A grant to expand Wi-Fi capability to the downtown area was announced Oct. 21, with several hotspots planned along the Route 1 corridor.

The Maine Community Foundation awarded Searsport a grant totaling $12,568 to install community access hotspots that will provide wireless internet to residents, businesses and visitors.

The grant was one of 13 awarded across the state, in all totaling $117,000. The effort aims to increase the number of people, communities and businesses with access to high-speed internet service and improve skills, knowledge and opportunities to effectively use the technology.

The grant is on top of $3,000 previously approved by selectmen at an Oct. 6 board meeting for expanding the Wi-Fi to the town's east side.

Town Manager James Gillway said in a conversation with The Republican Journal Oct. 22 that the town’s Broadband Committee has been busy trying to expand high-speed internet in town.

“Our goal is to do even more,” he said. “This is a really good opportunity to cover more of the town with internet at just a nominal price.”

To support and maintain the infrastructure, Gillway said, “we’re looking to sell advertising” which would appear before accessing the Wi-Fi network. “Anything that would help local businesses. We just know there is a need," he said.

George Kerper, chairman of the Searsport Broadband Committee, outlined the proposed network at the Oct. 6 selectmen's meeting. The relay line will start from the public safety building, he said, then bounce to one of the Penobscot Marine Museum buildings, to Tozier's Market, to Bangor Savings Bank, which will also cover the parking lot at the post office.

From the proposed new parking lot on Mortland Road, there will be coverage along Route 1, he said.

The committee would also like to extend coverage to the east end of town, which has been identified as a business "growth" district, he said. The district would start at Hamilton Marine and cover nearby areas such as the Antique Mall and BlueJacket Ship Crafters, continuing east to Fethke's Law Office, Dollar General, and also Silkweeds. There will also be a hot spot at Hamilton Wharf.

"I feel that is where the development is going to be," Kerper said. "Downtown is developed, and we've covered that with internet access."

Gillway expects the expanded Wi-Fi hot spots to be working by the end of the year.