Commissioners Offered Deal for 911 Tower Site

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A Haga Ridge Road property owner told the Athens County Commissioners on Thursday that he will renew a lease of his land for a 911 tower if the county buys him a woodburner and generator.

Sam Grim provides a tower site to the county for $600 a year, and the current five-year lease is due to expire in 2016. The lease is renewable in five-year increments, with terms to be negotiated.

Grim in the past has expressed unhappiness with upkeep of the site, including the mowing of grass, and at Thursday's meeting recounted an incident from a couple years ago when someone doing maintenance on the tower when off the site onto his land and got their vehicle stuck, causing some damage to his property.

County Commissioner Charlie Adkins indicated he'd been under the assumption that Grim would not want to renew the lease when it came up for renewal in 2016.

The county has been exploring alternate sites for the tower.

County 911 Director Dan Pfeiffer has estimated it would cost $160,000 to $200,000 to replace the tower. He said that includes tearing down the existing tower, restoring Grim's property and installing a new, taller tower at another location. It doesn't include any land costs, and a site has not been found.

Commissioner Chris Chmiel pointed out that if the county could come up with a lease renewal that would satisfy Grim it could be a lot cheaper than moving the tower.

Grim indicated he would be willing to renew for another five years if the county bought him a woodburner and generator. He handed the commissioners price quotes from a store, and said that is what he wanted. The total was $3,424, but the quotes were for a generator and snow thrower. The difference wasn't clarified at the meeting.

The commissioners said they will consult the county prosecutor on whether it would be legal for the county to buy Grim items as payment for a five-year lease. They said they'd let Grim know next week.

Adkins said he doesn't like the idea of the county leasing tower space from private individuals because it puts the county in the position of possibly having to move the tower when the lease is up for renewal.

Pfeiffer said there are three other 911 towers on land leased from individuals.