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City of Bainbridge Island considering cellphone antenna

Spotty cell service on the island may get a boost in coverage if the city goes through with a potential agreement to lease space at the reservoir on High School Road for the addition of a cell communication antenna.

The idea to build an antenna on the existing water tower was first proposed by a Verizon Wireless representative in 2008. City staff has subsequently entertained the idea and created a preliminary agreement with the wireless provider.

The underlying property owner of the reservoir is the Bainbridge Island School District. The school board agreed last spring to endorse the conceptual idea of leasing the space.

Verizon would be asked to pay $18,000 a year and the city and school district would split the funding.

Andy King, a consultant from The Meridian Group, who was hired by Verizon Wireless to asses the feasibility of placing a cellular antenna on the city's water reservoir was present at the council meeting. King gave several explanations for why cell phone service is a challenge on the island.

He said that since Verizon relies on line of sight signal Bainbridge has topography challenges and restrictive land use code that is problematic in trying to get seamless or uniform coverage given the geography.

Councilor Debbi Lester suggested seeking a request for proposal (RFP) process to see if any other providers may be interested and willing to make an offer.

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