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Charlemont broadband pole surveys starting

CHARLEMONT — Now that the town has received its $960,000 Last Mile broadband grant from the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, a pole survey will be conducted around town, beginning on Tuesday, Aug.

22. Bob Handsaker, chairman of the town’s Broadband Committee, told the Selectboard this week that a meeting will take place that day. Broadband Committee members and a designer from Westfield Gas & Electric will drive through town to look at problem spots and discuss where to put the hut that is to house the town’s broadband equipment. Handsaker said a 10-by-15-foot equipment hut would be ideal; it must be dry and weatherized, able to include an air-conditioner and possible a back-up generator during power outages. Town officials are considering possible sites near the Town Hall or in the Town Hall basement, in front of the Fire Station, or up at the Charlemont Fairgrounds.

The pole survey involves a survey crew driving to each utility pole in Charlemont and taking measurements and photos. Also, the survey crew will take measurements to estimate the distance from the closest pole to each home. Surveyors will be mapping all the utility routes, measuring the poles and distance between poles. Also, buildings served by underground utilities will be noted in the pole survey. The results of this survey will be used by Westfield Gas & Electric to design a network that can be used for a competitive bid process for this major infrastructure.

It will also give the town a clearer idea of the full cost of the network. No town taxes will be spent during this design and bid phase. Having a home or business included in this pole survey does not obligate anyone to take the future broadband service. Residents who don’t want their home or business surveyed can call town officials and ask that their property be skipped. But if their property is excluded from the survey, they may not be able to sign up for service during the initial sign-up period.

Also, extending service to locations later will cost property owners more money, or it may not be possible to include them after the initial work has been completed.

Residents with questions may call Town Administrator Peg Dean at 339-4335, ext.

8 or Bob Handsaker 339-0232.

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