Junction City, KAN. (WIBW) -- Verizon Wireless wants to improve its service along I-70 in Junction City.
To do that, they want to install a 150 foot cell phone tower in the Highland Cemetery on Ash Street.
Since the cemetery relies on city funds to operate, some Junction City leaders say the money from the tower will help take the burden off taxpayers.
"My dad is buried in that cemetery, my aunt and uncle, my grandparents. I think they would be glad to know that cell tower, which is going to pay $800-$1000 a month in lease payment, would be helping maintain their spot forever so their grandkids, kids and great grandkids don’t have to. It’s some very needed money that’s going to help preserve that cemetery and take care of those plots because the money that you pay for your cemetery plot is not near enough money to take care of that spot forever. When you think about it, it is really a good place for a cell phone tower. I wish we could get ten of them in there and then it would pay for the upkeep of the whole cemetery," said Junction City Commissioner Scott Johnson.
But while some Junction City officials see the tower as a good financial move, others feel that it would commercialize a final resting place and would be disrespectful to those that are buried here.
That’s why the city is tossing out alternative sites for the tower.
"There were some sites in the city-owned park called South Park, there is also some private land along that area. One of the locations, probably the city’s preferred site, is on the water tower that’s in the immediate vicinity. We want to alleviate all the weak coverage areas. Everyone is reliant on cell phones nowadays and we want to provide coverage. It’s just that this is a very controversial site and given the conversations there have been, there are other sites, other alternatives and we would promote the use of less controversial sites," said Junction City's City Manager Gerry Vernon.
"Junction City has not even been able to balance a check book for the last 10 years so I’m in favor of listening to the engineers at Verizon. They’re willing to spend $250,000 for a cell phone tower. I think they know where the best location is, not the Junction City Commission or the Metropolitan Planning Commission. If I was planted there, I would be glad to know that my spot is being taken care of with payments from that cell tower instead of the taxpayers in this town that have a lot more important places to put the money- for streets, roads, education, you name it. We need to pass this and get on with really important issues," Johnson added.
Is it a desecration or will the dead even mind? Commissioners have until next week’s final vote to decide. The next Junction City Commission meeting is Oct. 4th. At the September 20th meeting, the commission voted 3-2 against the cemetery location but since the cell phone tower requires a new city ordinance, a second vote must be held.