After a few years of working to establish reliable internet connection on Tonawanda Island, Spectrum has received the go-ahead to bring its services to the area. The North Tonawanda Common Council voted last week to authorize Mayor Arthur Pappas to sign contracts allowing the work to begin. The process, expected to start in the coming weeks, will begin with the installation of a cable line under the Frederick B. Durkee Bridge that connects the island to mainland North Tonawanda.
“Since 2013, we’ve been trying trying to get Spectrum or some form of cable internet over to Tonawanda Island for various reasons,” said Bill Davignon, superintendent of the city’s water and wastewater treatment plants, adding that it was specifically needed at the city’s water treatment plant. “I just recently received a letter from the Department of Health mandating that we do a internet cyber security check.”
Davignon explained that the security system at the water plant is out of date, but in order to make any upgrades, the facility would need better access to Internet service, which it currently gets through Verizon.
He added that since he took over the department in January 2016, the plant has experienced “over 150 outages” of its phone system, which is connected to its internet and security systems. He added that he’d also like to install additional security cameras, a notion he said the DOH and the Department of Homeland Security are also advising.
The project will be carried out free of charge to the city, with Spectrum willing to eat the cost. Davignon said it’s “worth it” to Spectrum to bring their services to the island due to the plant and the other businesses out there.
City Engineer Dale Marshall, who has also been looking into Internet options for Tonawanda Island, said this almost happened several years ago but those involved determined that the cost was too high. Marshall said the project won’t only benefit the city, but also the businesses that occupy the island.
“I think it’s a good thing for the island,” Marshall said. “Everybody benefits from it.”
Doug Taylor, owner of Taylor Devices, which is located on the island, said he was happy to hear that the installation of the fibre optic cable that will run across the Durkee Bridge will come free of charge to taxpayers. He said he currently gets Internet through a smaller, local provider but said he will “always check prices” if another option becomes available.
Davignon said the line will be installed before the end of the year and likely within the next two months. The project will not disrupt traffic going on and off the island.
After the cable is installed, others on the island will have the ability to connect into that line if they so desire.
Pappas signed the contracts on Thursday and they were then sent to Spectrum so they can prepare to get to work.