WALLINGFORD — The Town Council unanimously agreed to lease town-owned land with a communications tower to a privately-owned wireless systems operator.
The 25-year lease, which automatically renews every five years, allows Everest Infrastructure Partners, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to access the tower on Youngs Apple Orchard Road in Northford.
The town Water Division owns the land. Water and Sewer Divisions Director Neil Amwake said that total revenue will be split 50-50 between the Water Division and Everest, and added the projected revenue to the Water Division is more than $1 million.
There are actually two leases, a ground lease and an occupancy lease. The town is leasing the land to Everest, and Everest is leasing tower use to the police and fire departments, part of the emergency services radio upgrade project.
During the Tuesday Town Council meeting, Deputy Police Chief John Ventura said the new system would allow police to speak to fire crews and SWAT team, and that acquiring use of the tower is the “last piece” of the project.
In February 2018, Amwake said, the town had negotiated a 20-year lease with Frontier Communications, the tower owner at that time, that was signed on March 2018.
In December 2018, Frontier notified the town that the company was transferring tower ownership to Everest. The deal closed in January.
In February, Amwake said he and Geoffrey Einhorn, the assistant town attorney, met with Chris Davis, an Everest company president, to discuss the new lease.
Frontier was proposing charging the police and fire departments more than $1,700 per month to rent the tower, and Everest originally proposed charging $1,300 per month for the first year, increasing by 3 percent thereafter.
The town and Everest came to an agreement, however, on a $1-a-year occupancy lease.
The projected savings for Wallingford taxpayers over the 20 years of the occupancy lease is projected to be $560,945, Amwake said.