Cell tower wars in Ridge

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Tenants of an 81st Street apartment building are up in arms over the installation of more cellphone equipment on the roof of their building — and now want someone to give them some say over where cellphone carriers install their antennas.

The trouble began several years ago, when the owner of the building at 301 81st St. installed several antennas atop the building.

But last Friday, residents of the radio active complex noticed a crane attaching even more equipment to the roof.

“I asked the workers what they were doing and they wouldn’t tell me,” said Ernie Homsey, a resident of the building since 1945. “They tried to sneak it up there without anyone knowing what was going on and now the whole block is furious.”

Tenants filed complaints with the Department of Building against the owner, Gus Sideratos, for “storing heavy equipment on top of roof,” but the complaints were dismissed after an inspection.

Sideratos may have been unavailable for comment — but his actions aren’t without reason.

Cellphone companies pay building owners big bucks in exchange for a little rooftop space — and most residents enjoy the full bars on their phone and the flush cash in their building’s general fund.

But there is so much cellular equipment all over the neighborhood — and virtually no advance warning about its placement — that residents are revolting.

“I have heard that these towers can cause cancer, and that is what a lot of people are concerned about,” added Homsey.

At this point in the column attentive Ridge residents might begin feeling some deja-vu.

That’s because it has been barely 18-months since parents of St. Anselm’s School fought the construction of a Sprint/Nextel tower to be placed atop a nearby building at 8300 Fourth Ave. As in the 81st Street building, parents at the school didn’t know that the tower was coming until a crane showed up late one night.

The public uproar caught the attention of state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) who quickly intervened.

“For companies to come in the dark of the night and simply erect these towers is unacceptab­le,” said Golden. “Communities should not have to wake up and find that a cellphone tower was placed near their school or their home.”

Golden even pushed for legislation that would have prohibited the erection of cellular towers and antennas within 500 feet of schools throughout New York City — but the bill never became a law.

But for parents at St. Anselm’s, they gladly took a loss in that battle for a victory in their tower war.

That’s because although the bill may have been defeated, parents did garner enough negative publicity to force Sprint to halt construction of the antennas.

Now the angry 81st Street residents are going to use the same textbook to force their landlord to take down all the equipment amassed above their heads.

They are signing petitions, calling their pols, and even contacted the local media (hi, everyone!) to help get the word out.

“We are looking to bring this to people’s attention,” said Homsey. “All we are asking for is to have a discussion about the effects these towers will have on the neighborho­od.”

The phone at Councilman Vince Gentile’s (D–Bay Ridge) office has been ringing off the hook over the issue and it is going to be brought up at the next meeting of Community Board 10 (which is currently enjoying its summer vacation now).

It looks like another tower war is coming to Bay Ridge.

Of course, Yellow Hooker can’t find one study that validates community concerns that cellphone towers actually hurt people’s health (not that I want one on my roof). That said, I am gracious enough to offer one sure-fire way for residents to rid our neighborhoods of these towers: throw your cellphone in the garbage.

Can you hear me now? I didn’t think so.

The Kitchen Sink

If you find your street overrun by teens dressed as Goths, don’t worry — you didn’t take a wrong turn and end up in the Village, it is only Harry Potter Night, sponsored by state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge). The magic begins at 8 pm in front of Bookmark Shoppe, at 8415 Third Ave., and concludes at midnight Friday, July 20 (12:01 am on Saturday, July 21), with the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”… On July 10, the Strictly ’60s will be playing, what else?, classic ’60s music at a free concert at 79th Street and Shore Road. Bring a blanket. …

Nouvelle, located at 8716 Third Ave., has a great eel sushi, but it is the last time our source attempts to order a margarita at an Asian fusion restaurant! …

Brooklyn’s new Republican Party Chairman Craig Eaton is trying to rebuild the GOP from the ground up, and is starting in cyberspace with a new Web site And Eaton says he’ll launch the organization’s “School of Politics” in the next six months. Can President Bush take a refresher course? …

It may be early, but Bay Ridge is already busy mobilizing for the presidential election. Bay Ridge for Obama will hold its next meeting on June 28, at Chris and Erin’s Bay Ridge Obama Headquarters (also known as their apartment), at 7911 Fifth Ave. What’s next, a Ron Paul Fan Club? Any man who goes after Rudy the way he does will certainly get some votes in Bay Ridge.

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