YORKTOWN, N.Y. - The Yorktown Police Department and Verizon Wireless have entered into an agreement under which Verizon will build and maintain a new cell tower at police headquarters, replacing a 25-year-old tower owned by the town and used by first responders. The company will also provide a new dispatching radio system—valued at about $50,000—for the department.
Chief Robert Noble presented the plans at the Nov. 15 Town Board meeting and said his predecessor, former chief Daniel McMahon, and Town Attorney Michael J. McDermott were instrumental in developing the terms of the lease.
The new tower will be built further behind the existing tower and will be taller, McDermott said. The exact height of the new tower was not available. The current tower, which has been there for 25 years, is owned by the town of Yorktown and is not affiliated with any wireless cell phone service providers, McDermott said. It is used by the Yorktown Police Department as well as other emergency first responders such as local fire departments, ambulance corps and the F.B.I. The tower will be taken down only when the new one is constructed.
McDermott said Verizon approached the town about building a cell phone tower at police department headquarters because the location is ideal for optimum coverage. In exchange for allowing the cell tower to be built, Verizon agreed to move users of the existing tower to the new tower.
“The town is getting an enormous financial benefit in the way of donations of hardware, other equipment and labor, all at no cost to the taxpayers of the town,” McDermott said.
Currently, McDermott said, the lease agreement has been signed by both parties and the project has moved into the planning stage. The building department will vet the plans and issue permits accordingly. Although excavation has begun, McDermott said, he is unsure of the exact dates construction will begin.
Altogether, the improvements that will be made amount to $153,139.60. The lease is for five years with the option of four additional terms at five-year intervals for up to 25 years. The initial rent is $18,000 annually with a 2 percent increase after that.
According to the terms of the lease, the town will receive 20 percent of any revenue earned if Verizon subleases antennae space to other wireless providers. McDermott said the estimated revenue to the town will be an additional $20,000 per year.
Verizon has also agreed to provide an automated gate to protect the tower and property, remove and dispose of the old cell tower and build a concrete pad and shelter to house equipment for the new tower, Noble said.
According to Noble, the town is due for a new tower and referred to the current one as a “majestic rusted piece of steel.”
“To see that thing coming down—that’s kind of nice,” he said.
Noble also said the department is ready for a new public-safety software provider and will be switching to Impact Safety Systems Inc., which currently services 22 other police departments in Westchester County.
“It became readily apparent to us that there were efficiencies to be gained by switching to Impact,” Noble said.
Efficiencies mentioned included: saving money on annual server maintenance fees, eliminating the duplication of report writing and streamlining report writing obligations of the department.
Noble said the changes will hopefully allow the department to spend more time in the field rather than doing paperwork.
Jonathan Williams, senior account manager for Impact, gave a brief presentation at last week’s town board meeting about Impact’s services. He said the company will export and convert data from the department’s old system into the new. Impact’s data management system will allow officers to have web access to files and data from patrol cars and at the department.
“I believe it’s going to eliminate some of the redundancies,” Noble said. He said he hopes much of the information that has to be written repeatedly into several documents can be typed into a field and seamlessly inserted into new files with the new software.
“This is one-stop shopping,” he said. “On a whole [it’s] a lot more efficient than the system we’re using now.”
The town board also approved the $73,034 purchase of 13 new patrol tablets from Patrol PC and the accompanying hardware and software upgrades. Noble said much of New York State is converting to paperless methods of issuing tickets and performing other patrol duties such as scanning registrations, taking photographs and sending live video feeds of evidence, which can all be done with the tablets.
“We’re going to be ahead of the game now by going to this,” Noble said.
The board also approved the purchase of new portable radios for the department. Noble said the current ones in use are 20 years old and cost more than they are worth to evaluate and repair when they break down. The board also approved the purchase of two license plate readers.
“The town board thought it very important for the public to know what’s going on and what we’re doing in the police department,” said Town Supervisor Michael Grace. “Sounds like great stuff.”