An Open Letter: Will We or Won’t We?

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Dear Princeton town residents,

I wanted to make some candid remarks and personal reflections based on last night’s first official town hearing on the broadband initiative.

My question is simple: Do you really want broadband internet to come to town? Or do you want to be stuck with third world quality internet for at least the next decade?

The answer to these questions hangs in the balance in the coming weeks – based entirely on whether or not you and I take the time to vote on this issue and encourage our friends and neighbors to do likewise.

We on the town broadband committee have received overwhelming support for the fiber-to-the-home initiative. I can say this confidently based on feedback from the town survey, comments on our Facebook page, posts on princetonbroadband.com, interactions with neighbors and friends, and conversations with many parents of Thomas Prince students. Unfortunately, none of those perspectives were represented at the hearing last night.

While there were many excellent questions asked and legitimate issues raised at the meeting, I also sensed a clear predisposition towards the status quo and a lack of urgency towards change.

I am 47 years old, and I wanted to say a special word to people of my generation or younger. Before this issue, I was never actively involved in town government or, frankly, even attended town meetings. I realized last night that my experience is typical of my age group. While the median age of Princeton residents is 40 years old, I would estimate that the average age of attendees at last night’s hearing was at least 65 years of age.

On the one hand, it was encouraging and motivating to see the active level of involvement by older members of our community. But, on the other hand, I was struck that the internet needs of the people at last night’s town hearing may not represent the parents who have children who rely on internet for education, work-from-home professionals who depend on the internet for their livelihood, and families who simply want to watch Netflix together or play Xbox Live games without endless hassle.

It’s time for the rest of us to step up, join along side those traditionally active folks, get involved, and express our perspectives too!

If you get involved, then together we can make reliable broadband internet a reality for our town – something that will be life changing for many families and work-from-home professionals.

Above all, don’t assume that the broad show of support and excitement for this initiative amongst the town residents is enough to push this through. If you and I expect others to approve this proposal without voting and speaking out, then we will all have to live with the consequences of inaction – a very real degradation in our quality of life compared to our neighbors in Rutland, Holden, and surrounding communities as well as a long-term adverse impact on our town’s real estate market.

If you have questions for the committee, by all means, please ask away! Come to the next town hearing in April, visit princetonbroadband.com, post a question on our Facebook page, or email us at info@princetonbroadband.com.

Finally, the all-important meeting you want to mark your calendar for is the Annual Town Meeting on Tue., May 14 at which the first official vote will be held on this issue.

Sincerely,
Rich Wagner
Princeton Broadband Committee Member
Princeton Resident

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8 comments

  1. Don Prouty

    Hi Rich, Annie and I appreciate your efforts and thank you. We were not able to attend town meeting but expect to be in attendance for future meetings. Where can we find minutes of recent meeting ? Thanks again for taking on this project. Don and Annie Prouty 104 Brooks Station Road.

  2. Bill LaBaire

    Hi Rich,
    We haven’t met yet but I want you to know my wife and I appreciate what you and the committee are doing. We are almost your age so we can understand the frustration you are probably going through.. As with Don, I hope to be able to attend future meetings but last night was already committed. May I suggest taking your experience last night as a viewpoint from our elders? I guess it is safe to say you know where they stand. Hopefully they will eventually understand the benefits of a true broadband system.
    Bill LaBaire-Fitchburg Rd.

  3. Bruce Ostrowski

    “Change comes at the fastest pace of the slowest learner “ – anonymous

    Disclaimer: I am not a Princeton resident so if you want local commentary only then feel free to move on something more exciting…

    I am however a resident in a neighboring town, Hubbardston, and this is streaming to you at 30Mbps on my broadband Internet connection. If you called me you would be talking to me over my VoIP telephone (home, work, and cell), or you could video call me via Skype, and of course if you broadcasted your town meetings (future?) I could watch you on my cable TV channel or via live streaming on my web browser.

    What’s the point? If not obvious by now it’s that we as a human race love to connect and technology is both a great enabler (and at times, disabler) of the human connection. It’s become expected in any community with a reasonable level of population to have high speed access to the digital community in a form that everyone can participate in. Access to broadband Internet is as expected as electricity to the home, or telephone access. As a work from home family with high school children being cut off from access to the digital world is paramount to losing electricity- it kind of fun for a special night but terrible if you actually need to work, learn, and live…

    I understand there are some that may not have a need for a higher level of access that some others do, that’s understandable and part of personal freedom – but you do live in a community – and part of living in community means we support the greater good that allows others and ourselves to prosper. I encourage all the residents of the town of Princeton to join in and get behind this solution that supports the benefit of the greater population.

    Personally I would love to live there, but not until I can get broadband access 🙂

    Bruce
    Hubbardston Resident

    • Jane Morrisson

      Princeton is not Worcester; I appreciate your perspective. In fact, our insularity here may hamper our understanding of what is considered normal access in other communities. I moved to Princeton for the elbow room and small community, but not for small-mindedness, which I find to be rare here.

  4. Jack Dower

    Hi Rich , I most definitely understand your frustration about the apathy shown at the meeting the other night however in defense of those not necessarily “plugged in” until now with the Princeton Broadband site we had no notification of it being held at all. Normally notification of such a meeting of this importance would come in the PMLD bill , I found no such notification and perhaps this is an area your association could put more effort and at the same time we as concerned residents can do the same. My wife and I are in our 60’s and don’t write us off yet ! We are all too well aware of the problems not having a reliable high speed internet provider causes our town and ourselves , all you have to do is look at the shrinking enrollment at Thomas Prince and this should shed some light on them as well as many other examples. My son and his wife would love to move back to Princeton however are prevented from doing this as his and her careers require the availability of High Speed Internet. As appreciative as we are that we don’t have to rely on Dial-Up anymore do to the efforts of our town leaders now it is time to wake up to the fact that maybe we were all sold a ” Bill of Goods” with the wireless. It just doesn’t stack up.

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