antennae and other telecommunications equipment hidden in their steeples.

Laura Altschul, T-Mobile’s government affairs director in Bellevue, Wash., said cemeteries are attractive places to build a tower because they often are surrounded by homes.

During the past several years, demand for wireless coverage in homes has increased the pressure on companies to improve service by building towers in residential areas.

“Cemeteries are usually located around where communities are,” she said. “If there’s ground space for putting in equipment, it’s certainly a viable solution.”

Capo, the diocese’s cemetery director, said he has ensured that the T-Mobile tower in Putnam Cemetery will be far from current or future grave sites.

“The area that I’m putting it in would not affect anyone,” he said.

Former U.S. Sen. Prescott Bush of Connecticut and his wife, Dorothy Walker Bush, are among the notable people buried in Putnam Cemetery. They were the parents of President George Herbert Walker Bush, and the grandparents of the current President Bush.

Three-year-old Pauline Robinson Bush, President Bush’s sister, also was buried there after she died of leukemia in 1953.

Other notable interments in Putnam Cemetery include pianist and comedian Victor Borge, opera singer Ezio Pinza, New York state Supreme Court Justice Townsend Scudder and Titanic survivor Margaret Graham Moore.

It also is the final resting place for Thomas Hastings, designer of the New York Public Library and the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.

Clayton “Bud” Collier, host of the television shows “To Tell the Truth” and “Beat the Clock,” also is buried in Putnam Cemetery.

One of Connecticut’s best-known homicide victims also is buried there: Martha Moxley, who was 15 when she was beaten to death in Greenwich in 1975, is buried next to her father. Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel is serving time for her murder.

Information from: Greenwich Time,

AP-ES-07-09-06 1042EDT

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