Fulton Okays Land Deal With County For New Emergency Radio Tower

Oswego County lawmakers may take a step today towards improving the ability of the county’s emergency dispatchers to reach crews in the field.

The County Legislature is set to declare itself lead agency for the environmental review of proposed changes to its emergency radio system.

The project took a step forward in recent days when Fulton’s Common Council okayed a plan to sell land for a new communications tower to the county for one dollar.

The new tower would be placed on what Fulton locals call Watertower Hill, a high spot in the city along Route 3 that abuts Fairgrieve Elementary School.  The city’s water tower is there, as is a communications tower owned by the city.

The county would build a new tower on the 50 by 50 foot plot of land it is buying.

The idea is to improve the ability of the county’s emergency dispatchers to be heard across the county.  The county’s 911 radio system has had problems since its inception in the early 1990’s.  Fire and emergency crews complained of “dead spots”, areas where they could neither hear nor talk to the 911 center using portable radios.

Fulton has some of those dead spots.  Mayor Ron Woodward, in urging the Fulton Common Council to approve the land sale, noted that the upgraded radio system would provide “a very big benefit to our police and fire.”

Recently, Fulton police prevented a man from killing himself in the parking lot of the former A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital.  The officers were operating in a well-known local dead spot.  “Our guys had hand-helds (radios) and they couldn’t communicate,” Woodward said.

County Administrator Phil Church said that if the upgrade project wins approval, the county will begin a site survey to prepare for construction next year.  He said the project is working on a tight timeline because utility companies have offered to donate $150,000 to the project if money for the project is allocated by the end of the year.