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Astoria education council says no to cellular towers

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"We're concerned, obviously, for health reasons," said Angela Tsopouidis, vice president of the Parent Teacher Association of PS 122 at 21-21 Ditmars Blvd. "Our intent is to have these towers removed."In November, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. and state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris, both Astoria Democrats, led a protest against the antennas located on a roof across the street from the school.Gianaris, who has introduced a bill regulating cell tower locations, called the PS 122 antennas a "reckless placement."Vallone is threatening further protests and a boycott if the company does not soon remove them.Nextel spokeswoman Diana Rainey said the cell phone provider will meet Thursday with the school principal and PTA to discuss the antennas, which have not yet been activated.She could not say if they would be removed."We'll see what happens," she said. The towers are designed to operate within the radio emissions standards of the Federal Communications Commission, Rainey said."They would be well below the accepted levels of radio frequencies," the spokeswoman said.But Maria Gonzalez, a parent of two PS 122 students, said there have been no comprehensive studies on the effects of cell antenna emissions."This is crazy," she said . "To put them in front of the schools when we don't know what happens is ridiculous."The school has nearly 1,300 kindergarten students through eighth-graders. Gonzalez said officials can't take a chance with their safety."We don't want to find out five, 10 years from now that there's a danger (with antennas) -- especially with our kids," she said.Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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