Fiber optic legislation proposed

STEUBENVILLE – City Council will consider legislation next week that will allow city electricians to install fiber optic lines between the Ohio Mid-Eastern Regional Education Services Agency building on Sunset Boulevard and the agency’s new home at the former Prudential insurance building at 2230 Sunset Blvd.

Only one ordinance was introduced during Tuesday’s sunshine meeting after council members discussed the issue for 40 minutes.

The proposed agreement calls for the city to install the fiber optic lines and maintain the equipment for five years.

OMERESA has agreed to pay for half of the material costs and $350 a month for five years as part of a lease agreement.

But 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins questioned why the agreement doesn’t require OMERESA to pay for half of the labor costs associated with the installation.

“As it stands right now I have concerns with this agreement. I think they should share in the installation costs,” said Perkins.

Finance Director Alyssa Kerker said the agreement was negotiated by the former IT director and former city manager.

“We pay for this project up front and then recoup our money through the monthly lease. The money we receive will initially be paid back into the general fund for the electricians running the lines and the rest will go into a fiber optic fund we established in 2011. That money can be used for future fiber optic projects,” Kerker explained.

OMERESA is ready for this installation because they plan to move their offices to the former Prudential building. They have already backed up their moving schedule from August to November,” added Kerker.

Kerker said the city plans to run extra fiber optic lines, “so if we ever want to expand our fiber network or add cameras in the future, we already have the equipment in place.

City IT Director Mark Tiberio noted the biggest benefit for the city is a connection with the future.

“We will be able to get money from this project. And down the road we can connect with future projects,” said Tiberio.

“For several years we have been trying to run fiber optic lines in the community. Hopefully one day we can connect to the West End. Having customers pay us for fiber optic connections makes sense from a business point of view. If we can sell the extra fiber optic lines we can generate income for the city. There is potential in this,” said Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci.

Street, Sanitation and Electrical Superintendent Bob Baird told council members the city is putting the pieces in place, “where we can look further west. From this point we might be able to add another piece to the network.”

“The traffic control cameras are connected through fiber optics. This step gives us the potential to do more in the future. It also saves the city money because we can reduce the number of telephone lines by using fiber optics,” stated Baird.

He also said a private fiber optic company is currently installing lines in the city.

“We can provide an alternative service to potential customers with our own fiber optic network,” Baird said.

The only other legislation for council to consider Tuesday at the regular meeting is a final vote on a rezoning request from Tri-State Health Services Inc.

The corporation purchased the former Temple Beth Israel earlier this year and announced plans to convert the former synagogue into a senior citizens center.

The city’s planning and zoning commission Monday night approved a positive recommendation for the rezoning request.