LAKE PLEASANT - Hamilton County is moving forward with other Adirondack counties to improve emergency communications.
The Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved the county's participation in the Adirondack Regional Interoperable Communications Consortium for the Office of Emergency Services.
Board Chairman William G. Farber, of Morehouse, said the county was exploring the possibility of mounting microwave transmission repeaters for emergency radio signals on existing cell towers in the county as part of a larger, five-county consortium.
"We need to be a part of this system," Farber said. "Private tower owners seem willing to work cooperatively so no new towers need to be built."
The county's only cell towers are in Wells, Speculator, Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake.
He said with the difficulty of finding new sites and approvals within the Adirondack Park, it would be best to use existing towers. Since microwave radio equipment could be mounted lower than cellular antennas, Farber said they could easily share the same towers already in place.
"It's worth looking at," he said, noting the state Adirondack Park Agency looks for "co-location" when possible.
Farber said the board couldn't just assume existing private owners of cell towers would allow piggy-backing of microwave equipment on their existing towers, but he felt it was likely they would be cooperative with an arrangement.
The consortium grew out of the National SAFECOM Program, a communications program of the Department of Homeland Security.
Hamilton County will participate with Essex, Clinton, Franklin, Warren and Washington counties to apply for federal and state grants to establish the regional communications network.
The communications network will help service first responders in the region as well as establish a process for sharing costs and assets of mutual benefit to all parties, the resolution stated.
Richard Nilsen covers southern Hamilton County for the Leader-Herald of Gloversville.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.