Highlights from the April 4, 2000 meeting of the
Tompkins County Board of Representatives
BOARD TAKES STEP CLOSER TO TOWERS PROJECT
By a 12-1 vote (Rep. Dooley Kiefer voted no; Reps. Charles Evans and Frank Proto were absent) the Board agreed to go forward with a provisional site selection process for up to seven new towers that may be needed for an emergency communications project that is under discussion. Officials from the County Planning Department, in conjunction with consultants and members of the Environmental Management Council, are now authorized to seek out purchase options on suitable properties for the towers. Rep. Barbara Blanchard, chair of the Communications Capital Committee, explained that a list of possible sites will be needed before firms can respond to the County’s request for proposals for building the towers and providing the new system’s equipment.
Blanchard also said that the Communications Capital Committee will recommend that the County pick up the cost of most radio and computer equipment that police agencies, fire departments, and emergency medical services will need to participate in the proposed upgrade.
The Board has not made a decision to proceed with the estimated $8.5 million project, and it was stated clearly that this step in no way commits the Board to follow through with the project. The upgrade to the County’s 30-year-old emergency communications system – backed by many public safety officials as a necessary improvement – has not received final approval or rejection. The present system reaches only 65 percent of the land area of the county, and the radio signals do not penetrate building walls. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission has stated that it plans to re-allocate the present emergency radio frequencies for other uses, and has begun to do so.
BOARD TO VOTE ON LIBRARY SOLAR PANELS
In its third look at the possibility of installing rooftop solar (photovoltaic) panels at the new Tompkins County Public Library building on East Green Street, the Board discussed the cost and benefits of two separate systems. A smaller system would cost about $350,000 after grants are applied. A larger system would cost about $550,000 after grants are applied. Each system would yield modest savings in energy and environmental costs, although possibly not enough to completely cover the cost of installation. Board members Tim Joseph and Michael Koplinka-Loehr said they would support a solar panel project even if it were a break-even prospect because of its environmental and social benefits. The Library Construction Committee will bring a resolution to approve or reject the project to the Board’s next meeting on April 18.
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