More than a year ago, the parish entered into an agreement to rent space to Verizon Wireless that will allow them to put a booster antenna on top of the church. Through much consultation and negotiation with Verizon and with the Archdiocese, the details of the agreement have been finalized, and construction is due to begin on or around April 25.
What does this mean for St. Charles? In addition to the initial signing bonus of $9000, it will mean a steady flow of passive income of $2900 per month. From a financial standpoint, it’s equivalent to adding another weekend of income to every month.
As you might imagine, the income is much needed. For the past several years, the parish has operated in deficit mode and has had to dip into savings just to cover operating costs. We have implemented a number of measures to balance the budget, and we expect to finish this fiscal year in the black. Yet the severe winter exposed all vulnerabilities in our plant, particularly the roof and heating systems, resulting in maintenance and repair costs significantly higher than normal. Add to that, we still need to complete the brick repair on the west, north, and east sides of the church.
So, the added income from Verizon is most welcome. (We could spend the signing bonus three or four times over on urgent projects — computers, roof, boiler, bricks, carpeting!) And the monthly income will be very helpful to our operating budget.
What will it look like? Once construction is complete, you will notice the presence of Verizon in two places. First, on top of the church at the north end, there will be an eight foot by eight foot space that supports an antenna structure that will rise just ten feet above the roof. This means you will likely have to be a block or more away from the church in order to see the antenna.
Second, at ground level, near the southwest corner of the church, Verizon will install several power and equipment boxes that will occupy a space twelve feet by twenty-two feet. When finished, this area will be fenced and fully landscaped.
All of this has been reviewed and approved by the Archdiocese. Also, the Administrative Council has been fully briefed and consulted all along the way.
How long will construction take? Contractors for Verizon have told us that it will take about three months, start to finish. So, if they get started near the end of April, they should be finished by the end of June. But of course, delays are certainly possible. They have already begun paying rent.
Are there health risks involved? According the American Cancer Society:
At ground level near typical cellular base stations, the amount of RF* energy is thousands of times less than the limits for safe exposure set by the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and other regulatory authorities. It is very unlikely that a person could be exposed to RF levels in excess of these limits just by being near a cell phone tower.
When a cellular antenna is mounted on a roof, it is possible that a person on the roof could be exposed to RF levels greater than those typically encountered on the ground. But even then, exposure levels approaching or exceeding the FCC safety guidelines are only likely to be found very close to and directly in front of the antennas. If this is the case, access to these areas should be limited.
The level of RF energy inside buildings where a base station is mounted is typically much lower than the level outside, depending on the construction materials of the building. Wood or cement block reduces the exposure level of RF radiation by a factor of about 10. Read the full article here.
(* RF = radio frequency waves)
As always, we welcome your comments and questions. Contact Leif Kehrwald, Parish Pastoral Administrator at 503-351-9889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.