Supervisors move radio project forward

ELIZABETHTOWN – Essex County hopes to soon start construction of a new radio tower in the town of Moriah as part of a major overhaul of an aging public safety radio system.

Meanwhile, lawmakers plan to hire Federal Engineering, a Virginia-based consulting and engineering firm, to oversee the $17 million project. The county’s Ways and Means Committee gave tentative approval to both measures on Monday; the full Board of Supervisors will have the final say next week.

The radio project is being shared by Essex County, New York State Police and New York State Electric and Gas. It involves construction of a new radio and microwave network which includes installation of telecommunications infrastructure at 14 sites in 12 towns across the region. The system will replace a decades-old communications network that currently covers just 60 percent of the county.

Included in the project are two new radio towers: one on Belfry Mountain in Moriah and another on Saddle Hill in Lewis. Towers on Mount Morris in Tupper Lake and Wells Hill in Lewis will be replaced.

The committee voted unanimously Monday to move forward with construction of a 180-foot-tall Sabre Model Self-Supporting Tower at the Belfry Mountain site. The cost is $76,515, which would come from the radio project bond.

Supervisors tentatively agreed to hire Federal Engineering at a cost of $138,000 to manage construction, which would be done by another firm.

Moriah town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava asked if that figure is fixed.

“That’s based upon an estimate of what they believe the construction services will take,” county Manager Dan Palmer responded. “If, in fact, it goes over that $138,000, we’ll have to come back to you (for approval).

“They based it upon a per-hour rate, based upon time and material. Those per-hour rates are defined within the contract.”

Palmer said Federal Engineering was the best choice considering its familiarity with the project.