WALDEN – At the August 17 Walden Select Board meeting at the town office, board member Caro Thompson encouraged the board to join a Communications Union District (CUD). Thompson said she previously worked for the Vermont Telecommunications Authority and believes joining a district is the best way to get high speed internet to Walden residents. She added that doing so would provide Walden with a voice as fiber optics services are brought to surrounding towns.
Member Bob Hatch noted that he had heard concerns from many town residents about possible health dangers posed by small cell wireless technology that might be promoted by the availability of fiber optic connections.
Board member Steve Gorelick read a media report that small cell wireless technology connected to fiber optic connections in rural Connecticut might have caused related health issues. He expressed concern that high-speed internet access would encourage people from Massachusetts and Connecticut fleeing the pandemic to come to Walden and work remotely. He said this would drive up property values and Walden would become populated by people who are quite different from current residents. He added that high speed internet is unnecessary in Walden and he does not support it.
After further discussion, it was noted that appointing a representative to the district would allow Walden input without obligating the town. The board voted to apply for membership in the Northeast Kingdom Community Broadband CUD and appoint Caro Thompson as the Walden representative.
The municipal tax rate was set at .5760, but tax bills will not be sent until the town receives the education tax rate from the state.
The board discussed digitization of records and voted to accept a bid from Cotts Systems, contingent on receiving a $20,000 grant from the State of Vermont.
The next select board meeting will be held Monday, August 31, at 6:30 p.m., at the town office.