Topsham selectmen OK town radio equipment move

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TOPSHAM — An antenna used to broadcast police, fire and emergency communication will be moved later this month to save the town money and the headaches of winter maintenance.

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Aug. 10 to fund the movement of the town’s radio system to its public safety building.

The town’s antenna has been attached to the Mt. Ararat fire tower, on property off Eagle’s Way owned by Maine Gravel Services, for about 15 years, according to Town Manager Cornell Knight. He said the equipment has been used by the town’s police, fire and emergency medical services. The rate to lease space on that tower will soon rise from $4,500 to $4,800 a year. 

Mike Labbe, Topsham’s Emergency Management Services, has also said a new generator for the equipment, an approximately $3,000 to $4,000 expense, will be required within about a year, Knight said.

“Since we already have a generator that powers the whole (public safety) building over here, there won’t need to be a new one,” Knight explained, noting that the town will no longer have to lease space for its antenna, since it will be located on town property.

Knight said access to the Mt. Ararat site has been difficult in the winter and will be easier at the public safety building. The town will remove its antenna from the current site and keep it as a spare, while purchasing a new one for the new location for reliability reasons, Knight said.

It will cost nearly $12,000 to install the new antenna and move the equipment. The town is funding the expense through its Federal Emergency Management Agency reserve account, from which the town draws money for public safety purposes.

The move is to take place this month.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.