Citing concerns from its engineering firm, the Grantsburg Village Board on Monday rejected Starwire’s request to place antennas on the community’s south water tower near Highway 70.
Joe Cremin and Sarah McLain of Starwire wireless internet service were at the board meeting for the third straight month, hoping to expand their Siren-based business deeper into Grantsburg. Starwire earlier proposed to pay the village $100 per month for the right to place several small antennas on the water tower.
Grantsburg Public Works Director Chris Bartlett reports recommendations from the village's engineering firm as Starwire's Sarah McLain and Joe Cremin (standing) listen.
Starwire also hoped to place three communication poles in the village to extend its wireless internet coverage.
At April and May meetings, the board tabled the Starwire proposal while having Public Works Department Director Chris Bartlett work with engineering firm SEH of Rice Lake for guidance on antennas.
Bartlett met with SEH’s tower specialist who recommended any business wanting to place antennas on a village tower should pay $500 or more per month and provide detailed drawings showing the location of antennas, wires, and connecting hardware. SEH would review the proposal and advise the village. Starwire’s Joe Cremin said they are a small business and financially unable to pay that monthly rent and another $3-5,000 for drawings.
Grantsburg board members weren’t swayed by the fact that other area communities including Siren and Danbury have Starwire antennas on their water towers. Cremin acknowledged that Grantsburg has good service from grantsburgtelcom.net, the local phone company’s internet provider.
Village President Larry Ebersold called for a motion and a voice vote to move the matter along.
Diane Barton made the motion to allow Starwire to place its antennas on the tower, but the motion died for lack of a second. “The issue is dead,” said Ebersold. “I’m afraid we are not going to allow it.”
Grantsburg's south water tower is dwarfed by private cell phone tower beside it
Starwire’s Cremin said, “Quick followup question: is there something the board would like to see that would make you more comfortable with this in the future?”
Village Trustee Good Coy responded, “Someone needs to get up on that tower and see what shape everything is in. Even if your antennas and equipment are small, the village is responsible and there are so many details not taken yet. We don’t know yet if it’s safe.”
Trustee Mike Longhenry added, “Village liability is a concern for me. If something comes off the tower and causes damage to someone’s property, they could legally come after you and us.”
Trustee Caylin Muehlberg said, “My concern or hesitation is that your antennas have such a short range. If the antennas on that water tower would cover our entire community with another option for internet, I’d be more in favor.” She said even with more poles placed in the village, coverage could be spotty. “I wonder how much of our community would benefit from it.”