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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR | Tower threat to ecology, tourism
To the editor:
This letter is in response to Carl Robinson’s letter in response to Clyde Monma. This letter is to correct the misinformation that Carl Robinson continues to spread. Cell service is currently available for AT&T and Verizon customers on the southern- most end of Whidbey. This is a high-tech community; we use our cell phones all the time. That has been one of the major reasons for opposing the cell tower on the Dorothy Cleveland Trail, because new cell service would not really be for Whidbey Island residents; it already exists here. (Note: The probable range of this proposed cell tower would be three to five miles, so only south of 525 and east of Maxwelton to Paine Field would be covered.)
In the last two years since this tower was proposed, there have been several instances of neighboring residents needing 911 service and EMS arriving in minutes. So receiving emergency services here has not been a problem either. I fell and broke my ankle on the Dorothy Cleveland Trail and had no problem using my cell phone to get help. This is not an area without service. When a telecommunications carrier provides space on a three-tier tower, as the one proposed, the emergency services are given the space on the lowest tier, which is right at tree height, rendering it practically useless. There is no real solid argument for this cell tower providing new services to islanders. Without federal funding, AT&T could not justify the cost of this tower.
Since cell and emergency services already exist, it would be a crime to destroy the trees and the environment that this trail provides for Whidbey Islanders and tourists. The Dorothy Cleveland Trail has been reviewed on radio and on international hiking websites. This trail is possibly the most challenging trail on Whidbey Island. It goes from sea level to
420 feet elevation in about three-quarters of a mile. It passes through several ecosystems, has peek-a-boo views, and often times has no sound pollution, only birds and wind. Speaking of birds, ospreys seem to be the only ones adapting to cell towers, and Possession Point is an eagle habitat, as well as a migrating stopping point for many species. A cell tower that would project 40 percent above tree height is a hazard to birds, especially in the fog.
The Port of South Whidbey commissioners have underestimated the value of this trail for eco-tourism. Since I hike this trail several times a week, I have often met “mainlanders” on this trail that came over for the day just to hike this trail. However, this trail will not be a very appealing destination if the summit contains a cell tower. The port’s mission is to enhance the economic well-being of the community, while respecting its unique, rural character and environment. So how does destroying trees and the environment with a cell tower whose services are not needed, while deterring tourists from seeking out the Dorothy Cleveland Trail as a destination fulfill their mission?
Finally, Carl Robinson, how dare you compare a telephone pole cell tower on busy Highway 525, and with all the pollution that implies, to a rural residential and park community with no light or sound pollution? As far as salability, no one moves to Whidbey to buy a house next to a cell tower!