When we arrived in 1997, the issue of cell towers was in fierce discussion and the County Commissioners decided “no tower.” Cell phones were new and their future dependency was not understood.
Today, most islanders can probably tell you how much the world depends on the cellphone and most islanders have learned how to cope with limited cellphone coverage. The problem is the multitude of visitors and their life-style reliance of expecting cellphone operation — including expecting usage anywhere within San Juan County.
Every year, I wait for someone to have a medical emergency and die, someone who could have survived had the person beside him or her been able to use their cellphone but it was inoperable because there was no cell tower installed in the county. This continued lack of adequate cellphone coverage keeps the county completely exposed to an open-closed multi-million dollar lawsuit, based on County Council negligence of failing to provide adequate safety for its people as the cause for the death.
For the council to try passing the blame by pointing at its county inhabitants’ preference of no tower would surely not prevail in the argument of prudent judgment.
So, the decision that I see is whether the cell tower gets installed before the first lawsuit or before the second such lawsuit — it’s only a matter of when. The County Council needs to determine where the tower requires installation and get it done, proactively. Making unpopular but responsibility-bound decisions is one reason why the council exists, isn’t it?