ECS to manage cell tower for Knox

KNOX — Knox is moving forward with plans to build a cellular tower on Street Road. 

Last week, the town board voted unanimously for its attorney, John Dorfman, to draft a proposed contract with Enterprise Consulting Solutions to be the site manager for the project.

Throughout this year, officials have discussed raising a tower at the site, which is on property owned by the town near the Knox transfer station.

If a contract is ratified, ECS would oversee the construction of the tower and negotiate with cellular service providers.  ECS would then pay the town a percentage of the rent it receives for space on the tower.  

Before last Tuesday’s meeting, Michael Hammond, the town’s supervisor; Robert Price, the chairman of the town’s planning board; Dorfman; and members of the town board had met with three companies — ECS of Slingerlands, JNS Enterprises of Central Valley (Orange County), and Infinigy, which has an office in Albany.

Hammond and Price spoke in favor of ECS.

“I found that the ECS company would probably fit the profile of what we’re looking for and be best for the town,” said Hammond.

Enterprise Consulting Solutions is owned by Scott Carroll and represented by Jacqueline Phillips Murray.  The company is currently working on a tower in the nearby town of New Scotland.  Last week, Bill Biscone, who represented ECS and has attended many Knox meetings, said construction on the New Scotland tower will begin in late May or early June. 

Last month, the Knox Town Board voted unanimously to remove a portion of the town’s 5.4-acre property on Street Road from a land conservation district.  The zoning change was protested by the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, which has a nature preserve near the site. 

Residents who live nearby also spoke out against erecting a tower at the site; some were concerned a tower would contamination their water and mar their view.  Town officials said a tower will not contaminate groundwater or produce any effluents.  At the end of February, Verizon came to Knox and raised a crane at the town’s transfer station on Street Road to take electronic readings. 

“Some companies have a lot more experience than ECS.  Some companies are much larger,” said Price last week.  “But, if you factor in all of the things that go into…the project, it is my view that ECS is probably the best choice.

“They’re very local, not that one of the other companies isn’t local, but there is no question that, if ECS is awarded this, they will focus on Knox requirements,” Price said.

“While it may sound naïve, they are represented by an extremely good attorney,” he said, “and it’s my experience that if you’re negotiating with somebody, it’s best to have the other side represented by someone who really knows what they’re doing…From that confidence level, that separates ECS from the other guys.”

Councilman Nicholas Viscio said he wasn’t at a meeting in which board members discussed site managers and asked Biscone what he called “pointed questions” and questions he said he would ask any new company. 

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” said Viscio. “[The New Scotland tower is] the only tower project that you have waiting, ready to build right now?”  Biscone said it is.  Biscone said he has been in the industry for nine years and worked with all major carriers in Maine, Connecticut, and New York.  “This is becoming more of a focus,” he said, “and we’re looking at several other sites outside of this area, outside the town of Knox.”

“Worst-case scenario up here,” Viscio said, “The company doesn’t pan out.  We’ve got a tower built over here.  Where do we go?  What happens?” he asked.  “I’m not questioning the viability of your company, but I’m just looking at the fact that, if we have a situation where we don’t have a manager at some point — given an unforeseen economic situation — where does that leave the town?”

“We own it,” said Dorfman.

Biscone said there is a termination clause, and, if the town is not receiving its percentage of revenue from ECS, the town could then terminate the contract.


To project revenue, Price created two spreadsheets that span 10 years.  He called his estimates for the rent charged to service providers — the revenue Knox would receive — conservative.  Price figured that the first carrier will be online the first year, the second carrier online in the second, and a third carrier on the tower in the fourth year. 

He considered two scenarios that had been presented to him by ECS’s president.  The town and ECS would either split the rent charged to cellular carriers 50/50, or 53/47, with Knox receiving 53 percent.  Each year, rent would increase 3 percent for each carrier. 

In the first scenario, with the town and ECS receiving equal sums from providers, Knox would also receive 10 percent of a carrier’s construction costs, which, according to a letter from Carroll to Price, would be between $4,000 and $5,000 per carrier. 

In creating the spreadsheets, Price’s goal was to find out how many years it would be before the 53/47 and 50/50 splits would have accrued the same amount in revenues.  After a decade, under either plan, Knox would receive in the range of $200,000, according to Price’s calculations.  He told The Enterprise this week, “Probably, the revenue numbers I did are low.”  He said the “cross over” — the year in which the 53/47 split would surpass the 50/50 split — would be even sooner if a third provider comes on the tower before the fourth year. 

Other business

In other business, the Knox Town Board:

— Voted unanimously for Hammond to attend a conference on bookkeeping for capital projects on May 14 at the Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs.  The town is currently working on a plan to renovate Town Hall, and Susan Lombardi, the town’s grant writer, is seeking grants; and

— Heard from Hammond that Earl Barcomb Sr. has resigned.  Barcomb is the chairman of the town’s zoning board of appeals.  The town board voted unanimously to appoint Bob Edwards as the board’s chair. 

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