Spanish Main Yacht Club resident Tom Freiwald is still asking the same question he first proposed three years ago to the Longboat Key Town Commission: Is Spanish Main Yacht Club a viable location for a cellular tower to improve communications on the north end of the Key?
The Longboat Observer reported in June 2010 that Freiwald sent a letter to the commission suggesting his association has a viable place for a cellphone tower on the north end of the island.
Three years later, after receiving no response and knowing the Longboat Island Chapel members voted to decline a renewal to build a cellular tower on their property, Freiwald is repeating the question.
Wrote Freiwald to commissioners in June 2010: “The tower is visible from Gulf of Mexico Drive. Since the Spanish Main residents are accustomed to seeing it (or ignoring it as the case may be) there may be an interest by the residents to allow a taller tower to be built on the property; thus addressing the north end’s poor cellphone reception issues.”
Freiwald says the old concrete tower was built far back off Gulf of Mexico Drive to pick up basic television channels and hasn’t been in operation for years.
“No one even knows the tower is there unless it’s pointed out,” Friewald told the Longboat Observer in June 2010.
In a letter to unit owners dated May 31, Spanish Main Yacht Club Board of Directors President Pat Knudson wrote:
“This is to inform you that Spanish Main may resume exploring the feasibility of having a cell tower placed on our common property. Soon we will begin learning about the feasibility of a cell tower on our common property. The board will keep our members updated as we learn more.”
Spanish Main Yacht Club — a community of 212 homes — has an unused 70-foot-tall concrete television tower on its property that was built in the 1960s.
The location, which lies near property that already contains utility easements, has enough space for ground equipment and trenching that can be concealed with shrubbery.
Friewald said the recent letter was sent to inform residents the inquiry would resume because the church opted not to renew its lease for a tower.
“It’s a piece of property far enough off Gulf of Mexico Drive that’s not in your face,” said Freiwald, who explained the 70-foot tower could be extended to 110 feet to support improved cellular communications. “We’re just asking the question. That’s it.”
For now, Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer said the question won’t be answered.
“I’m aware of the interest, but right now it’s just people talking, and I need direction from the Town Commission to deal with such a request,” Meyer said.
Commissioners could direct town staff to answer the question as soon as they hold their July 1 regular meeting.
Vice Mayor David Brenner told the Longboat Observer he visited the site a couple of weeks ago when a cellular communications representative was invited to the property to discuss the possibility.
“The conclusion was the site is workable and the owners could do something there if, and only if, the owners are interested,” Brenner said. “My own feeling, though, is the management of Spanish Main would have to come to the town and say they have an interest.”
Commissioner Jack Duncan also discussed the possibility of a tower with Freiwald last week when he visited the property to view the existing tower.
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