By James Beaty
City councilors unanimously approved the construction of a 160-foot tall monopole on the south side of McAlester —after those seeking to build the pole agreed to modify the location.
The city council approved the measure during its regular Tuesday night meeting in the council chambers at City Hall.
It had been entered on the city council agenda as asking the council to authorize the mayor to sign a lease agreement between the city of McAlester and New Cingular Wireless PCS, for the “purpose of installing, operating, and maintaining a communications facility at 1313 S. Strong Rd.”
If the contract is approved by both parties, it could result in a $125,000 up-front payment to the city.
Before the council voted, local residents spoke in support of the tower, with Cingular representatives stating it’s needed to bolster communications signals on the city’s south side.
Also prior to the council vote on the issue, Rick Beams, representing the International Association of Firefighters, had a question. Where will the tower be located?
Mark Kesner, site acquisition manager for CRB Companies, LLC., which is a contractor for AT&T Mobility, addressed the council to answer some of those questions and provide other information. He referred to questions raised by the city regarding the original proposal, which called for the monotower to be constructed much closer to the fire station.
“The city manager and the fire fighters made a point,” Kesner said, noting that fire fighters actually live inside the fire station when they are on duty.
“This is a residence,” he said of the fire station.
That resulted in the decision to move the monotower farther away from the fire station, although it will still remain in the same lot as the fire station and the former U.S. Army Reserve building off South Avenue.
Part of the west side of Puterbaugh Middle School is within a 300 foot radius of the monopole, but outside the 160 feet the tower would cover if lying flat on the ground.
Kesner also addressed health concerns as he spoke to the council.
“On the health issue,the FCC says you can’t discuss health, because the federal government says it’s not a risk,” Kesner said. He said the monotower which will be constructed at the site is not a microwave tower.
The proposed contract calls for the New Cingular Wireless to pay the city $500 for a one-year term, with the option for renewal in a year for another one-year term, also for a $500 fee.
That’s only the annual payment for the option, though. The city has negotiated a fee of $1,000 per month, for 10 years, with the money to be paid up front, according to McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak. When other payments are factored in, such as the $500 option fees, the city stands to receive $125,000 up-front.
In another modification in the original proposal, the city requested use of 20 feet on the monopole, between the height of 60 feet and 80 feet, for use of police, fire and emergency management communications.
Local residents who addressed the city council in support of the tower included Lynn Edwards, executive director of the Southeast Oklahoma Chapter of the American Red Cross, and Tanaye Harvanek, of the McAlester Chamber of Commerce.
Changes in the original contract suggested by City Attorney Bill Ervin, mostly concerning indemnity and jurisdiction of legal disputes, which were approved by the city council still have to be approved by Cingular. If those changes are approved, the city council’s vote on Tuesday night gives Mayor Steve Harrison the authority to sign the agreement.
The proposal will also have to be approved by the FCC, Stasiak noted on Thursday.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.