Our View: ‘Tower-focused’

Posted: September 25, 2013

There’s little question that, over the past month particularly, City Hall has become, in the words of City Manager Dale Iman, increasingly “tower-focused.” And for good reason: Not only have affected citizenry raised a hue-and-cry over the prospect of a 237-foot emergency communications tower atop Jefferson Street, but a federal compliance waiver is poised to expire Jan. 1.

That’s enough to get anyone’s attention, but then, one of the citizenry’s points of contention is whether sufficient attention was paid them as this six-year process approached fish-or-cut-bait time. Residents close to the projected tower site maintain they received insufficient public notice of the city’s intentions.

Mr. Iman begs to differ, noting that, as far back as March, an agenda item was added to a joint City Council-School Board meeting specifically to discuss the proposed tower.

On the other hand, Mr. Iman does regret not casting a “broader net” last month when informing affected property owners of the requisite public hearing on the tower. But even this, he says, “cuts both ways.” That is, the very fact that only three individual parcels touch the city-owned site hints at its relative isolation and “minimal impact” on property owners.

Isolation, we must admit, does lie in the eye of beholder. Beyond question, though, is the need for expedited action, one way or the other. That federal waiver expiration looms, and application for an extension is a dicey proposition, especially if City Council nixes the Jefferson Street proposal and is compelled to search for a new site. In other words, the feds would look more kindly at the prospect of shovels hitting the ground sometime soon.

That said, expect council to vote on this matter perhaps as early as Oct. 1.