A public hearing was hosted at the regularly scheduled Carbon County Commission meeting on Wednesday evening in order to receive input on an exchange of property in Willow Creek Canyon with Blackhawk Coal Company for the construction of an emergency communications tower.
The location in question, according to Barry Horsley, would be housed just above the old Carbon Plant. The area is unique in that it will provide one location to cover both Highways 191 and 6. Currently, the coverage for radio communications for both state and county are spotty at best, which would be improved with the tower construction on the new site.
As the project was assessed, it was learned that, although it was attempted to keep the site in Carbon County property boundaries, it didn’t end up being a possibility. Due to the terrain in the canyon, staying within the Carbon County boundaries, better coverage would likely not be obtained.
To the northwest of the county property, there’s a ridge owned by Blackhawk Coal Company that would provide adequate coverage in the area. Once this information was received, Blackhawk Coal was approached by the county with the idea of a property exchange.
According to Horsley and Commissioner Jae Potter, in such an exchange, it is more property that is needed but the critical thing is access. Road maintenance and access would be possible without any issue at said location.
“The value of the property for the county would serve a much greater purpose that the property we are currently in,” Horsley stated.
If the proposal is accepted, the state would then go and claim that they are donating the property in order to resolve access issues. In this way, Carbon County will own the land. The state has also agreed to purchase the building and tower, which would make it all rent free indefinitely. Likewise, the county would allow the state to be on the property free of charge. Horsley stated that this is a situation that has worked well with the state in the past with similar cases.
Two individuals approached the commissioners during the public hearing. One who is closely affiliated with the area spoke and stated that access for the surrounding businesses should be a priority before anything is accepted. There is a particular road that follows the mountain and access is necessary.
This issue was tabled for the time being in order to look at the language in the proposal and ensure that access is available to those around the area that need it, as well as to look at the exchange rate. It is possible that a special meeting will be arranged for this proposal. If not, it will be addressed at an upcoming commission meeting.