Town to negotiate with cell company over lease arrangements, gets new sign & sound equipment

The Town of Hancock has a new digital sign along Pennsylvania Avenue. The recently installed sign replaces the manual sign, allowing more space to advertise such things as meetings and events at the Community Center.

by Geoff Fox

American Towers, a global tower company that provides innovative infrastructure solutions to enable 5G networking, has been leasing town property near the wastewater lagoons for some time and the renewal option for their contract comes up this October.

The overall agreement runs through 2033.

The contract, which is every five years, had the tower company paying $1,200 a month with a 3% escalator. On the renewal, though, they want to pay about $300 less.

According to Town Manager Mike Faith, the company wants to pay the town a one-time $3,500 bonus and then begin paying $900 a month on the new deal.

The last renewal, Faith said, American Tower cut a check to the town for a one-time payment of $35,000 instead of $3,500 being proposed now.

That came during Ralph Salvagno’s administration with Joe Gilbert as town manager.

In talking to Salvagno, Faith said the former mayor did not recall the details of the deal.

“So I don’t know how they managed to get $35,000,” Faith said.

Mayor Roland Lanehart, Jr., who became a councilman in 2019, said he hadn’t heard of the deal either.

The new proposed deal of $900 a month from American Towers would be a $15,000 difference over the next five years, said Councilman David Kerns said.

Town officials unanimously approved Faith to negotiate a deal with American Towers.

New town sign installed

If you’ve been past Town Hall recently, you’ve probably noticed a new town sign standing along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The new digital sign replaces a sign that had to be manually changed and was to be moved to Kirkwood Park.

The new sign, which should be operational soon, will allow more information to be added to the sign, but that information will be limited.

With more space available, Faith said his idea was for advertising town business, such as meetings and special meetings, and special events in the Town Hall and Community Center.

“If Lions Club is sponsoring an open mic night or Hancock in Motion is having a craft fair, if they’re doing here at Town Hall, I don’t have a problem with that,” Faith said. “We can start out with that.”

He did say there’s going to be a situation where other groups would want to advertise events on the signs, but Faith said he wouldn’t know if the town could get into that.

Officials said the final decision on what can and can’t be advertised on the sign would come “down the road.”

There’s also the fear if too much information is advertised on the sign, people would have to drive by multiple times to see all the announcements and also tuned out as to what’s on the sign.

In a text message to The Hancock News on Monday, Faith said the new sign now has power with the hope to have it connected to the town’s network either on Monday or Tuesday.

New sound system

During town meetings, people sitting in the back of the meeting room had a hard time hearing town officials and people speaking.

Councilman David Kerns made sure they would be able to hear town officials during meetings by salvaging a sound system from Meritus Medical Center recently.

Faith said it powers up just fine and is 100 times more than what the town needs.

“When they say they’re throwing it away, it’s just like, ‘Ok!’” Kerns said.

The system hadn’t been hooked up for the July 11 meeting but there were plans to get it operational soon.