City Staff to Provide Update Tonight on UW Communications Tower Ground Lease Agreement

Cell tower (stock image)

New Communications Tower Would Improve Cell Signal on West Side

Cell service on Marshfield’s west side will likely be improving, thanks to a new cell tower project at UW-Marshfield/Wood County. At tonight’s meeting, the City of Marshfield Common Council will discuss contract language for the new tower, which has been several years in development.

Watch the meeting on MCTV here.

The Commission, which serves as the “landlord” of the campus on behalf of the City of Marshfield and Wood County, was first approached about their support for the construction of a communications tower on the UW Marshfield/Wood County campus by Begley Consultants, representing Verizon.

“After months of discussion and negotiations, we were informed that Verizon is re-prioritizing their tower locations and at this time, would like to enter into a 2-year lease that would hold the property for possible tower construction with the possibility of a renewal for another 2 years,” said Donna Rozar, Commission Chair and Wood County Board Supervisor, District 2.

“Compensation will be made for those years which will be used for the benefit of the campus,” she said. “If a tower is not constructed at the end of the 2 or 4 year period, the lease lapses (or I suppose could be amended for another 2 years). At the point a tower is constructed, a monthly payment will be made.”

Rozar explained that there is room for two more carriers on the tower, and the City may also take advantage of its presence for future public safety purposes.

“The Board of Regents released an acre of property to the campus for this purpose so the remainder of the process is to gain the permission of the City and County to proceed with entering into the lease,” she said.

Begley and the UW-Marshfield/Wood County Commission reached an agreement in 2017, and County and City approval was then needed because of the location on University property, which is co-owned by both.

The City of Marshfield Common Council reviewed the lease and Resolution No. 2017-74 at the December 19 meeting, and is expected to approve the lease (with changes) at tonight’s Common Council meeting. The Wood County Board of Supervisors will next meet on January 16 to review and potentially approve the lease.

There are several benefits of the project, which is being constructed/funded with private dollars. No taxpayer dollars will be used for the tower construction.

“Payments received will be used for the benefit of the campus,” said Rozar, adding that it could reduce the amount of tax levy needed from the City and County to support the campus. “Cell service will improve in that part of town as well. This is important because students are now using the STEM building for study purposes and often contend with poor reception as they study with technology connections.”

Assembled by the Wood County Corporation Counsel, the City has some additional concerns about the current language of the lease.

“Those concerns are now being addressed with the consulting and tower companies,” explained Rozar. “I’m hoping that we can finalize the language of the lease and obtain permission from the City and County to enter into this lease this month. Sometimes the process takes longer than any of us would like.”

Rozar added that the commission is seeking construction of a tower anytime in the next 4 years, if at all.

“There is not a lease in place at this time for that construction,” she said. “Prior to construction, permission will still need to be obtained by the DNR (wetlands delineation) and the FAA (because of airport approach) as well as the process of zoning with the City of Marshfield. If these permissions are not granted, the tower will not be constructed.”

Tune into the meeting at 7:00pm on Marshfield Community TV Channel 991 or ci.marshfield.wi.us/video