Medina broadband construction predicted for August

The city of Medina and Mediacom have set early August as their goal for the start of construction of an expanded broadband cable system for under served parts of Medina. This means that some Medina residents and businesses will have access to high speed internet by the end of this year.  

Medina City Administrator Scott Johnson brought this news to the Medina City Council Tuesday, June 18. He said Mediacom will be mapping out and designing the full 30 plus mile broadband system expansion for Medina and presenting it to city staff for review on July 15. At that meeting Mediacom and city staff will prioritize routes. Then the City Council would review and approve the proposed route for the 2013 build out at its July 16 meeting.

Fifteen miles of the system would be built this year, with construction to start in early August, Johnson said. Mediacom will provide broadband to Medina City Hall and the new Public Works/Police facility by this fall. The remaining 15 miles of infrastructure expansion will be built in 2014.

Johnson explained who will pay for the new infrastructure and how much. In April, the City Council authorized the city to draw $180,000 from reserves for construction costs. Reserves would be reimbursed over time through cable franchise fees.

Medina will pay $90,000 for 2013 construction work, with Mediacom sending an invoice to the city. The $90,000 cost for 2014 construction also will be paid by Medina.

Earlier this year, Medina completed a new arrangement with Mediacom for the provision of broadband cable infrastructure that will carry not only cable television signals, but also telephone service and high speed internet. This agreement eventually will replace Medina’s participation in the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission (LMCC), which is composed of 17 area cities.

Medina has notified the LMCC about its plans to withdraw from the LMCC by mid December. If the LMCC reaches a new franchise agreement with Mediacom before that date, Medina would withdraw when the LMCC/Mediacom agreement is completed.

The decision of Medina to withdraw from the LMCC came after residents and businesses in rural parts of the city complained repeatedly to city hall about lack of access to high speed internet. Mediacom offered to contract directly with Medina and expedite full build out of cable infrastructure. Under this arrangement Medina instead of the LMCC will receive franchise fees paid by system users in the city.

The City Council also took up other business on June 18. Here are some meeting highlights.

 

AED FOR CITY HALL

Craig Quiring, of CenterPoint Energy, presented the Medina Police Department with a $700 Community Partnership Grant that will be used for the purchase of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). He said CenterPoint is using the grants to help local police and fire departments obtain safety equipment. Under the Partnership Grant Program, CenterPoint has funded 550 projects, and this year the company’s grant contributions have reached $1 million.

Medina Police Chief Ed Belland said that every city squad car carries an AED and that it is an “essential” tool. Police officers have saved several lives recently. The Center Point grant will pay for a new AED for a squad car, and the used AED will be available at City Hall.

 

WILLOW DRIVE IMPROVEMENTS

The City Council approved plans and specifications for a mill and overlay of Willow Drive between County Road 24 and the Medina border just north of County Road 6. Also, the council approved assessment of benefitting property owners for 20 percent of the $168,705 cost of the project.

Public Works Director Steve Scherer said he was aiming to get the work done at the same time that Orono is working on its portion of Willow Drive. Contractors will need two to three days to complete work Medina’s portion of Willow Drive. Residents will be able to get in and out of driveways most of the time, unless a piece of equipment is temporarily blocking access.

Scherer said Orono will be reconstructing its portion of Willow Drive because that city waited too long to do something about the condition of the street. Meanwhile, Medina had a $1.23 million reconstruction of Willow in its 2008 capital improvement plan and decided instead to patch and seal coat the street in 2009. This year’s mill and overlay work will make it possible for Medina to wait a few years to reconstruct the street.

 

VARIANCE REQUESTS

The City Council directed city staff to draft a resolution approving variance requests from Randy Cole and Sandra Fenske for property at 2959 Lakeshore Ave. in the Independence Beach neighborhood. The couple is asking for a variance from the lake setback and from impervious surface coverage standards in order to place a deck and an addition on the back of their house.

Cole and Fenske brought their request to the City Council on June 4. City Councilors asked staff to work with the couple’s contractor on the hardcover issue and improving filtration of run off before it enters Lake Independence.

City Planner Dusty Finke said the contractor agreed to reduce hardcover on the property by a percentage equal to the new hardcover resulting from construction of the deck. The contractor offered to replace the current side walk with a pervious surface amounting to 103 square feet. The new deck will introduce 102 square feet of hardcover.

Mayor Elizabeth Weir asked the applicants to consider installation of a rain garden to filter run off before it reaches the catch basin that drains into Lake Independence.

 

OTHER

The City Council also:

APPROVED the closing of Medina City Hall on Friday, July 5.

ACCEPTED the donation of a podium for the Hamel Community Building from David and Lisa Choiniere.   

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