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February 05, 2013JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — After opting out – for now – of a proposed North Fulton-wide public safety radio system, the Johns Creek City Council has authorized the city manager to send out requests for proposals to some 50 engineering firms.
These firms will bid to be the city's consultant in evaluating whether to join the North Fulton radio net, the Fulton County net or some other county or city in Forsyth or Gwinnett.
The City Council recently rejected to participate in the $16 million radio net proposed by the other four cities of North Fulton, saying the project was not properly bid.
City Manager John Kachmar said the city would first assess its needs within the 32-square-mile confines of the city. That is the scope of the request for proposals. Then the city will explore its options to partner with other communities that best meet its needs.
But Kachmar and city officials did admit those choices may well bring them back into the fold with Roswell, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs and Milton, its sister cities in North Fulton that have been working three years on the project.
The next most likely partner would be Fulton County, which is beginning to work on its own $25 million county radio net that would provide proper radio service throughout the county for police, marshals and fire and emergency services personnel.
The current service provided by the county is inconsistent in its "penetration," that is has too many dead spots where radio signals are dropped, and a new one is needed.
The North Fulton cities began their quest to have their own network when Fulton County seemed reluctant to solve the problem. Johns Creek was a partner in this, but the City Council voted to pull out over what it saw as irregularities in the way the project has been bid out.
The city's main objection was that the other cities chose Motorola as the radio equipment of choice and did not allow other companies to bid. Johns Creek also objected that the consultant had a relationship as a vendor for Motorola.
The North Fulton cities replied that they are buying the radios using the state contract that has already negotiated its price for Motorola radios. A bid process for its own smaller needs is not likely to produce a better price than the state contract.
Also, Motorola is the radio system used in surrounding jurisdictions in Cobb, Gwinnett and Forsyth, so their radios would be compatible and able to "talk" to each other in joint emergencies, the other cities pointed out.
The North Fulton cities will bid out the engineering services for setting up the radio net soon.
Meanwhile, Kachmar says he expects to get bids back in about two weeks.