Proposal to add cellphone tower to state park draws concern

BARABOO, Wis (WMTV) -- There’s mixed reaction to a proposal to add a cell phone tower near Devil's Lake State Park on South Shore Road.

Safety officials think a new tower could help with emergency response times, but visitors in Baraboo said nature and cell phones just don't mix.

Over three million visitors flock to Devil’s Lake State Park per year.

"I come here with my kids for years, hiking and we're into paddle sports," Michael Regan, Madison resident said.

Regan usually brings his camera to capture the view, but soon he may see something new in his lens -- a 195 foot tall cellphone tower.

"To see something out of place like that that muddies up the landscape that didn't belong,
I'd try to avoid with my camera," he said.

Bug Tussel Wireless is proposing setting up the tower just outside the park on south shore road to increase cell service throughout the park.

"My preference would be that they would disguise it somehow so it would look like the natural landscape," Regan said.

Terry Simon, Minnesota resident, was visiting the park. She explained she understands cell service dead zones may cause safety concerns, but she’s not sure if it's worth the eyesore.

"I'm really torn with it because it does detract from the beauty of the park,” she said. "They’re about nature. They're about beauty. They're about getting away from it all. You can be on your phone all day long," Simon said.

Baraboo Fire officials said weak cell phone signals makes it more difficult to reach someone in need.

"Sometimes the dispatcher has to call back and get further information because of cutouts and things like that," Kevin Stieve, Baraboo Fire Chief Said.

In a situation where every second counts,-the fire chief says this proposed cell tower can make the park safer and response calls quicker.

"Sometimes people get injured so they have to call 911 and we have to be able to respond quickly and efficiently and part of that is having the most accurate information," Stieve said.

The Land Resources and Environment Committee said they will discuss the pros and cons of the proposed idea with the county board sometime this month.