Letter to the Editor

Protect Cape's history

Friday, July 19, 2013

The view west from Old St. Vincent's Church or The Red House or any number of downtown historic sites soon could include a 14-story cellphone tower, a structure taller than the KFVS building.

The Cape Girardeau City Council is scheduled to decide Aug. 5 whether to allow AT&T to build a cellphone tower at 418 William St.

This city understands that its history is an irreplaceable treasure. It saw fit to protect this treasure by creating historic districts. Most are downtown where the pole is planned to be built, where other towers could be built unless the city says "no."

In deciding whether to award a special use permit, the council must consider whether any proposed structure adversely affects the character of the neighborhood and adversely affects the general welfare of the community. AT&T's own consultant's report shows the tower will have adverse visual effects on nearby historic districts and 22 National Register Historic Places in the city. The city's Historic Preservation Commission agrees with the conclusion of adverse effects.

Alternatives to a tower are available. Small cell networks attach cells atop every third or fourth telephone pole in an area. AT&T's regional representative argues that this system costs too much and requires too much maintenance. Yet the company expects to roll out 40,000 small cells across the U.S. in 2014.

Companies prefer to build monopoles if allowed because they can lease space in the pole to other phone companies. Co-location maximizes profits.

Protecting Cape Girardeau's historic treasures isn't AT&T's responsibility. It is the responsibility of the Cape Girardeau City Council.

SAM BLACKWELL, Cape Girardeau