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July 31, 2014

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henderson:

Parks board begrudgingly OKs upgrades to cell tower

Fox Ridge Park

A plan to grow an existing cell phone tower in Fox Ridge Park by 10 feet ran into a smattering of opposition Wednesday at the Henderson Parks and Recreation Board meeting as members raised concerns about the tower disrupting the park and nearby Valle Verde Drive.

Nevertheless, the proposal for the southeast corner of Foxridge Park was recommended for approval by the board 5-3.

John Wright, a zoning manager contractor for AT&T, said the project would involve temporary installation of a cell-on-wheels (COW) -- a trailer with a crankable tower to ensure current customers are still served. They would also bury new equipment in the ground for both AT&T and Internet provider Clearwire. He estimated the project would take between 45 and 60 days, with most of the digging confined to a 10-day period.

"It was originally designed by T-Mobile for three carriers," Wright said.

To add more, he said the top part of the 70-foot tower would have to be extended 10 feet and be structurally re-enforced. He noted construction would occur when school was out at Estes McDoniel Elementary, whose property borders the area. Wright said AT&T would also upgrade the landscaping and lighting at the tower, which doubles as a flagpole. The city would receive $600 a month from both AT&T and Clearwire for use of the property.

A few board members referenced previous problems with the tower's initial installation, including damage to the roads and disruption of park activities. Also, they noted, the flagpole light has not been functioning. Wright pledged to be mitigate these concerns.

"It seems like the park has been disrupted for about five years since it started," board member Dundee Jones said. "If I could go back and unring this bell I would."

Board Vice Chairman David Crine opposed the proposal as well.

"Every time you turn around, there's a new company," he said. "I don't like any cell towers in the parks. The parks are for the people, not for businesses to make money off of."

Dave Clark can be reached at 990-2677 or [email protected].

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