City Council members appear ready to reconsider and adopt a contract for a new five-community police and fire radio system that they rejected in July.

Mayor Kevin Corcoran told council at its Dec. 6 meeting that all five communities involved were able to test their new radios and they functioned as expected.

“The fire department is very happy with the results of the tests,” Corcoran said, adding fire officials were eager to ensure the radios worked inside buildings, which they did.

The Lorain County commissioners recently approved leasing space on a county radio tower on Burns Road in Elyria. A repeater on that tower will only increase the effectiveness of the system, Corcoran said.

North Ridgeville Fire Chief John Reese said in a phone interview he is pleased that council is ready to reconsider the new system. He also said a nearly $1 million federal grant received by the five communities will pay for new radios in each of those communities.

The radio system, estimated to cost $1.76 million, would link emergency services in Avon, Avon Lake, North Ridgeville, Sheffield Village and Sheffield Lake. North Ridgeville currently uses a MARCS, or Multi-Agency Radio Communications System, but would switch with the other four communities to a 700/800 MHz L3Harris system. The remaining cost of the system infrastructure is estimated at just over $767,000, which would be shared by each participating city.

In July, council voted 3-3, with Ward 2 Councilman Dennis Boose abstaining because of a possible business-related conflict of interest with the radio contract. Legislation needed four votes for passage.

Council President Martin DeVries, who voted in July against moving to the Harris network, said he is willing to reconsider the issue now that the city has tested the new radios. Council seemed likely to discuss the radio contract at its meeting Monday, which occurred after press time.

Officials in all five communities were considering building a MARCS network but elected to go with the L3Harris system. Parma-based Cleveland Communications Inc. would install hardware from the network and supply each community with 20 radios. The municipalities would pay Cleveland Communications a fee based on the number of radios they use. The total fees would be different for each community. Cleveland Communications would own the system hardware.

North Ridgeville police officials say they are happy with their current system and do not want to take part in any new Harris system. During the most recent discussion of the radio system, council members expressed concern that city fire and police departments would be unable to communicate. Corcoran said they could, but to communicate users must press a button to switch back and forth between the two systems. Corcoran stated that is not an ideal situation, but it’s the best the city can do if council votes to join the new Harris network.

Fire chiefs from all five communities reported testing the new radios in multiple areas including inside large buildings where communications historically have been difficult, Lorain County 911 Director Jeff Young wrote in an email provided by Moore and sent to him and the other county commissioners early this month. Young said the tests showed the system “performing exactly as was promised” to the mayors in that area who contracted to use that system.

Contact this reporter at tcorrigan@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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