More apartments coming to Gainesville

Feb. 9—A new apartment complex is coming soon in the south part of Gainesville.

At the city council meeting Tuesday evening, the property at just north of Fastenal on Grand Avenue was approved for rezoning, allowing for high-density multi-family structures.

"This is a good move for the city to change the zoning and allowing the number of people that is going to come to this area of town," said Community Development Director Mike Doughty. "We feel like if it's there, it's going to spur the neighborhood services ... to actually go along this corridor and up to this property."

The apartment complex is being build by GVD Construction, who have recently built in Corsicana, Denison, Witcita Falls and other towns. A representative from the company at the meeting described their work as luxury product.

The question was raised as to the cost of rent for these apartments, but there was no answer as it was not deemed relevant to the best use of the property and the rezoning. GVD Construction's other apartments vary in price due to location, but range from apartments a little less than 600 square feet with one bedroom and one bathroom for a little over $1,000 a month, to almost 1,200 square feet apartments with two bedrooms and two bathrooms for around $1,500 a month.

Radio project

Work is continuing on supplying Gainesville Police Department with new emergency radio systems that will allow for more communication through multiple conversations being able to be carried on simultaneously.

"Currently, the PD and the [Fire Department] operate on the VHF band radio system," said Phillips. "Each department has one duplex frequency, which allows us to carry on one radio conversation at a time per department. While we have sought different frequencies, additional frequencies, the VHF band is very congested with little-to-no availability for additional frequencies."

Because of this congestion, the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] allocated certain segments of the 700 Megahertz [MHz] bands to be used for public safety, as well as 800 MHz frequencies. These 800 MHz frequencies also allows contact to work through buildings, walls and other infrastructure more easily.

This allows the GPD and other emergency organizations to upgrade to a trunked radio system, which allows for easier communication through simultaneous conversations on different frequencies, as well as the recording of conversations.

The total projected project cost is $1,182,921. This will include a core for the system to allow GPD to eliminate dependence on other organizations, as well as having the potential to host other agencies in the future. In addition to the cost of the core, antennae, radios and other necessary equipment for the system, other related projects are being done at the same time for lower cost and higher efficiency, such as fiber-optic cable work and a new backup generator.

There is not currently encryption worked into the system, as Phillips says that would be another approximately $400,000.

The FCC licensing for the frequencies has already been obtained and antenna mounting systems have been installed on the water tower for the new antennae. The project is currently projected to be completed by August 15; however, the company believes in giving conservative timelines, and has the goal to make the official switch as early as the first week in July.

Atmos recognition

Also at the meeting, the Star of North Texas was presented to Travis Buckner of Atmos Energy for his leadership during the gas outage mid-cold snap the weekend of Jan. 13.

"You and your team responded, you helped set up an Emergency Operations Center, you helped with warming shelters, you helped people throughout our community get reconnected," said Mayor Tommy Moore. "We really appreciate your leadership on that. We appreciate you coming over and making contact with a lot of people, getting out in some of our senior living centers and talking to some of the staff and some of the people that were residents there and then continuing to remain engaged."

"That was something that we kind of trained for all year; that was our Super Bowl," said Buckner. "Luckily, we have great leadership. Our technicians are highly trained; they knew exactly what to do when the situation arose. Basically, all I had to do was make a bunch of phone calls and make sure we're in the right position."