2015-09-24 / Opinion

Tone Down Tower Rhetoric

EDITORIAL

These days as we listen to the incendiary rhetoric that now seems inevitable any time the Rogers High School cell tower becomes a topic of conversation, we would like to say, “Enough!”

It seems to us that those who remain in opposition to the tower have spun themselves into a web of stubborn foes. The fact is the tower is here to stay until the leases expire.

We heard neighbors publicly lamenting about plummeting home values. We of course are sympathetic that these people may find themselves in a real estate predicament.

As this issue first unfolded, foes of the tower raised the issue of health risks posed by radiation for the nearly 600 high school students, as well as their teachers and other staff members, who spend the best part of five days a week from September through June at Rogers High School. These days, though, that issue seems to have taken a back seat to noise and aesthetic concerns.

Abutters are complaining about noise beyond the 30 minutes the generators pump per week. They say there is a constant buzzing, a humming that they hear at night instead of crickets. To that, there was no solution proposed.

Regarding the scientific data produced by impartial testers, the radiation argument has been reduced to little or no significance.

Most recently, Donald Haes, affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for 20 years, found that the tower emitted 1/25th, or just four percent, of radiation that is deemed allowable under federal guidelines.

These findings are a welcome relief.

Then there was this—School Committee member Sandra Flowers expressed her disappointment that no “city officials” attended the workshop event. Quite typically, council members do not attend other municipal board, commission, or committee meetings.

From what we have seen so far, this has been primarily a School Department and School Committee issue. Superintendent Colleen Jermain seems to have handled this matter as professionally as possible. We see no need for city councilors, the interim city manager or anyone else to insert themselves into the dialogue at this point.

Meanwhile Verizon, one of the tower “tenants,” has already decided to alter its antenna array and remove a platform that has irked neighbors. There has also been an offer to add vegetation to nearby yards to block the tower from sight. And, Verizon is willing to paint the shelter beneath the tower whatever color neighbors prefer.

These seem like sincere attempts to address resident concerns. Perhaps the neighbors should take a deep breath and put their energies into helping to look for alternate locations and become part of the solution.

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