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Contract OK’d to build tower for better internet service on Prudence

American Broadband will erect 70-foot antenna tower at Portsmouth transfer station

By Jim McGaw
Posted 9/14/20

PORTSMOUTH — The Town Council Monday unanimously approved a contract with Bristol-based American Broadband to use town property to erect a 70-foot, free-standing antenna tower in order to …

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Contract OK’d to build tower for better internet service on Prudence

American Broadband will erect 70-foot antenna tower at Portsmouth transfer station

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — The Town Council Monday unanimously approved a contract with Bristol-based American Broadband to use town property to erect a 70-foot, free-standing antenna tower in order to bring high-speed internet to more homes on Prudence Island,

The freestanding tower will be built at the northwest corner of the transfer station on Hedly Street. The tower will be built at no cost to the town, and American Broadband will lease the land for $1 per year.

Currently, the island has broadband coverage from the northwest side of the island at Rossi’s down the east side of Prudence to Sandy Point, where the lighthouse is located. However, some spots are unable to see American Broadband’s Bristol access point at 400 Metacom Ave. due to elevation, trees or homes blocking the signal.

Art Shenberger, the principle behind American Broadband, previously told the council the company wants to expand its reach onto Prudence, and needed property in Portsmouth to do that.

The company has provided high-speed internet to over 50 homes on the island since launching in March, and hopes to expand the service so it’s available to all homes on Prudence — anywhere from 350 to 400 in total.

Under the contract, the town grants Mr. Shenberger a non-exclusive license to install, operate and maintain, at his expense, the tower, equipment shed, electrical conduit and fencing.

Mr. Shenberger may not lease or rent any space on the antenna tower to any third parties. Electricity service to the antenna tower and the company’s related equipment will be metered with all charges paid by Mr. Shenberger within 30 days of invoice by the town.

The contract also stipulates that Mr. Shenberger hold public liability insurance of at least $2 million. On Monday night, the council approved an amendment proposed by Vice President Linda Ujifusa to add a clause stipulating that Mr. Shenberger hold the town harmless if any customers file suit, and that the insurance policy covers the indemnity.

Back to reusable bags

Also Monday night, the council briefly discussed the fact that the ban on most single-use plastic bags in town goes back into effect on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

In March 2018, the council passed an ordinance that banned the use of plastic bags for retail checkout of goods, and encouraged the use and sale of reusable bags while also allowing paper bags in stores.

To give local businesses some relief during the coronavirus, the town suspended enforcement of that ordinance about five months ago. Now that restaurants and retail establishment are now working under less-restrictive operations, the town decided to once again enforce the rule.

“Back to the old normal,” council member Keith Hamilton said.

Future meetings

The council scheduled the following meetings, all of which will most likely be held remotely: 

• Wednesday, Sept 16, at 7 p.m.: Complete streets workshop

• Monday, Sep 21, at 6:30 p.m.: Executive session

• Monday, Sept 28, at 7 p.m.: Regular meeting

• Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m.: Regular meeting

• Saturday, Oct. 17, at 9 a.m.: Annual Prudence Island meeting

A quick one

Monday’s meeting adjourned only 20 minutes after it began, making it the shortest regular council meeting in recent memory.

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.