Purcellville discusses adding new cell tower at wastewater facility

Basham Simms Wastewater Treatment Facility in Purcellville

Purcellville Town Manager David Mekarski says the town is in the final stages of negotiation with Wireless Edge Towers for a wireless communications tower at the Basham Simms Water Treatment Facility.

“They clearly won the competition, and we have been exchanging draft contracts. We are almost completed. We have every bit of confidence we will succeed and we will be bringing it to council to execute the contract,” Mekarski said Tuesday.

The town received seven responses to its request for proposals to enter a public–private partnership to build a wireless communications tower at the facility in the southern end of town.

Because the town is still in negotiations with Wireless Edge, terms of the contract are not yet available, Mekarski said.

On Tuesday, Town Council listened to a presentation by John Arthur, president and CEO of Wireless Edge, and Ed Dawson, vice president of site development.

Rhineback, New York-based Wireless Edge is a national company that specializes in government properties.

Arthur said the company has built towers across the country — from Florida to Alaska — since 1998.

Based on discussions with several cell phone carriers, including AT&T, the company is proposing building a 156-foot tower at one of three proposed sites at Basham Simms.

Councilman Joel Grewe asked about the possibility of doing a visual study to see how the tower would affect residents who live adjacent to the proposed site.

Arthur said they are able to do a balloon study and take photographs from different angles to show the visual impacts.

Mayor Kwasi Fraser said he would like to fast-track the project so it can be completed in less than a year.

Arthur agreed, saying a faster timeline than was indicated in the presentation is possible.

“It is in our best interest to do this as quickly as possible. So we want to get the process going,” Arthur said. “I don’t really see any issues or surprises. It’s a clean site, with easy access and no trees to take down. I don’t see any environmental issues. We should go through this process pretty briskly. We have had sites up and running in a couple of months.”

Town staff will continue to work with Wireless Edge to finalize a contract and will then present it to Town Council.

In other Town Council business:

• Council voted 7-0 to approve the heavily discussed Community Policing Advisory Committee. The proposal is an effort spearheaded a group of local residents including former Town Councilman Nedim Ogelman. The committee — which will include nine citizens — has received interest from 36 people.

The aim of the committee is to enhance community engagement between the town’s police and the town’s citizenry, businesses and visitors about matters related to police-community relations, police training and police protocols. The committee, which had the backing of Police Chief Cynthia McAlister, also endeavors to improve public trust of the town police through increased communication and education.

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