PINOLE -- The ongoing snafu over leasing a chunk of Pinole Valley Park to Verizon Wireless for a cellphone tower has opened the lid on some other daunting city issues as well as some possible solutions.
The state Department of Parks and Recreation wrote Pinole on Sept. 23 that a cellphone tower would violate terms of a federal, state-administered grant that helped buy parkland in the 1970s, unless the project undergoes a multistep conversion process. The City Council had ratified a ground lease with Verizon two months earlier on a 1,000-square-foot parcel in the park for up to 25 years, starting at $2,200 a month.
The state agency also noted that a fire station was built on parkland without undergoing a conversion process set by the National Park Service that would require producing replacement property for recreation. Pinole Fire Department Station No. 74, built around 2002, was shuttered in July 2011 for budgetary reasons.
The City Council will discuss the Verizon lease issue Tuesday. A staff report includes a proposal to "co-locate" the cellphone tower on the fire station grounds; the estimated cost would be $300,000 to $400,000.
Verizon, which previously threatened to sue to enforce its lease, did not respond to a request for comment Monday. The Verizon snafu comes just as the city considers how to implement a two-year $1.24 million federal firefighting grant that it accepted in August.
Interim Fire Chief Carlos Rodriguez has identified two options: reopening Station 74, with a fire engine staffed by a crew of three; or keeping Station 74 closed while adding a two-person medical response vehicle at Station 73 downtown.
The city will hold a workshop on emergency services Oct. 29.
The cellphone tower snafu also could mean additional scrutiny for a skate park close to the Verizon site approved by the council in May. In September, a Native American rights activist presented the council with a 1970s archaeological map that shows two areas of historic interest nearby.
State Parks spokeswoman Vicky Waters said a skate park would be an allowable outdoor recreation use under terms of the grant.
What: Pinole City Council
Where: Pinole City Hall, 2131 Pear St.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday