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Cell tower design draws static from council members
better-flag-pole lt
Manteca councilman Vince Hernandez would prefer to see a monopole doubling as a flag pole similar to the one shown in this photo. - photo by Photo Contributed

Vince Hernandez isn’t impressed with the proposed 140-foot oil derrick-style cell tower with a 20-foot tall flag pole plopped on top being proposed at South Main and Wetmore streets.

The Manteca Councilman indicated Wednesday he’s going to press for the city staff to go back to the drawing board for a more aesthetically pleasing design for the cell tower that will be leased to Metro PCS for 25 years.

“We (the city) shouldn’t be making Manteca uglier,” Hernandez said. “We need to set higher standards and not settle for the lowest common denominator.”

Hernandez said he would like to see a monopole cell tower - similar to the one behind the Christian Worship Center on Button Avenue - but in the form of a giant flag pole with an oversized American flag attached. Hernandez noted he’s seen several examples of monopole flag poles including one along Interstate 40 in Arizona near the California border.

Hernandez added that cell towers are obtrusive but they can be designed in such a manner that they blend in more than they stick out.

Mayor Willie Weatherford gave the cell tower as proposed a thumb down. Weatherford said he expects the council to ask the staff to go back to the drawing board and come up with a more pleasing option.

Councilman John Harris also said he wasn’t happy with the design as presented.

“I’m definitely going to want more on this one,” Councilwoman Debby Moorhead said.

Moorhead said she was reserving judgment on the design until being able to see other options. She also wants to know what it will cost the city annually to maintain the flag and the lighting for the flag and whether it is covered by the $1,000 annual maintenance budget.

Councilman Steve DeBrum wasn’t available for comment.

The basic 140-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. The city would own the tower and all equipment.

Metro PCS would have a 25-year lease. A staff report notes 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.