Can Petroglyphs and Cell Towers Co-exist?

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Before approving a plan to allow Gravity Pad LLC to construct a new cell tower, New Mexico’s State Land Office is seeking input from residents, reports KRQE-TV. The proposed tower would stand 100 feet tall and occupy a site near Tierra Antigua Elementary School. The site is also in view of Petroglyphs National Monument, an area operating under the protective banner of the National Park Service.

Gravity Pad submitted an application to build the cell tower, listing Straight Shot Wireless as a likely internet provider tenant. The company has said that a tower at that location would enhance digital connectivity for nearby homes, businesses, and schools. A recent Gravity Pad project to place a tower on the ground of Saint John’s College was rejected when officials ruled that a 75-foot cell tower did not make it past the scrutiny of the historic review board.

The proximity of Petroglyph National Monument is a concern for both park officials and residents who are concerned that a modern technological structure would be out of step with the “cultural expression” and “profound spiritual significance” that draw visitors to the petroglyphs. The National Park Service website notes that the petroglyphs are a collection of symbols and designs first etched onto the volcanic rocks by Native Americans over 700 years ago.

“I chose where I lived because of my views and all of the areas that we can hike in,” Lin Greenwald told KRQE-TV. “And every time I turn around they’re building something else that’s going to ruin the aesthetics of the area.” 

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