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T-Mobile removes tower near 233rd St. school

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Few had noticed, or knew what they were looking at, when cellular service provider T-Mobile erected a cell phone tower on top of a building that was next door to the Cambria Center for the Gifted Child."I didn't realize what it was," said Sherry Palmer, director of the school that houses children from pre-school through fifth grade. The school is located on Linden Boulevard and 233rd Street in Cambria Heights. Palmer said construction on the tower began in November when the building it was on top of was undergoing renovations.Once Palmer found out there was a cell phone tower within feet of her school, she wanted it to come down.Palmer said there is not enough research on the health risks of having a cell phone tower so close to a school, but she would rather be safe than sorry."My biggest fear is 10 years down the road someone will tell me that their kid has this or that because of the tower," said Palmer.Palmer said she spoke with the owner of Olympic Plumbing, the company housed in the building where the tower once stood, and he said he was unaware of the tower's potential dangers."Once he became aware of the dangers, he was very accommodating," said Palmer.The owner of Olympic Plumbing could not be reached for comment.Palmer said her school was approached by the cell phone provider a few years ago inquiring if it would be interested in having a tower on its roof. The school declined the offer because of the risks to the students, although hosting the tower could bring in thousands of dollars a month, according to Palmer.Palmer also enlisted the help of City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who got in touch with representatives from T-Mobile."They wanted to be helpful," said Comrie. "I convinced them of the negative implications and after having a long conversation, they agreed to take it down." On Feb. 10 T-Mobile began to take the cell tower down from the roof of Olympic Plumbing and now only the frame of the tower remains.T-Mobile did not return phone calls seeking comment.Comrie said he is working with T-Mobile to select a different location for the tower in Cambria Heights."There are plenty of locations (in Cambria Heights)," said Comrie. "(T-Mobile) agreed to work with me and the community on finding a site."Comrie said a date for a meeting with T-Mobile on possible alternative locations for the tower had not yet been determined, but he added that the Cambria Heights Civic Association and the community as a whole would be involved.Palmer applauded the work of Comrie and Olympic Plumbing on working together with T-Mobile to rectify the situation. "I'm relieved it's down," said Palmer. Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 173.

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