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Future Management Of Police Monopole Remains Uncertain

Two meetings devoted to resolving end of lease issues

There was a special meeting of the Port Washington Police District Board of Commissioners on Monday, April 30. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the responses to the Request For Proposal (RFP) issued by the district to secure a telecommunications expert to assist the district in navigating a new lease with a carrier for the monopole behind police headquarters and the possibility of moving the monopole to another site. There was only one response to the RFP and it was submitted by Craig Sands, a Port Washington resident who has been in the telecommunications industry for the past 15 years.

Mr. Sand’s proposal asked for a monthly retainer of $2,200, guaranteeing a minimum of ten hours of work each month. The RFP had incorrectly been advertised as a three-year agreement and that term was stipulated in the response. Commissioner James Duncan said the commissioners want a month-to-month lease and the change in terms would be a matter for negotiation with Mr. Sands.

The current lease on the cell tower is due to expire May 31, 2012. The district has exercised its option under the lease to take ownership of the tower effective June 1. Since the members of the board and police department personnel lack the specific telecommunications expertise required to manage the tower on their own, they have engaged in a process to find a qualified consultant to assist them as needed.

Much of the meeting was a continuation of the discussion from the regular business meeting held April 25. Karen and Doug Cornell, residents of Derby Road, had attended the April 25 meeting and voiced objections to the tower on aesthetic grounds. They challenged the commissioners to find another more suitable location for the cell tower. During that meeting Commissioner James Duncan said, “Looking at other sites would be one of the first tasks assigned to the consultant.” No other residents of Derby Road attended either one of the meetings.

During Monday’s meeting, Duncan said the commissioners already had an alternative location in mind but that it was certainly not a possibility for June 1. He estimated that the entire process involved in moving the tower could take as long as two years. Further complicating the possibility of a move is the district’s objective of moving headquarters to a site with more space. It is likely that any decision on moving the cell tower will be impacted by decisions related to moving or expanding police headquarters.

In the interim, according to the terms of the lease agreement, which expires May 31, the police district becomes the owner of the monopole behind police headquarters on June 1. The district does not intend to accept rent payments from Verizon, the only provider located on the tower, until a new lease has been negotiated.

Regardless of whether the district accepts payment from Verizon, the company, under FCC rules, remains responsible for maintaining their equipment and therefore there should be no disruption to phone service for residents or the police department.

The next step for the commissioners is to work out the terms of a contract with Mr. Sands so that the immediate task of concluding a lease with at least one carrier can be completed. Then he can explore the long-term objective of possibly moving the tower.