AT&T cell phone tower lease approved
At last night’s Finance Committee and Common Council meetings, the amended lease agreement between the city of Kenosha and New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, for property located at 1613 Washington Road, was approved. The Finance Committee approved the agreement unanimously, and the vote at the Common Council meeting was 13 to 2, with Alderpersons G. John Ruffolo and Steve Bostrom voting against.
At the Finance Committee meeting, Jim Kremers, a citizen, made the comment, “If this will solve carrying around an expensive paperweight, I’m all for it.” Tricia Conway, a representative from AT&T, and Bill Richardson, assistant city attorney, were present at the Finance Committee meeting. Chairman David Bogdala asked Richardson to give a synopsis of the changes from the last lease agreement. The major changes are:
- The prior agreement outlined that the city had no obligation to AT&T if they left the leased premises. In the redevelopment agreement, “no further obligation is owed to the city” if AT&T leaves before the rent abatement credit is used up.
- The purchase price for the land has been reduced from $144,000 to $133,600. The credit will, therefore, be used up more quickly.
- The five-year term with four five-year options has been amended to a ten-year term with three five-year options. “This is a significant improvement,” Richardson said. ” The monthly rent is the same with a 3% bump.”
Alderperson Theodore Ruffalo thanked Kremers for coming and making a comment. He was also grateful for the positive dialogue with AT&T. Bogdala echoed Ruffalo’s comments. “The cell phone coverage is not good. I’m glad the lease term got changed. It’s a much better deal now,” said Bogdala.
At the Common Council meeting, G. John Ruffolo showed pictures of the property and the house which sits on it. He wanted to know why there were no violations given to that property. The pictures showed a run-down house and trash all over the property, which sits behind the Time Warner Cable property. “This house is going to cost $30,000 to $40,000 to tear down. I just can’t justify buying this piece of property for $135,000. This is what we’re buying,” as several pictures of the property flashed across the TV monitors.
Alderperson Anthony Nudo thanked all involved for the negotiations. “I had concerns with the lease arrangement then. But, it’s a much more beneficial agreement for the city of Kenosha. AT&T had said that they couldn’t do ten years, but they came back and agreed to it. It was a fiscal issue. There was not enough of a return. Plus, they reduced the price over ten percent, which raised our return on investment. If the property had been residential, it would not be worth it. But, it’s now an income stream. For the citizens, it’s an important partnership with the private sector. There is a positive financial benefit for the citizens. With a five-year lease term, there was not enough time to recoup our investment. But, with a ten-year term, there is. It will cost no taxpayer dollars to take down the building. That’s all on AT&T.”
Alderperson Tod Ohnstad said that the city won’t pay to tear down the building. “Getting $120,000 over ten years will far outweigh the taxes.”
Alderperson Michael Orth thanked Nudo for his close reading of the contract. “This will clean up the eyesore that Ruffolo showed us. Now, we’ll have to figure out how to utilize the space for parkland. We could leave it as a natural wooded area. We need to shape the parcel for future park use.”
Alderperson Ray Misner mentioned the debate at the last Common Council meeting regarding the deferral. He urged his colleagues, “Don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal. The agreement needs to be fair to the business and the taxpayers.” Alderperson Anthony Kennedy was also supportive. “It’s a much better deal now. But, if you’re going to play good cop, bad cop, just let me know next time, so that I can back your play.” Alderperson Patrick Juliana also stated that he felt it was a better deal. “But, I need to go back to math school to be able to follow the numbers that Nudo presented. I’m on board with the numbers now. Having an agreement for longer than five years is good.”
Also, the joint parkland and communications facility development agreement for property located at the same address was also unanimously approved at both meetings.