Dare says no to CenturyLink proposal, yes to new youth center building

Published 2:02 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2022

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Dare County Board of Commissioners rejected a proposed Memorandum of Understanding from CenturyLink for partnering on a GREAT program grant through the North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office.

The grant would go to CenturyLink, which was asking for $100,000 from the county to earn three points toward the award.

Making the Zoom presentation for CenturyLink was Ted Hankins, director of government affairs, regulatory and legislative.

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Hankins map showed northern Dare County, where Spectrum already operates. No areas on Dare County’s mainland were proposed for service.

The title of the grant is Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT). It is a state-funded program with grants to private providers for “deployment of broadband service to unserved areas of North Carolina.” The description continues stating the program “funds the terrestrial deployment of broadband within unserved areas of economically distressed counties.”

After Hankins spoke, board Chairman Robert L. Woodard said he had “too many unanswered questions. We can’t sign off. We don’t have all the information.”

Commissioner Ervin Bateman called the proposal by Hankins “not fair . . . I want to do it right.”

Speaking directly to Hankins, Woodard said “We’re not willing to sign this memorandum.”

The CenturyLink memorandum outlined the topics for a contract.

Part of the concern and confusion is that commissioners remembered that CenturyLink already won a grant for installing fiber optic to Dare’s mainland communities. Hankins was unaware of that situation.

For some of its constituent counties, Albemarle Commission has developed a model contract for use in negotiating with service providers. One of the issues is capping upload and download speeds.

The commission’s executive director Mike Ervin reports that any contract with a provider should not contain caps on speeds. Hankins spoke of the existing 25 download and 3 upload speeds.

Regarding the youth center project in Manteo, Dare’s commissioners agreed to a recommendation from its Capital Improvements Planning Committee to demolish the existing Masonic Lodge building, built in 1970, and construct a new facility on property.

Earlier in the day, the committee received a report from Oakley Collier Architects making the new facility recommendation after the firm evaluated the existing space, program needs, major renovation additions and new construction.

The existing two-story building has 6,040 square feet. The room on the first floor is split by columns. An elevator would be needed to access the second floor, an egress point from the second floor would be needed, bathrooms need remodeling and 20 parking spaces created. The estimated cost for renovation is $2,097,570.

The new building will be one floor and 3,948 square feet. The cost will be $1,698,310.

The new building will accommodate 80 participants. The current program has 40 youth participating.