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Radio Waves and Real Estate

In addition to the age old adage of "location, location, location", one must add the modern parable of "perception, perception, perception", for increasingly the value of the former is dependent upon the interpretation of the latter.

Anguilla is of course known for its white sand beaches, and although there is the constant murmer regarding litter (which must be continually addressed) Anguilla is an exceptionally clean place. Anguilla's cleanliness with regard to toxic waste, industrial emissions, air pollution, etc., is the most valuable intangible we possess -- in fact, it is the ultimate perception of healthy cleanliness that gives value to our location, location, location.

Perception is a particularly difficult condition to address, for often fact has nothing to do with its evolution -- often myth, predisposition, even rumor, create the "facts" that create the perception. However, one must never dismiss perception based on myth -- to the believer, fact seldom impacts itself, and for us all perception dictates value.

In Anguilla today therer is a project being contemplated, being analyzed, which may, if approved, have disasterous effects on the international perception of Anguilla as a desirable location in which to vacation, invest, or (indeed) to live -- a project which may, if approved and constructed, have disasterous effects on real estate values.

This contemplated project is the Caribbean Beacon's transmission expansion, as it attempts to increase its broadcasting reach to a worldwide audience. There has already been considerable concern on the impact of the new radio waves (or whatever the signal is properly called) on the health of the area's residents in particular, and of the Island in general. As a matter of fact, questions have already been raised regarding the implications and reasoning behind the Beacon's recent donation of an Ambulance to the Government, i.e. what does the Beacon know that we don't know. However my article's focus isn't health, but real estate and real estate values -- and the impact is just as problematic.

I have no doubt that somewhere someone will produce an "expert" to say: "All is well, there is no potential for harm, I wish this tower were being located in my neighborhood". However, the fact of the matter is that regardless of the validity of such claims, no one will believe them -- not those of us who live here, and not those of us who come from the developed world that is now exporting such technology south, to us. The perception will remain that an invisible enemy is now within our midst -- the same sort of invisible enemy that has plagued the developed world, and from which the affluent in the developed world attempt to escape.

I do not wish to ignore the potential revenue to the Government form the Beacon's proposed expansion (which I hope is significant), nor do I wish to chant the mantra &qotNot in my back yard". However, I do wish to point out that any potential public revenue generated from an expanded transmission capability could be more than offset by a dramatic decline in both private and public real estate values Island wide, and I do wish to say "Not in my living room".

If the Beacon wants to reach the world, let them do so from Sombrero or some other uninhabited locale, not from the middle of a residential neighborhood, not from the middle of Anguilla. Let the lizards and the limestone reflect the radio waves -- do not invite the local and international perception that the people will. If such an uninhabited locale is not as "convenient", the next question is "convenient for who?" Homes and land in the Sandy Hill area will lose value immediately -- and like the cancer people will perceive as the potential result of the increased transmissions, a decrease in property values could soon spread Island wide.

Expert testimonials claiming "all is well" will not impress anyone. Simply ask yourself whethter or not you would buy a home in Sandy Hill or surrounding areas after the increased broadcasting begins -- and insofar as those of us who live here would avoid the area, our international vacationers and investors will begin to avoid the entire Island -- we are, after all only 36 square miles, and out international clientele will not wish to be even that close, given a choice.

Let us not ignore the impact of perception upon value and our quality of life. Let us build a long term economic viability. If my daughter cannot grow up environmentally protected (in so far as possible) on Anguilla, where can she go? Where can we go? Expand? Lovely -- but somewhere else!

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