January 28

Chelsea selectmen to set date for public hearing on cell tower lease

Selling the rights to the 40-year lease on an Eastern Avenue cell tower could net the town more than $100,000, about $30,000 more than when selectmen rejected the move last year.

By Paul Koenig pkoenig@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

CHELSEA — The Board of Selectmen at its meeting Wednesday night will schedule a public hearing to discuss selling the rights to a cell tower lease, discuss the date of the annual Town Meeting and likely pick a vendor for the cemetery and park maintenance contract.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the town office.

Two companies have expressed interest in buying the leasing rights for a cell tower on town property along Eastern Avenue. Town Manager Scott Tilton said the public hearing to discuss the issue will likely be held at the board’s Wednesday, Feb. 26, meeting.

The town is about a decade into a 40-year-lease with U.S. Cellular for the cell tower, Tilton said. The town earns $758 a month for leasing the tower, but it could sell the leasing rights to another company for a lump sum of more than $100,000, Tilton said. The selectmen rejected a previous offer to sell the leasing rights last year, he said, but the offer was about $30,000 lower.

Tilton said New York-based Unison offered $115,000 for the rights to the lease. Los Angeles-based Wireless Capital Partners hasn’t made an offer, but has said it can beat Unison’s terms, Tilton said.

If the town doesn’t sell the rights to the lease, it could earn more than $270,000 over the remaining 30 years. The money upfront from selling the rights, however, could be used immediately for capital needs like road work or a new fire tanker, Tilton said. He said the board has the authority to make the decision, but it will be listening to residents’ concerns at the public hearing.

“I think the selectmen are at least approaching it with an open mind. They haven’t ruled anything out yet,” Tilton said.

The board will also discuss choosing a date, time and location for the annual Town Meeting and election, usually held within two days of each other in June, and will likely accept a vendor for the one-year cemetery and park maintenance contract.

Littlefield & Sons in Pittston bid $6,160 for the contract, Corliss Lawncare in Pittston bid $8,900 and Maurice Soucy & Sons Lawncare of Chelsea bid $15,000, according to Tilton. Corliss Lawncare previously held the contract. Tilton said he will be making a recommendation, but hadn’t decided as of Tuesday afternoon.

The board is also expected to:

• Consider supporting a proposed fish ladder for Togus Pond.

• Discuss the dedication of the town report.

• Renew the town’s contract with the city of Augusta ambulance service.

• Appoint Maria Jacques to the Planning Board.

Paul Koenig — 207-621-5663 pkoenig@centralmaine.com Twitter: @paul_koenig
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