Water tower wireless lease OK'd by council

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

McCOOK, Neb. — The McCook City Council approved a lease agreement with Verizon wireless earlier this week that is projected to bring in $24,000 in annual revenue for at least the next five years. The site lease agreement will allow the company to install communications equipment on the city’s east water tower.

The unanimously approved lease agreement between the City of McCook and Alltel Communications of Nebraska LLC, dba Verizon Wireless, was approved during Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting. City Council approved the item based on a draft copy of the lease agreement after city staff indicated it was the first time they had worked with Verizon and as a result minor details were still being ironed out.

“We apologize for not getting this in the packet. We were actually working with the Verizon people all the way up until the end of last week and finally had a chance to go through the last draft,” said City Manager Nate Schneider. “What you have in front of you is actually a draft copy. They will be sending out via overnight mail a final copy, but there are a couple of things that we wanted to make sure that we had spelled out clearly and those were actually highlighted. Everything else we already agreed to,” he added.

Schneider indicated the main points of the lease agreement were included in the meeting agenda and pending details weren’t of consequence.

“Terms and everything were in the agenda that Jesse prepared prior to the meeting. There weren’t any earth shattering things we needed to add, but just, it was kind of out of the ordinary. So, I just wanted to make sure that everybody knew. They were under the gun, they had to have some things done prior to the end of the year and so they were pushing this as fast as possible. Because we were trying to work with their time schedule and sometimes it kinda gets sideways when that happens. There really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary from the other lease agreements that we’ve had in the past. We just, we’ve never dealt with Verizon before and they had a different boiler plate that they wanted to try to get through, and they weren’t items that we were used to,” said Schneider.

Mayor Mike Gonzales asked how many antennas were on the water towers and Utilities Directors Jesse Dutcher indicated the new Verizon install would bring the east water tower inventory to three, with four on the west water tower.

Councilman Gene Weedin asked if the rent the city was charging Verizon was comparable to other companies and Schneider indicated it was. He also said the Verizon agreement included an escalator clause that increased rent over time.

Dutcher agreed and indicated rent amounts typically varied depending on the number of years an antenna had been on one of the city’s water towers.

“Like Nate said, depending on where they’re at, how many renewals they’ve had. Because it does go up every year. The numbers don’t look exactly the same. There is a little bit of a break for the local small companies,” added Dutcher.

Mayor Gonzales subsequently asked what the equipment would do and Schneider indicated the project stemmed from an original effort to construct a cell phone tower.

“At one point in time, they had talked about the possibility of constructing a tower. We were working with a firm, I think the name was SBA, and they were actually building a tower on behalf of Verizon. Well they pulled that and decided to go with the antenna getting placed on the water tower instead. But what they had told us was they were trying to triangulate their signal and this would allow them to triangulate their signal. Because they had other facilities that were I think, I can’t even remember where the location was of the facilities, but this actually triangulates and gets better cell reception capability over on the east side of town.The hospital in particular will benefit from this so it’s a good thing,” said Schneider.

The east water tower is located at East 5th Street and East K Street The agreement allows the lessee to place antennas and coax on the east tank with a control unit and a standby generator at the base of the tank inside of the fenced area, according to the meeting agenda. Verizon will join McCookNet and Pinpoint equipment on the tower.

Also during Monday’s meeting, City Council approved bid specifications and documents related to a purchase of 20 self-contained breathing apparatus for the McCook Fire Department. The new SCBAs will replace 19 older models that no longer meet safety standards.

The equipment will be purchased through a lease agreement that will be finalized once the bids are received and a recommendation for purchase is made, according to the agenda item.

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