WiMax tower may come to W. Fulton

December 24, 2009
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A site for one of the last towers that will be part of the city’s WiMax communications system has been chosen. It will go up in the West Fulton Business District, if the city’s Fiscal Services Committee approves two small property purchase agreements late this month.

Parking Services wants to buy two parcels along the north side of Fulton Street between National and Straight avenues. The properties are adjacent to a city-owned parking lot; the purchases would let the department add nine spaces to the lot and provide a location for the tower.

Clearwire, the city’s contractor for the system, would install a broadband wireless antenna on the tower for the citywide WiMax system.

“It works for everybody and everybody seems happy with it,” said Mitch Schutter, parking facility supervisor with Parking Services. “We’ll add nine spaces, which isn’t a lot, and we’ll have space on the tower for other Wi-Fi antennas.”

Schutter said the business and neighborhood associations were on board with the plan and the tower installation has been approved by the planning, zoning and city commissions. All that’s left for approval is an OK from the city for Parking Services to buy the parcels, a cost Schutter estimated at $55,000.

“It also benefits the city. The city’s public safety receives benefits from WiMax and they don’t have to pay for it,” said Pam Ritsema, director of Parking Services.

“I think all sites are done except for one or two,” said Schutter of the system’s tower distribution.

The additional spaces would increase the lot’s total to 30 and give that section of the business district more customer parking. Normally, a business district has to pick up 10 percent of the cost for expanding parking in a district. But this time the city is waving that fee because it expects the revenues from leasing space on the tower will exceed the cost to add the spaces.

“We are taking on an additional expense,” said Ritsema.

Schutter said West Fulton has grown and the business district can use the additional parking. If the city approves the purchase agreements, Parking Services will ask for bids on the construction of the lot.

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