Waterford Approves Radio Deal With New London

Waterford Board of Selectmen agrees to let city use its radio system, for a fee.

Waterford's Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a draft agreement Tuesday to allow New London to tap into , potentially saving both municipalities money.

“I don’t see it as a lot of downside,” First Selectman Dan Steward said. “I see it as a lot of upside for both Waterford and New London.”

The agreement, which extends until 2018, still needs to be approved by the Waterford Representative Town Meeting and the New London City Council, who will both vote on it next week. The move would have the city use Waterford’s existing radio network for public safety, which could save Waterford roughly $75,000 per year and save New London millions of dollars.

Waterford recently completed a $6.5 million radio system, which covers all of New London. New London would tap into that system while providing all of its own radios to its public safety personnel, to comply with a mandate from the Federal Communications Commission.

The Full Story

Five years ago, the FCC mandated that all municipalities must be using a 800 MHZ frequency for their public safety radio system by January 1, 2013. Well, five years went by and as RTM Moderator Tom Dembek put it, “the city of New London hasn’t done a darn thing.”

The FFC will shut off all of New London’s radios on that date, as they do not comply with the new mandate, Steward said. To upgrade to a 800 MHZ frequency, the city would have to install a new radio system to the tune of roughly $4 million, he said.

Instead, New London can tap into Waterford’s existing system. New London will use the “backbone” of Waterford’s system, while purchasing all its own radios and having its own channels.

Waterford’s radio system covers all of New London, Steward said. It will cost the town no extra money to have New London on the system, he said.

In return, New London will pay approximately one-third of the $225,000 annual maintenance cost for the system, or about $75,000, according to Steward. New London will pay one-third of the cost because the city has approximately half the amount of radios Waterford has, and the formula set in the agreement is based on the amount of radios each town has, he said.

Steward said he is also talking with “another client” about adding them to the system as well, which would further defray the costs for New London and Waterford. Steward refused to comment on who that client was after the selectmen's meeting.

The transition would have to happen by the end of the year, so New London can avoid breaking the mandate set by the FCC, Steward said. He said he was very hopeful to get this passed quickly, stressing again it is a savings for both towns.

The agreement would also make it unnecessary for New London to have to put a radio tower at Ocean Beach, something . New London's radio system currently doesn't cover the Ocean Beach area, although Waterford's system would, Steward said.

Who Is In Charge

Steward said there would have to be a governance council to preside over the radio system that would be composed of New London and Waterford people. However, the details of such a governance council do not exist in the agreement drafted by New London's and Waterford’s attorneys.

Steward said he “wasn’t sure” if there would be more Waterford people on the governance board than New London people, of if both municipalities would be equally represented. He said that would have to be worked out later.

The RTM will vote on the agreement on Monday. The New London City Council will vote on the agreement on Tuesday.

Clark van der Lyke August 11, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Except positions would be lost when towns merge with cities...1 police chief, 1 fire chief, 1 mayor, 1 municipal librarian, 1 superintendent of schools. Who wants to start that fight, no matter how good an idea it is? Makes even more sense when you look at a map and see that to get from Waterford Police Department to Quaker Hill (also Waterford) you pretty much have to drive through New London.
Spencer August 11, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Ahh--details--details--which actually can easily be solved by natures of examples of other merging cities such as the 5 buroughs of NYC, Gary/Hammond, IN, or Indianapolis/Southport Indiana--or even my earlier example of St. Paul/Minniapolis, MN. In each of these examples all of the Cities named are their own enitity with the public services, (Schools, FD, PD) and as such remains independently served. In fact--each towns also have their own goverment. The only differences, and the reason why each of these towns are considered one with their other named town is that the financing is equal and shared in each aspect---as needed by each towns. So yes--it can be done. It could rough in the beginning, but as with any form of goverment--the kinks can be worked out! Besides, did you not know that NL at one point in history was well on its way to being the biggest city in CT? Break off cities from NL includes Montville, Waterford, Ledyard, Groton, East Lyme, and Stonington!! This information comes from 100 Things Every New Londoners Should Know About New London!
Clark van der Lyke August 11, 2012 at 10:02 PM
I think that is the same book that gives us credit for inventing the grinder. Yes I knew that and before that we owned Ohio didn't we. Hard to go back, wish we could. How about we start with small things first and let Quaker Hill hook up with New London and they can close their little post office next to the Quaker Hill firehouse, which New London can also take over.
Daniella Ruiz August 13, 2012 at 04:07 PM
ha ha, i try to avoid NL whenever possible, even going twice the distance to retain a sense of safety. NL county was once a whole, yet subdivided by pretty much the same town boundaries. I think Norwich was the commercial hub of manufacturing, while NL had all the lawyers and legal wags in the courthouse (top of STate ST)
Daniella Ruiz August 13, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Like Norwich, NL should shut down its central Post Office relocate to Bozrah? now that makes so much sense!


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