The crews at Elevate Fiber have hit a snag that could delay Hotchkiss residents from getting high speed internet. Mark Kurtz with Elevate/DMEA was at the Hotchkiss Town Council meeting last week, "hat in hand," he said, to seek a piece of property where crews can build a communications building to serve the local access of Elevate's fiber project.
"We're very, very close to having everything in place," he told trustees. But when crews were working on the communications shelter project, they discovered that placing that structure at the current substation, which is owned by Tri-State, would cause significant issues that would delay DMEA and Elevate from installing the fiber. Kurtz did not say why that location would not work, but he said the reasons were numerous.
He contacted Mike Owens, public works director, and the two located a small piece of town-owned property on River Park Road, near the wastewater treatment plant that is ideal for this communications shelter, Kurtz said. He asked the council to consider selling or long-term leasing the property to DMEA in order to build the structure. "I'm open to anything the trustees might be open to," he said. The structure is small, he explained, about 12 by 20 feet, surrounded by chain link and barbed wire fencing.
As trustee Tom Wills pointed out, that piece of property is supposed to serve as public access to the river, and for quite some time the town has intended to get the area cleaned up from sagebrush and allow that access. Kurtz offered to clear the area of the brush and weeds while Elevate crews were building the structure. "I'd be willing to clean up the area," he said. "I look at this as a partnership."
"We'd like DMEA and Elevate to proceed with all haste," said Mayor Wendell Koontz. Trustees gave the nod to Mayor Koontz, the town attorney, Owens and DMEA to begin lease negotiations immediately.
Getting this land is the next physical step to getting Hotchkiss residents high speed internet access, Kurtz said, and he was anxious to begin lease negotiations so Elevate can stay on schedule. Their plan is to open up access near June 15, which is when DMEA will hold its annual meeting in Hotchkiss. "That's the goal," he said. "It will be this summer at the latest."
He added that he is working with the Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce to get public wifi access at the DMEA kiosk, and he hopes to have a plan in place to accomplish that within the next several weeks as well. Additionally, DMEA is working toward offering television and telephone services to its menu of offerings by the end of the summer as well.
DMEA and Elevate are still taking signups in several service areas; visit www.join.elevatefiber.com to sign up or learn more.