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Cell towers proposed for Bohemia Fire Department raise neighbors' concerns

Bohemia resident Steve Zaino criticizes the commissioners of

Bohemia resident Steve Zaino criticizes the commissioners of the Bohemia Fire District for going into executive session last month to discuss personnel issues instead of answering questions about the controversial 120-foot-tall cell towers they planned to erect on fire department property. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

A proposal to build two cell towers on land owned by the Bohemia Fire Department has raised concerns among some neighbors.

The fire department has submitted an application to Islip's planning and development department to build the towers at its firehouse on Pearl Street, and behind the fire station on Eighth Street, said fire officials.

Lauren Barresi, whose parents live on the same block as the Pearl Street firehouse, said she was concerned about potential radiation emitted by the towers, and pointed out the two towers would be within a half mile of two schools. "At the rate the cellphone tower is going to be used, we're very concerned about the health risk," she said. "I had a little brother that passed away from cancer so we take this very seriously." Barresi and a group of other residents plan to submit a petition to ask Islip to deny the application.

The fire department was approached a year ago by Highlander Consultants, an East Islip-based cellphone tower installation company, which offered to pay $100,000 for each of the two sites. The timing was fortuitous, said fire Commissioner Tom Riedel. "The benefits to the project are better radio communication which we're sorely lacking," he said.

The contract also includes new radio antenna equipment for the department as well as 40 percent of the revenue of what Highlander gets from cell service providers renting the towers. "Depending on how many cell carriers, that could be $12,000 to $16,000 per month for the fire district," Riedel said.

Fire district Commissioner Frank Nuzzo said, "We were looking at it to save money. It has nothing to do with offending anybody." The town is expected to make a decision on the department's application in two months.

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