This past April, Verizon Wireless reached out to The Town of Marlinton, seeking an opportunity to bring their cell service to our Town. I viewed the proposal as an opportunity that could help to stabilize costs and provide competitive options for cell service within the Town, and provide a new monthly revenue stream. Much like the T-Mobile proposal, placing Verizon antennas on a Town owned property is a 21st century utility that is a benefit to citizens and visitors alike. With hindsight, I should have surveyed the community, before proceeding further.

The Town Council received this proposal in much the same way as T-Mobile, from more than a year ago. Why here? Why there? Why now? What will it look like? The T-Mobile tower was eventually installed and, in 30 days, it was forgotten. Some residents still do not realize it is active. The “eye-sore” that was imagined on top of the municipal building is not noticed unless you are looking for it.

Five other sites were considered for Verizon on June 4. The grassy lot across from Lucy’s Grocery and Moore was the desired site, chosen by engineers. At first, it was considered for the temporary tower only. The flags that some of you may have looked at and thought, “It will take half the lot,” does not represent the finished product. The temporary tower, which could begin service within a few days of approval, would require a 65 feet by 65 feet space for set up and remain during construction of the permanent tower.

Since then, numerous phone calls and emails dealt with the site and design. For your information, Verizon came back with a proposal that I thought could fly in the middle of Town. Not a tower, as we think of a tower, but the design was a 91-foot flagpole. When finished, the footprint you see on the grassy lot, would be reduced to 29 feet by 39 feet, or 12% of the parcel, most of which would be hidden from Discovery Junction by the mess in the materials yard, owned by Frontier Communications.

The couple, who so graciously deeded the property to the Town, was communicated with twice the day before the Council decision. They believed the Town was going in the right direction and agreed to the proposal.

The difference this time around is, I’m done. I do not intend to bring it up for another vote.

The Town has chosen to step back. Half of the council thought the subject not important enough to show up for the vote, and only one local citizen attended the meeting. This would seem to indicate the community does not see it as important.

However, any voting citizen should know, when a topic like this is ready to die for lack of a second to the motion on the table, something is very wrong.

When council must be pressed to even verbalize their objection to the motion, or produce an alternative to the proposal, that member appears to lack the expected desire to move anything forward, unless it is their idea.

* From The Town of Marlinton’s Comprehensive Plan, page 3-22, adopted August 2019.

A major concern that was discussed throughout the comprehensive plan process is that the community wants to encourage new business development as well as support existing businesses in town. Small business growth and development is vital to the well-being of the community and the town should be seen as a willing partner in this growth and development