By Owen Reissmann for Wausau Pilot and Review

The Weston Community Development meeting on Oct. 29 centered mainly on a proposition from Madison-based TDS, an internet, voice, and TV provider. The business is looking to bring fiber to most of the Weston community.

Fiber internet speed packages offered would be 300 MB, 600 MB, and 1 GB. Charter, by way of comparison, offers speeds of 100 MB and 400 MB along with Spectrum Internet Gig in select cities with speeds up to 940 MB, according to a Charter communications representative. Frontier, a board member said, typically has slower speeds than Charter. A few staff members expressed dissatisfaction with current options and said more competition would be good for residents and likely lower monthly costs for those who choose to switch to TDS. Chair Hooshang Zeyghami pointed out the benefit of significantly higher internet speeds to local businesses.

TDS would like to establish a developer’s agreement with the village, which would give the village some control over things, such as where various buildings and equipment might be constructed. The proposition brought forth from TDS asked for a $300,000 grant from the village in exchange for bringing fiber to Weston first before other local communities.

TDS also stated that they would expect to provide a yearly revenue to the village of $40,000 with community event donations as part of the contract. The committee opted to table discussion until the next meeting and have a committee member communicate to TDS that while they are not interested in offering a grant they are interested in a developer’s agreement under different terms.

At the August meeting of the village board, adding a new position was approved. As the position will chiefly involve implementing Tax Increment Funding programs, including projects to attract people to the area, a request was made by staff member Jennifer Higgins to fund the new position with TIF funds. The request was approved.

One member of the committee asked if it might be advisable to have a real estate agent brought in to advise the committee at a future meeting regarding housing recommendations for the Camp Phillips project. Jennifer Higgins clarified that indeed the DNR says there is a need for more affordable housing and such a discussion is planned for a meeting in 2019.

Editor’s note: The Wausau Pilot and Review Documenters program is made possible through individual donations and grants from several organizations including the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin. The program aims to democratize news and information at the local level through a group of local contributors.