Selectmen re-extend cell tower agreement for one year
By Tom Reilly
Town Administrator Jim Smith reminded the selectmen at their July 15 meeting that last year, John Arthur of Wireless Edge appeared before the Board to discuss his inability to find a partner for the cell tower that the town hopes to build on Whittier family property in West Sutton.
And, in what Smith says has become an annual event; he brought back another proposal by the company to extend the agreement for another year.
At the end of last year’s meeting, the selectmen voted to extend the agreement for another year and now Smith said Arthur reports he still does not have a wireless carrier from either of his main contacts at AT&T and Verizon. He said supposedly one of the companies was looking to expand its towers “but the money dried up,” said Smit
The Board had three possible options— renew for another year, renew month to month for a year, with the Board always having a 30-day window to get out of the contract, or go out to bid again. Smith said Arthur would prefer the second option but Smith said he was recommending the first one. Going out to bid would require spending money for the RFP and even if the town got a vendor to solicit communication companies, it would still likely end up with the same oneyear deal it currently had with Wireless Edge.
Selectman Michael Chizy said he wanted to stay with the one-year deal because he didn’t see anyone “knocking at the door” to get the town’s business. He didn’t think anything was out there now so the town might as well stick with Wireless Edge.
Selectman John Hebert said a lot of people put time and effort into this project in order to upgrade public safety communications along Central Turnpike and cell service. He said the town had done a good job in making its arrangements with the Whittiers and he too voted for option one.
Selectman David Hall said he thought Arthur was doing everything he could and giving him another year made sense though he wondered what Smith thought about option two. Smith said he disliked option two because he felt it was important to “keep the pressure on” Arthur. Smith said it may be Arthur thought all along it might take four years to get the project done. “He needs to be encouraged to get us a carrier,” said Smith. He noted the town could potentially lose that site unless Wireless Edge came through.
Selectman Paul Maynard said he looked into this in his role as emergency management coordinator and communication companies were not building new towers. They were upgrading and maintaining existing ones. Option three would cost the town money while number two was “an easy out.” He voted for option one and another contract extension.
Selectman Ken Stuart said it would be nice if something could be done in that area, again bringing up the public safety concerns and the needs of the average citizen. It was a problem when there was minimal coverage at a major soccer field and he too voted for the first option