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Simple tower for 4th fire station
Manteca pursuing most functional, least obtrusive tower
The communications tower going up at the future fire station site on Lathrop Road cannot be camouflaged as a palm tree like this cell tower on Button Avenue without interfering with emergency signals. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Del Webb at Woodbridge residents won’t be looking at a giant fake palm tree when the fourth Manteca fire station opens on Lathrop Road sometime in 2014.

Nor will they be seeing a tri-pod, oil-derrick-style tower on their horizon.

Instead the 140-foot tower needed for emergency radio communication that is planned for the station will be non-descript and likely just one tall pole. And there is a chance they might not need to be a 140-foot tower at all if a nearby South San Joaquin Irrigation District tower can be utilized and is capable of meeting the city’s critical emergency communication needs for fire, police, and ambulance services.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin said the city intends to explore the SSJID option but stressed it is critical that the top priority is citizens’ safety. That means if the tower located about a quarter of a mile away from the fire station site can’t meet all needs the city will need to have a tower next to the fire station.

“We will go with a tower that is appropriate for a residential area if that is the case,” McLaughlin said.

The tri-pod design approved for the 140-foot tower going at the new municipal vehicle maintenance building site on Wetmore Street off of South Main Street is in an industrial park. As such, the city opted for a tower that can host multiple antennas for various needs including cell service.

A camouflaged tower either as a tree such as a palm or as a giant flag pole would not work at the Wetmore site due to the need to place multiple antennas and not just cell antennas.

A camouflaged tower will not work at the Lathrop Road fire station either  as the enhancements used to disguise the pole have a tendency to interfere with signals.

Poles lower than 140 feet will not provide clear and unobstructed relay of emergency radio signals.

Wetmore Street tower will net $33K a year for city

Antennas on top of the existing water tower at the corporation yard complex will be moved to the tower being erected at the new vehicle maintenance facility being built just across the street on Wetmore.

The basic 150-foot tower will cost Metro PCS $50,000 to put in place. The city will 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 will have the lease payment waived for the first two years so they can recoup the cost of installing the tower.

Metros PCS will 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 will 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.