Epworth United Methodist Church has signed a lease to allow AT&T to place cellphone antennas inside a steeple near the corner of Mell and McLendon avenues, according to church officials.
It's unclear whether the antennas would be housed inside the church's current steeple, although it does appear that the existing structure would have to be extended or a new, taller one would be built to meet cell antenna specifications. We're still trying to find out more about prospective timing of the project, as well as whether the facility will require permiting or any other type of public action.
In response to an email from Candler Park resident Kate Sandhaus, the Rev. Lisa Dempsey copied the following note, which had been addressed "To our community":
Epworth UMC at Candler Park was approached by AT & T to be a site for a cellular service. The Trustees and I have spent a good bit of time defining an agreement and paying close attention to the aesthetics of the installation. The cellular antennae will be concealed within the steeple. We have indeed just signed a lease in furtherance of that process. Epworth is committed to this for the benefit of both the church and the community as it will greatly enhance the service and communications (i.e. wireless security systems and 911 responses) for our neighborhood. We hope you will join us in the appreciation of how this installation will allow for a reliable service that will enhance our community life together.
Reverend Lisa Dempsey, Pastor
Trustees Chair, Jim Pelot
Epworth's plan took Candler Park neighbors by surprise. In email and phone messages over the last two days, several parents of children who attend pre-school at Epworth said they hadn't been told about the project but were hearing rumors; they asked CPNO board members to provide information.
(UPDATE: Dempsey responds with more information about cell antennas.)
The only confirmed information I've been able to obtain so far came in the form of Dempsey's e-mail to Sandhaus, on which Sandhaus had copied me. In a followup response, Dempsey wrote:
I am not in a place to provide specs, but generally, the community should not expect anything but better service. Our steeple will be higher, but visually, the new way of doing things is to put all antennae inside the steeple, so the presenting appearance is a church steeple. Some equipment will be on the property behind a brick wall (gated and secured) that will match the building brick.
I've been unable to reach Dempsey or Pelot today via email, but will let you know as we get more information.