Felicia Penn returned to the Infrastructure Committee meeting in July to give the committee an update on broadband in the Hyannis Growth Incentive Zone. Following the June meetings, she reached out to Barnstable Town Manager Mark S. Ells, who invited her to meet, along with representatives from Open Cape. Mark is an engineer, so Felicia said he was receptive to adding broadband to downtown infrastructure. He understands the need to connect infrastructure to economic development and is taking the helm on an “Innovation Zone” with fiber/ WiFi as part of the Hyannis economic development plan.
Mark and Open Cape’s Steve Johnson have been in touch since that meeting. Steve says Open Cape has the infrastructure they need to deploy broadband downtown.
Felicia feels she landed with the right person, and his reaction was what we are looking for. There are people in town government who get part, but not the whole economic vision, as Mark does. At their meeting, Steve showed Mark the map of their municipal network and where Open Cape is currently. The Town of Barnstable doesn’t want to be in the internet business, but will help get the resources to make it happen.
The idea is to have a pilot program in Barnstable to use as a case study when approaching other towns on the Cape. It became apparent that other towns don’t realize the progress Open Cape has made, and are laboring under ideas of the original Open Cape. A meeting of the 15 towns was suggested.
Peter Lent, the Town of Barnstable’s Economic Development Coordinator also came to the Infrastructure Committee meeting. He said the town needs to be educated on what the deficiencies are, who the competitors are, and what the market demand is. The end vision is to diversify the economy in downtown Hyannis, with a balance of sustainable year round economic opportunities. The demands of business people are increasing, and need for higher upload speed is growing. Even small businesses are using more data.
“If you think of a business coming from another area,” he said, “they expect connection.”
Barnstable Town Councilor Paul Hebert, also at the meeting, said he wants to think about who and where the town wants to be in 2022. “We want to preserve our village centers,” he said, “but we need to look beyond that. As we look at Hyannis, we passed the point where we can stay a quaint village.” Paul is elected president of Cape and Island’s Selectman’s Association and is interested in bringing the Tech Council to the table. A sub-committee scheduled a meeting to address and move forward Paul’s ideas.
The Infrastructure Committee will provide information to support a position on the downtown Hyannis project, and present it at the next CCTC board meeting.
Austin Brandt reported that Cape Light Compact is participating in process to finalize performance metrics in the Rate Case.