Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Public safety projects remain priorities under a six-year capital program that was introduced Feb. 9 by the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

The 2011 capital program totals $44 million and includes $22 million to fund work on an addition to the Public Safety Training Academy on West Hanover Avenue in Parsippany to include a new Emergency Communications Center that will have the capacity to cover any of the county’s 39 towns that wanted to consolidate its dispatch service with the county.

“Several years ago, the freeholders made a commitment to expand our communication system so it had the capacity to cover any municipality that wanted to consolidate its dispatch service with the county,” said Freeholder Margaret Nordstrom who chairs the budget committee. “Keeping that commitment is very important.”

Nordstrom and her freeholder colleagues stressed, however, that they will continue to seek ways of reducing the estimated $28 million total cost of the project, which is also scheduled to include a new crime lab for the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Unit, an Emergency Operations Center for the Office of Emergency Management and a more secure location for the county’s computer server, which is the hub of the county government’s information system.

The 2011 capital program also contains $13 million for upgrading the Morris Interoperable Radio System that allows all police, fire and EMS units to communicate with each other. The freeholders said upgrading the 10-year-old radio system will allow for additional capacity and will also address some gaps in coverage.

The freeholders said the six-year capital program is to be used as a fluid planning tool, and that a project’s inclusion does not guarantee the project will be undertaken.

Besides the public safety projects, the bulk of the 2011 capital program contains funds for public works projects, with $8.7 million allocated for the design and construction work on county roads and bridges.

Other projects in the 2011 capital program include the demolition of the county-owned Washington Building in Morristown; the completion of renovations to the county’s Schuyler Annex for classroom space for the County College of Morris; and refurbishing elevators at Morris View Healthcare Center.