Can you hear me now?: City to add Verizon, AT&T antennas to water tower
T-Mobile and Sprint cell phone customers have gotten great reception in New Richmond for some time, while Verizon or AT&T reception has been spotty.
That could change soon, as plans to add two new cellular antennas to the New Richmond Fire Hall water tower were presented at the June 12 New Richmond Plan Commission meeting.
According to the site plans presented at the meeting by city planning consultant Dan Licht, each company would lease space from the city for a small utility building and a generator.
“Verizon will locate their 12-by-16 building at the northeast corner of the property, basically adjacent to the alleyway approximately five feet back from the sidewalk outside the umbrella of the water tower itself, and it would have a generator located to the west of that,” Licht said. “AT&T is proposing to locate a similarly sized building just to the south of Verizon’s. The AT&T equipment is actually under the water tower.”Licht told the Plan Commission that city staff had staked the areas in question.He said the two companies originally submitted plans with slightly different structures, but city staff is requiring that both buildings be finished with the same exterior finish to match the fire hall with a flat roof design to create a consistent appearance on the property.Licht said city staff had also identified landscaping needs at the site, because grass has had trouble growing under the tower. AT&T and Verizon will each chip in $5,000 to pay for the landscaping improvements.“As a result of the project, we should be able to get cell service within the city hall, as well as add some improvements to the fire hall property that improve the aesthetics and add some additional revenue for the city,” Licht said at the conclusion of his presentation.Commission member MaryKay Rice recalled the same issue being discussed last fall and asked what the hold up was on the project. Licht explained that while a lease was being negotiated with one company, the second company offered a similar opportunity for the city, and staff members wanted to ensure both projects were coordinated with site plans that did not conflict with one another.City Administrator Mike Darrow said that legal issues had to be worked out with both companies to get the conditions the city wanted in the lease agreements. He also pointed out that the site plans are not technically approved until the leases are signed.The Plan Commission voted to approve the site plans pending a set of seven conditions from city staff.Once the leases are signed and the utility buildings are built, Verizon and AT&T wireless customers will likely notice a significant change in their cell phone reception while in New Richmond.