Antennas removed

New York Daily News

Antennas removed

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

Calling it a "huge victory for our children," an Astoria councilman announced yesterday that a cell phone company has agreed to remove four antennas from a building across the street from a local elementary school.

Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), other elected officials and the community have been protesting the antennas across from Public School 122 at the corner of Ditmars Blvd. and 21st St. since they were installed by Nextel Communications in October.

Nextel spokeswoman Diane Rainey said the four antennas were removed Friday. At the same time, eight other antennas on the building were activated.

"None of those face the school or are even pointed toward the school," said Rainey.

"We felt we did our best. This was the best solution we could find to address the concerns of the community but at the same time retain some kind of effectiveness at that cell site so that we can continue to serve our business and public safety customers in that area."

Vallone said getting the four antennas removed was a "first step, but we must continue to fight to remove all towers from this location and the unregulated placement of towers throughout the city."

In addition to removing the four towers directly facing the school, Nextel agreed to reconfigure the remaining towers so they blend inconspicuously with the architecture of the building and the neighborhood. The firm also will conduct a live radio frequency emissions study on a semiannual basis to ensure that the towers have no health effects on the surrounding community, the councilman said.

Vallone, Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and state Sen. George Onorato (D-Astoria) have been fighting to have the towers removed since they were erected. The legislators organized a rally in November, attracting more than 100 concerned parents and teachers, and had threatened Nextel with boycotts and legal action.

A City Council resolution sponsored by Vallone asserts that many questions regarding potential long-term health risks have not been adequately resolved, and must be studied by the city before proper and complete assessments can be made regarding the placement of cell phone base stations where residents live and work. It was unanimously passed by the Council on March 9.

Intro 149, also sponsored by Vallone, was recently voted out of the Council's Buildings Committee and requires the city buildings commissioner to maintain a list of permits issued for all antennas.

Currently, the city does not keep track of tower locations. Intro 49 is expected to be voted on and passed by the full Council today.

"I don't want this to be the same situation we had with lead paint and asbestos, where everyone assumed they were safe and then we found out years later that they weren't," Vallone said

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Janet Newton, President
The EMR Policy Institute, P.O. Box 117, Marshfield VT 05658
Tel: (802) 426-3035 FAX: (802) 426-3030
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