HALIFAX -- Before it reaches the Public Service Board, VTel has requested that the town send a recommendation for a broadband facility.
"People are still on dial-up," said Selectboard Chairwoman Edee Edwards. "And it’s flabbergasting, frankly, that we’re struggling to get the service to people."
The broadband facility proposed for a site located on an Old County Road residence had been discussed at a meeting last month. While some residents were against it, Selectboard and Broadband Committee member Earl Holtz believed most people were on board. He had heard a lot of positive feedback.
On Jan. 21, the Selectboard unanimously voted to accept the proposal and consider it for the public good. In effect, the board will send a letter to the Public Service Board in support of the facility.
Holtz had spoken up to the board and the Reformer about his belief that due diligence would be done on VTel’s part. He believes the telecommunications company would complete the proper historical and environmental studies before any further decisions were made.
"I suspect they’ll do the right thing," he said.
Edwards had met with the Planning Commission after the meeting where the proposal was discussed with many members of the public. Before that meeting, the commission, the Selectboard and abutters had been given packets containing information about the facility.
Because the project ultimately will need to be approved by the Public Service Board, the town can only submit a recommendation for or against it.
"(The commission) did seem to have some concerns over the process being not a traditional one that would go through the standard zoning," she said.
Its members had spoke about a law pertaining to the streamlining process for such projects. Edwards believes the commission will submit its own letter to the Public Service Board, which will not be filed along with the Selectboard’s recommendation.
Edwards had also spoke with the town’s attorney, Bob Fisher, before making her vote. "I just wanted to check in with him. I wasn’t sure how the process would work," said Edwards.
She told the Reformer how the project would be unlikely to gain all the support of residents.
"I think with most telecommunications towers, it’s difficult to get something that makes everyone 100 percent satisfied," said Edwards.
She had spoke to different people around Halifax and observed that people without any access were struggling. Others, with it, have been experiencing a new connection with friends and family.
"Most people really understand that having this Internet access is a got-to-have," said Edwards.
As a resident who had recently been able to tap into high speed service, she confirmed that it has made her life a lot better. And her neighbors have had similarly positive reviews.
Before voting at the meeting, she asked herself if there were enough benefits in the proposal.
"We had a lot of people sign petitions asking for service in the West Halifax Village and those folks may still benefit from this new service. It may be different than what they were looking for," said Edwards. "It’s definitely high speed. We’re hoping to get to a point where people may have a choice of Internet service providers."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.