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P. O. Box 3711
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Improved fiber optics on agenda
Monday, October 22, 2012
Martinsville City Council on Tuesday will hear an update on a business plan being created to possibly expand the city’s fiber-optic telecommunications system as a way to generate more revenue.
The system was developed in the late 1990s to provide phone and Internet services to city-owned buildings. It has since been expanded to accommodate some private businesses — at their request — but it is not citywide.
About 30 private customers already are on the system. They asked to be permitted to use it as costs for telecommunications services rose in recent years, and they thought it would be more affordable than private services, according to Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki.
City officials are trying to find out if residents and businesses want to see the service expanded to provide better phone, Internet and cable television capabilities and if that actually is feasible. Surveys recently were sent out.
However, officials have said the city has no desire to try and launch its own cable TV service again. Following the bankruptcy of Adelphia, which provided television in Martinsville and Henry County prior to Comcast’s arrival, the city lost a court battle to try and do that.
It might be possible, though, for a private cable TV or Internet company to use the city’s fiber-optic lines to upgrade its services, officials have said.
According to Towarnicki, the city system often has proven more reliable than similar private systems because employees are on duty around the clock monitoring it and quickly respond to occasional outages and other problems.
The city recently contracted with CCG Consulting LLC to develop a business plan for an expanded system.
When it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the council will hear brief information concerning some findings of CCG’s study of the system.
All of the study’s findings will be presented during a future council session.
Also Tuesday, the council will consider setting a public hearing for its Nov. 13 meeting on a proposal to offer economic incentives to arts- and culture-related businesses that open in the city’s Arts and Cultural District.
The benefits, designed to entice tax-paying businesses to the district, would be the same as those provided to companies locating in the city’s enterprise zone. They include full or partial real estate and machinery/tools/business equipment rebates and waivers of certain fees charged by the city.
The Arts and Cultural District’s overlay is almost fully in the enterprise zone, except for 455 parcels along Market and Fayette streets.
Businesses locating in the district would not be able to apply for benefits twice under both Arts and Cultural District and enterprise zone incentives.
The council also will:
• Hear from the Phoenix Community Development Corp. about a proposed apartment/office building to be built in a Fayette Street parking lot.
• Receive a monthly report on city finances.
• Consider routine-type budget amendements.
• Hear business from the floor.
• Meet in closed session at 7 p.m. to discuss a personnel matter and contract negotiations involving bargaining.
The council meets in its chambers on the second floor of the municipal building on West Church Street uptown.