Greenwood Township moving forward with fiber to townhall

Greenwood Township board members met last week to discuss a few issues related to technology. The Timberjay covered the meeting. There were a lot of unkowns, for example it seemed unclear whether the board knew if there was fiber connected to the town hall or not.

I’m trying to weed through the discussion to get to the actions and decisions:

The board decided to join an effort for a regional feasibility study…

[Joan] Bassing [chair of the local broadband committee] then asked the town board to consider making a donation to help fund the feasibility study. She said that if the township refused to participate in the feasibility study, it would eliminate the township from future broadband projects.

A coalition of three areas are jointly funding the study and need to raise approximately $75,000, which will be matched one-to-one by Blandin.

“Our standard donation is $100,” said [board member] DeLuca.

Bassing said she was not sure what level of donation would be considered for inclusion in the study but said there was a possibility of finding other donations in the township to count towards the township’s participation.

A feasibility study looks at existing infrastructure, community support/interest in broadband and recommendations to help infrastructure meet community need. (Often it has been the first step in a community pursuing and getting a MN state broadband grant.)

A donation of $100 may not be a ringing endorsement but it is a start to a local investment that will help them know if the city hall has fiber, if local residents want it and what they can do to make it happen. It will address many of the unknowns and I thin help the city board make more informed decisions.

The board decided to connect town hall computers to fiber and install hotspots…

The board did appear to agree on getting the town hall computers connected to the fiber.

A motion to have a new wifi hotspot installed at an estimated cost of $486, to give broadband access to users in the parking lot, passed unanimously. The town board tabled a motion to get the hard-wiring done, since they felt they needed more information on the cost, but said they would consider it at their July meeting.

Not to harp on a feasibility study – but that would help them decide about hard-wiring in the future.

The board decided not to move forward with a computer for the public in the town hall. It seems that they felt the recommended computer was too expensive for the public….

Initially, township officials balked at the cost of the computer included in the proposal, saying they would rather see a more economical model for public use rather than a model that cost about $3,200.

I used to do tech assessments for nonprofits. I’ve had this discussion with people in the past. How come we need to buy a computer more expensive than my home computer? It’s a little like asking why a commercial oven is more expensive. Because the public computer will be used more, will be used harder and will called upon to meet a wider variety of needs. The secondary issue was a question of need…

But DeLuca insisted there was no need for a public computer at the town hall.

“Everybody I talk to,” he said, “nobody says we need a computer here.”

A feasibility study may prove his point or suggest a different answer.

The feasibility study will help decision makers learn what the community wants and needs! Folks who are interested in this part of Minnesota, are invited to attend  a St Louis County broadband meeting happening June 25 (Tuesday) to hear more about local efforts to get and use better broadband for economic development and quality of life.

This entry was posted in Building Broadband Tools, Conferences, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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