First selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice announced last Friday that she had signed a ten-year lease extension with Crown Castle for the cell tower located at the transfer station on Mather Street, effective June 15, 2018. In signing a lease extension on a cell tower in North Wilton, Town officials were able to secure more favorable financial terms in the new lease contract than the Town had done for the prior go-round.

At the Nov. 20, 2017 Board of Selectmen meeting, the BOS members had voted unanimously to approve the lease extension and grant Vanderslice permission to sign the new contract on the town’s behalf.

The lease extension provides a first-year lease payment of $180,000, which is an $80,000 increase over the current annual payment; and a 3% annual escalation in the lease payment, versus no escalation in the current lease. Payments will be pre-paid annually instead of monthly, which is the current payment structure. The Town will also receive a $125,000 signing bonus, an increase of $115,000 over the prior lease extension’s signing bonus. Wilton also secured a mandatory annual inspection by a CT licensed engineer, paid for by Crown Castle, something newly added to extended lease’s terms.

The Board of Selectmen reviewed the pros and cons of assuming ownership of the tower, but ultimately decided to retain an option to assume ownership of the tower at the end of lease term–something the Town retained in extending the contract.

“One of the major concerns was the tower’s age. The tower is 30 years old and it could be costly to replace,” Vanderslice says.

Another positive from the deal? The terms will be helpful for the coming town budget process.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the cell tower lease extension review. The participation in the negotiations of Berchem Moses attorney Doug LoMonte resulted in a positive financial outcome for the town. The $125,000 signing bonus and the additional rental income were not budgeted for the current year, thus creating a surplus that can be used to offset expenses when developing the FY2019 mil rate.” Vanderslice says.

Crown Castle is the nation’s largest provider of wireless infrastructure.

photo:  stock photo courtesy Michael Dorausch