I’m pleased to report recent progress on efforts to upgrade the Town’s Public Safety Radio System and would like to keep you apprised of the next steps we plan to take.
As I described in my last column, the time has come to re-invest in this vital infrastructure. The current Radio System was installed in 2003 and at that time had an expected lifespan of 12- to 15-years. Due to the age of the equipment and shortage of replacement parts, the unreliability of the current system makes the upgrade a high priority. A Public Safety Simulcast Radio System consists of towers throughout town and a console that is used to send the data to these towers. It does not include the radios themselves – our current Police, Fire and EMS portable radio devices will continue to operate with a new Radio System.
The Boards of Selectmen and Finance met jointly on November 8th to receive a detailed presentation on the recommended Radio System replacement. I want to thank our two Chiefs, Police Chief Frank Cappiello and Fire Chief Sean Rowland, for their work in putting together a very informative overview of where we stand today and why this upgrade is crucial to ensure the continuance of our Town’s vital public safety services.
The aim of the upgrade will be to increase the coverage and reliability of the system as well as to improve the interoperability between Police, Fire, and EMS -- and to bring Public Works employees into the same system as well. The improved interoperability between all departments will be critical in all kinds of emergency conditions, including the increasingly occurring extreme weather conditions we face.
Following the presentation of the proposed Radio System, Town Administrative Officer Tony Genovese presented detailed financial data regarding the Town’s current bonded debt and expected future obligations. This information enabled Board members to see how the Radio System upgrade project will fit into our long-term financial picture.
Members of the two Boards asked some important questions and the answers we received helped to clarify the situation and bring the group to consensus by the conclusion of the meeting. Both presentations as well as the question and answer session that followed were recorded by our Government Access cameras and should be available for the public to view online by the time this column is published. Please visit the town website at woodbridgeCT.org for a link to this meeting video.
As I submit my column, we are expecting to take the next steps for the Radio System upgrade at a pair of meetings on Thursday, November 16th. A Special Meeting of the Board of Selectmen will take place immediately prior to the Board of Finance Regular Meeting. In the event that both the Selectmen and the Board of Finance approve the necessary motions, we will then set a date for a Special Town Meeting for the purpose of authorizing the expenditure.
I am hoping this Special Town Meeting can be scheduled for early December, and I will be sure to keep the public informed as we move forward. As I have said, I believe it is vital that we see this project through to funding as soon as possible and I deeply appreciate the cooperation and spirit of collegiality we are experiencing as we work together to invest in our public safety infrastructure.
As always, I continue to look forward to ongoing feedback from the public and encourage you to contact me to share your thoughts on these as well as other matters of concern to you.
Beth Heller is Woodbridge First Selectman. She may be reached by phone at Town Hall, 203-389-3401, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org