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Westport Fails in Bid for Federal Grant for Emergency Communications

Westport Fails in Bid for Federal Grant for Emergency Communications
Westports application, in cooperation with Wilton, for millions of dollars in federal funds to improve regional emergency communications has been rejected, according to First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell.

She said neither community had received official notification of rejection of the $6.1 million bid.

But she told WestportNow that Westport and Wilton were not on a list of approved applicants released late last month by the Department of Homeland Security which awarded $79.6 million in grants.

Under the application, submitted before an Aug. 1 deadline, Westport would have been responsible for funding $1 million of the plan and Wilton $525,000, according to Deputy Police Chief Al Fiore.

The communities applied under a federal pilot program aimed at helping municipalities develop interoperable communications systems for fire, police and EMS services.

The program is jointly run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of JusticeҒs Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

Under the joint proposal, which required lengthy meetings and hours of work to hammer out, the two towns would have taken six separate and distinct radio systems and combined them into one system to achieve interoperability.

The system was designed to enable it to be expanded to as many as 13 other communities currently in Westport and Wiltons mutual aid compact, Fiore said.

Farrell said she had hoped the federal funds would have eased the burden for Westport taxpayers in upgrading the Police Department communications infrastructure.

She expressed disappointment that Westport had not received official notification of rejection of its application and said she planned to indicate her displeasure to members of the stateҒs Congressional delegation.

Two New England applicants received grants under the program—Narragansett, R.I. was awarded $3,041,942 and Grafton County, New Hampshire, got $2,176,168.

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