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Council Approves New GCI Tower For Unalaska Valley

Jun 28, 2017

The City of Unalaska is leasing the starred lot to GCI. This summer, the telecom company plans to build a new phone tower to improve service in the Unalaska Valley.
Credit City of Unalaska

The Unalaska Valley is getting a new cell phone tower.

On Tuesday, the Unalaska City Council approved a lease that allows General Communications Inc. (GCI) to construct a tower on East Broadway Avenue.

The unanimous decision came two months after councilors rejected the telecom company's first bid. GCI wanted to build in a more residential section of the valley, but the final site is located near a tsunami siren across the street from the Department of Public Works.

City Manager Dave Martinson said the tower will help GCI upgrade the island’s wireless network from 2G to 4G LTE this summer.

“This is an excellent opportunity and a good location for GCI, given the fact that they can cover 99 percent of the area in the valley,” he said.

GCI is paying $72,000 dollars to lease the land for five years. After that, the city can renew the contract for up to two decades.

Meanwhile, the city council is considering a new proposal to restructure the Department of Public Safety without separating the fire and police forces.

Councilors have discussed splitting the department for months, following complaints that fire plays second fiddle to police. On Tuesday, Martinson suggested a compromise aimed at making the fire division more independent without the expense of creating a new department.

His proposal would reorganize staff hierarchy so the fire chief reports to the city manager rather than the police chief, making the divisions equal partners.

“It hardlines the fire chief to me administratively," said Martinson. "But those two entities have to be able to work together, and they have to be tied together operationally in order to be a single department.”

City Manager Dave Martinson has proposed the above structure for Department of Public Safety staff. The City Council will vote on the plan next month.
Credit City of Unalaska

Martinson’s plan would also add a lieutenant position to oversee dispatchers and corrections staff, taking that burden off the fire chief. His ideas met with positive feedback from councilors.

“This is a long time coming," said Councilor Yudelka Leclere. "It lets folks see that the department’s not being torn apart. It’s just an administration change.”

Councilors will vote on the restructuring plan next month. If approved, the Department of Public Safety will be reorganized over the next two years.