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Orrick City Attorney Kevin Baldwin can explain the city’s stake in Crossroads Wireless’ pending bankruptcy so that an average eight-year-old Disney aficionado could understand it.
“We’re the small fish caught in the big net,” Baldwin said. “Just like Nemo.”
Comparisons to “Finding Nemo’s” title character aside, the city wants to release the struggling wireless character from its lease to use the city’s water tower as a wireless phone transmitter, Baldwin reported to the Orrick City Council last Thursday evening. A federal bankruptcy judge doesn’t see it that way, since larger lease-holders across the country want the money Crossroads’ other respective leases say the company owes; they aren’t letting go.
Because Crossroads’ other nationwide leasers filed an objection with the court – and because Crossroads’ lease with the city of Orrick is technically a liquid asset – the court has put a hold on all transactions until it concludes the bankruptcy proceedings.
A smaller carrier’s sudden exit might make barely a ripple in a big market like the Kansas City metro area, Baldwin said. But in a small town like Orrick, the impact amounts to waves.
“It really puts a lot of small towns in a lurch,” Baldwin said. “A lot of these folks went into small towns to put up their towers. Unfortunately, now, we depend on that money more than Kansas City.”
In the meantime, the council started last Thursday evening preparing a contingency plan to prepare to put Crossroads’ old lease atop the water tower up for grabs to other wireless carriers servicing the area.
“I think we should go ahead and shop (for a new lease), because they’re not coming back and they want out of our lease,” said Alderman Jim Eubank. “That’s one less thing they have to worry about in bankruptcy.”
“Eventually, we will end up releasing our claim, as long as we can have access to our property,” Baldwin said.
The problem the city still needs to address is which new lease would best serve the needs of the community. Also, proximity comes into play: signals from towers too close to users don’t have time to spread and can be as bad as being too far out of range.
“You’ve gotta weight the balance of the community of individuals who have all these different plans versus the amount of leasing sum you can get from that spot,” Baldwin said.