What’s Up

Our Goals:  We want to persuade Google to move its incipient internet relay facility from the cemetery woods to the neighboring OWASA water utility campus, and at the same time to persuade the Carrboro Board of Aldermen to designate the Fidelity Street cemetery meadow as a ‘Quiet Green Space’.

What Happened:  To get a jump on AT&T, Google Fiber pressured the Town of Carrboro to provide a town-property site for their residential internet relay facility quickly.  Without public participation, in 2015 three town staff members offered Google a site in the cemetery’s woods on Fidelity Street (behind the Farmer’s Market).  This April not even the neighbors knew what would happen at this spot until only a few days before the trees were knocked down.

Terrible Site Decision:  The town-owned meadow between these woods and the graves is a gem of a greenspace in the densest part of Carrboro. All of the parks in Carrboro are on the other side of Main Street. This hub’s cooling gear will be heard in much of the meadow and from some graves. Its weekly back-up generator tests will disturb cemetery visitors and neighbors.

If the public had been invited to participate in this siting process, the advantages of the already-industrial OWASA site next door would have become known over a year ago. OWASA’s superiority is evident: Not only is it fenced and continually monitored, its backup power is more robust. This will be especially important when the 10,000 homes serviced are fully internet-dependent in the future (e.g. for 911 calls).

To accelerate the processes, Google Fiber’s nationwide siting policies permit only directly town-owned lots to be nominated. A hub has been built in a park in Raleigh. Going forward there will be a tendency for Google Fiber to continue to use green spaces and parkland, especially from the lower-income and the most central (densest) parts of towns.

Please Act Now!  After we spoke up, Google accelerated the construction.  Despite requests to consider the OWASA site from concerned citizens since mid-April, Google has shown no willingness to listen to the community.

It is not too late to act! Google has not installed the network fibers themselves, and so there is still time to move this hub.  Google is now the most richly valued corporation worldwide, and the cost of this change to it would be equivalent to a cup of coffee for you or me. If Google had cared about our community’s best interests and had given us time to discuss this matter, then this cemetery location would not have been pursued in the first place.

The last Board of Aldermen meeting before Labor Day is on June 28. After you sign here, please write our Aldermen at  boa@townofcarrboro.org and our County Commissioners at ocbocc@orangecountync.gov.


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