Conflicting language in a city ordinance about wireless towers was ironed out by the McCook City Council Monday night.
The amended ordinance now allows a 75-foot tower to be built at McCook Elementary.
Operating on a skeleton crew with only three council members present -- Mayor Dennis Berry was absent due to a health issue and Councilman Jack Rogers was excused -- the rest of the council approved on its first reading an amended ordinance that allows school districts to have their own wireless towers, as long as the tower is separated from a church or residential structure by 100 percent of the height of the tower.
This is to ensure that no structures would be damaged if the tower were to fall over, said City Manager Kurt Fritsch.
The language was needed as when the ordinance was first amended three years ago to protect schools and churches from cell phone towers, it inadvertently prohibited schools from having their own wireless tower.
Yet, an administrative agreement with the city allowed for the school towers. McCook Public Schools has two, at McCook Elementary and McCook Senior High.
At the public hearing, Dan Shiers, McCook Public Schools technology coordinator, told the council Monday a new wireless tower at McCook Elementary needed to be constructed for a total of 75 feet, to access the tower at the McCook Senior High. Communication between the two schools is hampered when the trees are leafed out, he explained.
The tower would be behind the school and secured with guy wires. In the future, the buildings will be connected by fiber optic cable, Shiers added.
In other business, Council Lonnie Anderson pulled for discussion a consent agenda item that concerned specifications for new sidewalks at the Jaycee Ball complex.
Anderson asked for details and Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff said sidewalks at the ball complex had deteriorated to the point of causing tripping hazards. The city would remove the current sidewalks to save costs, with construction to begin by Aug. 1 and finish up by Sept. 1.
Councilman Anderson asked if the trees would be left in the center islands and Potthoff responded that they would. But if costs allow, options could include brick pavers, colored or stamped concrete to help with the aesthetics, Potthoff added.
The council unanimously approved the specifications and set the date to receive bids for the project for April 7 at 2 p.m.