Loudon City Council decided Monday to not move forward with a previously approved agreement with Mobile Communications America to purchase and install outdoor warning systems.
Council in September approved the resolution with the stipulation that MCA guarantee sirens would reach 70 decibels inside the designated coverage area or the city would be refunded. The guarantee was recommended after a failed demonstration by MCA with a weaker siren model than the one council authorized to purchase.
Ty Ross, city manager, brought news of the pending contract to council. MCA denied council the 70-decibel warranty.
“I think the main reason for the push on that decibel level on that contract was the trial — the test run that we did — wasn’t very audible,” Tammi Bivens, councilwoman, said. “Of course, it wasn’t in the air as high as it’s going to be, and, of course, it was also a muted level. That was the reason council decided to put that in the contract, and I agree with it being in the contract with the warranty on that.”
Councilmen Tim Brewster and Johnny James agreed if MCA couldn’t produce what council wanted, the city should kill the resolution and search elsewhere.
Councilman Tim Dixon said the resolution should be killed if MCA can’t bring the model siren the city authorized as a demo.
“I don’t think they’re very confident in what they’re trying to sell,” James said. “I don’t see if they were as confident when they were talking to us they wouldn’t have any problem bringing it down here to demonstrate it. They obviously think it’s not going to work, too, I think.”
Patrick Madrid, program manager for the mass notifications product line, said MCA doesn’t have a demo trailer with the city’s desired siren model. He said the 70-decibel warranty couldn’t be included in the contract because the coverage map provided council was an estimate. Various factors can also affect a siren’s decibel rating, including humidity, temperature, terrain and wind direction, he said.
Kelly Rooney, Whelen Engineering Company representative, said the siren can be heard past the coverage map, and the sound doesn’t just cease at the end of the line.
“The variables are not going to change like Patrick eluded to, all the weather environments, weather and ambient noise,” Rooney said. “… All these things matter. It’s very difficult to say, ‘Yes, walk to the end of the map line, hold up a dB reader, and you’ll get 70 dBs.’ Depending on the weather that day, I might get you at 80 dB. I might get you at 60 dB. You’re always going to be really tied down to the environmental factors.”
Council decided to halt business with MCA.
“It took me two years to get this passed, and it was a rough two years,” Bivens said. “I fought tooth and nail for a siren system. You all came here and sold us on quite a few lies it seems like right now because you’re backpedaling on that now. I’m not happy at all because I took a lot of heat off of a lot of citizens over this. … I think if you all want to sell this, you’ll bring a pole, you’ll bring a siren that we’re actually going to get, and you’ll put it up and you’ll test it. … You said we could get that decibel. Now it’s on a good day, on a flat range, you’re going to get that decibel. Well, on a good day I hope we don’t need that decibel. I’m not looking for what the range on a good day is. That’s not lifesaving.”
In other news, Loudon City Council:
• Accepted a fuel bid from Rogers Petroleum Inc.
• Amended the zoning map to rezone property on Mulberry Street from P-1 Professional and Civic District with H-1 Historic Overlay District to C-2 Highway Business District with H-1 Historic Overlay District.
• Tabled a resolution to refinance the debt of the water and sewer departments.
• Approved a resolution declaring the city’s intent to reimburse itself for expenditures relating to paving projects with the proceeds of bonds to be issued by the city.
• Accepted a quote for street resurfacing at Collins Street and Robinson Drive.
• Authorized a Loudon Police Department Officers’ Association Inc., turkey shoot fundraiser for Children’s Christmas Fund.