Village will use portion of federal relief funds for project

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

Amid an ongoing discussion of funding broadband service to all areas of Rochester, Chris Birkett offered a dual perspective — one as a municipal employee, the other as a resident in an area of the village lacking up-to-date internet connectivity.

“It would be nice to say, ‘Rochester is connected,’” Birkett said at a Village Board meeting June 21. “That would be a big plus for our community and would show that Rochester is moving ahead with what’s important.”

Birkett’s comments came as the Village Board voted unanimously in favor of allocating $50,000 of its proceeds via the federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, to expand broadband service to portions of English Settlement Avenue and Rowntree Road.

Village Administrator Betty Novy said Rochester is poised to receive a total of $404,753 in ARPA dollars. Proceeds can be used to help municipalities with losses related to COVID-19 and can be used in specific instances — broadband expansion being one of them.

While other areas of Rochester are believed to lack broadband service, the English Settlement-Rowntree area of the village has most frequently been cited as one lacking the amenity.

A total of 58 homes are in the outlined area, and a number of residents within it have been vocal about the need to improve broadband service — particularly since the pandemic hit and technology’s importance grew as more people were working from home and students were taking classes virtually.

In her professional opinion, Novy said, she believes earmarking at least a portion of the village’s ARPA funds to broadband expansion would be wise from a development standpoint. She said new housing could eventually be constructed in the English Settlement-Rowntree area.

“(Residents) will have a better quality of life there,” Novy said. “It makes that area more attractive.”

To read the entire story see the June 25 edition of the Waterford Post.