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150-foot cell tower pole may fly Old Glory
An example of a cell towers doubling as a flag pole in a residential development. - photo by Photo Contributed

Manteca could be known as the place you can see the American flag descending from the Altamont Pass if Councilman Vince Hernandez has his way.

Hernandez is pushing for a 150-foot cell tower being planned for the vehicle maintenance facility now under construction at South Main and Wetmore streets to double as a flag pole complete with a 20- by 38-foot garrison flag version of Old Glory. He’d like to see the flag lit at night so travelers from great distances can see the Stars and Stripes flying in the breeze over Manteca.

Hernandez recalled that when Spreckels Sugar was still in existence, every December you could see the Christmas tree outlined in colored lights on top of one of the four 150-foot-tall silos when you started descending into the valley on Interstate 580 crossing the Altamont.

“Some cities have soccer balls on their water towers and that’s great,” said Hernandez. “It would be nice if Manteca built on its patriotic community theme. It would go right along with the Manteca Chamber’s flag effort.”

The chamber places 2,400 flags along Manteca streets during various times of the year.

Hernandez has been working with staff on the cell tower flag pole.

Hernandez in October convinced his council colleagues to not simply settle for the mundane, basic tower if they could avoid doing so.

The last cell tower to go up in Manteca - a 150-foot tower near the northeast corner of Lathrop and Union roads - is a traditional pole with a triangle steel structure on top to attach antennas.

Prior to that, the city approved a cell tower behind the Manteca Christian Worship Center on Button Avenue that is camouflaged as a giant palm tree. The church, when they were building their new facility, was approached by a cell carrier. The church wanted to make sure the tower didn’t take away from the church and the neighborhood and opted for the palm tree design.

It visually fades into the background unless you specifically look at it.

It is the same concept involving a pine tree cell tower on Interstate 680 near Sunol that is not noticeable unless you know what you are specifically looking for in terms of what makes it a cell tower.

The cost of the upgrade would be recouped from lease payments from Metro PCS.

The City Council approved a deal to have Metro PCS build a tower that the city would then be able to move antennas on top of the existing water tower at the corporation yard complex.

The basic 150-foot tower will cost Metro PCS $50,000 to put in place. The city would piggyback on the tower with antennas used for fire dispatch, ham radio disaster assistance, city communications and even one used by the Manteca Unified School District. The deal calls for Metro PCS to be charged $2,000 a month to lease the tower. Each year there would be a 3 percent increase in the lease payment.

Metro PCS would have the lease payment waived for the first two years so they can recoup the cost of installing the tower.

Metro PCS would have a 25-year lease. The city, over the duration, would receive $800,000 versus $25,000 or $1,000 a year in maintenance and upkeep costs. That would mean the general fund would net $775,000 of $33,695 on average annually for the 23 years that payments are made after Metro PCS recoups the cost of installing the tower.