Health should come first |

Health should come first

Dear Editor:

I was dismayed by the change in Basalt Town Council’s position regarding Sprint/Nextel’s proposal to place cell towers on the butte located on the east end of town known as “B Hill.” I urge the council to reconsider its vote, and deny the request on Jan. 8.

The Town Council and many of its citizens went through an arduous process to draft and adopt updates to the Master Plan this summer. The Master Plan acknowledges that preservation of small town character and rural buffer as the most important issues to Basalt’s citizens (as determined by the 2005 survey), and bases many of its goals on these priorities. Surrounding our town with urban infrastructure such as cell towers seems contrary to the notion of preserving small town character. Instead, permitting such installations will incrementally whittle away the charm, aesthetics and ambiance that the Master Plan seeks to protect. Cluttering the landscape with urban infrastructure is the death of a thousand cuts for our rural community.

The health effects of cell towers are still an unknown, and several studies suggest a link between cell towers and brain tumors, cancer, suppressed immune function, depression, miscarriage, Alzheimer’s disease, and numerous other serious illnesses. The communication industry will tell you that there is no proof of adverse health effect from cell towers. But they cannot prove that there are not health impacts! We don’t have to be guinea pigs.

There are numerous studies addressing health risks from living or working in close proximity to cell towers. These studies suggest that cancer, leukemia, cell tissue and DNA damage, memory loss and a host of other disorders may be linked to prolonged exposure to radio frequency (RF) radiation. Concern over unknown health risks has prompted California to ban their installation on schools, and the International Association of Fire Fighters to ban their installation on fire stations until further tests are conducted. Most at risk are our children. The proposed location for these towers is close to Arbaney Park, the Basalt pool, the football field, and the neighborhoods of Elk Run, Riverside Drive, Mountain Court, River’s Edge Court, and Village Court. This is where our children live, play and go to school, and where many Basalt residents have made their homes.

I strongly believe that for the reasons stated above, permitting the installation of cell towers on B Hill is not in the best interest of Basalt or its citizens. This is not a case of providing cell reception to an area that has no service, in order to improve safety, business or convenience. Basalt residents already have good cell service. This is about Sprint/Nextel expanding their market into the Roaring Fork Valley. If you share these concerns, please ask the Basalt Town Council to put the health and interests of its citizens before the financial interests of Sprint/Nextel.

Barb D’Autrechy


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