Town of Palm Beach News

Underground Utilities Task Force Says No to Fiber

The Underground Utilities Task Force, the advisory committee to the Town of Palm Beach, has voted against advising the town to expend $3.8 million for laying mainline conduit for housing the fiber-optic systems, citing unjustification for use of taxpayer money and the project’s low-prioritization level, in weighing Town financial obligations.

The fiber-optic system would catapult the town into the future, by way of making its infrastructure more accessible through the use of new and future technological advancements. The system allows for management and monitoring services like transit systems, public safety, traffic control and other network-based services. The motion to advise the Town Council is being brought to the agenda as a priority, as the project could coincide with the town-wide underground utility project currently in progress, with Phase 1 already underway. As a joint project, the Town could save millions of dollars in costs and as underground utilities work progresses, the pressure to finalize the fiber-optics system matter mounts.

According to Vice-Chair Donald Gulbrandsen, the $3.8 million dollars is an initial cost for the work, and the actual cost of the conduit work would exceed $11 million dollars, excluding debt interest. Board Member Susan Gary discussed, “bigger picture” challenges like the pension programs financial obligations, stating that the fiber-optic system, “I would categorize as a ‘nice to have.’”

Underground Utilities Task Force Says No to Fiber

The vote was decided 5-3 on the motion to advise against spending $3.8 million, with Board Members Dennis Bottoroff, Thomas Parker and Harry Wolin voting in support of laying the conduit. Parker discussed how the staying with the current, out-dated system would leave the town vulnerable and at the mercy of communications providers, who could inflate the costs. Wolin added, “If we don’t do it now, we have to go back and disrupt the streets at a greater cost in the future.”

Related >>> Town of Palm Beach Undergrounding Project Update

The Town Council will address the agenda item at the meeting in Town Hall on October 10th at 9:30AM.

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