Parents upset about planned high school cell tower

March 28, 2011 7:33:05 PM PDT
In this economy, many schools are struggling just to stay afloat. In San Jose, a money-pinched school district is earning extra revenue by leasing space for cellphone towers, but the latest one at a football field is has some people worried.

By fall football season, the flagpole next to the scoreboard at Leland High School will be replaced by a 60-foot high cell tower. T-Mobile is paying the San Jose Unified School District $2,000 per month for a five-year period.

"To risk 3,000 plus students' health for the unknown health effects of a cell tower over $2,000 a month is just an absurd tradeoff in my mind," said Greg Braley.

Braley is one of dozens of homeowners who live within 500 feet of the high school. He worries about students at Leland and at Bret Harte Middle School next door. He's also concerned about children who live nearby, who will be exposed day and night. The school district and its board disagree. They've been leasing sites for cell phone towers for 15 years. The first site was on the district's headquarters. Cell towers are already located at seven other schools.

"Looking at the risk involved, we really feel like those have been negated, looking at good research by the American Cancer Society, and we feel like this is safe for our students," said school district spokeswoman Karen Fuqua.

Each site generates tens of thousands of dollars in revenue for the schools' general fund. Another cell tower is located right around the corner from the Leland campus.

The city of San Jose's planning department has deemed the Pat Tillman Stadium tower will pose no adverse health effects and no negative impact on property values. However, some of the neighbors disagree.

Neighbors say they're going to try to appeal the use permit already approved by the City of San Jose, but they only have until the end of the week to do so. If they get involved in a legal fight, it could get expensive.


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