I already get 5 bars …

17 March 2008

WASHINGTON, The site of the single bloodiest day in American history is under siege, threatened by a 120-foot cellphone tower, says a preservation group.

This year’s Endangered Battlefield Report from the Civil War Preservation Trust leads off with the story of a planned cellphone tower for Antietam. If you read newspapers you’ve seen many lead paragraphs like that above from USA Today March 12.

Liberty Towers LLC says the 120-foot structure – it would extend 30 feet above the treeline to the west – would be disguised as a farm silo to blend in with the rolling farmlands of Western Maryland. But opponents say it would overwhelm a battlefield seen nationally as a model of historic preservation.

“One of the reasons that Antietam is so well-known and so well-respected is the fact that here, when you stand on the battlefield, what you see is a very rural environment that hasn’t been impacted by commercial development,” said John Howard, superintendent of Antietam National Battlefield…

Mike Hofe, president and chief operating officer of Liberty Towers, has described the structure as a “stealth tower” that would have minimal impact on battlefield vistas. He says the proposal remains in the “early planning stages”; Liberty has yet to file for permits … (Baltimore Sun, March 14)

Dr Tom Clemens, President of Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) noted that the threat of a cell tower has been seen before near Sharpsburg, and

I observed the test for this tower back in early January [2008]. They put up a balloon to the height of the proposed tower and it was awful. You could see it from all over the place. Not just from the battlfield, but all over Sharpsburg. SHAF
wrote a letter protesting the tower, as did the NPS [National Park Service] … no reply yet to either of us.

The Hagerstown Herald-Mail story adds:

National Park Service officials were notified in December 2007 of a proposal to erect a stealth cell tower south of the battlefield off Mondale Road in Sharpsburg, park Superintendent John Howard said Thursday.

In January, park officials participated in a visibility test, and the tower would be visible in about 70 percent of the park, Howard said. The officials were asked to provide feedback to a consultant, and Howard said he wrote that the tower would be a “major intrusion into the battlefield viewshed.”

“Any modern intrusion on it really detracts,” Howard said.

Can you help? Contact:

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT)
Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF)
And let your US Representative or Senator know you want them to bring pressure to bear to protect the Battlefield.

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