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Northside Park could see 120-foot cell tower

Decision could mean $2,000 a month for upkeep, scholarships

– Cell towers used to be controversial.

Now, parks officials are wondering whether they’ve become so accepted that one can be placed in a city park without issue.

Of course, it’s hard to complain about a cell tower with an iPhone in your pocket.

“We’ve been to neighborhood meetings, but it’s not received a lot of opposition,” said Al Moll, director of Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. “The local neighborhood associations don’t seem to see it as a real obstacle to enjoying the park.”

The park in question is Bob Arnold Northside Park, on East State Boulevard. GTE Mobilenet wants to place a 120-foot cell tower near the basketball courts between the pool and the baseball diamonds. The tower would have a flag on top, but not an aviation beacon.

In return for the tower, GTE Mobilenet will pay the parks department close to $2,000 a month for the first year of a 10-year lease. The amount would increase 2 percent each year of the deal, which can be renegotiated for additional five-year terms.

“We can always get out of it if we don’t like it,” Moll said.

He said the money will go toward maintaining the pool and funding scholarships for swim lessons.

“All the dollars go back into the park,” Moll said.

Moll said that if it works out, the department will look at other opportunities, especially properties the department owns that are not parks, which might be candidates for income-generating towers.

“As long as it doesn’t disrupt a park or disrupt activities, it’s worth looking at, at least,” Moll said. “The reason it’s put up is demand – and that’s only going to increase.”

Moll said no decision has been made, and officials want to hear from the public before they decide. Anyone with thoughts on a cell tower in Northside Park should call the department at 427-6000.

Moll said the parks board could vote on the issue at its meeting Jan. 9.