Watkins considers fiber optic cable
WATKINS GLEN—The chief executive officer of Finger Lakes Technologies Group, Inc. approached the Watkins Glen board of trustees at the regular meeting held on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
Several executives joined CEO Paul Griswold in requesting that the board work with their company to install a fiber optic cable network through the village. The company recently installed fiber optic cable from Montour Falls through Elmira (most of it along Route 14) and is in the process of adding Corning to their network. They are hoping that Watkins Glen will be one of their next projects.
Through a relationship with Empire Telephone, based in Prattsburgh, the companies hope to install new fiber optic cable on the existing telephone poles in the village. Their business model is based on the ownership of this cable which will save them the cost of leasing lines from other companies, as most telecommunications providers must do. Griswold explained, “our rates are so competitive because other providers must lease the facilities.” The problem is that, historically, the village has charged a pole rate that proved to be cost prohibitive. Any utility who has wire connected to a pole in the village must pay a pole fee. The pole fee is now around $10, but when these companies approached the board in the past, the fee was around $80 to $100, and “it didn't work out so well,” said Griswold.
At this point in time, Finger Lakes Technologies Group, Inc. is only interested in offering broadband service to commercial entities in the area. However, once the cable is established, Empire Telephone may offer telephone, cable television, and broadband service to residential areas of the village.
The other issue is that because there are regulations governing where cables can be placed on a pole, and how far away from electric lines they must be, some work may need to be done to make the poles ready for additional cables. Mayor Mark Swinnerton and the village trustees expressed interest in the project and will meet at a later date to further discuss details.
In other business:
• The board discussed the establishment of a procedure by which groups or organizations planning events in the village will be better able to coordinate their activities with village department heads. Often these events require assistance from the police department, fire department or other village service providers. The current system results in a disconnect as the fire department and police department will sometimes receive only 24 hours notice that streets need to be closed or security is needed for a planned event. Trustee Scott Gibson explained that, “this is no slight to these organizations, certainly we love events and want more of them, but we want these organizations to do more planning with department heads.” The trustees will meet with department heads to try and develop a process by which appropriate notification will occur without discouraging events from coming to the area.
• The Watkins Glen Fire Department received 852 calls for service in 2011, up about 100 calls from the 2010 figures. The increase in calls has caused an increase in fuel expenditures and has stretched the department somewhat thin said Fire Chief Dominick Smith. The department will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2012 and plans commemorate the occasion and thank its members for their service by holding a function in the firehouse, with village approval.
• The board also discussed printing disclaimers on tickets for the skate night held at the village community center. The disclaimer language will be included in an effort to lower the village's exposure to liability. The only way to completely protect the village from liability would be to end skate night, but beyond that, “there is no full proof way to limit liability,” said Trustee Gibson. Gibson explained that ending skate night was not even an option for the village officials to consider. Trustee Wayne Weber said that the same conversation occurred when the skate park at Clute Park was proposed, and that the board concluded at that time as well that it was good to provide activities for the youth of the community.
• The board voted not to pay the architect for the municipal building renovation project, Robert Meehan, because of their dissatisfaction with his performance. Mayor Swinnerton explained that the heat in the building will not work unless all of the thermostats are set to the exact same temperature. “I am very unhappy with the support we have been getting out of [Meehan],” said Swinnerton, “its their responsibility to make the sure the systems work.” The board decided to attempt to meet with the architect and to pay him when the village gets what it bought in design.
• The next village board meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in the municipal building.