A Regionalized 911 system is a done deal for the Town of Rochester, now that the Rochester Board of Selectmen on January 23 signed a five-year agreement with the Town of Duxbury to receive emergency dispatch services.
Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar said that signing the agreement sooner rather than later was critical in order to meet the application deadline for grant money from the State 911 Department to cover the cost of infrastructure upgrades and almost half of the cost of the agreement.
Szyndlar said the State 911 Department has confirmed that the Town of Rochester would be eligible to receive the grant funding – totaling $300,000 for infrastructure upgrades alone – and another $125,000 towards the $300,000 annual cost for 911 services, leaving the town to fund the remaining $175,000.
Infrastructure upgrades include brand new commercial grade antennas and radio receivers, which Szyndlar acknowledged the Town would not be able to afford without the 911 regionalization grant.
The entire transition is estimated to take up to a year, including the grant application process, receiving the funds in the fall, and the ensuing infrastructure work, but the agreement would have to be signed without delay.
“Otherwise, we would have to go another year out,” said Szyndlar, adding that as towns increasingly apply for the 911 regionalization grants, funding availability would decrease over time.
The Town of Duxbury will assist Rochester with writing the grant applications and updating the Town as progress is made.
“We are in an advantageous position right now to be at the top rather than the bottom of the allocation field,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Naida Parker.
Szyndlar concurred, saying, “There are several towns that are actually jealous of our position right now. We are in a very good spot.”
Selectman Richard Nunes pointed out that adopting the 911 regionalized dispatch is in alignment with the state Community Compact the Town signed last year, and the agreement will also ultimately save taxpayers money.
“And also to provide quality service,” said Parker. “It’s a twofold thing. Yes, we want to save money … but also to make sure that we’re not selling the residents of the town short on dispatch [and] … to provide the best possible service.”
“It’s really going to enhance and improve our system,” said Szyndlar. However, selectmen and Szyndlar all agreed that the move was in no way a negative reflection on the job the Town’s current dispatchers were doing.
In other matters, Parker, in her position as the town clerk, swore in the new full-time police officer before a roomful of family, friends, and fellow officers.
Alyson Rego has been serving on the Rochester Police Department for almost three years as a part-time predominantly night shift officer, and she has also conducted a few R.A.D. defense courses and attended a number of community events.
Police Chief Paul Magee called Rego “community-oriented,” adding, “She really gets the ‘community policing.’”
Rego has a bachelor’s degree from UMass Dartmouth in criminal justice and a Master’s from Curry College.
Also during the meeting, selectmen told Kelly Morgado, an abutter to the Rochester Memorial School parking lot, that the Town would investigate on her behalf the cost of installing a stockade fence along her property line where it abuts the parking lot.
Morgado said that for years she has had concerns over the security of her property in its proximity to the parking lot.
The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for February 6 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
By Jean Perry