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Boulder Junction discusses broadband project manager

February 04, 2020 by Kayla Houp

The Boulder Junction Town Board heard a report from Dennis Aukstik with the Economic Development and Connect Communities Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 28, for recommendations for the 2020 Broadband Expansion Project as well as a project status update.

“The application indicates that the total cost of the proposed project is $3,632,765 and the amount of the broadband grant request is $1,624,094,” Aukstik said.

According to Aukstik, the application also indicated the amount of matching funds pledged is $2,008,671. Of those pledged funds, $542,389 is from CenturyLink, $1,429,432 from the Town of Boulder Junction, $15,000 from Marshfield Clinic Health System, $1,000 from the Boulder Junction Lions Club, a $750 grant from the Boulder Junction Community Foundation, and cash donations of $20,100 from Boulder Junction stakeholders.

“The total for all grant requests is $50,626,942,” Aukstik said.

With construction expected to start in July, Aukstik stated it was essential to contact potential customers to gauge interest in the highspeed broadband installation.

Though CenturyLink identified 745 potential customers in the 2020 project, it was important all 1,350 potential customers in Boulder Junction be surveyed, Aukstik said.

“The responses, or ‘take rate,’ will assist CenturyLink in the phasing of the 2020 project and provide information to allow the 2020 project area to be expanded if installation costs are less than expected,” Aukstik said.

Aukstik presented the board with three project main recommendations, which include establishing a town-sponsored Highspeed Broadband Expansion Committee, retaining a project  success manager, and issuing a request for proposal for the project success manager.

Aukstik indicated the five-member committee would be to have initial responsibility for the project’s implementation under the management of the town board and oversee the project success manager.

“The town should issue a ‘Request for Proposal (RFP) — Boulder Junction Highspeed Broadband Expansion Project Success Manager,’”Aukstik said.

He added the goal and objective of the committee would be to complete its analysis of the responses the RFP and make a recommendation to the board prior to March 31.

“My first question is timeline,” town supervisor Jim Galloway said. “What is your schedule for releasing a request for proposal?”

“If we’re looking to make a recommendation by March 31, we’d have to do it in February,” EDCCC member Bill Niemuth said. “Two weeks to provide respondents to come back and then a couple weeks for us to evaluate, and then for the committee, if you so choose to appoint the committee, the committee then makes a recommendation to the town board.”

Niemuth said while there were three potential candidates he was aware of, the RFP would be applicable to any who wanted to respond.

According to Niemuth, a response as to whether Boulder Junction would be awarded the grant would most likely come in March.

The RFP and the filling of the project success manager position would be contingent upon approval of the grant.

In its update on the General Code, the board identified potentially creating the broadband committee.

“That would be your first step, and then the committee can take another look-see at the RFP draft,” Aukstik said.

Aukstik reminded the board the agenda item for the evening was in regard to the RFP, and not the creation or appointment of a committee.

The board decided to put the creation and appointment of the committee on a future agenda, wherein the board would also review the RFP.

Sturm Ball Park Project

The board on Tuesday also approved a project contract for the Sturm Ball Park with Romtec Inc., a building design company out of Oregon.

The proposed facility is a joint effort of the Town of Boulder Junction and the Sturm Family Building Community.

“The total cost of the bathrooms based on Romtec’s proposal and based on the information that we received from Romtec would be $70,768,” town chair Dennis Reuss said. “In kind, meaning in kind services that would be donated by either the town or by individuals such as the Lions Club or businesses that are in town.”

Reuss explained the in-kind figures come to a total of $8,840. When subtracted from the project’s subtotal, the cost of the project becomes $61,928.

Reuss added fundraising efforts were continuing for the project.

According to a report from the Boulder Junction Community Foundation, $66,818 of donation was currently held in the project fund, $61,318 of which was available for building the project.

“And some of the money, if it’s not used for the bathrooms, is going to be extended into other improvements at the park, is the indication at this point,” Reuss said. “If we’re over.”

Reuss said in order to proceed with the project, a contract would have to be signed with Romtec. From there, the building would be shipped to Boulder Junction, unloaded and put up by local volunteers.

“I feel comfortable with the fact that I’ve looked through the numbers and I’ve looked at where we’re at, that this is a very doable project,” Reuss said.

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected].

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