ONEONTA _ The Common Council on Tuesday voted to allow Fire Chief Robert Barnes to pursue a federal grant to fund a new emergency operations center for the city.

The city is considering converting the former armory garage on Fairview Street into an EOC.

Converting the garage _ which would be a command and control center for city officials during emergencies and disasters _ is estimated to cost between $35,000 and $385,000, depending on the scope of the work, according to a preliminary survey.

Aldermen last month authorized the search for a contractor to perform architectural services on the city-owned garage in anticipation of the work.

In times of emergencies, such as the June 2006 flood, the Public Safety Building that houses the police and fire departments, as well as city court, has served as an EOC.

But a study of the city's emergency communications networks performed last year by the company ECC Technologies indicated the Public Safety Building is undersized for such a purpose.

Barnes learned of a federal grant program administered through the Department of Homeland Security that can provide 75 percent of the funding for construction of a community's EOC. If approved, the city would be responsible for 25 percent of the cost, according to Seventh Ward Alderman Lizabeth Shannon.

The federal grant has a maximum of $1 million, and there is about $14 million available nationwide through the program, Shannon said.

The city also authorized Barnes to spend up to $3,000 on consulting services to help prepare the grant application, which is due July 14.

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