City to build new radio tower

Alex Doty • Feb 27, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority and the City of Grand Haven are partnering to construct one of the towers needed for the county’s new emergency dispatch radio system.

“This is going to be a 10-site system,” Ottawa County Central Dispatch Director Tim Smith said. “The coverage of the new system will be exceptional.”

Officials say the site on top of Grand Haven’s Water Tank Hill is preferred by the Motorola engineers working on behalf of the county. The tower will be located between the existing amateur radio operator repeater tower and the water tank.

“We thought the existing tower would work, but that tower won’t work,” Smith said of the Five Mile Hill structure.

The city, which owns the Five Mile Hill tower, shares space with Central Dispatch, the Department of Public Works, Harbor Transit and WGHN (92.1 FM). 

Officials tried to devise a plan that would’ve had WGHN join the dispatch authority in relocating all equipment and funding the dismantling of the existing Five Mile Hill tower. The estimated cost to relocate WGHN’s FM antenna to the new site was $195,000, and the estimated cost to dismantle the existing tower was $135,000 — a total cost of $330,000.

Officials say that after investigating the proposal, it was deemed impractical to place the WGHN equipment on the same tower due to financial and physical limits.

The new tower would’ve needed to be substantially higher, creating a need for a significantly larger footprint — a decision that would have interfered with the nearby Ski Hill operations.

Central Dispatch and city officials note that the new tower will be able to accommodate city radio operations in the future.

“If (the city) decides to migrate to the 800-megahertz system, that infrastructure will be there,” Smith explained. “I think it’s a win/win situation for everyone.”

In addition to Ottawa County, both Allegan and Kent counties have decided to make the switch to the 800-megahertz radio system, Smith noted.

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