Proposed Public Safety Communications Tower

The City of Winchester is in need of a public safety radio communications system upgrade as the current system is antiquated, undependable, and lacks coverage and resources. Additionally, the system is not in compliance with the narrowbanding mandate as imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC narrowbanding regulation was to be complied with by January 1, 2013. The City of Winchester is currently operating in accordance with a second waiver that is valid through January 1, 2015. The infrastructure of the project involves several components, one of which is a 230-foot radio communications tower proposed for 700 Jefferson Street near the existing water tower behind John Kerr Elementary School.

Two Studies Conducted (2011)

Two studies were completed by L.R. Kimball and Assoc. as authorized by the City of Winchester.  The first of these studies was to determine the condition of the City's public safety communications system while the second study involved conceptual design for a system that would support current and future public safety communications needs.

#1 - The first study found that the city had no true communications system but rather had multiple stove pipe systems each of which were inadequate to serve the community.  The various stove pipe systems had insufficient frequencies, were undependable based on age and condition, did not provide redundancy of services and due to the age of the equipment were not candidates for an upgrade.

#2 - The second study was to determine the type of radio communications system that would best suit the city while providing a state of the art radio communications system in a cost-effective manner.  After much discussion and research, it was determined that a Project 25, digital, trunked system operating in the 800 MHz spectrum was the best option.  While engaged in the design phase of the study it was determined that Federal Communications Commission regulations pertaining to the VHF frequency spectrum currently used by the City was subject to narrowbanding requirements.  The City would be mandated to upgrade the current system by January 1, 2013.  This regulatory issue further influenced the decision to convert to the 800 MHz spectrum as sufficient VHF frequencies were not available to support the City's radio communications requirements.

Design and Costs

L.R. Kimball and Assoc. presented several design options from which a Request for Proposal (RFP) was crafted.  The design specified that the radio communications system would be full service and provide 95% coverage, 95% of the time with a portable in a 20dB signal loss building coverage.  Motorola Solutions presented a design that would require a single transmit/receive site and guarantee radio coverage based on the design specifications.

Tower Height = 230 ft plus seven additional feet for lighting rod on top
Estimated Cost (Kimball) = $3-5 million
Appropriated Cost = $3.5 million