hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stand Tall!

Three or four years ago, maybe even five years ago, the local Parks Board got into negotiations with Verizon about the building of a cell phone tower in Point Roberts.  They Parks Board was going to rent some land to Verizon in order for them to build the tower that would provide us with cell phone access, which we did not have.

It's not clear to me how it is that someplace this small has no access when a mile away they have plenty of access, but no one has seen fit to explain this to me, and I take it as one of life's eternal verities.  If you live in Point Roberts, you don't have cell phone access.  True then, true now, although my teenage grandchildren, when they visit, have found that if you go down and stand on the beaches of Point Roberts, you do indeed have something that responds such that you can call your friends on your cell and do whatever else cell phones do.  Not having one because of not having any practical access means that I don't really know exactly what they do...phones, email, word games, music, photography, and in fact maybe they just do everything.  So we probably should have one.

So why are we so deprived?  After Verizon and the Parks Board came to an agreement about the rental, the locals who did not like either the idea or the reality of cell phone towers gathered themselves together to oppose this agreement.  Eventually, they got themselves in court over it.  They were concerned about health issues (its placement was too close to the K-2 school building), about aesthetics, and for all I know about the rental terms themselves.  This dispute dragged on for quite awhile, but the County hearing officer eventually told the objectors to go away.  But by that time, Verizon apparently had forgotten why it ever wanted to put a cell phone tower in Point Roberts, although it still had some kind of option to do so.

But it hasn't done so, and now their option is running out.  And if it runs out, they would have to go back  and reapply for all the needed permits.

I recount this piece of history to explain why we don't have cell phone access and to explain why we are now about to have 5 radio towers built here on the main road into the peninsula, just south of the border.  The radio company wishes to expand its reach, particularly in order to get it in better contact not with the residents of Point Roberts but with the East Indian community of southern Vancouver.   A local resident has pointed out succinctly that surely the place for those radio towers is in the southern part of Vancouver, perhaps Delta (the large municipality immediately north of our peninsula), which is to say in Canada.

Unlike the Verizon request, which would have provided some kind of local benefit, the radio tower request would appear to have no benefit to the Point Roberts community, which is pretty short on East Indians.  The reason, I am told by those closer to power, that Point Roberts is a desired locale is that the radio company, by locating itself outside of Canada, frees itself from having to deal with Canadian radio regulations, which includes a bunch of requirements for 'Canadian content,' the kind of requirements that would probably appear to be Socialism if practiced in the U.S.  So, that is the service we could be providing this corporation, although what service they are providing us is not known.  It's not even Parks Board land that the towers are slated for, so there's not public rental fees coming to us.  Just the towers.

Well, they'll be tall (150 feet, as I recall), and they'll be easy to spot, so we can always say to our newcomer friends, 'Hey, we'll meet you at the radio towers.'  I guess I could contemplate knitting sweaters for the towers thus making them an art project, but I don't think I'll ever collect that much excess yarn again.  Local horse owners could, maybe, hitch their horses to the tower legs?  No, probably not.  At the very least, I guess we can listen to those programs that are designed for East Indians and expand our multiculturalism skills.

On the other hand, maybe someone will ask Whatcom County why they would approve this.  Of course, Whatcom County might answer this question.  The County is the third approval needed, after the FAA (danger to airplanes?) and the Federal Communications Commission.

For the most recent word on the Verizon tower, see here.  For the most recent All Point Bulletin coverage of the radio towers, see here.