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New London, Waterford Enter Tentative Radio Agreement

Non-binding memorandum of understanding adopted as possible way to join Waterford’s new emergency communications system

New London has taken a tentative step toward joining Waterford’s new emergency communications system after the City Council approved a non-binding memorandum of understanding and letter of intent on the matter.

The document was approved unanimously in a roll call vote. The Public Safety Committee had to have Law Director Jeffrey Londregan review it to ensure that it does not yet officially enter into an agreement with Waterford.

Lt. Brett Mahoney of the Waterford Police Department told the Finance Committee at the Public Safety Committee that the system will meet an accepted radio standard by providing 95 percent coverage to New London 95 percent of the time. The memorandum of understanding says that Waterford will agree to include New London on its new $6.5 million emergency communications system.

“The terms and conditions of this venture have yet to be finalized,” the document reads, “however New London as a part of this memorandum of understanding agrees that they will operate in this radio system approximately 215 portable radios, and approximately 135 mobile radios (numbers to be finalized), as well as a dispatch console within the city of New London.”

In a letter to Mayor Daryl Finizio of New London, First Selectman Dan Steward of Waterford said Waterford has a trunked narrow band system allowing departments to use the service without interfering with other communities' communications. Steward said inclusion on the system can also allow different communities to coordinate in a major emergency, and that Waterford is currently capable of communicating with the Connecticut State Police, East Lyme, Montville, and the Millstone Power Station.

Steward says Waterford had to install several tower and base equipment sites for the system, but that New London and Groton City could be included on the system without additional construction. He said the New London police and fire departments have tested Waterford radios in several places around New London.

Steward estimates that it would cost New London approximately $4 million to upgrade its own radio system to meet a federal requirement to switch to narrow band frequency by January of 2013. He said the cost to purchase the new radios to join the Waterford system would be “less than $1.1 million plus installation.” New London would also pay half of the estimated $204,000 maintenance costs.

“We are prepared to share our backbone of services with New London as a community partner,” Steward writes. “There are several things beyond a memorandum of understanding that are needed but it could result in major savings for the city of New London.”

Inclusion on the Waterford system has been proposed as an alternative to the proposed construction of a at to enhance emergency communications and cell phone coverage. The tower is estimated to bring in $1.2 million in revenue, which would be used for the upkeep of the park. Some nearby residents have spoken out against the tower, saying it will lower property values and be vulnerable to extreme weather.

The Truth February 27, 2012 at 03:34 PM
WOW!!! It looks like King Dan and His Minions finally woke up and smelled the coffee and are doing things a bit different. I see the word "tentative" is used. Also see that it is under "legal review". I applaud East Lyme First Selectman Mr. Formica for explaining the issue to his team indicating that the information had been "leaked out", (that would be by you King Dan) and that there was an "unsigned draft Memorandum of Understanding" ONLY. Perhaps King Dan's "bull in a china shop" way of doing business is under review. Look close at this deal City of New London - no doubt you'll regret the move down the road.
one who knows February 27, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Be careful New London, the whole communications upgrade in the town of Waterford was a dirty deal. It's all in the minutes that are public information of the radio upgrade committee,
John Sheehan February 28, 2012 at 02:22 AM
I don't understand why the communications upgrade was a "dirty deal." It is (was) a very expensive project to bring Waterford Communications into the twenty first century with all of the abilities required since the 9/11 tragedy. The towers required to cover all of Waterford are built to withstand a CAT 3 hurricane and, since they cover all of Waterford, also cover all of New London. This means that, for a comparatively small fee, New London is able to piggy back on the communications back bone for their communications. Yes, the additional funds helps Waterford but the cost to New London is small compared to the investment in an independent communications system. The towers also cover much of East Lyme and Montville but not all of those towns. Using a few channels in Waterford's system is a cost effective solution to New London's communications difficulties.

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