North Fulton cities go ahead with radio net

Press on without Johns Creek

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NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Four of North Fulton’s cities decided to go ahead with building a $16 million region-wide radio net without any help from Johns Creek.

The cities of Roswell, Alpharetta, Milton and Sandy Springs all agreed Jan. 28 to press on with their original agreement, all but ignoring the complaints from Johns Creek’s city manager and council. The only change for the four cities was they each had to pay more of the costs, absorbing Johns Creek’s share.

Fulton County’s emergency radio system is outdated. By 2014, it will fail to meet FCC regulations. This system, while adequate in its heyday, now has spotty reception in portions of North Fulton, especially northwest Milton. When an emergency is happening, poor reception for emergency personnel is not welcome.

North Fulton’s five cities decided to create their own system, separate from the county, and have spent the previous two years crafting it. Sandy Springs would head it, and the other cities would pay monthly fees and erect cell towers to carry the system.

Johns Creek raised their objections Jan. 14 at a council meeting. Council opposed selecting Motorola for the system without taking the project to bid to other vendors.

“Motorola was a state contract with a vendor,” countered Roswell Spokeswoman Julie Brechbill. “The cities can use those contracts and piggyback for services or products.”

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 are buying the radios using the state contract that has already negotiated its price for Motorola radios. A bid process for Johns Creek’s own smaller needs is not likely to produce a better price than the state contract.

The North Fulton cities will bid out the engineering services for setting up the radio net soon.