The Canal Winchester Times

Canal Winchester OKs deal with New Cingular

Groveport school district considers two agreements with Verizon subcontractor


Cellular equipment will be placed on Canal Winchester's South Gender water tower under terms of an agreement between the city and New Cingular Wireless PCS LLC.

Canal Winchester City Council unanimously approved the deal as emergency legislation May 5. Public Works Director Matt Peoples said the equipment will be installed immediately, which means the city can start collecting a $1,600 monthly payment from New Cingular.

The cellular equipment on the South Gender water tower will primarily serve AT&T customers.

Two other possible agreements could also improve area cellphone service.

Groveport Madison school district officials are in talks with a Verizon Wireless subcontractor about two possible cellular installations on school properties, according to district Treasurer Anthony Swartz. One would be at Asbury Elementary School and one would be at the high school football stadium.

"Several months ago, we had a company contact us about interest in putting a cell tower at Asbury Elementary," Swartz said. "I met with them and walked around the site, and since then, they've done extensive testing.

"But there are several hoops to jump through, depending on if you want to entertain the idea, and if so, we'll have them come in and address any questions or concerns you have," he told the school board at its May 14 meeting.

According to Swartz, Asbury Elementary is right in the center of an area where Verizon would like to place equipment, and no other properties in that area provide the 150-foot required setback.

He estimated the lease agreement could be for as much as $1,200 and, given the need for an access drive to the property, the deal might include repaving the parking lot and certain other facility upgrades at the school.

"I have talked with (Madison Township Trustee Gary McDonald) about this deal to give him a heads-up about it," Swartz said. "We haven't given a green light to anything at this point."

He said the contractor had also expressed interest in replacing a light pole at the high school stadium with a cellular tower and replacement lighting, but no on-site planning work had been done there.

School board member Nancy Gillespie said she would like an expert in cellular tower construction and safety -- one who is not associated with Verizon or the subcontractor -- to provide the board with an unbiased evaluation of the sites.

"I don't want to hear from just Verizon because, of course, they're going to make it all sound great," Gillespie said.

If the board approves the cellular agreements, the contractor would still be required to go through the zoning and public hearing process with Madison Township prior to construction.