[Editor's Note: The following is an open letter to attorney Robert Michalik of New Britain, from Diane Dupuis, chairman of the Washington Conservation Commission's Cell Tower Committee].

Thnaks for attending our town meeting with AT & T.

As you may remember from the last battle with SBA on Rabbit Hill Road, the town Conservation Commission, in conjunction with Gov. Jodi Rell, the Council on Environmental Quality, the DEP, CROWW, and the Attorney General's office, vigorously defended this area in protracted legal battles at the Siting Council.

A main point of our argument was the impact on scenic vistas and the environmental sensitivity of the Macricostas Preserve on Route 202.

It is a highly sensitive environmental corridor that stretches down Route 202; this is the area in Washington which has the most natural diversity, data base circles and a calcareous wetland to support endangered species of flora and fauna, so that many more discoveries are highly likely in the future.

The town, in its natural resource inventory, recognizes this area as an important wildlife corridor and habitat. This area is also recognized on state conservation maps as an important conservation area.

We have worked hard, and steadily, for the past decade to preserve this area with its wildlife and scenic beauty.

During this time, we have declared scenic all of the surrounding roads off this stretch of 202. Whittlesey, Rabbit Hill and Couch are all declared scenic by the town.

This stretch of Route 202 from Route 45, past Rabbit Hill Road, was designated scenic by the state just last year.

We hope Litchfield will continue with us to have the next segment of Route 202 going east declared scenic in the near future.

Montessori School was mistaken in offering up parcels farther down the road from them; these sites were not chosen with care or by those familiar with the concerns of the town or the location of its people.

Please know the tower on 17 Wilbur Road would have sat directly behind the headmistress' home and that of her daughter; now it is offered to be moved near other parents' and children's homes.

One home with two children, aged 2 and 4, would sit just 200 feet from one of the sites the school has proposed to AT & T.

It is a dangerous game to pit neighbor against neighbor in the siting of these towers.

We are opposed to it, and have never in the decade we have been working with the telecoms offered up any other property.

We believe it is the town's job to protect its people and the town should not do the work of the telecoms. We also believe in the precautionary principle and. until it is proven there are no health effects, we believe we should proceed with caution in the siting of these towers.

We are not in favor of any of the sites offered up by Montessori as these, sitting directly across from the Macricostas preserve, would they even more closely impact the scenic and natural critical habitats we have worked so hard to protect.

In addition, the land surrounding the back of these proposed sites is filled with conservation easements.

For the record, AT & T was approved to locate its transponders five years ago on Washington's first tower in Marble Dale.

Since that tower, owned by Verizon, began operating, Verizon customers have had uninterrupted services the entire length of Route 202.

It is disingenuous at best for AT & T to claim they have no service when they are still not up and running.

Now, five years later, they say they need to raise the tower an additional 10 feet to achieve their objectives.

Where else is this true? How many towers continue to be erected because providers have not gone up and operational on previously erected towers?

It is our belief AT & T should get its transponders up and operational and, with that, this stretch of Route 202 can remain preserved for its scenic beauty, its endangered wildlife and its families.

The FCC ruling only provides for adequate coverage; contrary to the commercials, they do not require blanket coverage of an area.

We appreciate the help of Congressman Chris Murphy's office in this important battle to protect our natural resources.

Please thank him directly for me and thanks again to you for being part of our continued battles to protect this important area.

Diane Dupuis

Chairman

Cell Tower Committee

Conservation Commission

Washington