DRYDEN — The Dryden Town Board is developing an overview plan to bring municipally owned broadband to the town and village, Deputy Supervisor Dan Lamb said Wednesday.
The project has been in the works since spring 2019, but the town board voted earlier this month to name itself the lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review Act review. It also determined the project would have little environmental effect, Lamb said.
Additionally, the town has applied for grants, including one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Connects Grant Program, that could provide up to $3 million.
The project has been expected to cost about $14.5 million, Town Supervisor Jason Leifer said in August.
The town hasn’t received any funding yet, Lamb said, but added: “We’ve done a lot of prep work to put us in a good position to receive a grant.”
This included sending out a town wide survey to get insight into resident interest and get information about their existing internet service now.
Lamb said the town received many responses in favor of a town-owned broadband service.
Having another broadband option would be beneficial to the town as even though 90% of the town has access to broadband internet, the speed and connection quality isn’t adequate for many.
Lamb noted a municipal broadband connection would be beneficial to improving both work for adults and schooling for children who have had to be at home during the pandemic.
It could also benefit employees.
Hope Cross, the director of agency operations for Bailey Place Insurance, which has an office in Dryden, said having municipal broadband internet access would allow her employees to access the internet on their phones and other devices while away from their desks, which have computers connected to the internet. This would save them from using cellular data.
“They would certainly enjoy local area broadband,” she said.
Lamb said the town is trying to complete its overview plan by early spring and potentially have the broadband fibers installed across the town by late spring or early summer.
“What the town wants to establish is a universal internet,” he said. “Our current system isn’t providing that.”