By Ivan Raconteur
CARVER COUNTY, MN Carver County Board and Hollywood Township Board have reached an agreement regarding the future of the communications tower on land owned by the township near the intersection of Carver County Road 21 and Carver County Road 122.
The agreement lays to rest some uncertainty about the tower’s future that arose when former owner Northern Lights Broadcasting stopped using the tower last August.
The company expressed a desire to donate the tower to either the township or the county.
The township board agreed to accept ownership of the tower during a special meeting last Monday.
The following morning, the Carver County Board unanimously approved a 10-year agreement with the township under which the county will lease space on the tower for emergency communications equipment.
“The Hollywood tower is critical to 911 and emergency communications in Carver County,” Sheriff Bud Olson said. “Carver County’s equipment on the tower supports radio communications for the sheriff’s office, local fire departments, ambulance services, Carver County public works, and the local bus service.”
Under the lease agreement, the county will assume some of the obligations for the tower, including providing maintenance and insurance, and paying rent to the township.
The county will also lower the tower from its current height of 659 feet to about 320 feet. The cost of lowering the tower will be shared between Northern Lights Broadcasting and the county.
“The negotiation process went smoothly,” Hollywood Township Attorney Troy Gilchrist said.
He added that the county worked cooperatively to get the deal done.
Carver County Commissioner Tim Lynch said the agreement will continue to keep the public safe. He said he appreciates the township board working with the county to reach the agreement.
Lynch said the county has eight months to lower the tower to its new height.
Another change, when the tower is lowered, will involve replacing the existing high intensity lights with medium intensity lights, Lynch said.
Carver County Commissioner Randy Maluchnik, who had previously said he was opposed to the arrangement, voted for the final agreement.
He explained that, while he had been in favor of the tower, his initial concern was that as a county board, public safety is a priority.
“It would have been a better scenario if we owned the tower and paid them (the township) rent for the land,” Maluchnik explained. He said this would have given the county more control when it needs to make changes, such as when new technology evolves and communications equipment changes.
“I’ve got to put public safety first,” Maluchnik said.
He explained that after the township meeting last Monday, he felt the township board had resolved some of his concerns.
Maluchnik also said he has confidence in Lynch, who attended the township meeting.
“I talked to Commissioner Lynch. He works hard and represents the area well,” Maluchnik said. “After talking to him, I believe the township board took appropriate action. I feel a lot better about it now.”