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updated: 7/22/2014 5:34 AM

Dist. 203 residents don't want cell towers at schools

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  • Video: Dist. 203 considers cell tower

  • Naperville Unit District 203 resident Rodd Elges tells school board members Monday night that they should reject a proposal from AT&T to install cell towers at Kennedy and Lincoln junior highs.

       Naperville Unit District 203 resident Rodd Elges tells school board members Monday night that they should reject a proposal from AT&T to install cell towers at Kennedy and Lincoln junior highs.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Unit District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges and school board President Jackie Romberg listen to Naperville resident Charlie Brown explain his opposition to a proposal to allow AT&T to lease space at Kennedy and Lincoln junior highs for cell towers.

       Naperville Unit District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges and school board President Jackie Romberg listen to Naperville resident Charlie Brown explain his opposition to a proposal to allow AT&T to lease space at Kennedy and Lincoln junior highs for cell towers.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 

Naperville Unit District 203 residents who said they would rather see their taxes increase than have cellphone towers installed on district property shared their concerns about the towers' potential health effects Monday night with school board members.

As the school board covered the topic for the second time, five residents said members should turn down a request from AT&T to put a 75-foot-tall cell tower in a flagpole at Kennedy Junior High and a 100-foot-tall tower near a Naperville water tower at Lincoln Junior High.

The cellphone provider could lease space for the towers for 25 years for roughly $2.2 million paid in monthly $2,500 or $3,000 increments. The total contract could bring in enough to build tracks and turf fields at both schools that could be the sites of cell towers.

"To expose a growing child's health for the purpose of revenue I don't think is a reasonable choice," said Lisle resident Sudha Srinivas, whose son recently graduated from Kennedy. "I believe this is a really bad choice, and I hope the school district will not make it."

Superintendent Dan Bridges said the district was not seeking leases from cellphone companies, but AT&T came to them. Administrators want the school board to review the idea as a potential alternate revenue source, he said.

District residents Rodd Elges and Betsy DeLange said if the district needs more money, they would rather help approve a measure to increase property taxes by referendum than see cell towers installed. The issue comes down to safety, they said.

"It is not about aesthetics, and it is not about property values -- it is about safety for our children," DeLange said.

While a fact sheet board members received last month from the American Cancer Society said there is very little evidence that going to school or living near a cell tower increases the risk of developing cancer, residents said many scientists have called cell towers a radiation hazard.

Board members listened to resident input without discussing the potential cell tower leases Monday night. The board is likely to hear its next update about administrators' research into the topic in September.

"We owe it to the community to listen to all sides," board President Jackie Romberg said. "And that's why this is going to be a very slow, deliberate process."

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