NORTH WARREN - Although the practical information filtering out of Albany is sketchy at best, local officials are hopeful that broadband Internet access may be a reality throughout the Eastern Adirondacks in the very near future.
Officials announced this week that $1.7 million of stimulus money has been earmarked for broadband Internet development in traditionally under served Warren County and several hundred-thousand for Hamilton and Essex counties. Further, more than $2.7 billion in grants are available nationally for rural broadband development through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"They held up a map of New York State which showed the regions that had access to high-speed broadband," Said Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe, after returning from a meeting with state officials to discuss stimulus funding last week. "Pretty much the entire state was covered except for this giant black hole encompassing much of the Adirondacks. I looked around and said 'that's where I live.'"
Over the last five years the counties of Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence have begun local initiatives working with the Development Authority of the North Country to build the necessary infrastructure to provide citizens and business broadband access.
"Broadband has now become a necessary piece of infrastructure - now it is sewer, water and broadband," Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) said Feb. 25. "If we are going to attract families to the area, we need broadband access - a family can live in North Creek while working in Tokyo."
Sayward said that broadband access would greatly increase the quality of life for Adirondack residents and would open limitless opportunities for economic development. She added that expanded broadband access would also result in tourists staying longer.
"Many jobs are now done right over the net," she said. "Family heads need the ability to connect with the rest of the world while they stay here."