LI residents upset over cell phone tower

August 14, 2008 3:13:07 PM PDT
A battle is brewing over a cell phone tower on Long Island Thursday.The tower was put up at the corner of a park in Lindenhurst. Some residents there say they were tricked, because they thought it was a flag pole. Now, they are concerned for their children's safety.

There are more than 100,000 cell phone towers in the United States. And if you want good coverage, you need them.

"I have a cell phone, and I'm irritated when my service is dropped," area resident Erika Wall said.

But the cell towers emit electromagnetic radiation, something not yet scientifically proven to be safe or unsafe in the doses being given off.

"Everybody uses them, we just don't really think about what could happen," resident Jennifer McManus said.

Community activist Paul Palmeri says he has thought about it. A lot.

And he's taking issue with this inconspicuous cell phone tower disguised as a flagpole on Venetian Shore Park. He has filed a notice of claim against the Town of Babylon, saying people should have had a say before the deal was made with four cell phone companies.

"They didn't want people rushing City Hall," he said. "They knew what they were doing."

Town officials say the cell tower is 800 feet from any homes, so it wasn't necessary by law to hold a meeting. But it's just a few feet from a playground and beach, where people visit every day.

"You have to locate them where people are, so our policy is to keep them as far away from homes as possible," town supervisor Steve Bellone said.

The town receives $100,000 a year to rent its space to the cell phone companies. It also received a one-time shot of $300,000.

"We have a $140 million budget," Bellone said. "It's something."

Ironically, Bellone says the same people who complain about the towers also rely on cell phones every day.

"It's a double-edged sword," resident Melanie Sesto said.

That is especially true in a time when everyone seems to have a cell phone, but no one really knows for sure if they present any danger.

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STORY BY: Long Island reporter Emily Smith

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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