I attended the city council meeting last Tuesday, Sept. 3, to urge them to reopen negotiations with Illumination Technologies California. In ITC's letter of withdrawal dated Aug. 28 they stated, “We are willing to resubmit when residents or the City request our support in implementing a complete solution.”
I was very disheartened when instead of reopening negotiations as an option the council voted to install three sirens. Everyone in Calistoga agrees we need sirens, but if the council would have been willing to reopen negotiations with ITC we could have gotten a state-of-the-art system. One that had five sirens, including a siren that would support residents in areas such as Mountain Home Ranch Road, Petrified Forest Road, Franz Valley School Road and beyond Tubbs Lane. In addition, ITC's proposed plan had an early detection system which actively monitored the landscape to identify hazards enabling first responders to take action to mitigate the threat, advise the public and determine the next steps. A siren alone does not provide this. IT’s plan also included enhanced wireless communications, which is crucial to maintaining communication during a wildfire event.
(This was) a complete $600,000 fire detection and notification system at no cost to Calistoga, a system with maintenance costs covered by ITC, a system with improved communication both for daily cell service and during a wildfire event. Instead we are getting three sirens, no early detection, no improved communications at a cost to Calistoga of over $100,000 plus the installation cost and yearly maintenance costs. The lead time for these three sirens is 10 -12 weeks. The lead time for the IT equipment is less than five weeks.
I spoke to Richard Boisselle, Project Manager for ITC. Richard reiterated that ITC is still open to resubmitting their complete fire safety system package. What is better for our community?
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A complete system with up-to-date technology at no cost with less than five weeks lead time or an incomplete and outdated system costing over $100,000 with a 10-12 week lead time?
If safety is the key factor, and getting the sirens installed in a timely manner is of utmost importance, as was brought up during the meeting, why aren’t we revisiting the ITC proposal?