Selectmen back sale of cell tower

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The Board of Selectmen approved an offer to sell the cell tower on Lopus Road Monday night. The sale will go to a town meeting for final approval.

BEACON FALLS — The Board of Selectman is seeking town approval to sell a town-owned cell tower.

American Tower Corporation has offered the town $875,000 to buy the tower on Lopus Road near the town garage and lease the land for 35 years. The offer was the highest of four offers procured by consultant Steve Kelleher of KJS Reality Inc.

The board approved a motion to accept the offer Monday night. The offer must now be approved at a town meeting before the deal is finalized.

If the town sells the tower, it will still collect taxes on the tower, but won’t be responsible for maintaining the tower itself officials said.

“There’s no obligations for us,” First Selectman Susan Cable said.

The town would also have space on the tower if it wanted to put any equipment on it in the future. There is no town equipment on the tower now.

Currently, the town earns nearly $4,600 a month in rent from three companies on the tower. AT&T pays $717 a month while T-Mobile pays $1,975 and MetroPCS contributes $1,900.

If that rate stayed the same over 35 years, the town would take in a little over $1.9 million.

However, Selectman Dominic Sorrentino said the town should take the money now. According to Sorrentino, AT&T is in the process of buying out T-Mobile.

“There’s a possibility that they won’t be on the tower any more,” Sorrentino said.

Sorrentino said he also had doubts as to whether MetroPCS would be able to compete with AT&T after the buy-out.

“The basic revenue on the tower may go down in the future,” Sorrentino said.

According to media reports last month, the U.S. Department of Justice has sued to block the deal, saying it would violate antitrust laws.

“There is a tremendous about of uncertainty surrounding the industry,” Kelleher wrote in a letter to the board.

All three selectmen had a lot of ideas about what the town could do with the money from the sale.

“It’s a nice amount of change that we could do something in Beacon Falls with,” Sorrentino said.

Sorrentino suggested using it for a non-recurring line item to purchase expensive vehicles or equipment. He said the board should go through each department to get details of what equipment they have, what it’s worth, and how long it’s going to last, then put the money into replacing items that are on their last legs.

Kreneksy had a wish list that included an ambulance, a pay loader, a paving box, and a fund for maintenance of Matthies Park. The first two items have been just barely chugging along for years and repairs are getting expensive. Now, the town has to rent a paving box every time it does a project.

“I just want to make sure we present this correctly to the public. They’re going to do the same math here and say ‘wait a minute. We’re going to give up $1.9 million to get $800,000 today on a guess that the cell industry is going to go somewhere,’” Krenesky said.

The Board of Selectmen decided to have a workshop with the Board of Finance to hash out the details and bring the plan to a town meeting. The date for the town meeting was not set as of press time.