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Lancaster Newspaper: City Shouldn’t Use Green Space For Public Broadband System

May 16, 2016

Blue and red fibre optical cablesLast week, the Coalition for the New Economy reported that the city of Lancaster, Penn. intends to take over part of a public green space in order to construct a building to house infrastructure for a city-owned broadband system.

Neighborhood activists are outraged by the plan and, in an editorial posted last week at LancasterOnline.Com, the local newspaper agreed that the city’s plan was ill-advised. The editorial explained the opposition was “to be expected” because residents believe the park “is a gem within Lancaster city.” Civic Association Board Member Jeff Fritz told the newspaper, “No one likes this stuff jammed down their throats at the last second.”

Fritz said the design of the building was the “cheapest” possible and that the city didn’t do much research about where to put the building. He said officials simply chose “the easiest place to put” it.

The newspaper agreed. The editorial explained “the brick building would be 13 feet long, 13 feet wide and 10 feet high with a steel door and no windows” and, therefore, would “detract from the park’s natural beauty.” The editorial also said, “[T]he building would be an eyesore between the entrance and the playground — not to mention replacing a mature tree, one of several already uprooted from the park because of past projects.”

The editorial urged city leaders to continue talking to neighborhood activists to find a solution. It said, “[C]ity officials [should] also consider placing the structure elsewhere within the park” and listed a few alternative sites to consider. The editorial concluded, “To borrow the words of a leader of the Musser Park Civic Association,  we think the city ought to ‘try harder’ to find  a site of minimal impact.”

While the newspaper ultimately supports the government broadband project, the Coalition for the New Economy would argue this example is another that reveals that government networks don’t have to abide by the same rules private networks do. If a private broadband provider wanted to build in Lancaster, it would have to work with the city and its residents to determine where to put the infrastructure.

In this case, because it owns the network, the government gets to decide what is right … No matter what residents think.