Paradise Valley cuts six-figure discount for radio communications tower project

Due to the mountainous terrain of the Town of Paradise Valley the radio communications can be spotty when public safety entities are responding to emergency situations. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Due to the mountainous terrain of the Town of Paradise Valley radio communications can be spotty when public safety entities are trying to talk to each other when responding to emergency situations. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Paradise Valley Town Council are expected 4 p.m. Thursday, June 25 to hold a special meeting to provide Motorola Solutions a purchase order before the end of the fiscal year town officials say will provide a six-figure discount on a million dollar radio communications tower.

July 1 is a typical start date for both corporate and municipal fiscal years.

Last July, Paradise Valley Town Council approved the location of the new radio communications building and subsequent antenna nodes to be in the vicinity of 6900 north Highland Drive adjacent to the Clearwater Hills neighborhood.

Despite assurances by town officials all Paradise Valley Hillside Development Regulations would have been followed, a handful of residents last summer were steadfast in their concerns over the placement and construction of the new radio communications tower.

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission held two work-study discussions on design standards in order to gather resident input on the anticipated radio communication building and subsequent antenna nodes.

Wolfgang and Nancy Monthofer point out where portions of conduit would have to be run providing power to antenna nodes for a proposed radio communications tower in the Town of Paradise Valley.

Wolfgang and Nancy Monthofer, last summer, point out where portions of conduit would have to be run providing power to antenna nodes at the originally proposed radio communications tower site.

The new equipment — which town officials say will cost $2 million — will provide the Paradise Valley Police Department effective communication throughout the extreme topography of the community and allow the department to become a member of the regional wireless cooperative.

The regional wireless cooperative allows first responders to use existing radio channels to talk with different public safety agencies as needs arise, according to www.rwcaz.org.

To complete tenets of an IGA with the Phoenix Fire Department, the Town of Paradise Valley has to be included in the regional wireless cooperative. The city of Phoenix is the licensed provider for fire safety and ambulatory services through a 2006 IGA agreed upon between both local governments.

While the design standards remain in place, the proposed location has been changed over the last six months as town officials eyed an adjacent piece of property now in-line to be purchased/condemned from the Phoenix Art Museum, according to Paradise Valley Town Manager Kevin Burke.

Getting the best deal done

“That is essentially approval of a purchase order for police radios,” Mr. Burke said in a June 23 phone interview of the special meeting. “With this art museum site, the one they (town council) authorized to purchase the other day, that site will work for the radio communications tower.”

Paradise Valley Town Council unanimously approved town staff’s ability to purchase/condemn a parcel adjacent to the original site at its June 11 meeting, town records show.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins says the ultimate goal is to appease both impacted residents and public safety communication needs.

“During a value engineering exercise for the tower project, we identified a vacant parcel immediately adjacent to the initially proposed site that would allow us to capture significant construction cost saving by co-locating the tower and equipment building together, instead of apart as was previously anticipated,” he said of the slight venue change.

“We are hopeful that final design solutions will be developed over the summer by staff and that a path forward for a late 2015 construction start time is possible.”

Mayor Collins says the project has been in the works for some time.

“The town has been committed to upgrading its public safety communications tower and equipment for many years and we are finally in the homestretch of the project,” he said. “Purchasing part of the equipment package this fiscal year instead of next fiscal year will allow us to realize significant cost savings and allocate the money to other needed areas of town’s public safety program.”

Mr. Burke says the original location within the Clearwater Hills neighborhood is still in play and points out the location was identified prior to his employment with the town.

“That made it challenging on that site,” he said of the amount of rock that would have been disturbed for the radio tower equipment and battery building at the original location. “We started looking at other options but that site is not off the table yet. But we did start looking around to see what was up for sale.”

Mr. Burke says the savings offered by Motorola Solutions was too good of a deal to pass up.

“That savings is about $350,000 of what we have been looking at spending,” he said. “In terms of radio equipment, we are just securing pricing for future construction. We are not ready to construct today but we stand to save about $350,000 on a $2 million project.”

The construction of the radio communications tower is a four-part endeavor including the tower itself, the civil engineering work, new dispatch console equipment at police headquarters and new radio equipment for each officer, Mr. Burke says.

“The radios for the officers we will get immediately,” he said. “We do have authorization to purchase or condemn that property but I think we still have a number of hoops to jump through. With this purchase order we are just locking in pricing. We believe this new site is going to work and we are working with the architect on that lot to essentially move the same design from the original location to this one.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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