N. Chatham residents seek faster net service

CHATHAM–Several residents of North Chatham came to the Town Board meeting last week to discuss improving Internet service where they live. Resident Kim Grethen told the board during a presentation on the issue that there is federal and state money available to improve Internet speed.

The board agreed that board member Maria Lull will organize a committee made up of residents to look into ways to improve the Internet options in the town. Ms. Grethen said the she has been told by the communication company FairPoint that North Chatham residents should get 15 to 20 Megabits/second (Mbit/s) of data speed but added, “I really get one-and-a-half… and I pay for four.”

She said that efforts to boost the speed at which local consumers and businesses can send and receive data through the Internet has support from Congressman Chris Gibson (R-19th). Ms. Grethen also said that has been in contact with the David Salway at the state Broadband Program Office about grants. “The money that is out there is only out there for a year,” she told the board.

Ms. Grethen said she was hoping to get the support of the county Board of Supervisors. Town Board member Henry Swartz said that Chatham Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt, who was not at the meeting, was collecting information about what is happening in Chatham before talking about the matter with the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, Pat Grattan of Kinderhook.

The Town Board hopes Ms. Lull’s committee will continue to collect more data. Part of the discussion involved new fiber optic lines, which are capable of carrying more digital information at higher speeds than the copper wires now in place. But Ms. Grethen cautioned that fiber lines are very expensive. She said that after contacting the state about a solution to North Chatham’s problems, “It’s a little too early to say what anyone is talking about.”

Mr. Swartz said the town does not have an exclusive deal with FairPoint to provide Internet service. “Any of these companies are invited to the community,” he said of other providers offering service in the town. Neighboring Kinderhook have Time Warner cable TV service, which also offers high speed Internet connections.

“There is clearly something wrong,” said resident Cody Anderson, an information technology consultant and will sit on the new committee. Mr. Anderson described a local company that opened a couple of years ago and ships its products all over the county, saying the firm could not get regular Internet service adequate to run its business and had pay a high cost for better service.

Also at the March 20 meeting, Ms. Lull said that garbage had not been picked up again at in Chatham Center and she urged residents to go to the town website, http://chathamnewyork.us to file a complaint form with state Attorney General’s Office about the late pickup by County Waste.

“They did seem to hop to it when they were presented with a complaint form,” she said of County Waste, which she said was recently contacted by the Attorney General’s Office.

At its next meeting the board will look at proposals for new laws drafted by Town Attorney Tal Rappelyea that would address the duty of property owners’ to remove garbage cans after they have been emptied by haulers.

April 14-18 is the 9th Annual Roadside Clean-up week in the town, and board member Jean Rohde said that official town garbage bags would be available at the town hall and the highway garage, and that the waste picked up along the roads could be brought to either place during the clean-up week.

“You have to use the town’s bags,” said board member Bob Balcom about the clean-up.

The next board meeting is Thursday, April 17 at the Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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