China Broadband Committee (CBC) reviews report to refine costs

by Mary Grow

At their Oct. 21 meeting, China Broadband Committee (CBC) members reviewed a report from Hawkeye Connections, the company whose employees surveyed existing power poles and related infrastructure to refine the cost of improving and expanding internet service in China.

The report gives an estimated cost of $5.25 million for main construction only. It further describes six areas lacking power poles, serving a total of more than 100 homes; and notes some homes on Three Mile Pond that are in China, but accessible only through Windsor, plus one island house.

Hawkeye engineers suggested solutions for most problem areas, including adding utility poles, doing underground connections and, for the island, wireless communication. They offered $135,000 as a partial additional cost estimate, varying with the chosen solution.

They offered no cost estimate for reaching the houses on the other side of a piece of Windsor. They said the location “would create some significant engineering challenges to get them service.”

Mark Ouellette, President of Axiom Technologies (the company CBC members plan to have set up and operate China’s new system, if it is approved and funded) called the Hawkeye figures “generally in line with what we were thinking” when making the preliminary estimate.

The six road sections needing extra work to provide connections are:

  • Stanley Hill and Maple Ridge roads, east on Stanley Hill and north on Maple Ridge from their intersection;
  • A stretch of Dutton Road, including Heartbreak Lane;
  • Mann Road between Parmenter Hill and Western Ridge, and the south end of Yorktown Road;
  • Western Ridge Road a short distance each way from the Davis Shore Road;
  • Route 3 mostly east, but also a short distance west, of the eastern Branch Mills Road intersection; and
  • Tyler Road northeast from the Finley Road intersection, including Evergreen Drive.

Committee members discussed the possibility that some or all of the neighborhoods where new poles are needed might be eligible for state and/or federal grants designated for areas currently lacking internet service. Ouellette will investigate grant requirements.

Committee members also considered cooperation with neighboring towns, since two areas are close to Palermo and one is close to Windsor.

Ouellette said Palermo is part of the Southwestern Waldo County Broadband Coalition, with Freedom, Liberty, Montville and Searsmont.

Another nearby coalition is the Western Kennebec Lakes Community Broadband Association, with Fayette, Leeds, Mount Vernon, Readfield, Vienna and Wayne as members. Ouellette said he has talked with interested parties in two of those towns.

Voters in Readfield will have three local questions related to broadband on their Nov. 2 ballots, according to a recent article in the Central Maine newspapers.

CBC members scheduled their next meeting for 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4.

[See also: Various broadband initiatives across Maine to provide improved access]

“Yes” vote you approve; “No” vote you oppose

The Oct 21 China Broadband Committee (CBC) meeting was members’ last before the Nov. 2 local election, at which voters will approve or reject authorization for a $5.1 million bond issue to cover most of the estimated $6.5 million cost of improved and expanded internet service in China.

If voters approve the question, China Select Board members are authorized, but not required, to apply for the bond. Assuming they go through the Maine Bond Bank, the next application period will be in the spring of 2022.

The ballot question is long and complicated. CBC members have attempted to explain it on their website,; at public meetings; and through a mailed-out information sheet.

In the Sept. 24 issue of the town office news sheet, China Connected, Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said that despite the complex wording, yes and no votes “mean what they say.”

She wrote: “A ‘yes’ vote would mean you support moving forward with broadband and the projected costs and a ‘no’ vote means you do not support moving forward with the broadband project.”

Thursday, Oct. 28, is the final day to request an absentee ballot in China. On Tuesday, Nov. 2, China polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., in the portable building behind the town office on Lakeview Drive.

Read all of The Town Line’s coverage of the China Broadband Committee here.


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