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Town Takes Wait and See Approach on Cell Tower

Middlefield officials say they've been offered a $600K buyout for rights to the town's cell tower but officials are not quite ready to end lucrative lease agreement.

 

Calling it a "golden cow," Middlefield First Selectman Jon Brayshaw said Tuesday night that the town had recently received an offer of $600,000 for a small piece of land behind town hall.

The land is valuable because of what sits on it — a 150 foot cell phone tower.

Every year, the town receives upwards of $35,000 from TowerCo, which leases the land in return for a percentage of its profits. The lease guarantees the town will receive payment through 2024.

But in recent years, Brayshaw said, the amount offered by the company to buy the property outright had grown substantially. In 2009, the town received an offer from TowerCo for $375,000.

Brayshaw said town finance director Joe Geruch is currently negotiating with two companies to get an idea of what the land might be worth, but that he had no intention of making a decision soon on whether or not to sell the property.

"We're not going to do anything hastily but it does beg the question, if it's $600,000, well maybe next week it will be $700,000 and next month it will be $800,000," he said.

In a letter sent to the Board of Selectmen, the town's finance board has requested that it be involved in discussions over the cell tower. Chairman Lucy Petrella said it was likely that the amount offered to the town for the land would continue to increase and therefore the board saw no urgency to sell the land.

Petrella said the town should consider a third option, which would allow the town to receive a significant amount up front for selling the property, but would also provide the town with as much as 50-percent of the company's revenues.

"With these trends going up, we need to really sit down and look at some of these offers and how this plays out," Petrella said.

Brayshaw said he is considering forming a subcommittee to consider any offer, which would eventually require approval from voters.

"It's a gamble, none of us know what the future of the cell phone business is gonna be," he said. "It's a good situation to have."

Just my opinion May 23, 2012 at 10:55 AM
Wow! great idea keep the and keep the money rolling in. Plus a share of profits. With cell phones being the way of the world with less and less land lines we are sitting on a gold mine. No one would offer $600,00.00 for a piece of land if it didn't decrease the amount of revenue they have to pay out. With the low impact cell towers have we should possibly open another space for another company to rent space. Many companies are always looking to improve their service.
Big K May 23, 2012 at 02:46 PM
We should look into the future of Cell Phone Technologies before we go too far, as the Towers may become Obsolete in the near future. Everything seems to be going "Satellite" now.
Concerned May 25, 2012 at 05:59 PM
There really is no reason to sell the tower. The new technologies will upgrade that same site. They have sent letters offering to buy it every year, and each year it goes up. It is quite reasonably worth more than $1Million. Just because Jon Brayshaw wants to plug the holes in his long term budgets; he robbed the capital fund of $75, 000 a few years ago, and has never replaced those funds and every since he he has shortchanged the fund. The town does need a pumper truck for the Fire Dept., but we shouldn't be selling this property, he will spend the $600K+/-, but next year will still have the same problem.

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