Can You Hear Me Now?
Vocal opposition to cell phone towers in Mount Vernon has led to a communication breakdown.
One of the more perplexing issues facing our local elected officials is the construction of new cell phone towers. Actually, “towers” may not be a good word to use because it conjures up images of that big one in Paris, the one that is leaning in Pisa or the place where Donald Trump lives. No, today’s cell “towers” generally look more like trees, albeit plastic ones.
Let’s face it — Mount Vernon needs better cell phone service. For a community that is just a stone’s throw from the White House, it’s downright embarrassing to have your signal disappear when you’re trying to place an order into Roseina’s or to that new fried chicken place on Richmond Highway (no, not that new fried chicken place, the other new fried chicken place).
But here’s the problem: the minute those ugly, yellow Fairfax County posters go up announcing a new application for a cell tower, the proverbial poop hits the fan. We first hear from the folks who raise the specter of CANCER. They argue that their children, whose own cell phones seem surgically affixed to their ears, will suddenly grow an extra nostril because of the radiation from the tower. When CANCER doesn’t work, they’ll get a little more honest: “I don’t want to have to look at a tower while I’m having a latte on my back porch. Well, okay, if I climb on my roof in the winter and squint hard I’ll betcha I’ll be able to see it.” When pushed to the brink, they will agree to support a tower but only if it is put in another neighborhood, conveniently forgetting that those kids over in Riverside Estates might grow that extra nostril instead.
If all of these arguments fall short, they’ll try the democratic approach: THE PETITION DRIVE. They will scour the neighborhood and get anyone with a pulse to sign a petition to Supervisor Gerry Hyland, urging him to oppose the tower. And, although Hyland has said for years that Mount Vernon needs better telephone service he, like any good politician, will then bow to the wishes of those that scream the loudest...uh...I mean to the will of “the people.” That’s how he wound up opposing proposed towers at Sandburg Middle School, the Masonic Lodge and the Saint James Church.
Supervisor Hyland is up for re-election this November. It is also assumed that this will be his last four year term. His successor will have the same, delicate political situation with this issue. So, Gerry, you really have nothing to lose. Do us a favor and do the right thing. Can you say YES to at least one cell phone tower?
Hello? Can you hear me?