New London will join a neighboring community's public safety system after the City Council unanimously approved an emergency radio network agreement with Waterford on Monday.
The agreement—which runs through June 30, 2018—allows New London to become part of Waterford’s new $6.5 million emergency communications system. The vote also authorizes Mayor Daryl Finizio to sign the agreement and any other documents necessary to put it into place.
First Selectman Dan Steward formerly said the town had to install several tower and base equipment sites for the system, but that New London and Groton City could be included without additional construction. Tests of the system have determined that it meets the radio standard to cover at least 95 percent of the city 95 percent of the time.
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Under the system, New London would have its own channels for its approximately 135 mobile radios and 215 portable radios. This supply is about half the number of radios that Waterford has, so New London would pay one-third of the annual maintenance costs, or about $75,000. The city remains responsible for installation, repair, and replacement of its radios.
The agreement sets the conditions that New London must maintain the city’s current UHF licensing and accept a maintenance agreement with Harris Corporation, a company Waterford has contracted with for radio services. The communities must also establish a public safety and telecommunications committee.
Law Director Brian Londregan said the committee would allow regular communication between New London and Waterford on any issues related to emergency communications. He said any costs related to bringing radios onto the system will have to be approved by the council.
The system allows different communities to coordinate in a major emergency, allowing Waterford to communicate with the Connecticut State Police, Millstone Power Station, and emergency responders in East Lyme and Montville. The system also allows New London to meet a federal mandate to switch emergency radio systems to a narrow band 800 MHZ frequency by Jan. 1.
The Waterford Board of Selectmen on Aug. 7. The Representative Town Meeting .
New London and Waterford entered a tentative agreement in February after the idea to include New London on the neighboring system was brought up as a possible alternative to a at . Supporters said the tower will improve cell phone reception and emergency communications in southern New London and bring in revenue toward the upkeep of the beach. Opponents raised concerns including whether the tower would lower property value and be vulnerable to extreme weather. Tim Hanser, director of the , said the cell tower proposal has since been removed from consideration.
Steward has said a third entity, not yet named, might also enter into a similar agreement with Waterford. If so, both Waterford and New London will have to approve bringing the entity on board.