Faux fir – Verizon plans to disguise tower as tree
That 102-foot “tree” being planted behind Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City will actually bear fruit for the county, taxpayers, and frustrated cell phone users.
The tree, which is supposed to resemble a conifer when the fake branches are added, is actually a tower that promises improved communications for the Sheriff’s Office, county workers, and area cell phone users.
In addition, the county will get the $100,000 tower at no cost to taxpayers and will be able to generate revenue by leasing space to cell phone companies.
“I think it’s win, win, win,” said Rich Reader, the county’s general services manager.
The arrangement started to develop more than two years ago, when Verizon Wireless approached the county about building an antenna in the Nevada City area.
County officials suggested its communications tower behind the Madelyn Helling Library, but Verizon “wanted something a little higher that would work better, and we eventually arrived at an agreement where they would build a new tower,” Reader said.
The county will put its antenna on the new tower, and the increased height – the current tower is more than 80 feet tall, Reader said – is expected to improve communications for the Sheriff’s Office and county workers who use cell phones in the field.
In exchange for building the tower and then turning it over to the county, Verizon gets to use it for 11 years. The county will lease space on the tower to two other cell companies, which typically pay about $1,200 a month for the space, Reader said.
“Verizon gets a new tower out of it, we get better emergency communications, the community gets better cell phone service, and we’ll be in a positive cash flow as soon as we rent out space to other cell phone companies,” Reader said.
The tower is being built on a small hill behind the library among several smaller trees, but Reader believes the tower will blend in well when it is finished.
Cell phone companies have been camouflaging their towers for several years, and Reader said “they’ve gotten better. Some of the earlier ones didn’t blend too well. The later ones are getting pretty good now.”
He said two cell towers have been placed in the forests along Highway 80 and blend right in.
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