Wootton High School is considering a proposal by Cingular Wireless to replace a light pole in the school’s stadium area with a cell-phone transmission tower, said Wootton Principal Michael J. Doran. Cingular has offered a total of $24,000 per year for the rights to build the tower, with $8,000 for Wootton, $8,000 for Wootton feeder schools, and $8,000 for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) system.
“They were looking for good sites where they needed better reception,” Doran said. “We didn’t go to them. … they came to us.”
A Cingular representative showed design proposals to Doran, the Wootton PTA and other interested community members last month. The plan calls for a tower that is 19 feet higher than the existing light pole by the stadium. Doran described the proposed structure as looking like a chandelier at the top, with lights partway up the pole so it can continue to illuminate the athletic field. “I went in with as open a mind as I could. … After the meeting, I felt comfortable that the new pole would not be an eyesore, would not in any way be a danger to our health, and could add $8,000 a year to our school programs,” said Doran. “The consensus was very much [to] proceed… and see where that takes us.”
Approval by the Wootton community isn’t the only necessary step for Cingular, which must also get approval from MCPS and the City of Rockville for zoning compliance. There is no set time schedule for implementing the project, although Doran believes construction could be completed by late summer if all parties approve of the project. “They’re a business, and I think like any other business… if they don’t get something really quickly they’ll move on and find somewhere else to get it really quickly,” he said.