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Chestnut Hill broadband effort advances

MONTAGUE — The Chestnut Hill-based effort to bring high-speed Internet access to the neighborhood advanced this week.

Organizer Lisa Enzer said the Montague Board of Selectmen heard from a number of supporters and at least one detractor concerned about moving too quickly on a betterment district, and will begin working out the technicalities.

“It’s a movement toward action,” said Enzer, whose group would like to form a so-called betterment district, imposing a localized tax to fund the infrastructure needed to connect to neighboring Leverett’s burgeoning broadband network.

“Basically, the (Board of Selectmen) gave the town and the broadband committee the OK to take the next steps to investigate the mechanisms for getting this done and look at the funding. There’s more research to do on the matter,” said Town Planner Walter Ramsey. “I’m working on it this week. It’s a priority for the board.”

There is legislation pending at the state level to smooth the way.

State Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, said he proposed the amendment specifically allowing Montague to join with Leverett to develop telecommunications and broadband infrastructure. Kulik said he didn’t feel it was necessary and that the betterment district law would allow use of the mechanism for broadband, but “as long as there was a question about it, I thought it was sensible to be very clear.”

A source for an earlier story attributed this legislation to state Sen. Stan Rosenberg, whose office this week said he was not involved.

Enzer said an update is expected at the July 14 selectmen’s meeting.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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