Until now, hardly anyone has said a peep about cell phone towers going up at 18 school sites in the Chandler Unified School District, according to district officials.
But residents and parents of children at Chandler Traditional Academy – Liberty Campus are fuming that the school has been chosen as the next place for a tower.
“I don’t feel the school has been a good neighbor,” said Patricia Kass, a homeowner in the Dobson Place subdivision near the school.
Kass and more than 40 others filled the district’s board room Wednesday night to speak out against a 65-foot cell phone tower proposed for the site.
The school district could get an extra $95,000 if board members approve a 15-year contract with Cingular Wireless. Revenue from cell phone tower contracts usually funds the purchases of computers and software.
Residents near the school worried their property values would plummet, while parents were concerned their children might be more prone to cancer and leukemia if exposed to extra radio waves.
Parent Jackie Merritt said research is not available on the long-term effects of the towers’ rays and asked the board to weigh the possibilities.
District spokesman Terry Locke said health risks were discussed more than 10 years ago before the district first began allowing cell phone companies to build the towers on campuses.
District officials provided research from a number of organizations, including the American Cancer Society, that stated the towers “are unlikely to cause cancer.”
At Erie Elementary School, principal Barbara Kowalinski watched workers build a large cell phone tower on the edge of campus last spring. She says the tower is disguised as a palm tree and blends in with other trees in the area.
A few parents raised concerns about health risks, but Kowalinski said she reassured them that it was safe.
Now “I don’t think parents even really notice it,” she said.
However, homeowners such as Matt Osborn said they’ll definitely notice a fake palm tree in the area because none of the buildings or vegetation in the area come close to the tower’s 65-foot height.