RBHS board approves lease for T-Mobile

With fourth wireless carrier on board, tower is at capacity

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The 120-foot tall cellphone tower that sits directly east of Riverside-Brookfield High School along First Avenue, has a new tenant, bringing the tower to full capacity, according to District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis.

In June, the District 208 Board of Education voted to approve a five-year lease agreement with the wireless provider T-Mobile, which is the fourth wireless company to have antennae on the tower. The others are AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

According to the terms of the lease, T-Mobile agrees to pay the school district $18,000 annually to use the tower, with that fee increasing 3 percent every year. The lease will automatically renew for four successive five-year terms, unless RBHS terminates the lease by notifying T-Mobile in writing at least six months in advance.

T-Mobile can choose not to renew the lease by giving 90 days' written notice. The school district and T-Mobile had been working on the lease agreement for more than a year, according to a memo included in the school board's June 11 meeting packet. The wireless carrier had approached District 208 about leasing ground space and placing their antenna on the pole back in April 2018.

The cell tower has stood outside RBHS for 11 years after the Riverside Village Board approved a pair of zoning variations in 2008. Prior to that, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint had leased antenna space on the high school's smokestack, which was demolished in the summer of 2008 as part of a major renovation of the high school.

Verizon was the first wireless company to lease space from the high school, starting in 1997. The other two came aboard in 2000.

The leases bring in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue annually, and that figure has grown over time. In 2008, the high school reported receiving $48,800 in rent from the three wireless providers. In 2018-19, the school district collected about $80,000.

With the addition of T-Mobile, the rent collected by the school district will come close to $100,000 a year.

However, there's no room for any other provider on the existing tower.

"The tower is at max capacity," said Skinkis in an email.

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