PITTSFIELD, Mass. - In a meeting with Verizon representatives last month, the Pittsfield Board of Health asked the company to shut down or remove the cell tower at Alma Street.
“We got an opportunity to voice the concerns of the residents,” the city’s interim public health director, Andy Cambi, said. “We advocated for what they were experiencing.”
Verizon didn’t offer an immediate answer, but for neighborhood residents, who say they’ve been dealing with health problems since the tower was turned on last year, there is finally some hope.
“To finally have the board of health to ask Verizon to take it down is such a positive step,” neighborhood resident, Ann Carey, said. “I’m very hopeful.”
“I’m glad to see that they’re starting to take us more seriously, and they see that there is a problem,” said neighbor Charlie Herzig said. “We’re just really glad to have the backing to get our neighborhood back.”
This new wave of support for the neighborhood goes even further.
The state legislature is debating a bill to create a commission to study cell tower radiation, and former Pittsfield Public Health director Gina Armstrong and former Board of Health chair Alan Kulberg wrote a letter in support of the bill before leaving their respective positions last month.
“It felt like it gave us, finally, a voice, and that we’re not invisible,” said Courtney Gilardi, who has been spearheading the neighborhood’s effort to fight the tower. “People are harmed by wireless radiation every day. The consequences of improperly siting towers is real. And to be acknowledged like that was a great feeling.”
Right now, Verizon is under no legal obligation to shut down the tower. Cambi acknowledged they’re unlikely to do so.
However, he and the Board of Health are working on a list of alternative sites where the tower could be relocated.
“We’ll definitely bring that forward to the next conversation, just to say, ‘hey, you know, we’ve done a little legwork, is it feasible?’” Cambi said.“We want to keep that open communication with them right now. We want to give them alternatives, we want to give them solutions.”