MV Times, on December 17th, 2009

Aquinnah and DAS: Two Letters

Do the right thing on cell service

To the Editor:

I simply can’t understand why this issue keeps going round and round without ever being resolved. It’s amazing how many people live here and just don’t read the paper, or get involved with what’s happening here. Then, when it does catch their attention they are upset about it and form opinions without prior research.

I have been following this issue since 2005, when my fiance and I first came to the Aquinnah selectmen and planning board with a new (at the time) concept called DAS (Distributed Antenna Service). It was in response to the legal battles over proposed building of a cell tower in the Aquinnah church – which happens to be a historical site – the oldest Baptist Church in North America. Now, zapping the local indians with RFs while they pray just didn’t sit right with us. They, being ill informed, had no idea of the ramifications of such a project at the time and were in favor of it, because of the projected income.

Then, at about the same time, a proposal was entered for a cell tower to be built at the Aquinnah landfill. Since we live next door to that property, we naturally were opposed to that. Cell towers are not only “ugly,” but they are also “dangerously outmoded.” They emit more health hazardous RF’s than the DAS. We don’t want to be un-healthy, but the FCC says we can’t even use health as a valid concern. (Do the research). We personally don’t use cell phones, but we wouldn’t not want others to use them if they have to or want to. For fire, police and medical personal, it is a good idea. It might save a life, maybe your life some day.

So, after some rather fast but extensive research, we discovered that Nantucket had had a similar problem that was solved by planning board amendments, and a swiftly built DAS project by ATC (American Tower Corp). Alex Gamoda was the top man on the gig. He later claimed that ATC made their name and fame by being one of the first to build such a system. After all, Nantucket is a famous place.

We had it in mind to simply do what Nantucket did. But simply and Vineyard are oxymorons. Especially when the straight facts are just not understood. There have been numerous meetings to explain it all, questions and answers, and charts and facts. All the planning has been done already, the negotiations mostly in place. We have an interested cellular service provider, which was the last piece of the puzzle we needed.

At this point, every article about DAS has begun to sound redundant. There’s simply nothing new to say except, who’s being stupid now? All towns were originally in agreement, so why now the confusion and division? Are we just stalling? Why?

This article lays out the straight facts – to sum them up in one easy-to-understand statement: “There will be cell service up-Island, you can choose either cell towers that are 150 feet in height and emitting 250 watts of unregulated RFs or…. the DAS that are each 12 inches taller than a telephone pole and emitting only 20 watts of regulated RF’s (a much safer alternative!). (Okay, do the math: all the proposed cell towers in each town do indeed emit more RFs than the proposed DAS nodes in each town.) And, if you fail to choose, a decision will be made for you by ATC, and it will choose cell towers due to the fact that they are simply easier and cheaper to build (one can be easily installed in one day.)

It’s up to us, Aquinnah-Chilmark-West Tisbury. Stop acting stupid and do the right thing. And, uh, do it now.

Lauri Bradway
Aquinnah

Aquinnah and DAS

To the Editor:

The Aquinnah planning board has an obligation/duty to pass the DAS for the following reasons:

1). The majority of Aquinnah residents voted to have the DAS, instead of cellular towers. Not approving the DAS will cause two cell towers to be erected in Aquinnah – one on the sacred Moshup Trail and the other in the area of the Town Hall.

Not only do Cell Towers cause grave visual impact, as seen in Edgartown and all across the American landscape (i.e.; in fields, on mountaintops, and every few miles along highways). Just look over at the mainland at night and you will see these cell towers all along the coast, blinking.

Cell towers also raise the rate of cases of leukemia and other cancers, nerve damage, sleep deprivation, and numerous other side effects detrimental to health.

Thousands or perhaps millions of people do not want to see cell towers in Aquinnah or Chilmark. It is a pristine rural landscape that people wish to see here.

2). Aquinnah sued a cellular company once – using thousands of taxpayers’ dollars, not to mention the time, energy and stress – to keep cell towers out of our town. Not approving the DAS, our only alternative, would cause these cell towers that the town sued against, to go in. Therefore, it is only logical for the DAS to be approved.

3). Right now America is in two wars, fighting for Democracy and majority rule. Our Constitution defends this right. The people in Aquinnah want the DAS, not cell towers. It is therefore your duty to approve the DAS. Not for yourselves or special interests, but for the people.

Stephen Yeomans
Aquinnah Residents for the DAS

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