mayors column

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy and happy new year has never been more from the heart than right now.

We’ve all been through a great deal over these past 10 months. Sometimes it feels like 10 years since our lives had the type of “normalcy” that guide our everyday movements. The COVID-19 vaccines are here and for the first time in a long time there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I just want to reiterate how proud I am of our residents, businesses and frontline workers for how you have handled this extraordinary crisis. Plenty of good will result from all of this, it just may take some time for those things to become visible in our lives.

We have big plans for 2021, including moving forward with seeing our collaborative vision for the 158-acre Miry Run property come to fruition. Look for my Pulse Productions video on that project in the coming weeks.

Another major goal is to address in a substantive way the hundreds, if not thousands of complaints we’ve received regarding Optimum/Altice —complaints that predate the pandemic by several years.

The company has repeatedly assured us that service has been upgraded in the days since many of us were forced into work from home and remote learning situations. Nevertheless, the company has yet to live up to standards set by its competitors in the industry.

That is why on Dec. 17 I briefed township council about the possibility of bringing in another internet service provider to compete with Optimum/Altice. We’ve heard you loud and clear. Although we’ve never had the desire to be in the utilities business, here we are.

While D-14 Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo works on a bill package to push Optimum/Altice to do better, we also have enlisted the help of Congressman Chris Smith on the federal level (FCC) as we pursue other avenues.

Unofficially, more than 80 percent of residents polled as of Dec. 21 said they were in favor of signing up with an alternative internet provider capable of delivering secure, reliable in-home internet (no cable television included) over Wi-Fi for approximately $50 per-month, per-household for the base plan at 150 Mbps speed. Higher speeds up to 1GB would be billed at a higher tier. This venture would be a private/public partnership and it is outside-the-box thinking, so we want to move carefully. I don’t take this move lightly, but I feel as though we have exhausted all of our options—especially with Verizon not expected to unveil its 5G service locally until possibly 2022…or later.

Assuming we continue to receive favorable feedback, we will roll out more information about the company, their credentials, what they can provide and when they can provide it.

The company has an outstanding reputation, and assuming we receive the feedback needed to make the juice worth the squeeze for everyone involved we will try to schedule them to brief township council in early 2021, a meeting that will be open to the public remotely.

Our ultimate goal is to do right by our constituents, and right now that means holding utilities such as Optimum/Altice and First Energy/JCP&L accountable—and our idea of that does not come in the form of inconsequential $100 fines from the Board of Public Utilities.

If that doesn’t work, we move onto Plan ‘B’.