K’hook wrestles with town’s digital disadvantages

KINDERHOOK–Town Supervisor Pat Grattan said this week that Kinderhook residents with internet access issues should contact him and town resident Ed Simonsen, who personally thanked Mr. Grattan at Monday’s Town Board meeting for dealing with his internet issue.

Mr. Grattan said he has worked with Fairpoint, the local landline phone company and a major local provider of internet service to resolve problems with access and quality. “I can’t say anything bad about Fairpoint,” he said at the September 12 meeting.

The supervisor did say that a town committee would begin negotiations with the two cable and internet providers soon on new franchise agreements. Mr. Grattan appointed resident Matthew Nelson to sit on the committee with him and board member Paul Voltz. He told Mr. Nelson at the meeting that nothing would happen until at least November.

Mr. Nelson, who is running for an open seat on the Town Board this November, is part of a group called Connect Columbia, which is trying to bring affordable broadband internet access to all parts of the county. He asked Mr. Grattan if a link to the group’s survey about access could be added to the town’s website.

Mr. Nelson told the board that Connect Columbia has received at least 1,500 responses to the survey so far and that the group is looking for where in the county people do not have access. Information about the survey can be found at connectcolumibiacounty.com and on Facebook.

Broadband, which is available in many other areas, provides internet connections that allow customers to send and receive data at many times the speed currently available here. The higher speeds benefit both consumers and businesses and non-profit organizations.

The board also approved issuing a request for proposals to update the town website. “It’s difficult to put things on it and things seem to disappear,” Mr. Grattan said of the current website. He asked former Town Board member Peter Bujanow to look into the proposals for a new website.

Turning to another technology topic, the board is reviewing proposed amendments to the town policy on solar panels. The suggested changes to the law include a prohibition of large scale solar panel arrays known as “solar farms” in the town and limits on where ground-mounted panels may go on a property.

Town Attorney Andy Howard said the changes were going to the Planning Board and the Code Committee for review before they come back to the Town Board for consideration.

Mr. Grattan said that the town’s Climate Smart Communities Committee will talk about solar energy and hear from a representative from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) about alternative energy at their next meeting on Thursday, September 22 at 7 p.m. at the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building.

Also at the meeting:

• The board reported that the state has denied the town’s request to reduce the speed limit on Route 203. In a letter to the Town Board, from the state, says the state DOT conducted a traffic study that included a review of the geometry and conditions of the road, a sample of motorists’ existing speeds and an analysis of the most current three-year accident history. The state concluded that the findings in the study “do not support a lower speed limit”

• Councilwoman Patsy Leader said there would be another community meeting about the issue on heroin use on Wednesday, September 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the courtroom in the Glynn Building

• The board is looking for a deputy dog warden to cover for the current dog warden when she is unavailable. Mr. Grattan said he asking for suggestions on candidates for the position

• The board is moving forward with obtaining RFPs for paving Wildflower Road; 12 of the 15 property owners on the private road have signed a petition to have the town move forward with putting out bids for the work. There will be a public hearing before the work gets started. Due to state law, the town has to ask for the proposals for the paving work but the residents will pay for the paving. The town will then maintain the paved road.

The next board meeting will be Monday, October 17 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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