March 20, 2008

Town of Dryden awarded $430K grant for Internet expansion

Update: The more I've learned about this grant, the more it seems clear that it's a grant to Clarity Connect for expanding service in the Town of Dryden, not a grant to the Town exactly.

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on the award of $430,369 to the Town of Dryden for wireless internet access. (You can also see the Governor's press release.)

David Makar had been pushing hard to expand broadband coverage since his 2006 campaign for Town Board. Jason Leifer, appointed to the board in January, helped write the grant, along with ClarityConnect and town staff.

I'm delighted to see that this went through. I knew of the application, but the total amount available from New York State seemed tiny, so I wasn't that optimistic about it. It makes me glad for all the time I put in to support David and Jason and the other Democrats on the Town Board. An active Town Board was able to leap on this and win a grant that should help the Town tremendously.

At the same time, there's a peculiar statement from County Legislator Mike Hattery near the end of the article that makes me very glad that Hattery is no longer on the Town Board, though depressed that he's on the County Board:

Tompkins County legislator Mike Hattery, R-Dryden, said he's happy that residents in his town will get Internet, but hopes the grants won't hurt the spirit of capitalist competition.

"I think improving Internet access for rural residents is good," he said. "I just hope it's a level playing field for all Internet providers."

That might make sense if, say, Hattery had spent the last few years trying to convince Time-Warner Cable, Verizon, and Frontier that they should be supporting level playing fields for all providers over their infrastructure. I don't recall hearing him ever asking for such a thing, even when Time-Warner came in to talk about their (largely uneditable, but definitely not market-friendly) franchise agreement. He certainly wasn't talking about the need for these providers to expand their coverage, either.

I'm guessing that he needed to come up with some kind of response to cast doubt on a project he wasn't a part of, and this was the best he could come up with. At least the next line is better connected to reality:

Hattery said that Dryden businesses that were without high-speed Internet can now be more competitive.

I suspect it'll take a while for the new system to be operational, but I'll post updates here as I find out more.

There's also an update on village elections, which notes a write-in campaign by Brian Buttner for Mayor. 91 people voted, a drastic increase over past years. Incumbent Mayor Lotte Carpenter defeated Buttner 53-35, and incumbent trustees Penny Beebe and Diana Radford won unopposed.

Tompkins County also grew a bit over the last year, to an estimated 101,055 residents.

Posted by simon at March 20, 2008 12:24 PM in , ,
Note on photos


Mary Ann said:

The IJ article was wrong about some details of the Universal Broadband grant. Clarity Connect applied for and received the grant with the Town of Dryden and TC3 as partners. Chuck Bartosch, a Dryden resident and managing partner of Clarity Connect has been researching ways of delivering wireless internet access for years and started talking to us about collaboration two years ago.

Having so much of the preliminary planning in place prior to the announcement of the Governor's Univeral Broadband Access grant program in December made it possible for us to pull details together to meet the January deadline for the grant application.

The grant program's emphasis on private/public partnerships makes Hattery's comment all the more baffling. This is an ideal example of the state's cash contribution and substantial in-kind support from the town leveraging a private company's investment in the project which is expected to cost over $1 million over a five year period.

Many thanks to David and Jason for keeping us focused on the need for internet access and their work on the application and to Chuck for his committment to the project.

Jason said:

Bravo to Mary Ann, Jason, David, Chuck and all other involved in this long process. This will greatly help many Dryden residents (like me!). But the job is not done yet, lets get those towers up and approved. I've always appreciated Mr. Hattery's service, but what he said was completely not thought-out and off base. He lives in town with many internet options and must be completely ignorant to the rest (and majority) of the community who does not have this luxury. Time Warner is not knocking on my door to give me service. In fact after many many tried to even have them give me a price they said 44K!