Can you hear them now? Neighbors fight more Verizon equipment

Construction workers installed Verizon cellphone transmitters atop an apartment building on the corner of 87th Street and Shore Road on Monday. Neighbors were fuming over the allegedly dangerous radio waves.
The Brooklyn Paper / Michael Lipkin

Workers started installing a cellphone transmitter atop a Shore Road building on Monday — the latest cellular tower in a neighborhood that has made antennae installation, and their alleged health risks, a flashpoint.

Verizon officials steadfastly maintain that cellular equipment does not emit any more radiation than a radio — but that didn’t stop residents of 8701 Shore Rd. from protesting the new array.

“I’m so upset that I might just get up and go,” said one co-op owner, who requested anonymity out of fear of retribution from building managers. “I don’t care that [Verizon] says they’re safe; I’m worried about the radiation with the tower over my head.”

One of the protesters really couldn’t catch a break.

Barbra Light was one of the protestors who forced Verizon to move a cellphone tower away from PS 185 in May — and now has 3,000-pounds of cellular equipment 10 feet above her apartment: her top-floor apartment is directly underneath the cellular antennas.

Worse, she said she’s most upset because the co-op board never notified building residents about the equipment, which typically earn buildings $2,000 a month in rent.

Light said that the building’s board did mention the possibility of installing cell towers at a meeting over a year and half ago, but never put the issue to a vote. No mention was made of the installation since then and residents only realized what was going on when construction began.

“The board never told anyone — and that’s just downright sneaky,” Light said.

Board Treasurer Joe Prezioso refused to take questions about Light’s allegation.

“I have no comment,” he told The Brooklyn Paper.

The controversy over the installation of cellphone equipment on Shore Road is just the latest flare up in Bay Ridge’s ongoing war against the equipment.

Last year, an 81st Street landlord angered his neighbors when he rented his roof to a cellphone provider. And a year earlier, protestors thwarted the construction of a Sprint/Nextel tower near St. Anselm’s School on 83rd Street.

But the bottom line is that everyone uses a cellphone, so cellphone antennas are needed, said David Samberg, a Verizon spokesman.

“The only reason we install antennas in a specific place is because there is a need for them to be there,” he said.

At least one of Light’s neighbors seemed to agree, claiming her Verizon cellphone is practically worthless because of poor reception.

“I can’t switch because my work pays for it, but the call quality is some of the worst I’ve ever heard,” Luba Lektchnova said.

But Light, who has protested Verizon despite being a Verizon customer, says the service is “just fine.”

She says she’ll abandon her carrier if it does not remove the equipment.

“I’d definitely dump them if the tower stays up there,” she said. “We’ll get others in the neighborhood to drop them too, just like we did before. We spent over a year on that sucker. It may take another year, but we’ll get it done.”

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