Douglas County is pleased to finally see the fruits of a 10 year effort to improve public-safety in Douglas County and Highlands Ranch. Tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m., marks the rising of a very unique radio communication tower project taking shape in the Highlands Ranch Central Park development (at Lucent Blvd., between Town Center Dr. and Plaza Dr.), which will improve public-safety radio coverage in and around Highlands Ranch by 325% over the coverage that exists today.
When complete, the Central Park tower will be a 150-foot tall, three-point structure, painted “International Orange,” (same as the Golden Gate Bridge) which will denote the focal point of the new Central Park development. The tower has been under construction since March and showcases a remarkable partnership with Shea Properties, who was instrumental in helping Douglas County locate and design this very unique community landmark. It completely disguises an emergency-responder radio tower, and provides an artistic and cost-effective alternative to the typical tower design. “We could not have made this one-of-a-kind tower project happen without the outstanding help of Shea Properties and the vital funding of the Justice Center Sales and Use Tax, approved by voters in 1995 and again in 2007,” said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock.
The need for a new radio tower in or near Highlands Ranch (the largest community in Douglas County) was formally identified in 2012 after a series of radio coverage studies showed that the old infrastructure, mostly located outside of Douglas County, could no longer meet the basic needs of our many public-safety responders to include the sheriff’s office, local fire departments, local police departments, the Douglas County School District, Highlands Metro District and Metro District Park Rangers, the Colorado State Patrol, and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
In 2014, the sheriff’s office began conducting community meetings, working to find the proper places for the radio tower. Experts evaluated at least 56 locations in and around Highlands Ranch and, thanks to the help of Shea Properties and Shea Homes, were able to solve the problem with this new Central Park tower. “This turned out to be the perfect location to provide the best improvement at the lowest cost,” Spurlock said.
When the Central Park tower is completed in August, it will be one of the last pieces of a long awaited northern-simulcast technology system that will dramatically improve public-safety radio coverage for all of Douglas County. The final pieces of the northern-simulcast system are a set of microwave antenna atop the sheriff’s Highlands Ranch substation and a new tower to be completed in Franktown this fall. The southern-simulcast system was completed in 2016, with the upgrade of existing sites in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, the western Pike National Forest area, and the construction of new towers in Larkspur and above Palmer Lake.
Overall, costs for the ten major system upgrades covered by the project were less than $14 million, of which $11 million was provided by the Justice Center Sales and Use tax. The Douglas County Emergency Telephone Service Authority also recognized the importance of this project and provided the final $3 million to ensure its success. Once complete, Douglas County will see the comprehensive safety benefits of the increased radio coverage necessary for all our public-safety agencies.