Letter: Cell service along Lower Blue a matter of public safety
October 5, 2015
To the Editor:
Are you tired of not having cell service in the Lower Blue Valley? Are you tired of AT&T repeatedly backing out of its promise to build a cell tower north of Silverthorne? Go to FOLBR.org to sign our letter!
Thanks to the Summit County commissioners, led by Karn Stiegelmeier, Congressman Jared Polis is ready to go to bat for us; but he needs a lot of citizens behind his efforts.
Over the past decade, FOLBR (Friends of the Lower Blue River) has tried intensively to establish cell service in the currently dead areas of the Lower Blue Valley. We have worked with AT&T to find the single best site for a tower. (This tower was to be shared with other cell companies, including Verizon.) The landowner and AT&T signed a lease agreement many months ago, having the solid support of the Summit County government. Now AT&T once again has canceled indefinitely plans to build our tower.
Besides those of us living in the Lower Blue Valley, the Colorado Department of Transportation website indicates an average of over 5,000 vehicles per day passing through our segment of Highway 9. When we are away from our land-lines, we have no communication. A major public safety issue, the lack of cell service is the weakest link in our chain of protection. We have seen many examples of the danger:
An auto accident with injuries on Highway 9, a car sliding off of a remote mountain road in a snowstorm, a hunter with a heart attack, a lone hiker with a leg injury who spent the night in the forest, a fire discovered by a workman without access to a land line. It would be a tragic irony to have a fire discovered early, but to let it become unstoppable due to an inability to call 9-1-1.
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In the event of wildfire, imagine our families trying to escape; people will not be sitting next to their home phones. They must be able to communicate with each other and with emergency services.
We strongly encourage AT&T to build our cell tower as a top priority, without further delay. If they do not intend to build it, they are morally obligated to release the land owner from the lease, so that someone else can build it. If you ever travel on Highway 9 north of Silverthorne please, for your safety and ours, go to FOLBR.org and sign the letter.
John Hillman, MD