Hilliard Northwest News

Francis: Verizon tower deal would save $290,000

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A proposed deal with Hilliard City Schools and Verizon could save Hilliard and Norwich Township a combined $290,000 on construction of their new digital-communications tower.

Police Chief Doug Francis reported the potential savings at the May 6 meeting of Norwich Township trustees.

Hilliard and Norwich Township previously agreed to each contribute $900,000 for the estimated $1.8 million cost to build and equip the tower at Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park and upgrade three other towers.

A resolution to split the $1.8 million cost was introduced at the May 12 meeting of Hilliard City Council's public safety and legal affairs committee.

However, an expected agreement with Verizon could save Hilliard and Norwich about $145,000 each on the cost of the tower, Francis said, because each would then pay about $755,000.

The May 12 resolution was introduced because although the agreement with Verizon is expected, it has not been signed, Francis said. Thus, it was necessary to begin the process of an official agreement between Hilliard and Norwich Township for the original amount because the Verizon deal is not final, he said.

The May 12 resolution is expected to be introduced and adopted June 9 by City Council.

The digital-communications tower is needed because Hilliard decided to contract with the Dublin Division of Police for dispatching and to become a member of the Central Ohio Interoperability Radio System, or COIRS.

As a requirement of membership, Hilliard needs a new tower to provide adequate service to western parts of the city and upgrades for three other towers.

When local officials learned Verizon planned to build its own tower on school district property near Darby High School, the city explored a partnership because the Verizon site was only about 2,000 feet away from the Reynolds Park site and an agreement would result in one less tower on the landscape, Francis said.

The Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission on April 10 approved the construction of a tower between Heritage Middle School and Darby High School, near the northeast corner of Scioto Darby and Leppert roads.

Verizon would build the tower, but COIRS will place its equipment and make other necessary upgrades.

"We still have all the equipment to install ... and have to 'touch' the other ... towers," Francis said.

Francis said "touching" the towers refers to upgrading radio frequencies.

The COIRS council of governments includes Delaware County, Dublin and Worthington. Norwich Township is a de facto member through Hilliard because townships are not permitted membership in the council of governments, Francis said.

Trustee Chuck Buck said the de facto membership is frustrating.

"But our money is good," Buck said.

Francis said costs for the new tower and Hilliard's COIRS membership fees were separate.

"They were always separate projects from the beginning," Francis said.

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