The San Juan County Commission unanimously approved a plan from a Florida-based company to construct of a new communications tower on county land at Navajo Dam.
The tower to be constructed by Skyway Towers would not only boost local cellular service, it would give county Emergency and Fire Services greater radio access in the Navajo Dam Area.
The project will move forward once the New Mexico Board of Finance gives the tower a stamp of approval during its September meeting.
“This is a really good deal for the county and the citizens. It ought to go right through,” Commissioner Keith Johns said.
“This is a benefit beyond the economic benefit” said Doug Echols, deputy county attorney.
The cellular tower would be constructed on more than 1/10 of an acre that is adjacent to the Navajo Dam Fire Station No. 1, according to Echols. The property was appraised for $7,200 and San Juan County would lease the property to Skyway Towers for up to 10 five-year terms at an annual rent of $10,200 with a $3,500 signing bonus. The rent would increase each year by 2 percent.
Building a cell tower in the Navajo Dam area will benefit residents and tourists who visit the area for the purpose of fly fishing, said Thaddeus Cano, general manager at Fisheads San Juan River Lodge, which offers guided fishing tours. “We have so many high-profile customers there who need phone service to connect with their businesses. That would help out the tourism industry and the population. It would be a win-win situation for everyone.”
If the project moves forward, Skyway Towers also has agreed to provide space on the cellular tower for the county to install EMS and fire communications equipment for public safety purposes.
“We have limited radio contact in that area due to the hills and valleys that are there, so this tower will help EMS and (the fire department) talk to each other” said San Juan County Fire Chief Doug Hatfield. He added that the cellular tower would also help residents report an emergency. “There is limited cell phone coverage for the low spots down in that area. If someone has an emergency and needs to call 9-1-1 they must drive to a high spot.”
Skyway Towers is a company based in Land O’ Lakes, Fla. According to the company’s website, Skyway Towers’ goal is “to be the next premier tower infrastructure provider for the wireless community, offering maximum flexibility and customer service.”