Verizon: No new cell tower will be installed in Basalt until sometime in 2018 | AspenTimes.com

Verizon: No new cell tower will be installed in Basalt until sometime in 2018

A patron of Whole Foods Market in Willits uses her phone on Wednesday. Getting a signal in the midvalley area can be a challenge for Verizon customers.

Verizon Wireless customers shouldn't expect relief from a black hole of coverage in the middle Roaring Fork Valley until an unspecified time in 2018, according to a company representative.

Verizon has obtained permission from Basalt town government to build a new tower in the Basalt Industrial Center but there are "still several more steps required before we can proceed to construction," according to company spokeswoman Meagan Dorsch.

In addition to zoning and permitting on the local level, Verizon must also get a lease for the site of new towers and state and federal regulatory approvals, she said. Dorsch declined to say where the Basalt tower is at in that process.

The Basalt Town Council granted approval in July for a 70-foot tower disguised as a pine tree. Verizon's application referred to a 90-day construction period. However, Dorsch said that shouldn't have been interpreted to mean construction would begin once the Basalt approvals were in hand.

“We have heard the request for improved wireless coverage in the community and that is our goal with this site in Basalt.”

— Verizon spokeswoman

Recommended Stories For You

"Our plans to build a cell site in Basalt have not changed," she wrote in an email. "Once we obtain all required permits, consents and approvals, our goal is to stick to the 90-day time frame to complete construction. But, again, that time frame starts once we obtain all required approvals. The best timeline I can provide today is that we intend to have this site completed in 2018."

Dorsch said the company understands the uncertainty of the improved service may "frustrate" some customers in the area.

"We have heard the request for improved wireless coverage in the community and that is our goal with this site in Basalt," she wrote.

Verizon customers often find it difficult to get a strong signal in parts of Willits, the business center that includes Valley Lumber and Woody Creek Distillery, and other parts of the midvalley. Dropped calls are typical and it's often difficult to obtain a strong signal.

Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said at Tuesday's Town Council meeting that she has been getting regular complaints from people and inquiries about when the new tower will be constructed.

She provided a copy of an email she received from the assistant manager of a building materials supplier located in the industrial center.

"I have customers walking around our parking area with their phones up in the air, hoping to catch a signal so they can get material lists or purchase order numbers from their offices," the email said. "This tower is needed sooner than later."

Whitsitt said Basalt has done what was requested with approval of the tower. She has voiced her concerns about poor service and delay in constructing the tower to Verizon officials.

"I've spent the last couple of days in rather loud conversations with Verizon," she said at Tuesday's council meeting. Those talks have been fruitless, she said. She still hopes to get a call from a Verizon executive.

Whitsitt urged people with complaints about Verizon's quality of service to voice them directly to the company and also contact Town Hall "so I have some guns."

The town government can be contacted at townhall@basalt.net.

scondon@aspentimes.com