By Mary Chasse, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday 11/15 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works met with Selectboard Chairperson Robert Espindola about a project that could possibly allow the town to have access to town owned internet. The board also discussed changes to the recycling permit fees for next year.
Mr. Espindola said currently town internet is used for the schools and municipal buildings, but the current internet loop has the capacity to serve the entire town including residents’ homes.
To get system to run through the entire town they would first need to complete a study to get the full cost of the project, find out the interest in town, and start a pilot program with a small group of residents to try it out.
Mr. Espindola said they would also need to find space in town for six internet access buildings spread out throughout town. He said for the pilot program they would just need three buildings to start.
They would need about 50%-60% of the town residents to be interested in having town internet to make the cost of the project worth it.
Mr. Espindola said to create the access buildings it will cost around $750,000, but they will be putting in a grant request for $500,000 in December. He said each building can supply around 1500 homes or businesses with internet.
Mr. Espindola said that he needs to figure out the first three locations for the pilot, but town property is limited. Some BPW properties might be available with enough space such as the BPW building itself, Cushman Park, and the waste water treatment plant. Mr. Espindola said he is asking for the BPW’s support if some BPW properties or parks are identified as good for the project.
BPW Vice-Chairperson Robert “Hoppy” Hobson asked what the advantage of town owned internet access would be and if it would allow residents to be able to get rid of Comcast.
Mr. Espindola explained that residents would be able to get rid of Comcast for an internet service. A lot of residents do not have home phones anymore and have chosen to get rid of cable and have a streaming service for their TV instead of cable, but residents can choose to keep cable and phone through Comcast and still have town internet. Residents will be able to choose whether they want town internet, and only residents who want it will pay for it.
Mr. Hobson said that Comcast is very expensive and has ridiculous fees. He asked if town internet would save residents money.
Mr. Espindola said that the town internet should save most residents around $30 a month and will allow residents to have faster and more reliable internet service.
BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton said that if they get a map of the internet loop through the town and match it up with town buildings they can see which town buildings fall along the route and can find places along that route.
Mr. Wotton said that maybe some pump stations along the loop route could be used.
Board member Cameron Durant said he supported the project. Board member Marcus Ferro agreed and said that the project is very cool and exciting. He said internet is a utility now, as much as water and sewer are utilities, and he is excited to see it move forward.
Mr. Wotton said he supported the project as well and would love to help map it out to see which areas work best for access buildings.
In another matter the board discussed fees for the recycling center for 2022. BPW Superintendent Vinnie Furtado said that currently the recycling permit fee is $25 for residents and $10 for seniors. He suggested possibly making it all one fee at $20.
Mr. Hobson suggested raising the fee $5 more for all and $100 more for landscapers.
Mr. Wotton noted that they increased the landscapers permit last year by $100.
Mr. Durant agreed that they should increase residents and seniors by $5 because senior citizens will still be happy getting a discount.
The board voted unanimously to increase the recycling permit fee for residents to $30, increase seniors to $15, and increase landscapers and personal trailers by $50.
The board also voted to keep fees for driveway contractors and drainlayers at the same rate.
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