Seltzer: Communication tower ‘is really a good deal’ for the town

Seltzer: Communication tower ‘is really a good deal’ for the town

Verizon is constructing a 135-foot communication tower behind the Greenville Fire Department in a partnership with the town that will give ownership of the tower to Smithfield, with Verizon paying lease fees for its use. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SMITHFIELD – Verizon will foot the bill for a 135-foot cell tower being built behind the Greenville Fire Department. Fire Chief Robert Seltzer estimated the cost of the project at $250,000.

The chief said the town was in negotiations with Verizon for several years and was able to secure a contract where the communications company is responsible for constructing the tower.

He said the partnership will allow Verizon to put up and use the tower in Smithfield and give the town ownership.

Smithfield and Verizon will “co-locate” on the tower, with the Fire Department’s communication dishes and satellites added to the tower. In exchange, Verizon will not be liable for the future removal of the tower.

The town can’t rent space on the tower, Seltzer said. The rights to leasing space on the tower remain with Verizon.

The tower, going up behind the Fire Department, at 607 Putnam Pike, will be completed in October.

Verizon will lease the tower from Smithfield, paying a monthly rate of approximately $1,800 to the town. The chief said the payment schedule will have occasional increases over the life of the contract of 30 years.

“This is really a good deal for the town,” he said.

Lease fees will go into the technology fund. With the tower lease money, Seltzer said he was able to reduce the Fire Department’s budget for items such as computer equipment and software, radios, and other electronics, for a savings of about $30,000 to the taxpayer.

Built in the 1960s, the existing 120-foot tower was deemed unsafe, and ordered torn down, Seltzer said.

“Structurally, it’s seen its day,” Seltzer said of the old tower.

He said the old tower will be taken down one section at a time as soon as the new tower is completed. He said he expects the demolition to take about a week.

Upgrades to the communication system were made last year when the most recent tower was built on Burlingame Road to close the final gaps of communication dead zones.

To put things into perspective, Seltzer said the town paid $50,000 for the tower on Burlingame Road. He said the structure of this latest tower is superior.

A microwave transmitter will be added to the tower, serving to interconnect the town’s radio communication system. The transmitter finds the best, strongest signal to carry a message in a matter of microseconds. The department will be able to send data over the microwave system as well.