2008-03-20 / Top Stories

Civic Meeting Addresses Opposition To 52-Foot Cell Tower

By Dara Mormile

By Dara Mormile

Sallustro holds montage of photos of building where cell tower has been proposed.                                                                           Dara MormileSallustro holds montage of photos of building where cell tower has been proposed. Dara Mormile Can you hear me now? That's what some angered residents at this month's United Canarsie South Civic Associ-ation meeting wanted to know. The discussion during the session at the Hebrew Educational Society was once again opposition to the proposed placement of a 52-foot cell phone tower on the roof of a house on Canarsie Road.

Civic activist Mary Anne Sallustro said some residents are concerned about possible radiation being emitted from the tower. "They want to put the cell tower right on top of the roof of a one-family home - this is a first for our community," she said. "There's inconclusive evidence about the risks of can-cer, but you don't put something like this a block away from two schools and so close to one family homes. It doesn't belong here. It's a monstrosity," she said.

"We have very little say over where cell towers are placed," said City Coun-cilman Lew Fidler. "I've co-sponsored legislation with Councilman Peter Vallone to try and exercise some jurisdiction. Unfortunately, cell towers are governed by the Federal Communica-tion's Act and the federal government has more say.

"Whether or not radiation from cell towers is dangerous is uncertain," Fidler added, "Then again, I wouldn't want to wait ten years to find out there are cases of cancer in the immediate area."

According to Sallustro, a hearing was held on March 11 with the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), the agency which would permit the tower's placement.

"If it's approved, it will set a new precedent on where towers are allowed," she added. "I also want to know who's going to be responsible for maintaining the towers if they need repairs. The owner of the building is not on the premises."

Sallustro said the BSA is expected to return in May with a decision.

Alternative sites requested by some civic leaders include Seaview Avenue, near East 80th Street and the Veteran's Circle at the foot of Rockaway Park-way. Sallustro said lawyers for the company seeking to erect the towers received little or no response about the alternate sites.

"Park's Department representatives never told me if they were approached about putting the cell tower in Canarsie Park," said Fidler, "But who wants a cell tower hanging in the middle of a park?"

Fidler took the opportunity to discuss the progress of renovations at Canarsie Park.

"Phase One is almost complete," he said. "I'm also proud to announce that funds are in place for Phase Two."

The councilman said a proposed windmill, which was part of Phase Two, has been eliminated. "Some en-vironmentalists were concerned it might affect migratory birds so close to the airport. The Parks Department also learn-ed that the electricity generated by the windmill wouldn't be sufficient enough to run the comfort station."

Fidler noted that residents can look forward to the addition of a skate park, as well as nature trails lined with in-formative signage to educate the public who uses them.

"When the Parks Department came to me six years ago, it was a $2 million facelift that amounted to grass seed," Fidler said. "When I told them I wanted this park treated like Prospect Park, they came back with a $2.1 million renovation. I helped fund over $7 million for this park so that my constituents can enjoy it in their lifetime."

The legislator said the park's reconstruction will now cost nearly $30 million.

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