Why are there cellular antennas inside a steeple?
T-Mobile has three antennas in the Light Tower portion of our steeple for which T-Mobile pays rent to our church. We asked T-Mobile why they chose to put antennas inside a structure instead of on a tower somewhere nearby, since it is both more expensive and less effective to put the antennas inside a structure. The answer is that Wellesley has one of the most restrictive policies in Massachusetts on the placement of cell phone antennas. Only Sudbury is more restrictive. This is an effort to preserve the aesthetics of the city. Our church steeple is an attractive location because it is one the highest structures in Wellesley. Looking at the map, the Light Tower is about the same elevation as the roof of the buildings at North Hill.
We learned that when the antennas were installed, the vertical wooden panels that form the four angled corners of the Light Tower were replaced with fiberglass panels. Fiberglass blocks much less of the cellular signal than the original wooden panels. We also learned that our antennas are considered “essential” for 911 emergency service. This is part of the post 9/11 “hardening” of the infrastructure in the US to handle emergencies. Therefore we cannot shut down the antennas for more than a few hours nor could we block them with metal scaffolding around the steeple. So this week T-Mobile completed moving the five foot high, 120 pound antennas from inside the Light Tower to the outside of the scaffolding where they will remain in service until the steeple work is done. Take a close look at the top of the scaffolding the next time you are at the church and see if you can spot them.
The steeple is not the only sustaining and preserving action at the church in the coming weeks. One of these is a long time plan by the Energy Committee to extend the air conditioning duct from inside the ceiling of the chapel out into the cloister now that we have insulated windows in the cloister. This will also support the proposed HVAC replacement that would provide air conditioning (and heating) to all areas of the church.
You can find information and frequently asked questions about more Wellesley Village Church sustainability topics on our website at: https://wellesleyvillagechurch.org/sustainability-faqs/