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March 04. 2014 8:40PM

Verizon seeks to replace cell phone tower in Mine Falls in Nashua

NASHUA — Verizon Wireless is hoping to construct a new cell tower at Mine Falls Park that would replace an existing tower and accommodate more carriers.

Currently, there are five commercial carriers utilizing the aging cell tower at the park, which is owned by the city and leased to the providers.

Verizon, which does not have access to the tower, is proposing to dismantle the dated tower and replace it with a larger, modern tower that could accommodate the five current carriers, in addition to Verizon and one additional tenant.

“There is considerable pent up need,” said Tom Hildreth, attorney with McLane Law Firm representing Verizon.

Last week, Hildreth unveiled preliminary plans to the Nashua Board of Public Works, asking how to proceed with the project to make it feasible.

“We want to be a tenant. We want to pay rent,” he told commissioners, adding the existing tower cannot accommodate an additional tenant.

To modify the tower with all of the necessary upgrades, it would cost an estimated $400,000 and be incredibly disruptive to the existing tenants — Sprint, AT&T, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile, said Hildreth.

Instead, he is suggesting that Verizon construct a replacement tower for about $250,000. About $150,000 will then be given to Verizon from cell phone providers interested in upgrading, according to Hildreth.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau questioned whether the city would still own the tower once it is reconstructed.

Hildreth said the city would continue to maintain ownership of the structure, and would obtain additional tenant fees from the deal.

The existing tower was constructed in 1998, and ideally should be replaced with more modern technology, he said. The proposed “drop and swap” project would provide the city with a new, safer tower with an extended lifetime, added Hildreth.

He is recommending that the new tower be built to the west of the existing structure.

“It is roughly double the size of what is there today,” Hildreth said of the proposed layout. Still, he stressed the height will remain the same, and it will still be relatively small compared to typical 10,000-square-feet cell towers.

Hildreth told commissioners that Verizon would like to start the project this year, asking what steps should be taken to move the proposal forward.

Lozeau explained that a proposal can be negotiated and drafted with the city’s legal counsel, but it will need to be supported by the Board of Public Works and ultimately authorized by the Board of Aldermen.

Hildreth said the proposed location for the new tower will not utilize vital space at Mine Falls Park, because the corner where it will be constructed is not conducive to an additional recreational field.

Landscaping will be added around the tower to shield it from view of the existing playing fields, he said.

khoughton@newstote.com


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