Written by Pat Grac Friday, 20 May 2011 00:00Leg. Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck), along with Eric Monroe, President of Bayview Civic Association, and Richard Bentley, president of the Greater Council of Manhasset Civic Associations, hosted an information session at 7 p.m. on May 12, at the Manhasset Public Library for all residents interested in hearing about the proposed Bayview Garage, Manhasset cell tower. Mike Kelly from the Nassau County Real Estate Planning and Development Department along with Brad Hemingway, president and Randy Weichbrodt, CEO of Beacon Wireless were there to provide information about the proposal, which is scheduled to come before the Nassau County Planning Commission on June 9. Approximately 40 residents who attended had the opportunity to ask questions.
Beacon Wireless is contracted by Nassau County to identify County property that can be leased to Beacon on which cell towers can be erected by the company. Space on the towers is then leased to wireless service providers.
Upon learning about this proposal, Legislator Bosworth’s greatest concern was giving the community a chance to be heard. During the course of the meeting, Legislator Bosworth explained why she found it so important to co-host this meeting: “As projects like these are being proposed, it is my job to make sure the community is aware of and has a chance to discuss them before any decisions are made,” she said.
While the meeting was ambushed by good news, it was, nonetheless, informative.
The Bayview Garage on the County’s Departmant of Public Works site was identified by Beacon Wireless for the county to build a 120’ high cell tower on the property, a tower that could accommodate 5-6 wireless carriers. The problem, according to the community, was the topography of the area. While the tower would have been 120 feet from the ground, it would have been much closer to the high school lacrosse field located atop the hill near the Bayview Garage.
The towers themselves, Randy Weichbrodt, Beacon Wireless, said, emit less than a baby monitor, or a microwave oven—it’s the cell phones themselves the studies are starting to focus on.
Beacon Wireless representatives said they refer to Cancer.org for information on the long term health effects of cell towers. They said there is not enough information regarding the towers to say anything but that there is “less than one percent of the threshold of allowable RF emissions.” The studies, they repeated, are focusing “on the thing you hold up to your ear six or seven hours a day.”
Services provided by Beacon Wireless include identifying where wireless providers such as Verizon, Nextel, Sprint, etc. need to be and whether they can find them an appropriate property. A distressed property like stockyards, Department of Public Works yards, near a rail road—areas not by schools and homes. But as the technology progresses, they continued, they observe that over 75 percent of 911 calls emanate from cell phones; that people are dropping their land lines, and cell towers are needed in residential areas where people live.
Beacon Wireless identifies viable properties that could be used, but that does not indicate an interest from a wireless provider as yet; does not indicate a ground lease or carrier lease to build a tower there. Under the Federal Telecommunications Act, they stressed, you cannot spec build a tower, you must have a lease with a wireless provider registered with the FCC such as Verizon, T Mobil, Nextel, etc.
Beacon Wireless met with the Mayor of the Village of Thomaston about a year and a half ago, they said, but he did not go forward with them. The representative explained that carriers do build their own poles, but said the problem going with the wireless provider instead of with someone like Beacon Wireless is they are not so interested in accommodating the other carriers and also do not build them to full capacity. If you drive around, you might see several cell towers side by side—there is no need for that, they believe, no need for a proliferation of towers, rather they need to be designed to accommodate all the wireless providers.
The Village of Thomaston cell tower basically means, the Beacon Wireless representative concluded, that the “site at the Bayview Garage is probably not going to happen.”