main banner

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cell towers installed at Annandale pools without much opposition

The cell tower in the Holmes Run Pool parking lot.
While there has been a great deal of conflict about a proposed cell tower at the Parklawn Recreation Association, similar cell towers have been installed at two other Mason community pools—Broyhill Crest and Holmes Run—without a huge amount of opposition.

When the cell tower was proposed for the Broyhill Crest community in Annandale at least 10 years ago, the pool board and citizens association actually urged AT&T to construct the tower on pool property.

ATT&T was originally planning to put the tower on land owned by Fairfax County Public Schools at the Lacey Center, a school administrative building in the community. Had that happened, the company’s lease payments would have gone to FCPS and not benefited the community. (Since then, the Lacey Center was torn down and Mason Crest Elementary School was built there).

The Broyhill Crest Community Association and Broyhill Crest Recreation Club (BCRC) worked together to persuade ATT&T to move the tower to the pool, so the BCRA would benefit from the rental fees. There were informational meetings for the community, and a petition was presented to AT&T. Mason Supervisor Penny Gross and Kaye Kory (who was then Mason’s school board member and now represents the community in the House of Delegates) helped make that happen.

Broyhill Crest cell tower.
Since then, T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel have added facilities to the tower, and another carrier is expected to come on board soon. The tower currently generates about $4,000 a month, which supported renovations of the pool facility a few years ago, including a new deck, a new baby pool, and other improvements.

Without the cell tower, members of the BCRA board generally agree that the pool might not have able to remain financially viable, as like just about all community pools in Annandale, demographic changes are making it harder to recruit members.

Joan Vollrath of Weichert Realtors, who has sold many houses in Broyhill Crest, says the cell tower “has never come up as an issue” for potential buyers and has not had an impact on depressing the prices of nearby homes. “The tower is relatively concealed,” she says, as it’s surrounded by the pool parking lot and a wooded area.

In fact, both the Broyhill Crest and Holmes Run towers are really large, but actually aren’t that noticeable, especially during the months when the trees have their leaves.

The cell tower in the parking lot at the Holmes Run Pool was put up three years ago. “There was some opposition but ultimately the cell company and pool prevailed,” says Tina Rafalovich, president of the Holmes Run Acres Recreation Association. “One of the things the company agreed to do to assuage the neighbors was to plant several trees to replace those that were cut down.”

The income from the tower “has helped us be able to afford things we otherwise wouldn’t,” Rafalovich says. “We could survive without the income from the tower but it allows us some financial breathing room.”


  1. The cell tower at BCRC has been great,a real win-win situation for the pool, the community, and the carriers.Just wish we could talk Verizon into putting up an antena!

  2. Cell phone towers? They look so much like real trees!

  3. On what planet do those trees look real? Seriously, who wrote this article and these comments, and who's payroll are they on? This is far more biased than the PCA survey that supporters of the tower complained about.

    1. Whoa - easy now. I wrote the comment about the trees above. I was being facetious. Obviously they're not real trees, but it's either that or something that looks military-industrial. I'm sure the squirrels aren't fooled.

  4. For the record though, it is a blog and not a peer-reviewed journal article. Just because someone supports something doesn't mean they are "on the payroll"- just like someone who is against it isn't also on someone's payroll. The article simply says it doesn't have to be a giant bickering deal in a neighborhood, people can work it out (especially if they stick to facts). The blog is about how a tower helped heal a pool. A survey is supposed to be neutral if you want real, reliable results. A blog story about something positive happening is just that- a positive outcome expressed in a post. Don't take it for more then it is- no one is "out to get anyone" or on "the take".
    And you're right, it isn't EXACTLY like a tree, but it does blend better and offers a more realistic picture of what could happen at PRA. (As opposed to the 70s tower that is pictured elsewhere and isn't remotely representative of the plan)

  5. Positive, collaborative ventures do happen and can benefit the community. I'm on no one's payroll and I applaud Holmes Run and BCRC pools and community for their good stewardship and common sense.

  6. Robert Schwaninger11/18/12, 9:24 PM

    As a telecommunications attorney with over 25 years negotiating ground and tower leases the problem is that the people building towers on public and private land are paying insufficient sums, are not agreeing to all of the terms that should be required and the land owners are left blythely ignorant regarding how much was left on the table. Fairfax County is a bargain compared to some other areas. Although I have pointed this out to people in government, there has been no true change in approach as yet. Meanwhile, private groups are negotiating with comps that are simply wrong. I'm all for assisting the development of telecommunications, but why are we giving bargain prices in Fairfax?

    1. Very interesting point. What are the fees being paid in other similar areas? No wonder the builders like a bickering area, too many eyes on the ring and not the big picture.