A routine re-up of a city’s lease with Verizon will instead get a more thorough consideration after Boulder city council called for a public hearing to consider the health and safety risk that telecommunications equipment poses.
On council’s consent agenda Tuesday was a 10-year lease extension for roof space on the South Boulder Recreation Center. For the privilege — plus 440-square-feet on the ground — Verizon will pay $2,500 a month for the first five years, a rate that will increase by 10% each of the next five years. The company will also pay for any electricity their equipment uses.
The city will have to pony up $2,000 in initial administrative costs, according to city staff, but is expected to earn $30,000 annually from the lease.
The lease has been in the works for three years, staff said in its notes to council. The lease itself is 10 years old at this point, City Manager Jane Brautigam confirmed Tuesday in response to a question from councilman Aaron Brockett.
Councilwomen Lisa Morzel and Cindy Carlisle were the first to request a public hearing on the matter, in separate emails to council.
“I think before the city signs on to a 10-year contract with Verizon at one of our recreation centers, we should hear from the public and, as a council, we should have a public discussion before voting on this matter,” Morzel wrote.
“I’m really surprised to find it on our consent agenda,” said Carlisle during Tuesday’s discussion. (Council’s consent agenda is typically reserved for matters that don’t require much, if any, discussion and don’t allow for public input.)
“The city parks and rec department is not the entity to be deciding on something of this magnitude,” Carlisle continued. “Some people say that this is an appropriation of public property for private profit.”
The “main issue,” she said, is one of public health and safety, citing the potential damaging effects from microwave radiation. Two members of the public spoke in opposition to the lease during the open comment period that preceded the meeting.
“I think (it) is really important that the public have some input in this,” said Carolyn Bninski. “There is a lot of research out there of the health effects of WiFi and cellphones. Let’s slow down a little bit so you can hear about all the concerns.”
A public hearing was tentatively scheduled for March 19, though that is subject to change.
To view a Twitter thread of Tuesday’s brief discussion on this matter, go to threadreaderapp.com/thread/1103123290514579456.html
Shay Castle, email@example.com, @shayshinecastle