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City council approves new police radio system
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A $3.5 million, state-of-the-art police radio system was approved by Conyers City Council at its Dec. 17 meeting.

The deal with Motorola will erect two new radio towers-each 250 feet tall-at the Horse Park and behind City Hall on Scott Street. It will also mean totally new radio equipment for the entire force, as well for use by other city departments. A year-long construction and installation process is expected to begin next month.

Nearly two years in the making, the deal will update the city's 1980s-era gear. City Chief Operating Officer David Spann likened it to "going from the old box that you carried as a cell phone in the early '80s to an iPhone."

"Officer safety and the ability to respond will really be enhanced," Conyers Police Chief Gene Wilson told the News. Today's radio system has several dead zones where reception is poor.

The new system will allow Conyers police to plug into the channels of other area public safety agencies. They will be able to encrypt their communications as well.

The city at one point considered sharing a new system with Rockdale County, but opted not to. It also scrapped an earlier plan for a tower on Parker Road.

Early this year, the planned budget was about $5.2 million. Spann said the costs came down thanks to strong negotiations with consultant firm Tusa, and partly from locating one tower at City Hall instead of on Parker.

The $3.5 million price includes five years of maintenance. And the towers will have plenty of room to rent antenna space to cell phone companies, helping to offset the cost.

The life expectancy for the system is 20 to 25 years, and it will put Conyers ahead of upcoming federal standards for public safety radios.

In other council business:

-The council approved a new agreement with the county Board of Education for the use of land to construct an extension of the Olde Town Conyers Trail between the Nancy Guinn Library and Pine Log Park. Surveying work for the trail is underway, and construction is expected in fall 2015, said city Public Works Director Brad Sutton.

-Three business-related zoning changes were approved. The new D, Downtown District was amended to allow collection agencies so one can operate there, and a light-industrial-zoned site at Sigman and Gees Mill Roads was rezoned to allow construction of a convenience store/gas station by Windlass, Inc. The D District also was amended to disallow taxicab companies, due to concerns they might take up parking spaces.

-Licenses for beer, wine and liquor consumption on premises were approved for two locations: Ruby Tuesday, 1714 Hwy. 138 (Gary Evaniak, manager), and AMF Bowling Centers, 885 Flat Shoals Road (application Samuel G. Knowles/American Bowling Center).

-The council approved an agreement enabling the installation of four streetlights on Georgia Department of Transportation-owned right-of-way in front of the new Family Dollar store at 1830 Hwy. 138. Family Dollar is paying for the installation, and the city will pay the power bill. The council also approved an easement for a Georgia Power utility pole for the Old Covington Road project.

-The council appointed several people to the board of Conyers Main Street, which is revamping under a new director. "We're building a Main Street board. We're not there yet," said Councilman Vince Evans. The appointees include: City planner J.P. Alexander, Councilman John Fountain, Debbie Nash and Brandi Wells.

-The council reappointed four members of the Conyers Downtown Development Authority for four-year terms starting Jan. 1: Dan Digby, Councilman Evans, Ronald Godwin and Brandon Mitchell.

-Following the meeting, the council entered an executive session to discuss "property acquisition" and "proposed litigation," according to City Manager Tony Lucas.