Jenkins City Council working with other jurisdictions to get internet prices – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

JENKINS — The Jenkins City Council agreed at its Monday, May 9, regular meeting to enter into a joint powers agreement with Jenkins Township and Ideal Township under Crow Wing County to pursue an estimate for installation of fiber optic cable in the three jurisdictions.

The agreement includes a stipulation that the city, or any other jurisdiction in the agreement, may withdraw from the agreement without penalty if the estimates prove too costly.

The agreement includes a plan to send a request for bids to various local internet service providers for the installation of fiber optic high speed internet in the cooperating jurisdictions. The jurisdictions involved intend to increase the area’s appeal to those looking for new homes from which they can work or do schooling remotely.

The goal is ultimately to attract new homebuyers.

Mayor Jon Lubke had to field a misunderstanding during public comment in which a resident said he was appalled by a plan to spend $200,000 on the project. Lubke stopped him and said the city is not planning to spend $200,000 on internet services and does not even know at this time what extending fiber optic cable throughout the city might cost.

Except for the time city staff spent researching and filling out paperwork, he said the city has not yet contributed money to the project or committed to contribute money to the project. At this point, the jurisdictions involved are only seeking cost estimates that can be used to decide whether to go forward.

The resident also said homeowners – not the city – should pay for any internet installations.

It is possible that Jenkins could use its American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for its share of the project if the bid doesn’t come in too high. Resident Debbie Siltman opposed this use, saying that internet was a convenience and not a need.

McCoy Acres road improvements

The council spoke on a feasibility study for improving the road at McCoy Acres. Representatives from Widseth, the city’s engineering firm, presented their findings to the council.

The project cost would be assessed 80% to the 16 properties that would access the road. This would cost $10,608 per equivalent residential unit. In most cases, this means $10,608 per property or more for larger properties.

The council has not yet committed to the project. They have the chance to adjust their project plans, including the breakdown of costs at several points along the way. Public input will be taken at the 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, public hearing for the project.

At the hearing, residents of McCoy Acres will be invited to review the council’s plan for the project and the assessment to pay for the project. They will be able to give feedback, after which the council will be able to choose whether to proceed as planned or make changes before sending the project out for bids.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or [email protected]

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