Ticked About Cell Towers In Parks? Look In The Mirror


The scene appears in that slightly grainy black and white of 1950s film footage:

It’s Northeast Park’s soccer fields, tennis courts and enclosed children’s play area, bustling with recreating residents of all ages.  Suddenly, an ominous tower intrudes, scattering the tiny humans with high-powered blasts of invisible Radio Frequency (“RF”) radiation that homes in on each of their cellular telephones, especially the babies’.

The camera slowly pans out from the horror to reveal a black-suited Rod Serling, who exhales a long puff of cigarette smoke before flatly intoning his trademark: “Submitted for your approval….”

In reality, neither Northeast Park nor South Park are being invaded by conquering cell towers.  But judging from the contents of leaflets being distributed in the City’s First Ward, it seems that way to some of our residents.  And that’s okay, because petitioning our government is guarantied by our Constitution.  And cell towers are not “native” to parks.

While we have heard various health and safety concerns raised about them, however, it is our understanding that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 pretty much precludes opposition to cell towers based on health-related issues.  So what we have here is really pretty much a question of aesthetics.  And perhaps some NIMBY-ism, which we also applaud because NIMBY’s tend to draw our attention to significant things we otherwise might have missed.

As we understand it, the Park Ridge Recreation and Park District has signed one or more contracts with T-Mobile to install at least one cell tower at Northeast Park and a second one at South Park.  Both are supposed to be “stealth” poles similar to the one that has been at South Park since 2001 (on the East side of Kalina Field, with some spotlights tacked on to help light the field) without any known incidents of radiation death, lightning strikes, or other catastrophes.

T-Mobile reportedly paid the Park District $4,000 for the “privilege” of being able to pursue the location of the cell towers at South Park and Northeast Park.  The new one at South Park is supposed to generate $2,000/month in lease/license payments.  The more controversial one at Northeast (to be located near the flag pole, at the southeast corner of the tennis courts) is supposed to generate an upfront, 5-year payment of $120,000.  Both will have initial 5-year terms, with additional 5-year options at T-Mobile’s discretion; and there are supposed to be CPI payment adjustments.

For those of you who oppose these new cell towers, or are looking for more information before deciding, we encourage you to attend tomorrow’s Park Board meeting at the Maine Leisure Center, 2701 West Sibley, beginning at 7:30 p.m.  Although the cell towers are not on the Board’s agenda, you can ask about them during that portion of the meeting where citizens are permitted to address the Board on non-agenda items.

Or you can attend next week’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting at City Hall (10/26 @ 7:30 p.m.) and voice your opinion to the governmental body that will be making the initial determination of whether the towers get the special use permits needed to go forward.

In a perfect world cell towers wouldn’t be needed, and someday they might not be.  But here and now they are necessary evils – “evils” much like liquor-serving establishments, airport expansions, lotteries and casinos which generate the “non-tax” revenue to which our governmental bodies have become addicted now that there is so much public opposition to paying more property taxes.

And while part of that addiction is the result of overspending on stupidity, waste and corruption, most of it is the result of too many of us accepting, and even demanding, more and more government services for which we don’t want to pay retail.  That makes us willing dupes of those pandering politicians who keep telling us that we can have all those services we want…and at somebody else’s, or some other generation’s, expense.  Yayyyyy!

While it’s easy to blame the Park Board for “selling out” the beloved green space of our parks for a figurative 30 pieces of silver, the bottom line is that public officials of all stripes have been encouraged to take this tack by those residents who keep on wanting a free (or at least a taxpayer-subsidized) “lunch”: the parents who enroll their kids in every free and subsidized program at the Park District or the Library for what amounts to discount babysitting; the people who beat down every attempted fee increase at the Community Center but then complain about the condition of the facility; the “good Samaritans” who demand handouts of public funds to their favorite private “charities” with no accountability; those who insist on keeping Oakton Pool open despite its losing almost $100,000 a year; those 1,200 or so seniors who demand their private club (the Senior Center) even though it runs annual deficits of a couple hundred thousand dollars a year; and countless others.

Like it or not, if you are one of those people who has demanded and used more non-essential local government services than you have paid for in full, you should look in the mirror before investing in some torches and a few strong ropes for your upcoming visits to the Park Board or the P&Z Commission – because you are one of the reasons that the Park District is willing to consider cell towers in parks.  

And that goes double for you T-Mobile subscribers.

8 comments so far

You nailed it, PW. Everybody wants some kind of handout because they have bought the lie that the money is coming out of somebody else’s pocket (didn’t the former mayor say that we were getting some federal money that otherwise owuld have gone to Arizona?). How many times have we heard somebody say they are entitled to this, that, or the other because “I pay my taxes” without any attempt to figure out what they pay versus what they use?

The Senior Services club does NOT have 1200 members – it has a bit over 800 members, of which a little over 600 are Park Ridge residents. It has a little over 8 percent of all Park Ridge residents over age 65 as members (altho it lets in members 55 and up, which makes the membership even lower, percentage-of-population-wise.)
But you’re correct: everybody sees what he/he gets as a right and what the other guy/gal gets as an entitlement that should go away.

EDITOR’S NOTE:The focus should be on “essential” v. “non-essential” services; and by that measure, there is nothing about the Senior Center that is “essential.”

•Winterfest, annual Holiday Open House in Uptown and South Park, with the arrival of Santa, the Friday after Thanksgiving.

“Essential” or “non-essential??”

EDITOR’S NOTE:Definitely non-essential, but you’re mixing apples and oranges.

Winterfest is not a “service” or a “facility” – it’s billed as a community event, much like…wait for it…the fireworks. Or TOPR.

Except that, unlike the fireworks, Winterfest and TOPR are marketing schemes originated by our local businesses (directly and through the Chamber of Commerce and the Park Ridge Merchants) to put money in their own pockets under the guise of a community event. But that’s fine with us, except to the extent they get subsidized with public funds and/or free public services (police, fire, public works).

If you mean businesses have increased sales traffic thus generating sales tax revenue for the city–then that is a good thing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, it’s a great thing…for the businesses. For the TOPR, the City collected around $1,600 of sales tax (1% of approx. $160,000) and gave Taste Inc. thousands of dollars of free City services. Brilliant!

Back to the topic, why don’t they just disguise the Northeast park tower as a ginormous spruce tree like they do out west, and turn the one down at South park into a giant flagpole with a big-ass American flag on it? Problem solved.

Cell towers: “necessary evils” (today)

Billboards: “There is nothing attractive about a billboard, irrespective of whatever message is splayed across it.” (1/6/10)

Thanks for the clarity!

EDITOR’S NOTE: And 10 months later there’s still “nothing attractive about a billboard.” How much more “clarity” do you need?

If you aren’t capable of distinguishing between a billboard (whose sole purpose and function is to attract attention) and a “stealth” cell tower (which is designed and constructed to minimize attention), you’ve come to the wrong blog because you’re clearly a ParkRidgeUnderground kind of customer.

Where were all these tree huggers months ago when the Park District first decided to go with these cell towers? It they don’t want a tower in either park, let them hold a few bake sales and car washes and come up with the 20 grand a year that the Park District will be getting from T-Mobile.

I drove by South Park to look at that cell tower and then drove over to Northeast Park to look at the site where the new one will be built. I don’t see what the big deal is about. Would the park be more attractive without it? Sure it would, but not by so much that this cell tower deal is the disaster some people are making it out to be. As 6:46 said, disguise it as a big spruce.

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