Verizon Considering Cell Phone Tower at Crossfield Elementary

by Karen Goff May 10, 2016 at 3:30 pm 26 Comments

Crossfield Map/Credit: Milestone Communications

A cell phone monopole is back in play for Crossfield Elementary School.

Verizon Wireless is seeking to build a cell phone tower at the Fairfax County Public Schools elementary school at 2791 Fox Mill Rd.

Verizon is working with local firm Milestone Communications to get approval to build the pole and improve cell phone reception in the area. The proposal is for a 138-foot tower disguised to look like a tree.

The request to build the pole comes about 2 1/2 years after a similar proposal fell apart in the application process. T-Mobile and Milestone filed an application in November of 2013 seeking to build at Crossfield. The request was postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, there was organized resident opposition to the 2013 proposal, including a petition signed by fewer than 200 people. Residents said there was already a cell phone tower nearby, that the tower would affect home values, and that cell phones should not be allowed on elementary school property because studies showing longterm health effects are inconclusive.

There was also a proposal by AT&T and Milestone for a pole at Hunters Woods Park, a Reston Association property, in June of 2014. The RA Design Review Board nixed the idea of a 115-foot pole in the woods behind a soccer field.

But many poles have been built on to public lands in recent years. South Lakes High School, Herndon Middle School, Madison High School and Carson Middle School are among the many FCPS properties that have cell phone towers on their grounds.

The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last several years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Milestone says schools and parks are ideal locations for these towers because they often have existing structures, such as field light poles, in place.

FCPS says it has has done studies on cell phones being located on school grounds and has determined the practice is safe.

Have some thoughts on a pole for Crossfield? A community meeting has been scheduled for May 19, 7 p.m., at the North County Government Center, Hunter Mill District Office, 1801 Cameron Glen Dr.

Map of proposed cell phone tower location/Credit Milestone Communications

  • Bill Bouie

    This is a much needed feature in this area, especially for Verizon. There is virtually no coverage in this area and it is a safety hazard. Many have tried using their phones at the Little League fields with no success. It became an issue two years ago when a kid was beaned with a ball during a tournament game and someone had to go all the way to Lawyers Rd. in order to call 911 and alert emergency responders. This took 10 minutes and could have been critical. It would also serve anyone walking alone if any problems arose. I hope that these coverage issues will be shown in the presentation.

    • Lisa

      Hi Bill – I think you are the Park Authority Board Chairman? Can the Park Authority solve the issue by allowing a tower at the baseball field or in the adjacent park – all Park Authority land? Just move the tower away from the school and the playground. There is already power at the park. Seems like an easy option? Does the Park Authority not want the tower on their land? Seems like a good option.

      • Bill Bouie

        Lisa, thanks for the note and I am the Park Authority Chairman. I am also a Telecommunications Engineer. These towers are placed specifically for coverage purposes so we could not just randomly move the tower to another spot. The PA has not been approached about having this at the park, and we typically only place these towers in parks as a last resort or if a safety hazard exists.

        • Lisa

          Hi – helpful info! Thank you.

    • concordpoint

      You are correct Bill. This is a much needed facility. FCPS has had a policy on these facilities for 20 years. I, too, wish they had not punted the operation over to Milestone. These facilities exist at many high schools as part of the stadium lighting (South Lakes, etc.)

  • Chuck Morningwood

    This location doesn’t make sense. That’s a low point in the local geography. It would seem to make more sense to put this at the top of the roller coaster hill where Verizon already has a switch facility.

    • Nimby

      I thought you were moving

      • Chuck Morningwood

        Yeah. So what’s your point?

        • Nimby

          Which regions backyard will be blessed with your presence? And will you continue Reston backyard with same committment?


      It’s a long shot – but just maybe the Verizon engineers know a little big more about system design than you do. They selected this site for a reason.

    • Lisa

      Please sign the petition to move the Tower away from Crossfield School and Playground. Please forward. https://www.change.org/p/stop-plans-to-erect-a-cell-tower-at-crossfield-elementary-school

  • Lisa

    Hmmm better cell phone coverage or potential long term risks for the youngest members of our community?? Russia, Germany, and Israel (and others) have restricted towers from school campuses. From the few tests that have been done, there might be a problem with RF radiation within 1,000 feet of a cell tower. But no one is sure. Is it really worth the risk to our kids? This will effect Crossfields and all kids that play on the athletic fields next to the school.

    • Mike M

      “[N]o one is sure” if the sky might fall tomorrow. Power lines might be turning us into to zombies. “[N]o one is sure.” Moving faster than 35 miles per hour might damage our souls. “[N]o one is sure.”

      • Lisa

        Do your kids go to that school or play on those fields?

        • Mike M

          They did when they were younger. They grew up near Power Lines. We survived! Your brand of suburban momma paranoia irks me.

          • Parents’ Coalition

            In Montgomery County, MD cell towers MUST register with the County’s Homeland Security office because the sites are HAZMAT locations. The registration is not optional.

            How many parents want to put a HAZMAT location in the middle of a playground? There is nothing paranoid about COMMON SENSE. If Homeland Security has concerns about the installation, then parents are well within their right minds to be concerned about putting such an installation on a playground.

          • Mike M

            So, if the leftist government declares something, it must be so? I am talking about experience and many, many studies.

          • KMC

            Separate from the issue at hand, I just looked up the referenced Hazmat information out of curiousity. Swimming pools are on the list of required registrants. “All facilities using, processing, transferring, storing, or manufacturing
            hazardous substances that exceed a minimum threshold of 5 gallons or 50
            pounds must report to OEMHS”.

  • Why do you bother?

    Popcorn? Check!

  • RoadApples

    Curious ?:
    Here in the year 2016: Do we have the technological ability to run a land/underground telephone line to allow for communication from the baseball fields to 911 in case of emergencies?

  • Robert Schwaninger

    My problem with these deals is that the lion’s share of the value of placing these towers on FCPS property goes to Milestone. Although FCPS has received $4 million over the years, the amount that FCPS could have made is much, much higher. A portfolio of cell towers with one-to-three carriers on each spread across FCPS property would cash flow quite nicely to augment the school budget and the schools would be adding extremely valuable assets. I have stated for years that the County and FCPS should be eliminating the middle man and reap the benefits. And I have the benefit of over 30 years in the tower industry to back it up.

  • Karl Muller

    FCPS says it has done “studies” — these are just surveys showing the radiation levels from towers in these schools are below FCC levels. By your Telecommunications Act of 1996, this means that no American is allowed to say one word against these towers in the official process. By the most outrageous abrogation of your right to free speech, the FCC declares that if the radiation is below the level *they* consider to be safe, you may not object on health grounds. Nice to be so absolutely right.

    I have collected *every single study on cellphone masts and health* conducted in the world. This amounts to 24 studies; of which 23 find a clear pattern of health problems, including significantly raised cancer rates. These are peer-reviewed scientific studies, not radiation surveys as above.

    The one study that says it did not find a pattern, a UK study looking at infant cancers near masts, actually shows clear increases in leukaemias as you get closer to a mast. Leukaemia is the signature cancer of whole-body radiation.

    Mr Barrie Trower, the UK government’s former scientific expert on microwave warfare, started collecting details of cancer clusters in schools with masts in Europe. His criterion for a cluster was 10 or more leukaemia deaths in any one school. He had over 200 schools (> 2000 kids) by around 2005, when he got depressed by the exercise and stopped.

    I am a qualified physics teacher with a master’s degree in science classroom language, specialising in “attention” etc. in the classroom. This was done in South Africa in 1987. I am qualified to tell you that there has been a totally drastic change in the psychology of children since then — epidemic ADD, autism (one child in 68 in the USA, according to the CDC…), and associated maladies.

    Studies have shown short-term memory and attention severely disturbed by cellphone radiation; children whose mothers were heavy cellphone users showing distinct behavioural disorders; brainwave patterns being disturbed by pulsed microwave radiation at levels of one-trillionth (this is correct) of the FCC guidelines.

    If you allow a major mast near a school, with the main beam falling on classrooms and playgrounds, you are conducting an open experiment on microwave exposure of children. Have you got their permission for this experiment? Are you going to do a proper study of the health effects that might arise?

    Barrie Trower was a military scientist, who held the world’s most comprehensive list of pulsed frequencies and their effects on brain and body. He has given one consistent warning of the effect of mobile phone masts: that is increased teen suicide rates.

    In South Africa, suicide was absolutely unknown among young black people. In 17 years working in black education there, I never heard of even one suicide attempt.

    in 1995, the first year of cellphone operation, a huge epidemic of young blacks committing suicide in the east of Johannesburg was reported. People were mystified.

    Now, about 15% of intensive care beds at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg are taken up with young black kids who have swallowed rat poison, terrible organophosphate poisoning.

    You can say what you like. I am 100% certain, from my own observations, that masts are absolutely disastrous for kids’ and teachers’ health and wellbeing. Barrie Trower says: in *every* case where there is a mast in a school, academic performance goes down; behaviour problems go up.

    Do you really want this for your kids? Please fight this with all you’ve got. It is insane. The UK government guideline says the beam of a mast should not fall on a school. Is this so onerous?

  • Parents’ Coalition

    In Montgomery County, Maryland cell towers MUST register with the County’s
    Homeland Security office because the sites are HAZMAT locations. The
    registration is not optional.

    How many parents want to put a HAZMAT location in the middle of a playground? There is nothing paranoid about COMMON SENSE. If Homeland Security has concerns about the installation, then parents are well within their right minds to be
    concerned about putting such an installation on a playground.

  • Randall Griffin

    The FCPS Facilities Department approved this location. The School Board was notified. FCPS doesn’t believe the World Health Organization that this radiation
    is “carcinogenic to humans” – like DDT & lead. FCPS also discounts the many medical studies showing cancer after long-term exposure within 1,000 ft. of towers. Why does FCPS need the money so bad that they will risk our children’s health with cancer or sterility? What is their proof of safety? Instead of this location, Verizon can place a tower in Fred Crabtree Park away from the students — neighborhoods would get better coverage and the students would be safer, but then FCPS would not get the 10-year lease fee. Please ask Bill Bouie to consider this! (mailto:[email protected])


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