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Councilors approve broadband assessment, authorize block grant submissions

By Kendra Caruso | May 12, 2020
Source: File photo

Belfast — City Council approved a contract with Mission Broadband at its May 5 meeting to assess bringing broadband into the city. Councilors also gave the green light to two block grant submissions.

The council decided to spend $19,200 for a comprehensive review of what it would take to bring broadband to every part of Belfast. Previously, councilors wanted to work with Island Institute on a $9,000 assessment, but felt they would not get a full sense of the cost to hook up broadband to every part of the city.

Councilor Mary Mortier said spending more with Mission Broadband will give them a firm cost estimate on the buildout and the necessary information about how to move forward with the project. She expressed disappointment that it has taken this long to continue the city’s broadband efforts, but said she understands that city budgets have been tight in recent years.

“Without having this information, it would be like opening up Pandora’s box and not being able to have a healthy conversation,” Mortier said.

Councilor Mike Hurley took the time to discuss his frustration with the city’s lack of sidewalk funding. He said the city should not be paving roads if it is not building sidewalks and the Planning Board should not be approving development projects unless they include sidewalks.

Councilor Neal Harkness said bringing broadband to Belfast will be a costly project, but he compared it to the three solar fields the city developed, in that it will be worth it. Mortier said the internet is important in rural communities, and has a large impact on access to resources and quality of life.

“This is maybe the most important economic development investment action that we will take in our time on the council and it's a 30-year-plus life in the community,” Mortier said, “in the life of the community.”

In other business, City Council approved Economic Development Director Thomas Kittridge’s request to submit an Economic Development Block Grant for the former Three Tides and Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. property. New owner Moonbat LLC is seeking $300,000 to make structural improvements.

Councilors also voted to allow Kittridge to apply for a Public Service Block Grant on behalf of Starrett Children’s Center for building improvements and equipment.

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Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at waldo.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at waldo.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (1)
Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | May 12, 2020 11:50

There are no other City Owned projects in need of the Economic Development Block Grant?  Broadband for the entire City maybe vs a privately owner piece of property?  Can every citizen apply for a Block Grant?



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