Needed Upgrades in City’s Security Systems Delayed

Council Committee Split On Study

Is City Hall Secure?

Question Stirs Debate

OPEC Chairman David Rissberger and commitee member Michelle Frazier joust over how to approach a security review of City Hall and five other city-owned buildings. (Jennifer Hill/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

ONEONTA – How secure is City Hall and its related facilities?

That question stirred a lively debate over whether to spend $16,500 on a “facility-security study” at last night’s meeting of Common Council’s OPEC, the Operations Planning and Evaluation Committee.

Council members Michelle Frazier and John Rafter opposed the idea, and OPEC chairman Dave Rissberger, backed up by City Manager George Korthauer, supporting it.  With OPEC member Michelle Osterhoudt absent, action was delayed for a week.

This is the second time the proposal by Binghamton-based McFarland Johnson was set aside.  At last week’s Common Council meeting, Mayor Gary Herzig removed the motion from the agenda to allow OPEC review.

McFarland Johnson consultants outlined their approach to doing a review of the six buildings’ security systems and determining security needs, including replacing, upgrading and installing new security items and technologies.  The buildings are: City Hall, Public Safety Building, the Water Treatment Plant, the Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Central and OPT Garage, and the Streets and Facilities Garage.

Last night, Frazier objected to paying McFarland Johnson for a study that she said would be “a stepping stone to another study.”  She said she spoke to J Hubner, a local company, which would do an assessment for free.  “I would prefer to have a company like that come in without a large consulting fee, and this one will do it for free,” she said.  “(They) would come in and do a set up for the system.”

When  Rissberger asked her why Hubner would do a free assessment, Frazier said the company would also be interested in bidding on the proposal.

Said Korthauer, “If we invited a potential vendor in to do the assessment, that could be a possible problem.”

He also said city staff had told him they did not have the expertise to write a Request for Proposal (RFP) for companies to submit bids on their proposed system designs.

McFarland Johnson consultants told Common Council last Tuesday they would include RFPs with their review and report on the security systems.

Rafter suggested city employees could do “a number of simple things” “in a short period of time” to upgrade security in the buildings that did not require much expertise and could be done cheaply, such as buying punch keys and setting up security cameras.

“I want to have security that works,” said Rissberger.

The city began looking into a systematic upgrade of the six buildings’ security systems after former Police Chief Dennis Nayer did an inventory, where

listed security items and technology that needed to be replaced, upgraded or installed.  Those items included door locks, alarm systems, security cameras, and others.

Rissberger favored sending the proposal for Common Council to vote on in their next meeting on May 21, but Frazier warned she would oppose it.

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