MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Town officials want you to hear them loud and clear, as well as present a sharp picture of what is going on at the various board meetings that take place each week in Town Hall.
To do that, a complete overhaul of the Town Hall’s antiquated broadcast studio and ancillary equipment will be needed, and it will cost upwards of $186,000 to do it. The boarded 5-0 at its April 3 meeting to move forward with the project.
The quality of the live broadcasts of Town Board, Planning Board and ZBA meetings (and consequently the archived videos on the town’s website) has been deteriorating rapidly, with microphones producing irritating feedback and audio frequently dropping out.
Earlier this year, the town sent out a request for proposals (RFP) and town engineer Rich Franzetti said they’ve chosen New York Audio Video Design to perform the work.
“We circulated RFPs and got seven prequalified vendors,” Franzetti said. “A mandatory preproposal walk-through was conducted by three of those vendors on Feb. 5.”
New York Audio Video Design provided the detailed technical specifications for the project via solicitation through the supervisor’s office, Franzetti said. The town’s standards then incorporated the specifications.
New York Audio Video Design provided a bid proposal for $186,611, which the town accepted. The only other bidder, Dynamic Products, came in at $231,533.
“We have $100,000 budgeted for the project and the additional funds can be taken from the capital [projects] fund balance to fund the [rest],” Franzetti said.
Supervisor Ken Schmitt admitted that the audio and video upgrades were “very costly,” but said it was a necessary expense.
“[The studio/sound system] was originally installed in 2004,” Schmitt said. “The equipment is old, and it’s been failing, and we’ve been spending money just to keep it up and running. It’s time to upgrade it.
“We have three cameras in here (the main meeting room) that are going to be changed out,” he continued. “We have the supervisor’s conference room on the other side of the building that also has cameras in it. All this equipment is 15 years old. It’s all outdated. We budgeted for it and we have to spend the money on it.”
Part of the project will include the installation of wireless microphones—the old ones are hard-wired and are failing.
“I know that $186,000 is a lot of money, but that is the cost [to replace a] studio that is 15 years old,” Schmitt said.
Councilman Mike Barile, who has been advocating for the upgrades since he took office a year and a half ago, was relieved the project is finally moving forward.
“It’s expensive, but hopefully everybody will finally be able to hear what is going on and seeing it perfectly [on TV],” he said after reading the resolution.
Councilman John Lupinacci was also happy to green-light the project.
“For seven years, that camera has added 20 pounds to me and now we are going to get a new camera,” he laughed.