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Raising Cell Phone Towers at Schools Could Earn Cash for Stafford County

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Stafford officials want to make some extra cash by leasing land for cell phone towers at schools, parks, and other locations in the county.

A lease agreement could net the county as much as $2.8 million over a 15-year period, and all it would require is entering into a contract to lease out the space where cell phone towers will be built to a private company.

That company is Reston-based Milestone Communications — a firm that partners with school divisions and local governments for land to build the cell phone towers. Milestone then markets those towers to cell phone carriers who are looking to improve wireless access to customers in underserved areas in Stafford County.

“Almost from every district, we had people coming in and complaining that did they did not have high speed internet, and there just never going to be a cable for fiber optic line to places like Marlborough point [a rural area along the Potomac River]… by courting Milestone, this is one of the few ways we get basic high speed internet out to the county,” said George Washington District Supervisor Bob Thomas.

A total of 82 sites, 27 of which are schools or School Board-owned properties, are being considered to be used as cell sites. Some of the sites include: 

Stafford Elementary

Stafford Middle

Anthony Burns Elementary

Conway Elementary

Grafton Elementary

Park Ridge Elementary

Hampton Oaks Elementary

Winding Creek Elementary

Ferry Farm Elementary

Barrett Elementary

Widewater Elementary

Hartwood Elementary

Rocky Run Elementary

Gayle Middle

H.H. Poole Middle

Heim Middle School

Drew Middle

Falmouth Elementary

Stafford Senior High

Brooke Point High

North Stafford High

Colonial Forge High

Government Center

Public Safety Center

Stafford Civil War Park

Patawomeck Park

Stafford Animal Shelter

Regional Landfill

England Run Library

Aquia Landing Park

Chichester Park

Historic Port of Falmouth

The School Board continues to review the entire list of sites and is expected to come to a final decision by Dec. 10 on which school properties will be approved for new towers, said Stafford Deputy County Administrator Keith Dayton.

The towers, also known as monopoles, will be 150-feet tall and would be made to blend into the landscape. Some would look like natural trees, while others on school sites could be attached to, or sit next to the tops of tall stadium light posts.

Mirroring the terms of an agreement already in place between Milestone and the City of Manassas, Milestone will build and maintain the cell phone towers and then split the revenue giving the county a 40% share. That plan remains negotiable, according to county documents.

Officials said locations in Stafford’s Rockhill District were not considered for inclusion on the list after a request made by Supervisor Cord Sterling.

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