A city grants permission for a state agency to build an emergency communications tower on its property. The state hires a contractor to build the tower. The contractor makes a mistake, causing permanent damage to public natural resources and costing the city thousands of dollars. Who’s to blame? The contractor for causing the damage? The state for hiring a contractor who caused the damage? Or the city for giving the state permission to build a tower on its property? All of them?

This scenario — with many more intricacies and twists and turns — has been playing out in Iowa Falls for two and a half years. In April 2017, the State of Iowa approached the city to ask for permission to build the tower. At 425 feet, and perched atop a bluff in town, the state said it was a perfect location to connect the Iowa Falls tower with 91 other similar towers across the state, forming a network that would ensure communication between first responders in the event of natural or manmade disasters. As a bonus, the Iowa Department of Public Safety told the City, the local police, fire and other responders could put their own communication equipment on the tower, too — free of charge! The City, wanting to help the state and emergency communications (and wanting a place for its own equipment) granted permission.

(1) comment

Kent Thompson

Excellent editorial and our community an hour to the west is undergoing it's own problems with Motorola Solutions. In Oct. 2017 a lightning strike at the county's Law Enforcement Center knocked out communications systems. The long term solution was to upgrade our communications equipment and tower, go digital and sign on with the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System. Motorola reps told the city and county that the fix could be completed for about $700,000-$800,000 and would not be much more expensive than trying to replace and repair existing, soon to be outdated equipment. Now, nearly two years later, Our tower upgrade for the setting of a large microwave dish is not complete, the contractor Motorola hired is refusing to complete the work and the bills keep mounting up, with $100K due Nov. 1 on the equipment and tower improvements that have not even been installed. I empathize with the city of Iowa Falls and its citizens. River Road is truly one of the most picturesque areas of the city and whoever thought clear cutting mature trees from a hillside with no conservation structures were foolhardy at best. Obviously the state of Iowa bought a bill of goods from Motorola that is not being delivered on. The acronym is correct, but the third word should be Inoperable, not Interoperable.

Kent Thompson

Humboldt, Iowa

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