About 30 concerned citizens marched to the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District (LWWSD) Operations Office at 1010 Lakeview Street to protest building a cell phone tower. I wrote about that proposal in this article and I was among the protesters. This is an update highlighting what happened.
Protesters were at the site for almost two hours and were visited by LWWSD board member Todd Citron, whom I would like to thank for showing up and engaging with us. Todd acknowledged that the contract LWWSD signed with DISH was illegal because public hearings that were supposed to have taken place, were ignored. He expressed his concerns about having alienated the community and assured us that LWWSD values us. Still, he made no firm commitments to stop construction or terminate the contract with DISH.
Protesters pushed for solid commitments and shared their concerns about the tower. Todd said that since they had signed a contract with DISH, although an illegal one, he wanted to see what could be done that would be in the best interest of all parties. I question why Todd seems so concerned about an illegally signed contract.
Todd said DISH approached the LWWSD board and, without consulting the community or any broadband experts, they made a decision about our welfare after listening to a skilled salesperson from a special interest. The board was apparently convinced they could sidestep the normal process.
I don’t mean to paint a totally bad picture of this situation. The community rallied, organized, and united against this cell tower. Todd acknowledged that the board made a mistake. The result is that we will, finally, have the public hearing we were supposed to get in the first place. This time, we must push for a real commitment from the LWWSD board.
I must say I am proud of this group and our community. Many of our members have engaged the County Council, LWWSD, and the community at large. I hope LWWSD will prove they want to be a benevolent part of this community by tearing up their illegal contract with DISH and refusing to entertain this idea moving forward.
As many of you know, I have for years been asking the county to form a proper Broadband Advisory Group. Not groups like the City and PUD/Port have that are made up of big telecoms representatives and sympathizers. We need a group made up of citizens, specifically citizens not connected to special interests who can provide objective perspectives on broadband, cellular, and other technology-related issues. With the exception of council members Tyler Byrd and Kaylee Galloway, the County Council has blown this idea off.