Press-Republican

Local News

April 11, 2014

Emergency-generator cost increases

Essex Co. public safety radio project closer to completion

ELIZABETHTOWN — Unexpected costs for emergency-service projects are vexing some Essex County lawmakers.

Because bids came in high, installation of a second emergency generator, which will power the 911 center at the County Public Safety Building if the main unit fails, will cost $88,250 instead of the estimated $50,965.

Also, an extra $7,900 will be needed to try to get National Grid to approve a power line to serve the Belfry Mountain communications tower in Moriah.

The money will cover utility design work requested by the power utility, County Manager Daniel Palmer said at this week’s County Board of Supervisors session.

“This is getting power to the new tower. National Grid is running us through a lot of hoops. We have to get National Grid’s approval of what they will accept.”

RE-BID INSTALLATION

The county is installing a state-of-the-art $17 million digital radio system that will replace one built in the 1950s.

The new network will dispatch and connect police, fire and ambulance services in the county, along with highway superintendents and others.

Palmer said the generator installation will use Department of Homeland Security Emergency Services grants that will cover all but $16,300 of the total cost.

County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish told supervisors there were originally eight bidders for the installation, but prices came in around $100,000, so the county rebid and re-engineered the project.

The lowest of the new bids was $88,250, and they didn’t want to wait any longer, he said.

Palmer said the county already bought the generator, and the install estimate was from a couple of years ago.

“This should have been engineered in the original drawings, and it never was. The 911 center is prone to going down — or running on the backup batteries — if the generator that is there fails.”

‘RUNAWAY TRAIN’

When the new County Jail and Public Safety Building was built in Lewis in 2007, the original drawings did not include a backup generator, Palmer said.

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