March 9, 2012


County buys land for radio project

Parcels in Solon, Cincy to house new towers for emergency communications upgrade

Staff Reporter

The emergency communications upgrade planned by Cortland County took another step toward the construction phase Thursday, as the county Legislature voted to purchase two land parcels where towers will be built.
Legislators voted unanimously in a special session to authorize purchase of parcels on North Tower Road in Solon and Knickerbocker Road in Cincinnatus, for $7,500 apiece.
The county must upgrade its radio system to comply with a Federal Communications Commission mandate that all counties have narrowband systems by Jan. 1, 2013.
The system will serve firefighters, police and other emergency responders.
The county Legislature last year authorized spending up to $16 million on the project, and voted in February to bond for about $3.5 million as part of it. The upgrade is being performed by Motorola.
Legislator Kevin Whitney (R-Cortlandville), chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, said the county will now construct seven of the eight towers needed in the project, where last fall it planned to construct four.
The two land purchases approved Thursday were negotiated after American Tower, the owner of two existing towers in Solon and Cincinnatus, said the county would need to rent the towers for $1,500 to $2,000 per month.
Whitney said it would save county taxpayers $60,000 per year to build two more towers, in addition to the five the county already plans to build in Preble, Taylor, Marathon, Cortlandville and Cuyler.
He said afterward the towers cost an average of $170,000 and that construction will begin this spring.
The heights will vary and have not been determined yet.
An existing tower in Virgil will be the eighth tower in the system.
The two parcels approved Thursday were 200 feet by 200 feet each. The Solon parcel will be purchased from Farm East, formerly called Gutchess Timberlands, and the Cincinnatus parcel will be purchased from Donald and Kim Knickerbocker.
Whitney said some funding for the towers will come from money that is available because parts of the project will now be paid for through a $440,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters program.
He said the grant was sponsored by the Cortland Fire Department for 12 fire departments in the region. He said the 12 departments must provide a total of $44,000 to match 10 percent of the grant amount.


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