WATERVILLE — A crane will raise and install a 140-foot-tall radio communications tower Thursday morning outside the police station on Colby Street.

The tower, which will begin going up around 9 a.m., will replace the tower on the roof of City Hall that is used for police radio communications. The new tower will be on the south side of the building, about 30 feet from it and is being installed by Hussey Communications Inc. of Winslow.

The cost of the tower and six new base radios is $110,000, according to police Chief Joseph Massey.

Massey said he is not sure if part of Colby Circle will have to be closed off to traffic Thursday. It depends on how much space the crane requires to raise the tower, he said. He said he expects that, once it is up, it will take about a week for all the equipment to be hooked up to the tower.

He said the Police Department has used the tower at City Hall for radio communications for many years.

“It’s a very old tower and its initial design was to hold two radio antennas,” he said. “There are 10 on it now, so it causes a lot of interference.”

The Police Department dispatches for police and in some cases fire services not only for Waterville but also eight other communities — Winslow, Oakland, Albion, China, Sidney, Belgrade, Rome and Clinton.

“The tower has weak radio frequency,” he said. “Sometimes it’s difficult for us to broadcast clearly to those outlying towns. The antennas are close to one another; they’re simply too close. The tower is too small.”

The Police Department moved two years ago from City Hall to Colby Street, but the tower remained on the roof of City Hall and the department continues to use that tower for radio communications.

Both Massey and City Manager Michael Roy said that if a traffic accident occurs on Front Street near City Hall and knocks out a pole, police and emergency communications could be cut off, causing a serious situation.

“We’re very excited about the fact of having a brand new tower adjacent to the Police Department,” Massey said.

He said the new base radios are now in the information technology room at police headquarters.

“For the first time in the history of the Police Department, base radios are located in the Police Department, where they should be,” he said. “All the years at City Hall, the radios were housed in the fourth floor of City Hall. They should be in a secure location with temperature control and dust-free.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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