Letter to the Editor: Broadband access bill’s success a credit to our legislators

Published: 8/9/2018 8:59:57 AM

Thanks to legislators for broadband help in late May, the town of New Salem was informed of a potential obstacle to our plans to bring broadband access to our citizens. We needed to install poles along two roads which cross Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) property. This is not surprising, since approximately 85 percent of the town is owned by the commonwealth as protection for the Quabbin watershed.

Obtaining the easements required the approval of a ⅔ vote of both houses of the Legislature, which seemed a daunting task, especially since the legislative session ended on July 31. While the DCR had no objection to granting the easements, our Constitution requires a bill be passed for any change to use of state lands.

We contacted our Representative, Susannah Whipps, who immediately went into action. She enlisted the help of State Senator Anne Gobi to support us in the State Senate. Bill Ennen of the office of EOHED, which manages the broadband grants to towns, and Thomas LaRosa, deputy counsel to the DCR, both offered assistance.

Through the efforts of Representative Whipps and Senator Gobi, the bill made its way through the legislative process and was passed on the last day of the session. We greatly appreciate the efforts they made to get this bill so critical to our town passed during this extremely busy time.

MaryEllen Kennedy

Co-chair, New Salem Broadband Committee

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