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Forestville OKs Borrowing for Broadband

Brussels, Union and Gardner all putting the broadband borrowing question to voters

The Forestville Town Board passed a resolution last week in favor of borrowing up to $868,668 to fund fiber broadband to town addresses.

The resolution states the town’s commitment to borrow that much would pay for approximately 25% of the total project cost. 

The board, which reached an agreement with Brightspeed to install the infrastructure to residences and businesses throughout the town, is counting on another 25% to be covered by Brightspeed, with the other 50% to be sought through a grant from the federal Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

Because town residents previously indicated in a town-wide survey that they supported the board’s initiative to construct and install broadband throughout Forestville, the board decided not to place the matter before voters in a referendum on April 2.

“Don’t get me wrong, $868,668 is nothing to shy away from in any way, shape or form,” said Forestville town chairman Kevin Guillette. “But in today’s world, I don’t know how a business or a home cannot get by without [having] internet.”

Board members also heard from former town chairman Roy Englebert, a member of the Joint Broadband Ad Hoc Committee for the towns of Brussels, Union, Gardner and Forestville, who said municipalities committing a larger percentage of their own money to install broadband should have a better chance of receiving BEAD grants.

Englebert said Brightspeed would install fiber optic cable for broadband internet at 627 locations in the town at an overall cost of $3,474,671.

Town Supervisor Larry Huber said the board wouldn’t borrow the money to install broadband unless the town would be awarded the grant money.

Huber said Brightspeed also reached an agreement with the towns of Brussels, Union and Gardner to install broadband internet in those municipalities.

BUG Referendums

The town boards for Brussels, Union and Gardner have decided to place non-binding referendums before voters April 2 to gauge the level of public support for borrowing money to install broadband.

Gardner, which has a similar percentage split as Forestville to borrow up to 25%, with Brightspeed contributing 25% and BEAD grant money sought to cover the remaining 50%, is looking to borrow up to $1,242,686, according to its referendum.

Union, which would borrow up to 20%, with Brightspeed contributing 25% and BEAD grant money sought to cover the remaining 55%, is looking to borrow up to $807,713, according to its referendum.

Brussels, which would borrow up to 10%, with Brightspeed contributing 25% and BEAD grant money sought to cover the remaining 65%, is looking to borrow up to $370,595, according to its referendum.