If enacted, Roswell, Alpharetta, Milton, Johns Creek and Mountain Park would all broadcast on the same radio bandwidth.
Called the Unified North Fulton Cities radio system, the new network would give public safety employees better coverage than the current version.
The technology would be cutting-edge and would “position us for many years in the future,” City Administrator Kay Love told City Council members in a Monday night workshop.
“Rep. Wendell Willard has some plans to take forward legislation in the 2013 session that would remedy that under the law,” Love said.
The preliminary estimate of the overall cost of instituting the unified system is $16 million, with Roswell’s contribution being around $4.2 million. Cities’ shares of the price tag would be determined by a formula that includes its geographical size, population and the number of radios it would have on the system.
Under the current scenario, Sandy Springs would take the lead in developing system specifications and procuring equipment. Contracts for equipment and system management would be approved by all of the cities’ elected bodies.
To ensure the effectiveness of any new system, a network of appropriately sized and sited radio towers is a must, said Roswell Police Capt. Ed Sweeney, the city’s liaison in the system development process.
In Roswell, that would mean adding two new towers in areas that have always had dismal radio coverage, Sweeney said.
Those locations are in the far northwestern edge of the city and the southeastern section. Sites owned by the city would be most desirable to avoid long-term lease payments or purchase expenses, Sweeney said.
Sites that have been tentatively identified are at fire station No. 6 on Cox Road and at East Roswell Park.
Due to the relatively low-lying nature of the geography where the insufficient radio coverage exists, new radio towers might have to be as tall as 400 feet to compensate, Sweeney said.
If the city intends to join the new system, radio tower sites must be identified and approved by February.
Some council members are already anticipating uproar about placement of the new towers.
“You’re going to be able to see those towers from everywhere,” Councilman Kent Igleheart said. “As soon as people realize that they are coming, it’s going to be a lot more dicey.”
But public safety has to trump everything, officials affirmed.
“These are going to have to be in somebody’s backyard, no matter where they go,” Mayor Jere Wood said.