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City to keep Donax cell tower unlit over turtle nesting season

May 13, 2014
By MCKENZIE CASSIDY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

City staff announced on May 9 that the new cell tower on Donax will be unlit during the 2014 turtle nesting season.

Although it has been activated since the beginning of the month, staff noticed that light from the top of the tower was making its way to the beach.

"The Natural Resources Department, during the very first week of turtle patrol, noticed the glow," said City Manager Judith Zimomra.

Article Photos

The new cell tower on Donax. PHOTO PROVIDED.

The light fixtures on the tower are dark sky compliant, she said, but once staff determined that the glow was reaching the beach, they decided to turn it off.

"They believed very clearly it could meet the standard for being a distraction for the turtles," said Zimomra. "For this year's turtle season, I don't see how we can put up a light that our own biologists believe would be a distraction."

As a result, until Nov. 1 the tower will remain unlit.

The 20-by-30 foot American flag will only be displayed during daylight hours on the patriotic holidays of Memorial Day, D-Day, Independence Day and Victory in Japan Day, according to the city.

City staff will not be raising and lowering the flag on a daily basis, because it requires a minimum of three people and takes 30 minutes, twice a day.

"We have some people questioning whether it takes three people to put the flag up. The flag is 20-by-30 feet so when you're raising the flag, and it can't touch the ground, it's a challenge for three people to put it up," said Zimomra.

According to a press release from the city, it's not practical to raise it everyday and they are hoping to protect the flag from excessive wear during the coming storm season.

City staff also stressed that neither of these decisions will have any affect on cell service.



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