Aledo City Council discusses Wi-Fi proposals

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Frontier Communications presented a proposal at Monday's Nov. 3, 2008 Aledo City Council meeting to provide wireless internet services (Wi-Fi) to a 15-block area in downtown Aledo. The presentation was at the request of Aledo Main Street (AMS), which has recently received a $6,000 grant from the State of Illinois to install Wi-Fi in the downtown area. AMS and the city agreed to partner in the Wi-Fi expansion in Aledo.

Gerrod Andresen, AMS member and grant writer, said they are looking at another company, Viola Telephone Co., for a proposal for bringing in Wi-Fi. He said Viola Telephone representatives would make a presentation before the city council, perhaps at the next meeting.

Greg Garcia, territory manager from Frontier Communications, pointed to the closeness of the Aledo Frontier office, just east of the Mercer County Courthouse, as one advantage of having Frontier as the provider.

"Shawn Campbell has offices in Aledo and has been around for 20 years, eight years with Frontier," he said.

He said Frontier Advantage would own the network. "We're going to build it, we're going to maintain it. The city doesn't have to worry about any of that," said Garcia. "We monitor, maintain and build it."

He said the equipment will give customers the highest quality of high speed Internet access. There will be an 800 number available for customers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

He proposed setting up three separate areas for the "hot zones," using the Frontier office as one location, Perks Restaurant as the second hot zone and the Aledo Police Station as the third hot zone. Each hot zone has two access points with its own network and each will allow up to 25 users. "The 26th person on up is going to have to pay," said Garcia.

He said the bandwidth would be at least two Mhz. "It is an open network," he added. "Outdoor wise it will work very well."

The Wi-Fi venture was first looked at by AMS as a positive addition to some of Aledo's festivals, like Rhubarb Festival, Antique Days and Holly Days.

Patrick Burelle, city administrator, asked about accessing the network and how signup would work.

"We don't filter the content," said Garcia.

Burelle voiced concerns over Internet predators.

"It's just not a service Frontier provides," he said, suggesting there are filtering web sites that could be subscribed to.

Pricing options were given to the city based on a three-year or five-year plan.

Other questions were asked about the speed of the service.

Garcia said, "Gamers use huge chunks of band width."

Alderman Robert Rillie asked about the repercussion of breaking a three or five year contract. "What does it cost to get out of this?" he asked.

Garcia said that Frontier has put in Wi-Fi in other municipalities. "We've done this in several municipalities and it does work."

He also pointed out that Aledo High School is planning to update its Internet in 2009.

Kim Sheetz, general manager of Frontier, told the council that Wi-Fi should never be marketed as an option to be used by area businesses "for their own security sake."

Garcia said that Frontier is in the process of installing a T-1 network at Westmer.

"One of the biggest plusses that we have is we're here in town," said Garcia.

Administrator report

Burelle told the council he had contracted with Fleming Artists for the Suzy Bogguss concert on June 6. The final cost is $10,000 due to the addition of a backup band. The city or other promoter will also be providing eight motel rooms. He said he will be forming an ad hoc committee initially of police, fire and public works, Darlene Johnson, Pam Myers and Rusty Ruggles and suggested that alderman Doyce Hiscocks be on the committee due to his association with the Rhubarb Festival and the council. He said the committee will be tackling various issues such as crowd control, traffic, audience and vendor placement and parking.

"We expect quite a large crowd," said Burelle.

The Aledo Water tower is up with telemetry now the focus. There will also be a garage like structure installed at the site to house equipment and water operations at the site.

Burelle reported that an accident involving Sgt. Nick Seefeld had estimates of around $7,500 damage on the police's Explorer and a similar amount to a vehicle that was struck.

The city is continuing negotiations with the police union.

The city has agreed to pay Missman Stanley $1,500 to study the parking issue on SE 3rd Avenue.

TIF requests

The council learned that the Aledo Meat Market had some more work to be done and was requesting that some of the Tax Increment Financing that was initially set aside for TIF eligible expenditures, be shifted to accommodate more restoration. The contract would need to be amended for some line item changes.

Another TIF request from the owners of the Button Building was to have some of the money released to the developer.

Burelle said he inspected the building on Friday and the only things that needed to be completed were installing one door and placing handrails in a better place.

A motion to release $30,000 plus $11,000 interest was made by Alderman Hiscocks, after the motion was seconded by Mike Frye, but failed on a three-three vote and one abstention. Voting no were Randy Mattson, Robert Rillie and Rich Maynard. Voting yes were Marc Dicklin, Mike Frye and Doyce Hiscocks. Alderman Chris Hagloch abstained.

Another motion made by Maynard was to pay out $27,000 and withhold the interest and $3,000.

That motion was seconded by Dicklin. Voting yes were Maynard, Rillie, Dicklin, Frye and Hiscocks. Mattson voted no and Hagloch abstained.

In other business the council:

• Learned that the second annual Hot Chocolate Hustle would be held Dec. 20, rather than during Aledo's Holly Days, due to two school conflicts.

• Learned the city has been asked to become a gold sponsor Aledo Area Chamber of Commerce member.

• Learned that the Mercer County Fair Board is also asking the city for some financial help ($9,000).