At the Streets, Buildings & Grounds Meeting on November 18, 2019 Mayor Forthofer said he has been talking with Verizon Wireless about the possibility of improving the city’s dead zone. Through some examinations by the administration, they concluded the dead zone is significant (2.5-mile area of no coverage to bad cell phone reception) which includes about 3,000 of the city’s population (1/3 of the total population of Vermilion). He has been sending a lot of correspondence to Verizon to be the squeaky wheel. His main line to them is the importance of restoring reliable communication and this dead zone cannot be overstated.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that the lack of basic communication compromises public safety, and directly impacts the city’s economic development,” stated the mayor.
He got as far as the engineering department, and is working to get up to the executives in Ohio Verizon.
The mayor stated nobody hates Facebook more than he does, but it did turn out useful in this effort. He put up a post asking residents of Vermilion to tell the City about their cell phone experience in the area. They received 264 posts, all of which reinforced what they already knew. To travel east of the bridge, or west of Baumhart Road, people start running into dead zone areas all the way to Hilltop and further on. He downloaded and printed the responses and sent them to Verizon.
Last week on November 12, Verizon asked for a meeting and the engineers came in with some business representatives to meet with the city’s IT department and Sgt. Reising from the Police Department. They came up with a plan in writing.
The Vice President of Verizon Ohio has put the city’s dead zone (Vermilion on the Lake) in the top 10 zones to be corrected in Ohio. Their first step in 2020 is to put a co locate booster on the macro tower which is on Overlook and Liberty Avenue (located behind Nick’s Auto Body and not too far from Fire Station #2). The real estate department is negotiating with the tower owner to co locate this booster.
This apparently was attempted in 2015, and they got building permits and secured the rights to do this, and then it dropped for some reason.
In 2020, they hope to conclude the deal to put the booster on the monopole, which should greatly improve the reception in this whole area.
Plan B, if they can’t reach an agreement on this monopole, will be to install five or six small cells along Liberty, which will basically have the same affect. However, they must secure the property and build this themselves or attach them to existing structures. This wouldn’t be able to get done until 2021.
Verizon has pledged to call every month with an update. In addition, they will immediately revive the 2015 plan to locate small cells and boosters on city property. They are thinking about putting some on top of City Hall, and the navigational aid, to help boost the area. They did a drive around and measured how bad it is, and agreed it’s bad, but some of it can be improved through existing technology.
Monica Stark, Council at Large, thanked the mayor for all the work he has done as it will greatly improve the life of the community.
Chairman Frank Loucka adjourned the meeting after no further discussion came before the committee.