Why officials say Wilton’s new emergency communications system could cost more

Photo of J.D. Freda
One of the town’s cell towers off of Deer Run Road in Wilton.

One of the town’s cell towers off of Deer Run Road in Wilton.

Hearst File Photo

WILTON — The nearly $1 million federal grant the town received might cover less of the emergency communications project than expected, officials said.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said the town is still speaking with Motorola to replace the system, but estimates have come in higher than originally projected.

“We haven't finalized the cost of the system,” Vanderslice said Thursday, one day after holding a news conference to announce the acquisition of the $983,000 grant.

In late 2021, the town anticipated the cost to range from $3.7 million to $4.2 million to replace its emergency radio system. Those estimates came before the bidding process.

Vanderslice said Thursday the bid “came in higher than expected, due to some more equipment needed and the price increases in the current inflationary environment.”

She said town officials “continue to expect the grant to cover more than 20 percent, but less than 25 percent” of the total cost of the project. The exact percentage will be known once the bid is finalized, Vanderslice said.

The project would cost between $3.9 million and $4.9 million based on Vanderslice’s comments that the $983,000 is 20 to 25 percent of the total. Vanderslice, however, declined to confirm the projected total cost.

The town made the decision to “piggyback” off the state police department’s system rather than build a standalone network.

Wilton Police Capt. Thomas Conlan had previously said the initial building price for the state option is pricier, but yearly maintenance of a standalone system would be more expensive in the long run.

The current emergency communications system has been deemed at its “end of life” by numerous officers and town officials. It was first implemented in 2002 and was built to last between 15 and 20 years.