Monday, October 17, 2016


(Originally Posted on Saturday)







County Commissioners
Broadband & HOF Village Project
(In Terms of County Involvement)



Pictured above (from Stark County's Graphic Information System [GIS] is the neighborhood development where I live.

As publisher of The Stark County Political Report, I attended Wednesday's the Stark County Area Broadband Task Team (SCABBTT) "Report to the Community Broadband Feasibility Study on the implementation of broadband Internet connection.

Having a personal history and interest in the potential for computer and computer related infrastructure, I am intrigued with how SCABBTT might play out as a boon to the Stark County economy across every sector of Stark County economic life as well as the personal benefit as a taxpaying citizen who might benefit in a tangible "in my home" way.

But at what cost?

Here is a teaser on the cost from the executive summary published by SCABBTT which every reader of this blog who cares about the economic future of Stark County ought to read (LINK), to wit:  (Note:  Initial start up cost estimated to be $22.5 million)
Stark County includes 165,000 residential units. If we utilize an average industry cost per passing (avg. cost per home served) of $1,500 per unit, we can identify a full fiber buildout cost in the range of $250 million. When we apply a cost of $1,250 per subscriber connected (to cover drop fiber cable, CPE2 , and battery backup) and apply a 35% uptake, we arrive at a budget just for subscribers connected of $72.5 million. In addition to these costs, design/engineering, data center, network components, and operational requirements will likely push a FTTP project for Stark into the $330 - $400 million range – again, to connect 35% of premises in the County. 
As the "ultimate" cost figures show in the text above, it is unlikely that 1GB broadband is coming to your Stark County neighborhood anytime soon.

Current projections are that on about 1/3rd of Stark's residential areas will being seeing robust Internet connectivity speeds as a consequence of SCABBTT's effort.

In 1982, running my business as a Stark County sited lawyer, I brought computer technology to my office.

See that tiny 5" screen.  One my early administrative assistant hires spent about an hour working on this computer (hooked up electronically to a Facit electric typewriter) only to stand up to say:  "That's it, I am not working on this thing.  I quit!"

I tell this story to make the put that—no matter the difficulty, inconvenience and frustration— I was and remain an "early adopter" of forward looking technology or any other phenomenon I think will ultimately make for a better world for you and I to live in.

And I see the three year effort so far by forward looking Stark Countians to ultimately bring high speed (a minimum of 1 Gigabit) broadband Internet connection to the county as being a pioneer effort that has the potential to put the county at the forefront of technological and thereby inescapably economic development that—if done correctly—likely will result in a renaissance of Stark County; the likes of which has not existed since the iron/steel/vacuum cleaner industry was going full bore.

As seen in the Wikipedia graphic to the left of this text, Stark County a whole significant growth was over by the mid to late 1960s.

So it has been over 50 years that Stark County has been atrophying and thereby is in clear and present danger of of slipping into an abyss of being an undesirable place of live and raise one's family.

A few years ago, excitement abounded as the fracking of oil and gas came on the scene and local politicos like former Canton mayor William J. Healy, II (supported by Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce officials) made wild-eyed predictions that the county was on the brink of a stupendous rising from the financial/economic ash heap into become a robust economic juggernaut resembling the heydey of the mid-19th century.

Healy made great fanfare in his March 1, 2012 (LINK) State of the City address of renaming Canton as being the Utica capital.

But as we all now know, those predictions are now themselves in the ash heap of pie-in-the-sky thinking notwithstanding lingering optimism of former Repository editor and Chamber official David Kaminski (LINK).

It wasn't all that long after Healy, apparently; as a matter of executive action, named Canton "the Utica Capital" that one of fracking's biggest players (Chesapeake Energy) moved (LINK) from Canton to Louisville (LINK).

To me, the fracking phenomenon is at best a temporary thing  that exhausts natural resources; rather than building up enduring community resources as I think the 1 Gb SCABBTT effort and its focus on Stark County wide infrastructure does.

And there is the current "ga-ga" over the in the process of development Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP).

Guess who is at the lead of promoting the HOF-VP as a cure-all of all that ails Stark County?  You've got it, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce!

And the local mainstream media has thrown in on the hoopla in a cheerleader-esque fashion as evidenced by its billing itself as "The Official Newspaper of The Pro Football Hall of Fame."

Interesting, no?

What kind of scrutiny can Stark Countians expect of The Rep regarding HOF-VP operations/functioning given its "inside" relationship with the folks who run the Hall of Fame?

My blog is the only Stark County media outlet that questions the viability of the HOF-VP, here are links to those blogs:
To compare the HOF-VP to the Utica Share unbounded optimism take a look at this Healy State of the City address of March, 2015 as covered by my Stark County Political Report (LINK).

Like all other Stark Countians, I hope that the HOF-VP is all that its promoters say it will be at a cost of some $500 million plus with the promise that the project will produce some 13,000 Stark County jobs.

But I am skeptical that the financing needed to complete the project will materialize.

And, if it does, how durable/lasting will the project be in terms of long term economic benefit to Stark Countians?

The city of Canton has invested $5 million in Canton taxpayer dollars in the HOF-VP but HOF officials has not delivered a response to the SCPR accounting for how the $5 million has been spent nor how the $10 million in Ohio taxpayer funds that state Representative Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson Township; the 48th Ohio House District) procured for the HOF-VP.

HOF officials so far have not been transparent to the general public with information about the taxpayer portion of the funds spent on the project so far.

On Monday, HOF officials will be at a Stark County commissioners work session (10:00 a.m.) apparently to make a project progress report.

At the regular weekly meeting of the commissioners later on the same day as the SCABBTT presentation, Commissioners Regula and and Bridenstine (Commissioner Creighton said she was not yet ready to comment) weighed-in on both the Broadband and HOFV projects as seen in this video (4:47).

It will be interesting to see whether or not the county commissioners will delve into the public portion of the financing of the HOF-VP and be questioning of the ongoing viability of the project.  On Wednesday, Commissioner Bridenstine characterized the Broadband project as "having the cart before the horse" and the HOFV project "as the horse and cart not being hitched at all."

I think it the session will be a sweetheart type of exchange and the citizens of Stark County will not know more about the finer details of the HOF-VP than we know now.

I have gone over the foregoing in order to contrast the exhaustible (i.e. natural resources) and, perhaps, the ephemeral (the long term viability of professional football) [see this LINK {NFL ratings plunge could spell doom for traditional TV} about the prospects of the enduring quality of Pro Football] with the durable and lasting which I think broadband fiber optic middle-backbone infrastructure is likely to be.

The background foregoing sets up this SCPR investigative series.

Up next in this series of blogs:  A cost/benefits analysis of Utica, HOF-VP and Broadband, including extensive SPRR video of key points presented on Wednesday.

No comments: