BY JORDAN GIBBONS
About a year ago, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens community organizations joined forces with Councilman Donovan Richards’ office to fight telecommunications giant Verizon Wireless’ plans to install a cell tower on Merrick Boulevard.
On Tuesday, the coalition celebrated their victory after learning that Verizon has abandoned the installation of the 58-foot tower.
Richards’ Chief of Staff Franck Joseph said that Verizon informed the office that it will be looking into more traditional means to address the capacity issue for the wireless network in the area.
“This eyesore that was going to be in the community will not be here,” Joseph said. “We already have a lot of health issues because of an airport that is nearby, we didn’t need an additional cell tower that would bring the community additional reasons that community members would be worried about.”
The Federated Blocks of Laurelton, Rosedale Civic Association, Concerned Citizens of Laurelton, Community Board 13 and other organizations rallied together to question the harmful effects and the obtrusive nature of the tower.
Dwight Johnson, president of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton, said that this was a great achievement because the community came together to fight the plan.
“They saw something that wasn’t right; they saw something that they didn’t want in their community and they stood up for it, they fought for it and they won.” Johnson said. “That’s what’s important and we still have to be vigilant.”
Bess DeBetham, a CB 13 board member, helped unite the community on the issue from the beginning along with Johnson.
She is a cancer survivor so the idea of having the tower directly on top of residences in the area concerned her.
“I would like to say to the rest of the community and the public in general, when you see these ugly monsters erected over your home or someone making an attempt to do so, you can do something about it,” DeBetham said. “Come together, force your opposition and hopefully you will be successful like we were.”
Judy Rivera added that there are already too many towers in the Laurelton area, and the community does not need any more.
Joseph said other ways Verizon could address the service in the area would be to use antennas.
“We are in conversation with them to make sure whatever options they are looking at the community is well-informed and that we too will be at the table in whichever direction they choose to move forward,” he said.
Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400, Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.