News, Waterford

Rochester closes gap on broadband connectivity

By Dave Fidlin

A multi-year effort to close a broadband access gap in Rochester is nearing its conclusion, village officials announced recently.

At a Village Board meeting June 10, Village Administrator Chris Bennett indicated cable and broadband provider Charter Communications Inc. had completed its work on a 2022 agreement that included extending Internet broadband access to underserved areas of the community.

In the Milwaukee market, Charter operates under the trade name Spectrum.

At the time of the contract between Rochester and the cabler’s local subsidiary, Spectrum Mid-America LLC, was drawn up, the village agreed to contribute $50,000 in funds, with Charter contributing matching funds to the effort.

In a memo to the board, Bennett outlined what work has taken place in relation to the funding, and what it means for Rochester’s bigger picture, going forward.

“The Internet now goes down Rowntree Road, which it previously did not,” Bennett wrote in the memo. “There are three remaining addresses on Highway J in need of Internet. One address is a pole barn/shed, and Spectrum said it is not actively seeking to extend service to that structure.”

Speaking to the last two addresses, Bennett in the memo wrote the pair of properties “will require easements from the property owner to establish access. Spectrum is working to establish access with the property owner, but access will not be extended without the owner’s consent.”

Prior to presenting the agenda item to the board for action, Bennett said he met with Charter representatives at their Milwaukee office to review discuss the work that had taken place and how the village should respond.

Characterizing the meeting, Bennett in the memo wrote, “Associate Vice President for Government Affairs Celeste Flynn and Director, State Government Affairs Lauren Clark reported that work in Rochester is near its end, and it is time for the village to pay the $50,000 it pledged as part of the broadband expansion.”

The $50,000 funding contribution had been a lingering item on the expense side of the village’s ledger; for this reason, the board voted swiftly to cast an affirmative vote to provide the funds.

Village mulls sale of land along Fox River
In other business June 10, the Rochester Village Board discussed the sale of a village-owned lot along the Fox River at 201 N. Front St.

Bennett in a memo indicated “an interested party (is) inquiring about buying the lot.”

The proposal has been forwarded to the village’s Finance Committee for further review and analysis.

“The village has held the lot in case it needs to be used for stormwater drainage,” Bennett said of the reason the land has historically been under municipal ownership. “The land is buildable and sewered.”

Village Engineer Gary Vogel in a memo indicated the village should maintain a 15-foot easement at the southern edge of the property if the land is ultimately sold.

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