Greenwood Fire Department finally getting a high-speed lane to the Internet
“It’s been a difficult process,” Greenwood Town Manager Kim Sparks said.
The “process” was negotiating a contract that would extend Internet access from the town’s Fire Department garage at the corner of the Howe Hill and Greenwood Road, to the Highway Department garage five miles south on the Greenwood Road.
Sparks, who is also the town’s road commissioner said, the Internet service will shorten highway crews’ response time during weather events, thus improving service and safety for residents.
The highway garage currently gets weather information by satellite, which is less reliable during storms – when it is needed most.
Internet service will also save the town money, she said, by making it possible to coordinate the Highway Department’s response more efficiently.
In applying for a federal grant to help pay for installing the new line, Sparks wrote: “Our Highway Department along with our Greenwood Road residents have been in desperate need of Internet service for years.
“The Highway Department would utilize Internet service primarily to receive current weather updates, to monitor storms, for online training, and to receive immediate updates from Oxford County Emergency Management and the National Weather Service.”
The grant application was successful. The town was awarded $5,000.
The contract, which was signed Monday by town selectmen, calls for Maine Fiber Company to install the line necessary for carrying the internet service.
The town will pay an upfront charge of $3,000 for the installation, then $80 a month for use of the line.
The Maine Fiber contract is for 10 years, with two optional five-year extensions.
The town will also pay Time Warner Cable, which currently provides the service to the Fire Department, an additional $30 a month for the additional hook up at the highway garage.
Running the line and hooking up the garage is expected to take two months, Sparks said.
“We want to have it up and running before the snow flies.”
The five miles of new line will run on poles of the statewide loop of “dark fiber” optical cable.
The poles were placed last fall, but the line cannot be tapped locally until a provider is found to “light” the line here.
So far none have stepped up, Sparks said, largely because of the relatively small number of potential customers along the route.
It took nearly two months of negotiations for town selectmen, working with the town attorney, to come to agreement with Maine Fiber on terms of the contract.
Along the way several iterations were proposed.
The two major issues, Sparks said, were the length of the contract and a clause calling for the town to pay for workers’ compensation coverage to cover Maine Fiber crews installing the line.
The original draft of the contract called for a fixed 20-year term.
The town wanted a shorter period, she said, “because in 20 years we hope to have other options.”
The 10-5-5-term was eventually agreed to.
The selectmen also balked at the workers’ comp clause.
Maine Fiber said the clause was included in all such contracts they had with other towns, Sparks said.
But Greenwood selectmen weren’t buying, largely as a matter of principle.
The requirement was dropped.
Unfortunately for residents along the route of the new line, most of whom are still forced to rely on dial-up access, tapping the new Time Warner line will not be an option.
“This is a dedicated, leased line only, for the town’s use only. Unfortunate for our residents who are still waiting for high-speed Internet,” Sparks said.
(Note: The Internet can also be accessed through cell phones. Google: “Cell phone internet access.")