By STEVE SCHULWITZ
News Staff Writer
ALPENA -When Alpena Municipal Council approved spending $90,500 to team up with Alpena County in the purchase and installation of fiber for the M-32 corridor it was with the understanding that the state of Michigan would lease some of the fiber for its facilities along the route. A new mandate by the state, however, has discontinued it from doing so unless an agreement is already in place, which for this project there is not.
During Monday's meeting Assistant Engineer Steve Shultz told the council that previous work has been done with the state to set rates for the fiber, but no contract had been signed. Shultz said work is being done with the state to try to include the Alpena fiber project as a completed agreement, but so far there has been no response from Lansing.
The council planned to use help to install the fiber in hopes it would help produce a much-needed revenue stream for the city. Shultz said without the state, other entities will have to be found in which to lease the fiber, but the project is vital because the availability of fiber is needed at city facilities and for the county's unmanned aircraft project at the airport.
"The benefits are not limited to the county or city, but the airport and other future development projects. And it is with these considerations I request we continue forward with the fiber project, from the county building to the airport, without the agreements from the state of Michigan," Shultz said. "All the funds have been budgeted for and if the state wants to enter into a lease in the future we can then develop agreements."
Some of the city properties that will gain access to the fiber will be the cemetery and the DNR building, which the city is in the process of making a satellite ambulance and fire station, as well as the city's water tower. The revenue garnered from entities that lease the fiber will be split 50-50 with the county. The council voted 5-0 to move forward with the installation of the fiber, which is being installed by Merit.
In other business:
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.