How High is High?

How High is High?

An athletic field light pole under consideration for Robinson Secondary School would help cell phone coverage in the area and provide additional funding for the Fairfax school.

The 50-foot extension to the existing 75-foot pole will include 18 antennas at the top and electrical switch boxes on the ground. Lights would be installed at the 75-foot mark to illuminate the football field. When the pole is installed, the school gets $25,000, and then each month, the FCPS gets 40 percent of the rent from each carrier, which 15 percent goes to the individual school. This could amount from $2,000 to $2,500 a month said Dave Watkins at FCPS.

The height of the proposed pole was demonstrated on Sunday, June 6 with a balloon tied to the existing light pole so that citizens could get an idea of how tall the completed pole would be.

"They're going to take this pole and extend it," said Suzanne Harsel of the Fairfax County Planning Commission who was at Robinson on Sunday morning.

While the installation of the pole has received little opposition so far, Harsel said, others are in line if the Robinson community rejects the pole. At the initial proposal meeting in May, a nearby swim club was willing to step in and put the monopole on their land if Robinson turned it down. Harsel also said the principal and PTA at Robinson supported the pole.

"This one is quite a distance from any residence and that seems to be the major concern of the parents," Harsel said. She's experienced opposition with towers at Mount Vernon High School and Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology. While the Thomas Jefferson monopole was eventually installed, a decision on the Mount Vernon is still pending.

The pole at Jefferson does look different from the other light poles, but to Hector Santana, a jogger on the track, it wasn't that bad. Santana lives in a community right next to the field.

"Any profit is very good,' Santana said. "It's a part of the technology."

Although several schools around the county have monopoles, not all of the proposed poles get approved. Some fail to make it past the public hearing phase.

"There have been a couple of school sites that were turned down," said David Jilson at the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.

DENNY CRIGLER, from Lee High School, was at Robinson Sunday morning for a make-up baseball game, due to rain on Saturday. Crigler's eyes lit up when he heard about the pole. He had seen a similar pole at Langley High School in McLean.

"We're from Lee High School, and we'd love to consider it for Lee, it would bring money," Crigler said.

According to information released by Supervisor Sharon Bulova's (D-Braddock) office, "federal law does require localities to work with the mobile companies to provide sites for wireless transmissions."

The pole would be installed by Milestone Communications of Reston and would provide service for Sprint and T-Mobile as well.

"It will be constructed, hopefully, this summer," said Camille Shabshab, who was at Robinson on Sunday as a representative for T-mobile.

The equipment cabinet specifications Shabshab had plans for were 15 feet by 30 feet, which contradicted the size that Harsel was expecting. On her plans, the two equipment cabinets were 5 feet by 10 feet.

"That's new," Harsel said. "That's not what they submitted."

Harsel noted the difference, and it is under investigation.