First phase of study approved. Mayor invites coalition to help draft RFP for study

This post was updated to reflect that the capital fund plan was approved.

On Thursday, the mayor’s FY20 capital fund plan was given both a first and second reading by the Northampton City Council, effectively approving the capital plan. The capital fund plan includes $30,000 for the first phase of the two-year study of a municipal network for Northampton. Mayor David Narkewicz indicated in a tweet that he signed the order to execute the capital plan and thus the first phase of the study.

The Mayor also reached out to this coalition yesterday. The mayor is looking for assistance from the coalition in creating a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the first phase of a municipal network study for Northampton. RFPs are used by municipalities to define the scope of work and to solicit bids from the private sector for tasks. The coalition will help the city define the tasks to be performed.

The coalition will be meeting with the Mayor and the city’s Chief Information Officer Antonio Pagan this week. Our focus will be to fully understand what the mayor wants and see if the study can be expedited.

Based on research by the coalition, towns and cities generally need to document a “take rate” of at least 30%. This means building a network is not considered financially viable unless at least 30% of potential subscribers choose to subscribe to the network. The second phase would likely be an engineering study to determine a realistic cost to build and maintain a community network.

In the spring, the coalition sent a survey to the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce for distribution to its members. One question we hope to get answered at our meeting is whether this survey would suffice for a statistically valid survey of the Northampton business community.

A year ago, the coalition also sent the mayor a proposed residential survey. Potentially this survey could also be used, perhaps helping to reduce the cost of the survey.

We’ll post a report following our meeting with the mayor.

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