May 23 coalition meeting notes

We met for the first time in a couple of months yesterday. We tried hard to find a public space, but failed. If you have some public space we can use please email us. We’re looking for something like a conference room with an overhead projector that can hold a couple of dozen people, available on a weekday evening. Since we could not find such a space, we met in a member’s home.

Summary of our meeting notes:

  • First we reviewed our progress to date.
    • The coalition first met online in late February 2018
    • We had our first meeting with Mayor Narkewicz in May 2018. We also met with the Chamber of Commerce twice during this period.
    • A number of neighboring towns and cities began or looked into similar efforts. Most recently, towns like South Hadley, Charlemont and Plainfield took the plunge.
    • In August 2018, the mayor toured the Whip City Fiber facilities in Westfield.
    • We held two petitioning events in downtown Northampton. Combined with signatures on an electronic petition, we garnered more than 500 signatures which we presented to the City Council in February.
    • In January, the mayor proposed a two-year study of a municipal network in his capital plan. In late February, the City Council approved the capital plan.
    • In February, the mayor met with Jeff Christensen of EntryPoint Networks on their services approach to creating municipal networks
    • We held a widely attended event with Jeff Christensen at FreePress in Florence that brought in people from both inside and outside Northampton.
    • Our effort has broad support among the City Council and many of the candidates running for City Council seats, including all three candidates running for the Ward 7 seat.
  • We decided to ask to meet with the mayor soon. We would like to begin the feasibility study as soon as possible, which cannot be before July 1, the start of the fiscal year. While the funding is in the city’s capital plan, the mayor still must request the money from the City Council to start the study.
  • We created a business survey for the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce to send its members. With the retirement of its executive director Suzanne Beck, it seems to have gotten lost in the transition, and has not been sent out. A new executive director, Vincent Jackson, has been hired and starts on June 3. We will likely wait until he officially takes over to see if he wants to use our survey to assess the needs of the business community. We will discuss with Mayor Narkewicz whether he might want to use this survey as part of the city’s feasibility study.
  • We will look into all the candidates running for City Council, try to find out if they support a municipal network and make ourselves available to answer questions. We have heard from Ward 7 candidates Rachel Maiore and Hanuman Goleman. Penny Geis is already a member of our coalition.
  • We will look into another public event with speakers, similar to the one we had in March with Jeff Christensen. We hope to invite members of local towns who have or are currently shepherding similar initiatives to speak. We are looking for someone with expertise in how these initiatives are funded to speak as well.

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