Mayor Narkewicz proposes feasibility study for Northampton community network

Great news! After nearly a year of effort and much coalition building, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz has added money to the city’s capital improvement plan to study the feasibility of a community network for Northampton. It was announced in a couple of places, including Facebook.

The money is requested for fiscal year 2020. We believe the city’s fiscal year starts July 1, so if the plan is approved a study could begin in July 2019.

We are just beginning to understand the ramifications of this and are reaching out to try to figure out how best to continue to support this initiative.

Obviously, spending money to study a community network is a far cry from actually constructing, standing up and managing such a network. So don’t do any victory laps and we’ll have to continue to demonstrate community support for this initiative.

When we met with the mayor in May of 2018, he expressed two concerns about such a network:

  • It must be economically self-sustaining. We have learned that at least a 30% “take rate” is required for this to happen. A professional survey of Northampton businesses and residents can determine this.
  • The costs of construction and maintenance must be thoroughly understood. A network that costs $10M is obviously more viable than one that costs $100M.

The coalition agrees with the mayor on this approach. As much as we want this network, if it is not economically viable, it should not be built. This should not be a problem, but only a professional study can say with confidence.

Thank you Mayor Narkewicz for supporting this effort and taking the first critical step.

Please keep up the pressure! Write the mayor to let him know you support the endeavor. Sign our petition if you haven’t. Join our mailing list to stay informed. Reach out to your city counselors to let them know where you stand. (Email addresses can be found here.) And thank you if you have supported this effort. We will depend on you to see it through to completion!

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