APRIL 28, 1997

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Opinion

County 'sneaking one by' the public

Ring Hill tower Recently, King County announced plans for installation of an emergency communications tower in the Ring Hill area (off Old Woodinville-Duvall Road). What is interesting about this project is that it will be a great lesson to us and our children on "how government works."
   First, I want to preface my comments by saying that I am not against being prepared for emergencies. I have worked on "preparedness" for almost 26 years and have dealt with the federal government from both inside and out in regard to safety, preparedness, and regulatory issues.
   I live near what will be the base of this 300-foot guyed tower. Being near the site, I have seen them making preparations for this for over a year now. At almost the last minute, two meetings were held to explain the tower and to hear from the public. Based upon all my years of experience in and with government, I will tell you that public meetings generally are designed to let the public vent their feelings; then the agency will get on with their project as planned. There probably never was or will be any intention to seriously consider public input. Why else would they rush those hearings?
   I think time will show what the true intentions of the county are. It is my contention that communications companies needed a tower in this area to fill a gap. The county was "convinced" to build this tower, and eventually the companies would quietly start leasing space on the tower, and soon the exposure to microwaves will increase significantly. I sure hope they put a warning on the tower: "People with pacemakers, keep one mile away."
   The site was most likely chosen because it would bring little opposition. They moved the tower to the north side so the owners in the local big development will only see a glimpse of the tower at most. There are bigger hills around, but none so convenient as this for being able to "sneak one by" the public.
   Another concern is that this is being developed over an old dump site, and this area is also near the seismic center for this area. This huge structure may also have an impact on the local ground well water. After all, they are trucking off all the drainage already. The excavation and/or a few small tremors may case a shift in the substrata allowing this contaminated water to flow into the wells in the local area.
   However, the real crime is that this tower will preclude the use of this land (75 acres) being used for much needed open park and recreation spaces. The whole community, not just those of us in the immediate local area, will lose on this project.
   I'm sure my taxes will continue to go up and the price of my home plummet. However, on the positive side, if--no, when--the tower goes in, the county will have to scrap the plan for an airport approach over my home. Hey, if the government can sell drugs, sponsor wars, and sell chemical and biological weapons to the Middle East, they sure as heck can put a tower in my back yard.
   These folks involved with this project will tell you a lot of things you want to hear, but in my book, "if BS was white, the county would need a snowblower to get to work!"

Alan Dujenski, Woodinville