The July 21 editorial regarding Bell Atlantic Mobile's five-year effort to improve cellular service in Rock Creek Park didn't mention that the National Park Service approved Bell Atlantic's applications after a complete environmental review and 30 opportunities for public input. After all that, the Park Service determined that Bell Atlantic Mobile met its most stringent standard: no derogation of environmental, aesthetic and historical park resources. The Fine Arts Commission approved the proposal. The National Capital Planning Commission staff twice recommended its acceptance (although the commission voted to table the decision pending further study).
If antennas outside the park could cover phones inside the park, Bell Atlantic Mobile would put the antennas outside. The park's valleys and foliage preclude that. We spent years examining locations that cover the park while not disturbing pristine areas. We identified two highly developed locations -- the tennis center, where numerous light poles are in use, and the maintenance yard, where 12 days of balloon tests showed that the antenna cannot be seen from the Taft Bridge or other frequented park locations.
The illustration with The Post's Aug. 2 letter "Cell Phones in the Park" was an unfortunate misrepresentation. Our antennas, placed on existing light poles, would be unobtrusive and would have almost no impact on the existing landscape.
This park is federal property. Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle's amendment does not change the relationship of federal property to local authorities, nor does it change the public's opportunity to fully participate in all siting application procedures. After five years and meeting all laws, the park service should do what it has decided to do -- issue permits.
Bell Atlantic Mobile