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Tower project to move forward

INDIANOLA — Thirteen months and 600 feet later, two agencies trying to construct an emergency communications/wireless technology tower are almost ready to move forward.

The Suquamish Tribe and Kitsap County Central Communications/911 (CenCom) are waiting to hear back from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Federal Communications Commission for final approval of the tower site, located on tribal land in Indianola.

The tribe and CenCom have been working together for more than a year since they entered into an interlocal agreement in December 2002 to construct the tower.

The tower is intended to serve two purposes: to provide for the tribe’s wireless technology education program, Digital Nation, and to help increase emergency radio coverage for law enforcement and emergency personnel throughout the North End.

However, the proposed tower location has been under fire by neighboring residents for the past year who are concerned about how it could affect the neighborhood’s quality of life and wildlife.

The site is located within the 90-acre parcel of the Port Madison Indian Reservation in Indianola, off South Kingston Road.

Following two balloon tests last spring and after listening to concerned citizens, the two agencies agreed to move the location of the tower 600 feet south of the original location within the reservation, said CenCom director Ron McAffee.

The actual tower and a small building will occupy only a 100-by-100 square foot section, McAffee explained. The sky wires from the 300-foot tower will spread out to about 4 acres.

“We and the tribe have been spending time studying the new site to make sure it is a good site to build on,” McAffee said.

However, South Kingston Road resident Fritz Greenlee disagreed.

Greenlee and other residents are still concerned and upset about the tower being constructed, he said.

“We favored none of the tests,” Greenlee said, noting the only reason balloon tests were conducted last spring was because he personally asked for them. Greenlee is part of a citizens group called North Kitsap Responsible Environmental Controls for All People (NK-RECAP), which requested last summer that the county commissioners strongly reconsider the project, as group members felt officials did not have all the facts.

However, the request was ignored, Greenlee said, but another reconsideration proposal is expected to be submitted.

Aside from requesting balloons tests, Greenlee also believes the CenCom is violating its own county laws in regards to conducting environmental reviews and the use of strobe lighting on the tower.

But since the county has no jurisdiction on tribal lands, county land-use policies do not apply, McAffee said.

However, residents did get the FCC involved, which asked the tribe and CenCom to conduct more impact and environmental reviews.

“We raised hell, no question about it,” Greenlee said. “But, unfortunately, no one listened and it was always somebody else’s fault.”

CenCom and the tribe are now waiting for overall approval from the FCC.

However, they are waiting for the USFW to approve environmental impact assessments and biological reviews of the new site.

“We have found so far, there is no endangered species habitat on the site where we are going to build and there is very little risk that any bird will be killed by the guyed wires,” McAffee said.

Once both USFW and FCC approve and the FCC issues a tower registration, then construction can begin.

CenCom and the Tribe are expecting to hear back from the FCC in about two months.

SIDE BAR:

Hansville Gets CenCom Tower approval

HANSVILLE — The site for an emergency communications tower near the Hansville Solid Waste landfill was recently approved by the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner.

The 180-foot tower will be located north of the landfill and about 220 feet west of Hansville Road.

This structure is one of five CenCom towers that were approved for construction throughout the county.

“Interestingly enough, not one citizen has voiced any concern for any of those towers,” McAffee said.

With this approval, McAffee can apply for a Request for Proposal, which seeks bids for construction.

The Hansville and Indianola projects are part of CenCom’s comprehensive plan to increase emergency communications throughout the county.

The goal is to have five new towers help provide coverage to 95 percent of the county for inbuilding portable radios used by law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.

“When law enforcement or firefighters enter a building anywhere in the county, they will be able to talk back to us and other agencies on a handheld-portable radio,” McAffee explained.

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