Baileys Harbor poised for citywide vote on broadband

The Baileys Harbor Town Board this week selected a $172,000 plan from Farr Technologies to study the costs and pathways of running high-speed internet fiber to all buildings in the city.

With the City Council’s blessing, Farr can immediately begin locating every utility pole and possible underground fiber optic route to every home and business in Baileys Harbor. The company’s selection came ahead of the annual community meeting on Tuesday, April 19 at 6pm, where residents will be able to decide whether to invest in a state-of-the-art broadband infrastructure.

City Council member Peter Jacobs and Broadband Committee member Evan Webster said Farr had the best proposal of the interested companies. The committee invited four companies to apply for the planning phase of the project, and two of them submitted proposals. Farr’s bid was $40,000 cheaper than the other competing bid.

Broadband Committee members have been preparing for more than a year to bring residents information about the benefits of better Internet service. Committee chairs said an unprecedented number of grants and state and federal funds will soon be available, and implementation of the plan will help Baileys Harbor and broadband provider NSight Technologies prepare for those funds.

Committee members have expressed confidence that grants can fund much of the two to three-year broadband infrastructure project, but having city residents commit to financially supporting the project will help grant applications. Although the committee wants to get the city close to the front row for a Public Service Commission of Wisconsin grant to cover about $2 million of the $5.5 million project, Kurt Kiefer, chairman of the Broadband Ad The city’s Hoc Technology Committee that he thought the city had a great chance of receiving much more funding.

Bob Webb, vice president of innovative operations at NSight Technologies, said Farr proposes completing his work in 120 to 150 days.

Consultant hired for Nelson property redevelopment

Separately, residents of Baileys Harbor voted at the city council a year ago to have the city buy the former Nelson’s hardware and motel buildings to redevelop the lakefront lots adjacent to the city’s marina. Despite the $1.9 million purchase, city residents have not felt a significant tax hit from the lakefront project.

The City Council this week approved the hiring of Edgewater Resources for $41,680 to interview community members and city officials and then develop a redevelopment plan for the Nelson property, marina and another nearby property. Dave Eliot, chairman of Nelson’s Property Redevelopment Committee, said numerous private donations have been received to help pay Edgewater’s bill — the city only has to request funds from the Open Spaces Redevelopment Fund, which is supported by local donors.

Edgewater proposes several meetings with city officials, residents and stakeholders over the coming months to hear their ideas and then present the Company’s proposal.

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