Since our last update in May, the Alford MLP has made substantial progress toward establishment of the Alford fiber-to-the-home network.
1. As previously reported, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has awarded Alford $480,000 to be used to defray costs associated with planning, designing and installing the network. Milestones for partial payment have been met, and $372,000 has been received. The next payment will be requested once a contract for construction of the network has been signed.
2. National Grid and Verizon have completed almost all make-ready work necessary to clear the way for attaching fiber to their poles.
3. The MLP has received completed Fiber Drop Access Agreement forms for about 90 percent of eligible town properties. The MLP will continue to seek out signed forms from the remaining residents. If you have not submitted a form, which is available on the Alford MLP web site (http://www.alfordmamlp.com/service-drop-policy-access-agreement/), please do so. These forms give permission for design engineers and fiber installation contractors to enter on homeowners’ properties to determine the best routing of a service drop to the premise. Signing the form does not obligate the resident to accept service or make any payments.
4. Those homeowners who are away during the construction period will need to identify and inform the MLP of the names and contact information of individuals who can act on your behalf to work with the contractors in determining the location of the fiber drop to your home. To do so, go to the contact page on the Alford MLP web site (http://www.alfordmamlp.com/contact/), enter your name and email address in the indicated spaces, enter Backup Contact in the Subject field, and enter the name and contact information (email address, phone, and/or email) in the message field.
5. The following key steps towards starting the fiber installation have been accomplished:
a. The final technical design document for the Alford fiber network has been completed, with the assistance of our consultant, CTC Technology and Energy.
b. With the assistance of Westfield Gas + Electric, we have prepared and issued an Invitation for Bids (IFB) to install the fiber network backbone plant on public and private roads in town. The IFB was published on October 2 and bids will be opened the week of October 23.
c. The Alford MLP has signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Westfield Gas + Electric MLP to assist the Alford MLP in evaluating the bids resulting from our IFB. Westfield Gas + Electric has considerable experience in fiber networks.
6. Alford residents have understandably expressed great interest in two questions: when will service be established, and what will subscribers pay for service? We don’t yet have definitive answers for these questions, because many variables still remain to be determined, especially the cost of the fiber network installation. We expect to have a better idea after we receive responses to the installation IFB. However, assuming no substantial delays beyond our control, we do hope to initiate service in Spring, 2018.
7. After three years of service on the Board (and on the Broadband Committee before that), Tom Doyle has stepped down in order to pursue personal interests. The Board is profoundly grateful to Tom for his dedication to the project over the many years in which he has been involved. His depth of knowledge and experience, and his strategic insights, have been invaluable. To fill his position until the next Alford Town election in May 2018, the Alford Select Board and the MLP Board have appointed Peter Puciloski. Peter is a partner in his own Great Barrington law practice, and brings years of experience in municipal law, both in Berkshire County and elsewhere in Massachusetts. The MLP Board welcomes Peter and is delighted that he is willing to serve.
8. The MLP Board would again like to thank Alford residents for your confidence and patience. It’s been a long, arduous process, but we hope to see tangible evidence in the form of trucks stringing fiber before the winter sets in. With many different elements coming together now, the MLP intends on issuing more frequent updates in the future.
MLP Board Members
Bob Lichter, Chair
Volunteer Consultants to the Board
Clark Downs — Industry
Jay Weintraub — Finance