Cattaraugus County Legislature approves new communications tower in Olean, New York

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

Cattaraugus County lawmakers approved an extra $205,738 for a new tower and equipment in the town of Olean to improve Olean-area radio signals for the county’s new emergency communications system.

The county has a $5.7 million contract with Motorola Solutions Inc. to supply a five-channel VHF Digital Simulcast Trunked Radio System combing police, fire and emergency medical service communications.

The amended contract will push the cost close to the $6 million grant from the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Additional costs beyond that will have to come from county funds.

The new tower, located on Indiana Avenue, will replace an existing 60-foot tower that will be demolished. The new 180-foot tower will also hold antenna now located on the existing tower.

“Why didn’t this go through committee?” asked Legislator William Sprague, D-Yorkshire. The resolution was submitted for immediate consideration on Wednesday.

County Administrator Jack Searles said the issue was discussed by the Public Safety Committee and the separate firefighters’ Radio Group. The tower is necessary to enhance radio signals in the southeastern part of the county, specifically the Olean-Allegany-Portville-Hinsdale area.

A new 12-foot by 24-foot building to house radio equipment also is included in the contract.

The county emergency communications system is currently being broadcast in the new high-band and the traditional low-band frequencies. Some fire companies and police agencies have the newer high-band radios, while most others have the older low-band models. In some departments using older models, the chief will have two sets of radios.

Searles said the county wants to move on the Indiana Avenue site “as soon as possible this construction season.” The contract for the new tower runs through May 2016.

“The state wants to see progress,” said Searles. “This shows the state we are moving forward.”

Capt. Eric Butler, director of the Sheriff’s Communications Division, who is overseeing the communications upgrade, said the county Public Works Department has helped prepare three other tower sites around the county.

Currently, only one of the five county fire districts — District 4, comprised of departments in the southeastern part of the county — has the new high-band radios. The district applied for and received a $450,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant last year to pay for new radios for the departments within the district.

The other districts have applied for, but not received, FEMA funds for new radios.

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