Parents decry cell tower proposed near school

Parents decry cell tower proposed near school


by Erica Heartquist, KGW Staff

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 9:37 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 30 at 11:48 AM

PORTLAND -- You know how it is, you're on your cell phone and the call drops out or you can't even get a call to begin with. Cell phone companies are trying to fix that by building new cell towers.

But a potential spot AT&T picked was not sitting well with some parents in Southwest Portland. Sharon Hennessy is like a lot of parents we talked to on Wednesday.

She said she's not against having a cell-tower put up. In fact, she knows it's needed in parts of the West Hills. But, it's the potential spot AT&T picked to put the tower that they take issue with.

"It's not anti-technology. It's just why? Why across the street from our school?" said Hennessy.

She has a second and fifth grade son at Ainsworth Elementary School and her youngest will soon be there, too.

"I wonder what long-term effects cell phone tower exposure would be to the children over the years," said Hennessy.

There's no scientific proof showing exposure from cell towers is dangerous, but Hennessy doesn't want to take any chances.

She and others are getting a petition signed opposing cell phone antennas from going onto the power pole just feet from Ainsworth.

Ainsworth Elementary School is located at 2425 SW Vista Avenue.

"It's the unknown. It's the unknown risk. Our kids are important to us," she said.

When KGW contacted AT&T, the company told us it needs to upgrade and expand in order to meet demand. Then added, "AT&T builds and maintains all cell phone towers and antennas in accordance with FCC guidelines for human exposure to radio frequency fields."

But now, a new hurdle for the proposed site.

"Once I saw the scope of the project, I was out," said Cindy Bricca.

Bricca is the owner of the building across the street. There's a cafe and an antique store.

AT&T approached her this summer about leasing space on her roof to put their antenna receivers.

Initially, Bricca agreed. Then, she said she saw a picture.

"The scope of that job was never proposed and never mentioned. It was fairly misleading," she said.

This month, she pulled out of the deal.

"If they're going to pursue access to do that, it won't be through us because I'm not going to allow that to go on our building," said Bricca.

Since the cell phone receivers need to go on a commercial rooftop, Bricca said AT&T may have a tough time finding one in the area.

Her building is one of only a few commercial buildings in that vicinity of Southwest Portland.