News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now? Tree Disguised as Cell Phone Tower Considered for Lake Newport Pool

CellTower_Camo_closeup.jpgHey, it's a tree carefully pruned to look like a cell phone tower! Or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, the Reston Association is considering a proposal to stick one of these bad boys at the Lake Newport Pool complex. Apparently all those cellular iPhone email machines the kidz are "web logging" with these days have created huge demand for more cell phone towers and whatnot.

The proposed Lake Newport tower would be one of the “stealth tree” models, which are constructed to look like part of the surrounding foliage.

Lawrence Loring, a site acquisition specialist with Compass Technology Services, summarized the need for the tower to the Board of Directors, as well as the process for placing the tower.

STEALTH TOWERS are usually placed in the middle of a wooded area, and they are placed in a secure area, separated by an 8-foot high board-on-board fence. All power lines are placed underground, and unless one is standing within a few feet of the tower, there is no sound, Loring said.

He also addressed several of the common issues that tend to arise within the community before construction.

“If it weren’t crucial to T-Mobile, they wouldn’t do it, the objective is to first find an existing structure,” Loring said. “They’re safe facilities, there’s no scientific evidence anywhere to suggest any sort of negative health impacts. There’s the argument of lower property values, there’s no evidence to support that either.”

“At some point, these towers are going to have to be in Reston someplace, we might as well have our input in how they come into Reston,” said Milton W. Matthews, chief executive officer of the Board of Directors.
The RA board harrumphed for a while, then board member Richard Chew posed a Zen riddle.
“I’ve seen a number of these stealth tree poles, and they’re terrible,” said Richard Chew, an at-large director on the board, but admitted, “I may have not seen a few others that were fine.”
If an ugly cellphone tower falls in the forest and no one sees it, does it make a sound? (Answer: not if it belongs to T-Mobile, which has, what, five customers these days?)

If the RA goes ahead with covering the pool with a giant plexiglass dome, couldn't they just stick the antenna on top of that? That way, it could double as a lightning rod.

Anyhoo, the RA board kicked the can over to the DRB, which will require the tree to be painted "burnt orange" to fit in with the surroundings, the end.


  1. Shouldn't "Gawdawful architecture" be one of the labels/tags for this story? Because this design really is Gawdawful. How about just putting a regular cell phone tower on top of one of those high-rise buildings in our awesome fake downtown, rather than this pathetic attempt to blend in?

  2. Eddie from North PointJune 4, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    This is a very bad idea. That kind of tower, or any kind of tower in that area is just not warranted, and this was proven a few years ago, when they tried to do the same thing at Armstrong Elementary school.

    This tower will be unsightly, and cell coverage in North Point is just fine.

    To all of the NIMBY's out there, this truly is something to be concerned about, and I suggest you make your feelings known to Mr Matthews, the RA Board, our North Point Director, Mike Collins, and certainly to the DRB.

  3. Would you prefer a cell tower or a block of Section 8 housing? The choice is yours.

  4. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonJune 4, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    In other words, "Cathy", our choice comes down to a cell tower or a cell block?

  5. Richard, for god sakes get serious.

    The rental income (assuming RA actually gets market rate) would be greater than the net to RA from the operation of Jim Elder employment center without the $3.8 mortgage.

    Make the deal and hurry up!

  6. T-Mobile plus Section 8 from Hudgins...BRILLIANT!!! A great source of negative revenue, decreased property values and better yet, free phone service and housing. What a great deal!

  7. Put the tower up. When you all die then you won't even notice it


  8. what is the market rate for a cell tower?

  9. I don't get why anyone thinks it is necessary . . . surely the people who are having trouble with T-Mobile reception can switch to a carrier that doesn't have trouble! That's what most people have done rather than hanging on to insufficient service.

    During the time these things are erected, there is a great deal of inconvenience to the people living around it.

    And this comment, "At some point, these towers are going to have to be in Reston someplace, we might as well have our input in how they come into Reston,” said Milton W. Matthews, chief executive officer of the Board of Directors" just makes me crazy.

    It sounds as if he feels such a tower will be forced down Reston's throat at some point. Not unless Reston rolls over and plays dead. Hello? Does he realize what his job IS?

  10. Maybe these should be included in the Reston Master Plan? If we're going to produce document governing buildings and roads, we might as well include infrastructure (water, electricity, gas, and telecom) as well.

  11. Anon 7:37 couldn't agree more. Just how far does Milton Matthews have his head stuck up you know where? His comments as the paid CEO of the Board are astounding.

    His job is to lead, and no when to say no, and this is clearly one of those. The idea of putting a cell tower in a dense residential area is just ludicrous. Passing the buck to the DRB is simply avoiding the issue.

    I suggest some letters to the board,and the DRB are in order to vocalize against this issue, and more importantly the board needs to reexamine the competency of it's most senior manager

  12. I'm a big t-mobile fan! Especially with funny videos like this one (, but that tree looks ugly, couldn't they stick the think behind home depot or something? I'd hate to have something like that in a place where people actually congregate and look at the beautiful surroundings...

    That being said, how much money is it expected to bring in, and what will the money go towards?

  13. Schools. Verizon has a regular tower on S. Lakes HS property. Due to the size of the campus and surrounding trees, it cannot be seen from nearby residential areas. Why not do the same on northern Reston schools?


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