Miamidade County Seeks Deals For Telecommunications Towers In Parks
By Ashley Hopkins
Communication towers may soon pop up around Miami-Dade parks — supplementing the Department of Park and Recreation’s yearly budget by up to $2.64 million a year.
To prop up park services during a difficult budget year, the county commission on Tuesday voted to allow communications companies to install and operate cellular towers in county parks.
According to county documents, "reductions in the park department’s staff, maintenance, programs and services over the past two county budgets jeopardizes its… ability to provide services to the community."
As each tower could pull in $80,000 to $120,000 each year, Jack Kardys, county park and recreation director, said allowing communications companies to install and operate cellular towers in parks would help the department supplement its budget. The towers, to be located in up to 22 parks across the county, could bring in up to $2.64 million a year.
Commissioner Xavier Suarez, however, cited concern that the county wouldn’t get the biggest bang for its buck. While the commission has directed the administration to find communications companies willing to install and operate the towers through competitive solicitation, he questioned why cellular companies would be willing to pay market prices to set up shop in parks.
Mr. Suarez was also concerned that the towers would detract from the parks’ natural beauty. While the commission’s Recreation & Cultural Affairs Committee amended the item to require that all towers remain "aesthetically acceptable" and that they don’t "adversely impact natural resources or park facilities," Mr. Suarez was unconvinced.
"Why in our parks?" he said. "I don’t understand."
Hearing Mr. Suarez’s concerns, the item’s sponsor, Chairman Joe Martinez, said he pushed the legislation in an effort to keep parks open during a difficult budget year, adding that he "doesn’t care if [the towers] look like a tree or not."
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