Focus on risks of 170-foot antenna tower
On Tuesday the City Council will likely adopt a resolution to begin the process of studying possible health risks and alternatives to the 170-foot communications tower next to the new Public Safety Building.
Councilmembers will consider a request from the city manager to approve a search for consultants to study the tower that neighbors have nicknamed the “Oil Rig.” The study will determine possible health effects from the antenna’s electromagnetic radiation, possible alternatives to the tower’s design and location as well as costs associated with possible changes.
The city has set a deadline of Jan. 12 for consultant applications and expects to award the contract by March 30.
City staff worked with the Tower Study Committee, a group of residents mostly from the immediate neighborhood, to determine the scope of the study.
The communications tower was erected this year next to the new Tsukamoto Public Safety Building and is designed to enable the police and fire departments to communicate with field personal. The tower is designed to continue functioning through major seismic events.
The triangular tower, which stands out among the one and two storied homes in the area, is the second tallest structure in the area.
Neighbors have complained since construction of the tower that it blocks views, hurts property values and is possibly a health risk because of the electromagnetic radiation that would emanate from 15 vertical antennae. Currently the tower is not in operation.
Erica Etelsonm, member of the Tower Study Committee said she is happy with the scope of the study but is anxious to get moving on the process. “I’m not all that frustrated with the delay as long as that tower is not in operation,” she said.
Among the possible mitigation measures the consultant will research are the relocation of the tower, dispersing the structure into several smaller towers and placing the antennae on roofs in the downtown area. The consultant also will be asked to submit designs, health evaluations and cost estimates for each alternative.
The City Council approved $50,000 for the study in May. The city manager estimates there will be an additional cost of $18,000 for administration and management by the Department of Public Works.
John Rosenbrouck, manager of the Office of Capital Projects, said the scope of the study might change somewhat because of the fixed amount of funding. “Once we start working with a consultant there may be more discussion about how many things we can look at effectively with the limited resources,” he said.