Some Wayzata residents have won a decades-long controversy over locating cellphone equipment in a park. But residents near the school where the equipment will move are now upset.
The City Council recently approved moving cell equipment and antennas from a water tower in Klapprich Park to a new monopole tower by a ball field at West Middle School, after the Planning Commission voted 4-3 to deny it. The 195-foot-tall tower, to cost $312,441, will go up this summer near Hwy. 12.
“It seems as if they’re trying to help one neighborhood over another,” said Andy Brehm, who lives near the school. “The whole reason to move it is the reason to not have it in my neighborhood..”
In 1985, a cellphone company later bought by AT&T started leasing space from the city for antennas on the water tower, just as cell companies have done in other cities. Four companies now have equipment there and pay nearly $300,000 a year, which goes to repairing streets or the water system.
Residents say the antennas are a safety hazard and an eyesore. A petition in 2014 got 500 signatures and prompted a feasibility study, which zeroed in on the nearby school site. Dave Dudinsky, director of public service, said it had to be nearby to maintain cell service and that the city would have needed two cell towers with any other sites.
“It’s virtually impossible to find a location ... that can’t be seen by residents,” he said. “Wayzata just isn’t that big.”
The school board approved a 20-year agreement last year and will get $24,000 a year.