Five Conway schools are among "a list" of buildings in the city with significant emergency communications issues, according to David Anthony, communications director with the City of Conway.

Conway Fire Department Chief Bart Castleberry told members of the Conway City Council on Monday night that cell phone and emergency radio signals in the structures contained in the list "just won’t get out."

Anthony and Castleberry declined to publicly name any of the buildings on the list for security purposes, but said the problem has been identified primarily within structures with concrete-filled studs, built within the last few years.

"If we could name the list off right now, you’d be shocked," Mayor Tab Townsell said.

Anthony said that on several occasions, signals had failed within two feet of the entrances to some of the buildings.

"We’ve had to leave the structures to make contact," Castleberry said. "We want to get an ordinance in place to address the issue on the front end."  

Anthony called the issue a "public safety emergency," that "makes for a very dangerous situation."

Castleberry noted the owners of all of the buildings on the list were aware of the situation, and that in case of an emergency, responders "have a plan in place."

Council members voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance establishing certain building requirements for all future commercial construction projects within the city.

The ordinance includes no provisions for retrofitting existing structures, but will be made effective immediately, with enforcement beginning during the building permit application process for all new constructions and ending with a routine building inspection by a city fire marshall.

"This will probably save someone’s life one day," Castleberry said. "This is a good thing."

In other action, the council voted in favor of:

• The nomination of Sydne Manley to the Conway Housing Authority Board.

• The acceptance of a bid by Paladino Construction in the amount of $27,500 for the demolition/site cleanup of five lots located in the Pine Street neighborhood.

• An ordinance accepting grant proceeds and appropriating funds in the amount of $1,000 for Conway EcoFest 2010.

• An ordinance accepting grant proceeds and appropriating funds in the amount of $2,240,366 for the New Conway Municipal Airport.

• An ordinance to rezone property located at 3480 Irby Drive from A-1 to R-1.

• Entering into an agreement with Garver Engineers for engineering services in the amount of $2,656,506.40 for the Western Loop Project.

• An ordinance appropriating grant funds in the amount of $2,624.63 to the Conway Police Department to replace body armor vests.

• An ordinance appropriating asset forfeiture funds in the amount of $3,200 to the Conway Police Department for the purchase of two tracking units.

• An ordinance amending Title 4 (Pawnshops) of the Conway Municipal Code for the City of Conway.

• The removal of certain inventory from the fixed assets listing for the Finance Department.

(Staff writer Megan Reynolds can be reached by e-mail at megan.reynolds@thecabin.net or by phone at 501-505-1277.  To comment on this story and others, visit www.the cabin.net)