Inland Cellular and Weis Towers still plan on building a cell tower in the Santa area, but the question is where.
The joint companies had originally planned to install a cell tower near Pokey Creek, but property owners in that area resisted the efforts.
“The plan is to still put in the site but there are no particulars,” Inland Cellular executive vice president Chip Damato said.
Mr. Damato said they would like to have a tower up by next spring but not only does it depend on finding the right location, but also how the winter months will go this year.
“Picking the right spot contains hurdles,” Mr. Damato said. “We need to be able to get a power source, and the new tower has got to have a line of sight to other towers, all the traffic has to make it back to the core in Lewiston.”
He said it’s important to correctly align the towers throughout the region because one signal can’t cross over other signals or there will be interference.
Mr. Damato said that Weis Towers and Inland Cellular want to try the best they can to keep the towers away from residences.
“Ultimately do we want the tower near homes? No,” Mr. Damato said. “It’s been a challenge, on one hand you have customers who are anticipating the towers and wondering where it’s at versus those who are telling you that they don’t want the tower at all.”
Several residents who live on Pokey Creek objected to the constructon of the cell tower and raised health concerns about 5G technology. Mr. Damato said there are misconceptions about the company's plans.
“The concern is over millimeter waves which is a microwave, we wouldn’t use that,” Mr. Damato said. “For one it’s not strong enough for the region the tower will be built in in the first place, its really sensitive, and more meant for urban areas. We can accomplish the same outcome without millimeter waves by going with more traditional methods.”
He said that it’s important to complete the project because he said there are customers in the area who are wondering when the service will be ready.
“We obviously don’t want to make anyone upset,” Mr. Damato said. “In the 30 years I’ve been in this industry I’ve done jobs where I thought there would be public backlash and there wasn’t, and then I’ve done jobs thinking everything is OK but it’s really not. That’s just how it goes.”