Opposition building against cell towers at District 203 schools

Companies are backing away from a proposal to put a cell phone tower at Lincoln Junior High School (above) and Kennedy Junior High School. | Susan Frick Carlman/Sun-Times Media
Companies are backing away from a proposal to put a cell phone tower at Lincoln Junior High School (above) and Kennedy Junior High School. | Susan Frick Carlman/Sun-Times Media

Naperville School District 203 officials reiterated Monday night that no recommendation on a cell tower proposal will come before the board until at least September.

In the meantime, five residents of District 203 urged the School Board on Monday to stop any move to allow a cellular company to build on school property and focus on the safety and education of students.

Superintendent Dan Bridges said administrators are in a fact-finding phase and will continue to gather as much information as possible. Bridges told School Board members not to expect any until formal recommendation until September.

Until then, the district will continue to gather as much information as possible on the subject.

School Board President Jackie Romberg admitted the process has been very slow and deliberate.

“We owe it to the community to explore both sides,” Romberg said.

Last November, National Wireless and AT&T approached District 203 for permission to erect a 100-foot pole near the water tower behind Lincoln Junior High in Naperville and a 75-foot pole at the front of Kennedy Junior High School in Lisle.

The 40- by 40-foot fenced space at Lincoln would include the tower as well as a small building to house equipment. At Kennedy, the tower would look like a flag pole surrounded by a 19- by 19-foot brick stand, where the equipment would be locked.

The tower at Lincoln could generate $3,000 a month with an annual 2.5 percent annual escalator clause with revenues totaling $1.2 million after 25 years, according to district reports. At Kennedy, the lease could be $2,500 month with an annual 2.5 percent annual escalator clause. If the district collected monthly payments, the total revenue after 25 years would be $1 million.

The opposition to the cellular towers is building, according to Lisle resident Ken Banas.

Banas and Sudha Srinivas, who also addressed the board Monday, were among the residents who spoke out against a cell tower proposal on Lisle Park District property that the district opted not to pursue.

Srinivas said cellular towers are not aligned to the core values and vision of the school district.

Banas asked board members to think about the ramifications of a student diagnosed with cancer and the lawsuits that could ensue.

He also suggested the board forgo the plan now to avoid wasting the administration’s time and energy on studying every aspect of the subject.

Betsy DeLange, who lives in the Knolls of Huntington subdivision, said her neighborhood opposes the plan.

She said it is not about the aesthetics or the fear of falling property values, but more of a safety issue.

“Do we want to put our children at risk?” DeLange said.

Charles Brown urged the board to be careful of which studies it considers and look at which organization funded the work.

Rodd Elges said if money was the big issue facing the board, then he would do everything in his power to help the district find new revenue sources or get involved with a referendum.

“I’d rather raises taxes than put children at risk,” Elges said.

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