The Palm Coast City Council Tuesday is expected to approve leasing yet another site for a tall cell tower, the fourth in the past year and a half, to improve cell coverage in the city. The tower could accommodate up to four carriers.
The 150-foot high monopole would rise above the grounds of the Frieda Zamba municipal pool, behind Wadsworth Elementary School–more specifically, on a spot to the northeast of the pool, on the west side of Belle Terre Park. Its closest neighbors would be the south parking lot of the school and the pool complex. The closest homes are along Planview Drive.
The tower would improve coverage for the north end of the P-Section and the east end of the W-Section. Picture a coverage area delineated by Whiteview Parkway, Pine Lakes Parkway, Palm Coast Parkway and I-95: the zones within those lines would see improved coverage. It would become operational likely by January, says Don Kewley, Palm Coast’s chief innovation officer, with AT&T already signed up to be a carrier. (An existing, smaller tower there, owned by T-Mobile, provides coverage by T-Mobile, MetroPCS and Verizon.)
In the past year, towers went up in Palm Harbor, off Palm Coast Parkway behind Heroes Park, and near the Palm Coast Tennis Center and Fire Station 25 off Belle Terre Parkway. The first two are operational, with AT&T on each. The tower off Palm Coast Parkway went up in January, its circle of metallic mohawks atop the pole–otherwise known as the tower’s center of radiation– quickly claiming its part of Palm Coast’s otherwise vacant skyline. The tower near the tennis center ran into a few glitches but is expected to be operational by sometime in December, Kewley said–also with AT&T–thus providing coverage for the south end of the P Section and the east end of the R Section, if you’re an AT&T customer.
The towers are built by Diamond Communications, the company the city contracted with two years ago to take over its wireless marketing and infrastructure in an effort to better focus the recruitment of carriers to town. The city also relaxed development rules for higher towers. Diamond builds the towers at its own expense (the cost ranges between $200,000 and $300,000), leasing land from the city in five-year increments renewable nine times.
Diamond is to pay the city a $25,000 development fee at the start of construction on the new tower (at least that’s what the contract attached to the council members’ documentation states, though the memo summarizing the document lists the fee at half that, $12,500. Previous tower fees have been $25,000.) Diamond then takes 60 percent of revenue generated by carrier income. The city takes 40 percent.
The city has four towers of its own: at the Palm Coast Tennis Center, at Ralph Carter Park, atop the water tank in the Hammock, and on Utility Drive, behind the Woodlands. But only the first three have major carriers (Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and Metro PCS, depoending on the tower.) Diamond is now managing those sites as well, but the city keeps all revenue from carrier leases it already had in place (as it did with three carriers). If Diamond adds carriers on the city’s towers, then the city takes 65 percent of the revenue while Diamond takes 35 percent. But it’s obviously to Diamond’s benefit to locate carriers on its towers.
The four new towers were all part of Diamond’s master plan for the city. Are more towers planned in the immediate future? “These are the ones that are currently planned, so the answer is no, not technically,” Kewley said, but he’s not ruling out new sites.