Creston School is moving forward with its plans to install a Wi-Fi tower on school property.
The school board voted unanimously 4-0 on Thursday night at a special meeting to allow Kalispell-based MontanaSky Networks to begin construction of a 118-foot-tall monopole at 131 Creston Road on a 40-by-40-foot easement.
Board of Trustees President Matt Hartle was pleased with the decision.
“I was confident in the process and I know our board members spent a lot of time considering everything and that they each came to their decision independently,” Hartle said.
The tower site is less than an eighth of a mile from the kindergarten through sixth-grade school. It is on property deeded to the district in 1994 by the estate of Eaner and Etta Higgins for school purposes.
The agreement between MontanaSky and the district indicates MontanaSky will cover construction costs estimated to range from 200,000. The company also reserved the right “to maintain, repair or upgrade the facilities at any time without restriction.”
In exchange for locating the tower on school property, MontanaSky will pay Creston School 120,000.
But at a July 23 meeting, there were revisions made to the agreement that included moving the tower about 150 feet west of the initially proposed location as a solution to the concerns with obstructed views to nearby residences.
The agreement also no longer includes a provision to allow another telecommunications provider - namely, cell service providers - to install equipment on the tower in exchange for 40 percent of generated revenue going to the school. There had been some concerns raised about the potential health impacts from exposure to the radio frequency waves emitted by cellular equipment.
Rogers’ suit also said the agreement between MontanaSky and the school violated an agreement in the deed with Eaner and Etter Higgins because he claimed the tower was not going to be erected for school purposes and that it was for a business venture.
Reporter Scott Shindledecker can be reached at (406) 758-4441 or email@example.com.