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Old Lyme - As early as this spring, representatives from different town agencies will have a new way to easily communicate with each other during storms and other emergencies.
Old Lyme residents voted unanimously Monday to approve $32,500 toward improvements to Mile Creek Tower that will allow all town agencies to access the same radio system.
Representatives from the fire, police, emergency management and highway departments had formed a committee to find a cost-effective townwide radio system after Tropical Storm Irene showed flaws in communication. For example, as agency representatives cleared fallen trees, they needed to quickly communicate with each other but were unable to do so.
"We had problems during that storm that we could not speak across town to each other," Officer Thomas Heinssen of the town's police department told residents at the annual town meeting Monday.
The representatives discussed a plan and decided to bring the other town agencies onto the same radio system that the fire department has had since 2005, Heinssen said.
Different agencies - from the town's public works to the police department - will now be able to communicate across town using one system, according to Heinssen.
"We all represent the town of Old Lyme," he said in an interview, adding that communication is the "backbone" of public safety.
The approved funding will cover the entire cost of the project, which entails installing new antennae on the tower, said Heinssen. The representatives anticipate the system could be ready for use by the spring.