I-75 cell tower stirs BG, BGSU officials PDF Print E-mail
Written by By HAROLD BROWN/Sentinel City Editor   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 09:00
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A view of the building site for the Verizon cell phone tower at the Wooster Street exit from Interstate 75. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University officials are fuming over the fact that Verizon and the Ohio Department of Transportation are moving ahead with plans for a 155-foot cell phone tower at the Wooster Street exit from Interstate 75.
Site work for the tower and a building, just east of the northbound exit ramp, began Monday. The work surprised the city and university, who thought they had convinced Verizon to use an alternative site the two had proposed months ago.
Though the conversation Monday night was often blunt, BG and BGSU officials remained hopeful for further discussions, as are Ohio Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, and Ohio Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, who attended the council meeting at the request of local officials.
Gardner said he and Brown will work together on the issue. “It is not in the best interest of Verizon, the university or the city. There’s got to be a better way.”
In a statement, ODOT said it “leased the property to Verizon Wireless in 2009 with the intent for Verizon to build a cell tower in public right of way.  ODOT continues to be open to working all parties involved with the tower to their address concerns.”
Brown said he agreed with the concerns of the city and the university. “There has been a lot of money spent on making a good first impression of the city. I want to encourage discussion.”
Mayor Richard Edwards said the city is “determined to fight any attempts by Verizon to deface that strategic intersection, the gateway to the city and the university, which have been highlighted in the city-university visioning process.” Work in recent years has included a rebuild of East Wooster Street from I-75 to Mercer Road, and improvements on the north side of Wooster Street on BGSU property.
“The university and the city have made our position clear to both Verizon and the Ohio Department of Transportation and have been working for over a year to reach an amicable solution, including a number of alternative sites nearby,” BGSU said in a statement. “We are disappointed that the company has ignored these concerns and begun construction.”
The mayor said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey was unable to attend the council meeting because of a previously scheduled meeting with research faculty.
Edwards said the cell tower issue dates to April 22, 2008, when the city objected to the plan by CTL Engineering, Columbus. He said the cellular firm was not identified at the time  but “we have reason to believe it was Verizon.”
In a statement, Verizon indicated it has explored the options and “the current location is the only viable site. We’ve engaged in good-faith discussions over the past six months in the hopes of finding a viable solution and plan to continue this dialogue.” The company cited a need for additional capacity on the network.
The tower issue resurfaced last October, at which time the city and BGSU wrote a letter to the ODOT District 2 director in Bowling Green, seeking a discussion. Edwards said the letter was never acknowledged, but through the work of then Ohio Rep. Gardner, and a university representative in Columbus, a meeting was held in December.
“We thought that at least one site on campus was under active consideration and in fact the university did some prep work in anticipation of the site Verizon had indicated would not be a problem,” Edwards told council.
In March the city learned the I-75 location was again the focus. On March 8, City Attorney Mike Marsh notified Verizon that if the project went forward, the city would not provide electric service.
“ODOT is not our friend in this process. This would not be there but for ODOT,” Marsh told council. He believes Verizon will build the project and then sue the city to get electricity. He said the city has no control over what the state does with its property.
Council asked Gardner to prepare a resolution expressing the city’s unhappiness with the cell tower plan.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 11:36
 

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