Some readers may have noticed that a photo I used in today’s and other recent “Why flags are at half staff” stories doesn’t reflect current reality. This week, selectmen were again asked to address the flagless flagpole at the Town House.
In July, selectmen agreed that changes made to the Town’s flagpole were unauthorized and would not be accepted. Rejecting redesign proposals, they ordered that the company leasing the pole as a cell tower needed to restore the pole to its original look.
At that time, Town Administrator Mark Purple predicted that the lessee (Crown Castle) may drag its feet on returning the pole to compliance with the lease.
The company made changes to allow installation of a more powerful antennae. The lease is up at the end of this month, and the vendor’s rep indicated they won’t want to continue leasing the pole in its original design. (Though the lease does require the vendor to return the flagpole to it’s original appearance even if the term isn’t continued.)
On Tuesday night, Purple updated the board that he he has been in back and forth communications with representatives for Crown Castle and AT&T, the cell phone company the tower provides service for. According to Purple, they keep saying “nice things” about following through with a schedule to do the work, then nothing happens.
The issue was raised during public comment by Paul Cimino, the Town Moderator, who said he was speaking unofficially as a citizen and veteran. (You can view the discussion here.)
Cimino wondered about the Town’s legal options. He floated ideas for officials to consider. Those included tearing down the pole and building a new one, then sending Crown Castle the bill. Or officials may want to disconnect power to the flagpole for a day prior to the lapse of the lease. He pointed out that Crown Castle had already violated the terms of the agreement.
Selectmen all expressed frustration over the situation. They agreed that it may be time to pursue legal remedies. Purple noted that even a call from Town Counsel might be more effective than one from the Town Administrator.
Chair Marty Healey promised that he would follow up directly with Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano on what steps he should take.
For more background on the flagpole and antennae issues, click here for previous coverage.