The Gardner city council held a special meeting Aug. 13 to hear presentations regarding Mayor Steve Shute’s proposed city-owned fiber optic network. File photo

Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
A city-owned fiber optic utility was discussed during the Gardner City Council work session Aug. 13.
The city, at the request of Mayor Steve Shute, has been exploring ways to build its own fiber optic network connecting the city’s residents, businesses and services such as the police and fire departments.
In a report, William Hadala Jr of Spearpoint Associates, said the city could develop the network without committing taxpayer funds.
“Spearpoint Associates designs, builds and maintains gigabit cities in partnership with municipalities and economic development corporations through the creation of public-private partnerships,” he said.
He said the corporation utilizes private equity to fund such developments.
He asked the city for approval to embark on an in-depth survey of residents and business owners as a first step towards the establishment of the network.
“We are asking for the ability to collect data. That data will enable us to populate the financial models,” Hadala, Jr said.
However Cheryl Harrison-Lee, city administrator, and Amy Nasta, city clerk, said the city had yet to receive a legal opinion on the matter.
“I’m not ready to proceed before I hear what the legal counsel has to say,” said Lee Moore, councilmember.
Greg Gregorcyk, councilmember, said the city needs to lay out in layman’s terms to the residents what the network entails.
“For folks where I live it comes down to money. We are growing but on this we are a little bit ahead of ourselves, and we may need to have the voters weigh in,” Gregorcyck said. “I see Google Fiber leave town , and I wonder why we are even talking about this.”
The council decided to wait for a review from legal counsel before considering the request by Spearpoint Associates to conduct the survey.
During the session Nasta presented the results of a survey conducted by the city in which about 1,300 residents responded to questions about the establishment of the network.
Gregocrcyk said he’d like the city to include more residents in the survey.
“This survey only sampled about five percent of city residents, I’d like to see more,” he said.
Shute said surveying the whole community was not possible.