Saturday, September 18, 2021

Norfolk looking at installing town broadband network

NORFOLK — The town has formed a Fiber Optic Committee to look at installing a town-wide broadband network.
First Selectman Matthew Riiska discussed the intent of the committee during a streamed online discussion with Rep. Maria Horn (D-64) on October 7.
According to the town’s website, the committee is made up of Chairman Kim Maxwell, Secretary Brett Robbins, and residents Elizabeth Borden, Bill Brown, Paul Chapinsky, John DaShazo, James Jasper, Kim Maxwell, Nina Ritson, and Julie Scharnberg.
The committee first met on October 1 and currently has an upcoming meeting scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. along with other meetings scheduled for the second and fourth Thursdays each month.
“Especially during the pandemic, it has become clear to residents that they have an internet connection that isn’t adequate to their needs,” Rep. Horn said. “[Families] now have kids studying at home and parents trying to work from home.”
“There are people out there who want this and think it’s going to be great, while you have others who don’t understand why we would be spending money on it,” Riiska said. “We formed a committee so they can provide information to our Board of Finance. Not just a plan about how to put it in, but how much is it going to cost? What will the financial burden be on the taxpayers of Norfolk?”
Riiska said that the committee’s task will be to come up with a financial plan for the proposed broadband network that they will present to the Board of Finance by February.
“The plan will include steps for how we are going to do this, including if we’re going to use long term borrowing or bonding to set this up,” Riiska said. “One of the big concerns is connectivity so we can have it available to everyone in town, not just a certain few.”
Riiska said that the committee will set up a public informational meeting in March to discuss the plan and that residents would be able to vote on whether or not to invest in a broadband network at the town’s budget meeting in May.

Shaw Israel Izikson
Editor of The Winsted Phoenix.