Hilliard Northwest News

Verizon courted as partner for new communications tower


The city of Hilliard and the Hilliard school district are negotiating with Verizon Wireless to build a new digital-communications tower near Darby High School, 4200 Leppert Road, according to Hilliard police Chief Doug Francis.

If all the parties were to reach an agreement, it would save Hilliard and Norwich Township money, Francis told the Norwich Township trustees April 1.

Hilliard and Norwich Township previously agreed to split the cost of a $1.8 million emergency-communications tower planned at Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park, which is south of Darby High School.

However, upon learning that Verizon is seeking to build a tower in the western part of Hilliard, Francis said, local officials decided to explore the possibility of building a single tower for multiple uses.

"It would be better for the community for there to be only one tower (and) it could save (the city and the township) money," Francis said.

In the event no agreement is reached, the city and township will move forward building the tower as originally planned at Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park.

Legislation required for the construction of the tower at Municipal Park is scheduled to be introduced at the April 10 meeting of the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission. It would be withdrawn if and when an agreement were reached to build at Darby High School.

Construction of the tower is part of the requirement for Hilliard's membership in the Central Ohio Interoperability Radio System with the Dublin and Worthington police departments and Delaware County.

Hilliard joining COIRS coincides with a switch to all digital equipment and the transfer of police and EMS dispatching for Hilliard and Norwich Township to the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center in Dublin.

In other news from the April 1 meeting:

* Francis provided trustees with a summary of the department's forthcoming annual report for 2013.

Francis said the annual report indicates an increase in traffic stops and written warnings, illustrative of the department's effort to "change behaviors" instead of solely issuing citations.

Burglaries decreased in 2013, Francis said, but there were increases in the number of narcotic-related arrests, which increased from 259 in 2012 to 324 in 2013.

Francis attributed the increase to the efforts of the special-investigations unit founded last year.

"They are hunters," Francis said.

He said the unit's three detectives and K9 unit perform drug enforcement every day.

* Fire Chief Jeff Warren announced the hiring of a new battalion chief, effective April 21.

Chris Brown will join Norwich Township from the Franklin Township Fire Department, where he had been assistant chief since 1997.

Brown will be one of four battalion chiefs.

Norwich Township will not name an assistant fire chief to succeed Warren, who became chief last month.

Rather, Warren said, each one of the four battalion chiefs, when not commanding a fire unit, will gain experience as an administrative battalion chief, learning the same job responsibilities he did as assistant fire chief.

"It will better prepare all the battalion chiefs" who might become fire chief, Warren said.

Warren also reported the cost to repair the motor of one of the department's fire engines was $17,500, less than the $21,000 trustees appropriated last month for the estimated cost of the repairs.