By William J. Des Rochers
Fluvanna Field Officer
Fluvanna officials got a double dose of economic reality late last week and one was not particularly good for the county’s image or economic development prospects.
Verizon Suspends Operations
Verizon Wireless informed officials on September 26th that it was putting all cell tower projects on hold in the county, including a potentially cooperative effort with the county at Bremo Bluff.
Verizon Project Manager Mark Winsted informed the county that it is “reevaluating its network plans in the county [so it] will be on standby” according to an email sent to county officials. Deputy county administrator Shelley Wright alerted supervisors and other officials of the decision on Friday afternoon. “I will be talking with another carrier today or Monday and will see if there may be interest in some of these sites.” She wrote in an email.
“This makes the Communications Master Plan even more important as we will need to look at the impact of locally funded infrastructure projects and preferred site options to market to other third-party carriers.” She advised.
The county had hoped to have a cooperative venture with Verizon to place a tower on county owned land in the Bremo Bluff area, to serve not only cell phone users but also the emergency communication needs of the county. Now it likely will cost the county significantly more unless a new partner can be found.
One senior government official said that this would be “a setback to the momentum the county seemed to have developed to promote economic development. The county’s actions [by supervisors and planning commissioners] threw a monkey wrench into Verizon’s network development and now the county has to face the consequences”.
No School Bonds
County administrator G. Cabell Lawton IV also informed supervisors that the potentially $75.5 million school bond issue had to be withdrawn after it failed to attract buyers in the current uncertain market.
According to sources, the county’s bond advisor, Davenport, notified officials that because of the financial market crisis and Congressional inaction, firms would not be able to bid because there are no buyers for municipal bonds. “Basically, there’s no liquidity”, on said.
Officials hope to go back to the market again within the next forty-five days to get the funding needed for the high school.