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Cell tower poll results presented to public

Siena Research head describes findings, takes questions

Town officials and other interested parties on Wednesday, July 7, heard the results of a Spotlight/Siena Research Institute poll regarding the construction of cell phone towers in the Town of Bethlehem.

Director of the Siena Research Institute Don Levy was on hand to present the results and to field questions from the audience.

The survey, which canvassed 501 Bethlehem registered voters between June 9 and 16, found many of the town's cell phone users desire better cell phone service, said Levy.

If I was running the town, I think I would read this as I need to put up a tower, he said.

One of the goals of the poll was to discern which of two proposed towers the public prefers: either a tower on private property off of Van Dyke Road proposed by ESCO Tower or an Independent Tower Holdings LLC site on school district property. On this point, the results were less decisive.

Fourteen percent of respondents said the Independent tower should be built, 18 percent favored ESCO's application, 30 percent said either would be fine and 30 percent said no tower should be built.

The poll's margin of error was +/- 4.4 percent.

"There is no clear preference right now among voters between the two sites," Levy said.

Furthermore, responses to questions dealing with issues surrounding towers showed the majority of people do not hold a strong opinion on the effects of towers on property values, health and aesthetics.

"There's little evidence in the survey that if you decided to build at site A, the people who supported site B would turn into opponents," Levy said. "This seems to be a little Solomon-esque to me. ... Somehow, in some way, the citizens of this town are going to have to deal with splitting this baby."

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