In city elections held on Tuesday, Northampton voters overwhelmingly gave the city permission to create a municipal light plant (MLP). An MLP is a legal entity that can be used by municipalities in Massachusetts to create municipal networks. Based on preliminary results, 7426 Yes votes were cast and 705 No votes were cast. This is an approval rate of 91.3%.
Northampton’s next mayor, Gina-Louise Sciarra, won 70% of the votes cast for mayor. Ms. Sciarra ran on a campaign where she said municipal broadband would be one of her top priorities.
We are grateful to Northampton voters who overwhelmingly approved this question at the polls, and the many people who contributed to our campaign. Your enthusiasm, actions and money made a huge difference.
Our coalition is assessing where to go from here. There are now no known legal impediments to creating a municipal network. The next step is for Design Nine (which has a contract with the City) to complete a feasibility study, which is already underway. This study will assess the costs to construct and maintain a municipal network. The study is expected to be used by the new mayor and new city council to decide if a municipal network should be created.
We are unaware of any of the new city councilors opposed to a municipal network, although some have prefaced approval on a report that shows the network will be financially self sustaining and not overly costly to create and maintain.
So this initiative is entering a new phase. Our coalition is assessing our next steps. Please leave a comment or send us email if you have concerns you think we should consider.