TIF committee wants more info before expanding broadband coverage

by Mary Grow

China Selectman and Broadband Committee member Neil Farrington presented an outline of his proposal to increase tower-based broadband coverage around China Lake’s east basin to the TIF (Tax Increment Finance) Committee at its July 30 meeting. The reception was mixed.

The Broadband Committee has worked with Hussey Communications to experiment with adding height to the town office tower and installing repeaters elsewhere to increase coverage around the lake. Farrington proposes adding 50 feet to the town office tower.

Since he sees the project as promoting economic development, he plans to apply for TIF funds, initially in the research and development category.

Farrington’s committee has focused on the shore of the lake because it is the most underserved part of town, he said. Running cable down a camp road can cost thousands of dollars, so many lakeside dwellers have no service for themselves or, if they try to rent properties, for prospective tenants.

TIF Committee member H. David Cotta objected strongly to spending TIF money to benefit what he sees as a small group of people, many of them non-residents.

No one had exact figures on numbers of lakeshore people, year-round or summer.

TIF Committee members recommended Farrington get more facts and figures to support his request.

The TIF meeting began with a discussion of what officers the committee needed. Amber McAllister resigned as chairman – committee members thanked her for her work – and was succeeded by Frank Soares, with Tom Michaud as vice-chairman. Jean Conway will be secretary.

There was eventual agreement the committee does not need a treasurer or financial officer, because the town manager handles TIF finances.

Returning to discussion of the causeway project, Michaud said an application for local approval of the new bridge at the head of China Lake’s east basin will be on the Aug. 14 China Planning Board agenda.

Committee members again reviewed tentative plans for acquiring additional parking for the nearby boat landing. They are considering trying to buy at least three parcels; Town Manager Dennis Heath said he had asked Tom Linscott, who supervises boat landings for the state, to let him know how many of the three the state would deem acceptable for parking areas.

Committee members set their meetings for the last Monday evening of the month, at least until the selectmen, who meet every other Monday, conflict with their schedule. The next TIF Committee meeting was set for Aug. 27.


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