LAURINBURG — The Laurinburg City Council entered into a contract on Tuesday night with a communications consulting group in the hope of making the most of the city’s existing fiber-optic network.
The contract with ECC Technologies involves $19,800 in upfront costs for planning, but the group will primarily work on commission from the sale of the city’s dark fiber to new users.
According to ECC representatives at Tuesday’s meeting, the city’s fiber network, which creates a circuit near the perimeter of Scotland County, can offer services equal to those available in higher-demand areas through connection to the MCNC network, a statewide nonprofit network that includes a stretch between Charlotte and Wilmington. The fiber network can also be marketed to potential new industry as it allows the establishment of a connection for secure data transfer between locations.
“We’ve talked about how fortunate we are to have this fiber, but I’ve never really fully appreciated what it really could bring to us,” said Council member Drew Williamson.
ECC will verify location of the existing fiber and determine its current usage level and its available capacity for new usage. The company will also identify cost-effective areas for expansion and potential customers near the existing network.
“We never could figure out a way of marketing this or getting some revenue,” said Council member Curtis Leak. “My point to you is that I want you to, basically, figure out a way of making us some money.”
Earlier on Tuesday, council met to swear in Leak and Council member Mary Jo Adams, who are both beginning new terms after their re-election last month. Adams was unanimously elected to serve as mayor pro tempore.
Mayor-elect Matthew Block was unable to attend the swearing-in, citing medical reasons, and Mayor Tommy Parker will continue to serve in that role until Block can be sworn in.
In other business, council approved the reallocation of $20,000 from the planning department’s home demolition fund for use in a public art installation in the works for the empty lot at the corner of Church and Main streets, where Branch’s Car Care once stood.
Council already designated $35,000 for landscaping and art supplies for the UNC-Pembroke students whose art will be displayed there. The additional funds will be used for grading and drainage with a view to creating an all-weather space for public events.
“We really envision this to be something more than just the art sculptures: a chance for children to be able to go out there and have classes… we could have public concerts, there are so many different uses,” said community development director Teddy Warner. “We want to make sure that this is done right the first time.”
The landscaping and art installation on the lot are expected to be complete in May 2016.
Warner also brought council up to date on a set of in-progress marketing projects, including a partnership with the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation and the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce to produce an “On the Road with Cecil in Laurinburg” television program to air on WPDE, featuring downtown Laurinburg and other local attractions.
“The idea of this from a marketing perspective is focusing on all the great things we’ve got to bring people here just to visit,” Warner said.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.