By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
COOKEVILLE – Cookeville has abandoned the idea of free downtown wi-fi and will return the grant funding to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
Earlier this year, Cookeville was awarded a grant from the ARC for $26,000 to provide 25 wireless access points to serve the 20-block downtown Cookeville area. The city would have been required to match the grant with $26,000 for a total of $52,000.
See related story: Cookeville awarded grant for downtown Wi-Fi
After the actual design configuration of the system was completed, the recurring monthly cost for the service was found to be $1,144 or $13,728 per year, significantly above the amount estimated.
“While I would love to add this service, I don’t think it’s a necessity of our city,” Councilman Laurin Wheaton said. “I think that there are better ways that the taxpayer dollars can be spent. Going forward, I do think the decision to terminate the grant is going to be better for the taxpayer dollars.”
“I hate to give up a grant, but now knowing the full cost, I think it would be almost like using taxpayer dollars to supplement people’s data plans,” Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton added. “I don’t know if that would be the best use of those dollars either.”
The council voted unanimously to abandon the project and return the grant funding.