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Verizon reps propose tower on Dickinson Recreation Center grounds

The Dickinson Recreation Center grounds could be the site of a new Verizon Wireless communications tower.

At a Dickinson Park Board roundtable meeting Friday at the WRCC, Dickinson Parks and Recreation director James Kramer said he has been in contact with a consulting firm representing Verizon Wireless about the possibility of leasing space for a proposed cell tower and adjacent support facility.

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“The area where they’re looking to pick up (cell) coverage, surprisingly, is the corner of State Avenue and Fairway Street,” Kramer told the board. “In a nutshell, it would be about an 80-foot tower and would have a support building of about 800 square feet.”

In a packet sent by St. Paul, Minn.-based Buell Consulting, three small plots of Parks and Rec land near the WRCC were identified as possible locations for the tower and support building. Kramer said Verizon and Buell have identified one particular spot — on the north side of the Rec Center — as the most desired location.

The other two possible areas are locations to the west of the Rec Center and near the ball field diamonds across the parking lot from the WRCC.

Lease terms for the location of the proposed new tower, as presented by Buell, include rental fees of $1,000 per month to Parks and Rec with rent going up by 10 percent during each five-year block thereafter. Under those terms, gross revenue to Parks and Rec for a 25-year term would exceed $366,306, according to Buell’s calculations.

“The location is probably secondary,” Kramer said. “The question probably is whether or not we want to open up this type of opportunity. Potentially, there is a tremendous revenue aspect to this proposal.”

Kramer said the city of Dickinson was initially contacted about placing a new tower, but referred Buell to the Parks and Rec Department.

Verizon spokesperson Karen Smith confirmed that the wireless company was in the early stages of a proposal to place a new tower in Dickinson to boost cell phone “capacity and coverage.” Smith added that a tower facility near Patterson Lake went online Thursday, thereby improving coverage on Dickinson’s west side near the lake and on certain stretches of Interstate 94 west of Dickinson.

With no decision on the matter being made Friday, Kramer said the unveiling of the plan during the meeting was to brief board members on the proposed project. Board president Mike Lefor said he would welcome any public input related to the tower proposal.

Park Board legal counsel Mary Nordsven was directed to look over the 19-page Buell letter of interest and land lease agreement packet before the next regular Park Board meeting in November.

“I want to make sure that the public has every opportunity to voice its opinion on this matter,” Lefor said. “I think there should also be some research done on what a market rate would be for this type of deal.”

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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