Mike McGannon, wireless systems engineering manager with Alpharetta-based firm Engineering Associates, talked to Mayor Mike Bodker and the city council Monday about the feasibility of various radio system options: creating a standalone system for Johns Creek, continuing and expanding with Fulton County’s system, or partnering with or subscribing to existing systems in Forsyth County, Gwinnett County, north Fulton County or metro Atlanta.
“Our recommendation right now is Fulton County,” McGannon said.
He suggested further investigation into Fulton County’s system and looking into Johns Creek contributing an additional tower to the county’s system.
Councilmen Brad Raffensperger and Randall Johnson expressed concerns about tower height. McGannon said a tower between 300 and 400 feet would likely be needed for optimal coverage.
City Manager John Kachmar tried to assure them that the tower height wouldn’t create as much public outcry as the city of Roswell recently experienced when proposing new radio towers near residential areas. “Some of the sites we’re taking a look at are not what you’d call neighborhood invasive,” he said. “We’re talking about probably looking at areas that are more commercial.”
Johns Creek previously opted out of partnering with Roswell, Milton, Alpharetta and Sandy Springs to form the North Fulton Regional Radio System Authority.
“I think what pained us all when this came out in the spring is that we wanted to work with north Fulton,” Raffensperger said. “[Yet] it looks to me like for the taxpayers of Johns Creek, [Fulton County’s radio system] is going to be the low-cost solution and also it’s going to contribute to the highest level of public safety.” Kachmar said the cost to partner with the north Fulton system could be about $3.5 million while the cost to partner with Fulton County could range between $850,000 and $1.55 million.
McGannon said partnering with Gwinnett County or the Urban Area Security Initiative overlay system for metro Atlanta did not appear to be feasible options nor would creating an entirely new standalone system for Johns Creek.
He estimated there could be a medium probability of success if Johns Creek joined Forsyth County’s system, because the city already uses it as a backup and there is a strong relationship between the two municipalities. However, Johns Creek has more intergovernmental connections with Fulton County and joining Forsyth’s system would likely require more capital investment.