About a dozen or so neighbors living near Island Transit in Central Whidbey came to a meeting with questions about an antenna officials want to install as part of its new headquarters.
Island Transit officials want to install a 40-foot antenna behind the agency’s new maintenance facility. The new antenna will help improve communications with the transit system’s buses and improve communications between emergency services.
Martha Rose, executive director for Island Transit, said she’s received several phone calls concerning the proposed antenna. She noted that the antenna will eventually replace ones that are slated to go on the headquarters and maintenance buildings. The proposed antenna will extend 10 feet higher than the maintenance building.
“That tower won’t be taller than the other antenna on the maintenance facility,” Rose said during the Monday evening meeting.
Officials had an extended cherry picker placed in front of the Island Transit headquarters to give folks an idea of the height of the proposed tower. Nearby resident Louise Harvey questioned why the new antenna wasn’t addressed when Island Transit applied for a building permit.
Rose said the antenna project, which was budgeted in the project and will cost approximately $35,000, wasn’t ready yet. Island Transit held the public meeting Monday night as a requirement to get the antenna approved by Island County.
Joe Sheldon, who is a board member for the Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Studies, questioned if the new tower will have lights. Rose said it won’t. Because the tower doesn’t extend above the trees and won’t affect birds flying at night, he said he doesn’t have any issue with the tower.
Officials said the tower will help Island Transit communications by eliminating dead spots and improving communications with buses on Camano Island.
It will also help law enforcement and other emergency services. Those agencies can use the Island Transit antenna for their communications, which Rose said will improve “interoperability” between emergency agencies on Whidbey Island and the Olympic Peninsula.
“This is part of emergency planning that has been going on for years,” Island Transit board member and Coupeville Town Council member, Bob Clay said.
Island Transit is currently constructing a new headquarters campus that includes an administration building and a maintenance building large enough to house 12 bus bays.
The new buildings will provide enough space to meet Island Transit’s needs for the next 20 years.
The construction project is being funded by a $17.92 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority’s “State of Good Repair” program to pay for the new facility.