Cell tower better than blackout | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
March 6, 2012 · Updated 3:40 PM
To the editor:
This letter is in response to Mr. Clyde Monma’s letter of Jan. 25. As it is with most issues there are two sides to this one.
First I’d like to thank the Port of South Whidbey commissioners, Curt Gordon, Chris Jerome, Dennis Jerome and especially Geoff Tapert.
The leadership demonstrated by these men is to be commended. They looked beyond the small but vocal group of naysayers and considered the overwhelming benefit this cell tower would be to the residents of South Whidbey.
I am well aware that the benefits well outweigh the minor negative impacts. I’ve had a cell tower on my property for over 6 years. Most people driving by our property do not notice it, as a power pole was exchanged out for the cell tower itself and the compound is surrounded by trees on all sides making it virtually invisible to the passersby.
The gravel access road to it cannot be seen from the highway due to the hillside and grasses growing on either side. In fact, I now mow it about once a month to make it more accessible from our driveway. Ospreys have nested on top of many of the towers along the highway. So cell towers do not cause problems for birds, while wind towers do in many areas.
As for blinking red lights: We can see those of Whidbey Telecom in the distance from our living room window. It does not bother us in any way. In fact we rather like it. The so-called noise from the generator in our compound is only discernible when there is a power outage and then it is rather comforting to know it is there.
So why does all this matter? When the project first came to light, its major supporters were firefighters and EMS. They presented a map with a large portion of the Possession Point area blacked out because it was not connected to 911 service. The commission has a copy of this map as do I.
As for the cost issue. The provider would pay a monthly fee and in return would provide 911 service but other capabilities are not available to that area’s residents at present. Also there is a good possibility for added income from subcontractors piggy-backing onto that cell tower. So the argument that it will cost more than it will generate does not hold water.
Some time ago, the feds put out a bid to bring modern technology to rural areas. AT&T and Verizon won this contract and since then, acting in good faith, have satisfied the terms of this agreement. If this does not go forward, South Whidbey will probably never see this service. Those residents living in the black zone will not receive fire, police or medical service and other services via cell phone. I personally do not care to live in that area and I wonder if potential property buyers would either.
I, for one, appreciated the commissioners stepping up to the plate to provide us with these critical services. Do you, the homeowners residing in the area, want this service for your homes? Have you considered the salability of your homes? In this day and age when most people rely on cell phones, you will have to add the disclaimer that you live in a blacked out area where cell service is not available to you.
Please, I ask you, contact the commissioners and let them know that you appreciate their efforts on your behalf.