TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—A presentation on Tompkins County’s new community alert system, Safety & Incident Real-Time Emergency Notification (SIREN) was the big ticket agenda item in a fairly thin County Legislature meeting on Tuesday.

The full meeting video is available here, while the meeting agenda can be seen here.

SIREN is replacing the previous county alert system, SWIFT911. The new platform gives the county a more diverse range of settings and alert types to offer resident users. SWIFT911 users still need to sign up again and make a profile under SIREN in order to receive alerts through the platform. The SWIFT911 system will be shut down at the end of the year. 

County residents are able to sign up to receive emergency notifications for the area they live in, like Ulysses, Lansing, or Cayuga Heights. All SIREN users will be automatically signed up to receive countywide alerts. SIREN has already been used by the City of Ithaca to send out notifications for street cleaning, for one example.

The alerts users receive start as requests from municipal officials or emergency responders, which are then processed by the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response and made into an alert if deemed suitable. 

Residents are able to sign up on the county’s website, or by texting SIREN to 67283.

At the start of his presentation on SIREN to the legislature, Director of Emergency Response Michael Stitely said, “We all know that the role of the public servant has been quite magnified during the pandemic and I can tell you there’s no better feeling than the satisfaction that you are making a difference in your community.”

Other news and notes

The legislature voted to acquire a piece of property near the Lick Brook, and Sweedler and Thayer preserves in order to add it to the surrounding conserved areas. They also voted to allow the development of a parking lot to improve the accessibility of the trail systems.

The legislature will be forming a temporary Recovery Advisory Committee for the duration of the work it takes to process and administer the funds that are a part of the $6.5M Community Recovery Grant Program. The program is meant to relieve the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local businesses and organizations. Setting up the recovery grant has been slow to get off the ground since its announcement in October—a point on the minds of Legislatures at Tuesday’s meeting. 

Legislature Chair Shawna Black (D-District 11) appointed Legislator Dan Klein (D-District 7) as chair of the committee, and Legislator Lee Shurtleff (R-District 9) as Vice Chair of the committee. 

The committee’s meetings will be subject to New York’s open meetings laws. The choice to form a committee instead of a working group — which are not required to have open meetings or release agendas — to see through the work of the Community Recovery Grant Program was in order to create as “transparent” a process as possible, said Black.

Jimmy Jordan is Senior Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn