Town receives federal funding to enhance public safety communications system; Crabtree: “This is huge…really phenomenal for the taxpayers.”
Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree told selectmen he only had one announcement to make near the end of Tuesday (March 22) night’s meeting, but promised it would be “very good news” that would make them “happy.” Selectmen told Crabtree his report, though brief, couldn’t have been better after he briefed them on the town recently receiving $1 million in federal funding to improve the town’s public safety communications system.
“This is huge…really phenomenal for the taxpayers,” Crabtree told selectmen of his announcement that Saugus was among 120 state projects funded by Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS).
Crabtree noted that he had submitted a funding request which was “championed” by the offices of U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. The award was included in the bipartisan omnibus federal spending bill signed into law on March 11 by President Joseph R. Biden.
“This has been a priority for Saugus and these funds will allow Saugus to continue to move forward with this much needed upgrades for Public Safety,” Crabtree said in a statement his office issued this week announcing the federal money earmarked for a project that town officials have talked about for several years.
“This system will vastly improve first responder communication infrastructure to better serve the residents of Saugus. The proposal will also expand our fiber-optic network to ensure the equipment is reliable and connected with local and regional emergency response agencies,” Crabtree said. “This appropriation will have tremendous benefits for Saugus residents by securing state of the art public safety capabilities and better protecting lives and property throughout town.”
Nearly four years ago, a Special Town Meeting approved a request for the town to borrow $420,000 to improve the public safety communications system. A Town Meeting vote in May of 2016 approved $38,000 for Public Safety radio equipment. The state delegation had also come up with $50,000 for funding the project. With the latest federal funding approved, the town will have more than $1.5 million invested in enhancement of its public safety communications system.
Each fiscal year senators may request CDS funding for projects in their state that showcase ample local community support and, in most cases, fulfill a distinct local need. A small number of proposals supported by senators are awarded.
“I’ve been fighting hard alongside our Massachusetts delegation to bring in federal funding for the Commonwealth, and I’m glad we secured $1 million for the Town of Saugus,” Sen. Warren said in a statement.
“This funding is a big win that will help enhance the town’s emergency communications infrastructure and public safety for town residents,” she said.
Sen. Markey said he is “proud to have helped secure this critical funding for the residents of Saugus.”
“State-of-the-art emergency communications infrastructure that’s utilized in times of emergency by the town’s first responders and the Department of Public Works is essential,” Markey said. “By replacing their system, this federal investment in the Saugus community will provide more reliable emergency services for the years to come.”
Congressman Seth Moulton (D-Salem), whose Sixth Congressional District includes the Town of Saugus, called the project “a win-win for the community, representing a significant public safety opportunity and a needed investment in a robust Town-owned fiber network.”
“Enhancements to the town’s emergency communications infrastructure will provide an invaluable asset to the community and the regional public safety goals for the Town of Saugus and the North Shore,” Moulton said.
The overall cost of this enhancement to public safety communications infrastructure is expected to be about $2 million, according to Crabtree.
CDS funding awarded to the town will provide critical upgrades and allow for the replacement of the town’s older communications system and infrastructure, he said. In addition, the enhancement of public safety communication infrastructure will ensure reliability and town-wide coverage for the portable and mobile radios. “This investment in public safety communications infrastructure will provide town residents with more responsive emergency services, needed security and reliability, and will bring greater peace of mind to residents and businesses in the Town of Saugus,” Crabtree said.
The town manager said the town’s state legislative delegation has also been supportive of the project.
“I am constantly looking out for the best interests of Saugus residents and believe that this project will greatly improve our first responder’s ability to better serve the residents of Saugus with a new robust and reliable emergency communication infrastructure,” State Representative Donald Wong (R-Saugus) said.
State Representative Jessica Ann Giannino (D-Revere), whose 16th Suffolk District includes Precincts 3 and 10 in Saugus, said upgrading the town’s emergency communications system will greatly enhance the public works response to floods, snowstorms and infrastructure emergencies. “The project, when completed, will ensure the equipment is reliable and connected with local and regional emergency response agencies,” Rep. Giannino said.
State Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), whose Third Essex District includes Saugus, said a reliable and efficient communications system during an emergency “can be the difference between life and death.” “We must continue to make investments like this that put our police officers in the best position to serve the community,” Crighton said.
The Saugus request
Project Name: Public Safety Communication Infrastructure Reliability Project for Police and Fire in the Town of Saugus.
Amount Requested: $1,000,000.
Intended Recipient and Address: Town of Saugus, 298 Central St, Saugus, MA 01906.
Location: Saugus, MA.
Project Purpose: The requested funding would be utilized by the Town of Saugus to upgrade and replace the legacy police and fire communications infrastructure due to end of life and product support as the equipment is over 12 years old. The current Town of Saugus Police and Fire Department radio communication systems are configured with transmitter and receiver devices located throughout the town in various locations to provide coverage for the portable and mobile radios to operate effectively. These complex, vital, mission-critical systems require connectivity between the multiple devices and their remote locations back to the headquarters dispatch and control equipment. The current method of connectivity is leased copper circuits provided by Verizon. These antiquated copper circuits are prone to regular failure and are increasingly unreliable. These failures result in faulty radio communication, impeding police and fire units in the field. Verizon no longer supports these copper circuits, meaning the Town relies on a vendor service contract. Finding parts to make the repairs is continuously growing more difficult as the obsolete infrastructure deteriorates. The Town must choose another method of connectivity to support the public safety communication systems. The town also plans to utilize this funding to expand the existing town-owned fiber optic network currently installed.