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Lakes Area Internet may forfeit tower rights

Lakes Area Internet antennas may be taken off the New York Mills water tower in upcoming months, if the company doesn't catch up with its monthly lease payments.

At a city council meeting April 10, councilors said if the company does not respond by May 8, removing the antennas would be the next step - a move that would affect Lakes Area Internet customers.

Lakes Area Internet has not replied to a number of letters or phone calls from the city, said Clerk Darla Berry. Multiple phone calls from the EOT Focus were also not returned.

Currently, the company is three months behind on its lease. It also has not paid its portion of the attorney fee for drawing up a new lease.

The council told Berry to continue attempting correspondence with Lakes Area Internet until the May 8 city council meeting, at which time further action will be decided.

"We hope to resolve this without getting to the point where the antennas must be removed," Berry said in a follow-up interview.

At the city council meeting in January, Kenny Friese and Jamie Vaughn, speaking on behalf of Lakes Area Internet, asked the council to renew the company's lease agreement without an increased rate. Friese said the company needed to upgrade equipment and could not afford an increased rate at that time.

After some discussion, a motion was made and approved to rewrite the lease without an increased rate. It was also agreed that City Attorney Dennis Happel would review the lease, and the company and the city would split the attorney fee.

The original lease expired in February and Vaughn just recently signed the new lease. However, it was not notarized as the city requested.

The city will not sign the five-year agreement until the account is brought current and the lease is notarized.