Verizon Gets Schooled on Towers Going Up in Gunnison

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Two Verizon towers are planned for the Gunnison Watershed School District (GWSD) in Colorado, and local residents voiced their concerns at a GWSD board meeting on Monday January 7, the Crested Butte News reported. The contract states that Verizon will lease two towers from GWSD, located at Gunnison High School (GHS) and Crested Butte Community School (CBCS), for $15,000 annually for five years with an automatic five-year renewal.

Verizon began installing the tower at GHS in 2018. 

It’s a light tower equipped with a 20-foot cell antenna on top, a 100-square-foot enclosure, and 12-foot fencing to protect a backup battery. The CBCS tower construction is yet to begin, but it will be on the roof of the elementary school wing, and it will be designed to resemble a bell tower located on the neighboring wing of the building.

School district superintendent Leslie Nichols spoke with residents about their concerns, such as potential health risks, property value impacts, and that the public was given little say in the contract decision. According to the Crested Butte News, Nichols sited the benefits of the towers, such as the financial gain the school district would receive, and improved cell coverage in the area. Nichols addressed the concerns about health risks, saying, “The FDA and national cancer institutions all state that there are no adverse effects from cell tower RF emissions.” She also said exposure from cell phones is much higher than what towers emit, and that she supports the tower plans.

Still, residents took turns discussing their opposition to the towers. Nichols acknowledged that there may not have been enough opportunity for public input on the decision, and said she would discuss options to explore alternate sites for the CBCS tower with Verizon. Nichols was not confident about how much she can do to alter the plans at this point, but said she would push for, “time to get some science before the tower becomes operational.”

Since then, the city council reviewed the comments and met with their attorney, but took no further action. Verizon is yet to begin the tower build for CBCS, but according to Crested Butte town manager Dara MacDonald, construction could begin this summer. Nichols said she would seek out a Verizon spokesperson to attend a meeting with the public, and she would arrange to speak with the Crested Butte Town Council about the matter.  Comments? Email Us.

January 15, 2019

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