New Albany News

City Council locks in payments for tower lease


New Albany City Council on Aug. 19 agreed to support a new contract with AP Wireless Investments, which would provide revenue to the city from any new firms that would lease usage of a local cellphone tower.

Charlotte Colley, New Albany's management assistant, said the tower at 7950 Central College Road now provides $7,717.50 annually for the city through an agreement with Crown Castle International, which leases the land.

AP Wireless has proposed a new agreement to manage the tower and seek new users. The city would receive 75 percent of additional rental fees from new users.

Instead of continuing to pay the annual lease payment, AP Wireless would agree to pay the city $86,955 in semiannual payments of $5,115 for the next eight years and six months.

The city would lose $36,886 in revenue by accepting the agreement but the funds from AP Wireless are guaranteed to be paid, even if the tower stops being used, Colley said.

City Manager Joseph Stefanov said the deal locks in revenue for the next eight-and-a-half years and allows the city to earn more revenue if new users are found.

Mayor Nancy Ferguson asked if there is a way to stop leasing the ground for a tower and remove the tower.

Stefanov said the initial lease prevents the city from doing that.

He said the initial lease requires removal of the tower if it becomes obsolete.

City Council approved the new lease agreement in a 6-0 vote, with Chip Fellows absent.

In other business Aug. 19, City Council:

* Voted 6-0 to have the city apply for $444,000 from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's Transportation Alternatives Program to build a one-mile section of leisure trail on New Albany-Condit Road from Central College Road to Walnut Street.

Stefanov said the trail would run along the east side of New Albany-Condit Road to New Albany Road and on the west side of New Albany-Condit to Walnut Street.

Councilman Glyde Marsh asked why the trail would cross New Albany-Condit Road.

Stefanov said there isn't space on the west side of New Albany-Condit to build the entire length of trail on one side of the road. He said the crossing at New Albany Road East would have a traffic signal.

The city would be responsible for the rest of the project's cost, or $176,000.

"Construction of this section of trail fills a missing link in the leisure-trail system and provides a connection to the Rocky Fork Metro Park (being developed) north of Walnut Street," according to City Council's legislative report.

* Agreed in a 6-0 vote to hire a property-management company for the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany and to waive the competitive-bidding requirement so a company could be hired before the facility's projected opening date of Nov. 3.

Stefanov said it would make sense to hire a company to manage the medical and fitness uses in the facility, which will be unlike other city-operated public facilities.

He said the cost would be worked into the leases of tenants in the facility.

The first floor of the facility will be managed by Healthy New Albany.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center will lease space for personalized health care and injury prevention. The Wexner Medical Center also will work with Integrated Wellness Partners to manage the fitness facility and a three-lane therapeutic pool.

Nationwide Children's Hospital will lease space for an orthopedic clinic and a sports-medicine clinic for children and adolescents.

Accepting bids typically takes six to eight weeks. Because City Council waived the competitive bidding requirement, Stefanov will solicit proposals and choose the company with the "lowest, best, and most responsive proposal" within three weeks, according to the legislative report.

* Agreed in a 6-0 vote to solicit proposals from law firms and accept resumes from attorneys interested in becoming the city's law director.

Stefanov said city officials have no issues with current legal services but advertising for competing firms every few years is prudent.

This would be the first time the city has requested proposals from individual attorneys interested in the position, he said.

The city currently works with Mitch Banchefsky, a partner in Ice Miller of Columbus. Banchefsky has worked as the city's law director for 17 years.

Banchefsky said he would submit a proposal through Ice Miller and is not sure if he would request the position as an individual attorney because he has not seen the terms in the city's request for proposal.