MAIN: If city council doesn’t act we will be forced to shut down a major part of our network

The Mountain Area Information Network is warning costumers and supporters that it will lose “a major part of its Asheville network on May 1″ if Asheville City Council doesn’t act at its April 24 meeting. However, the meeting agenda includes no mention of MAIN or related issues. Here’s the messages MAIN sent to its supporters:

Dear Friends of Progressive Media:

Many of you know that the non-profit Mountain Area Information Network has worked for many years to provide an alternative to AT&T and Charter for Internet access.

Today this mission is in jeopardy. If the Asheville City Council does not act on April 24, MAIN must vacate a City-owned cell tower and shut down a major part of its Asheville network on May 1.

Many of your friends and neighbors will lose Internet access. And MAIN’s ability to upgrade and expand our broadband service will be greatly limited, making Asheville even more dependent on AT&T and Charter.

We need your help.

Please review the notice to MAIN subscribers below and then call or e-mail the members of City Council.

Ask City Council to allow MAIN to continue providing nonprofit Internet access via the City owned tower.

For a More Democratic Media!

MAIN Staff and Board of Directors

Here’s the letter MAIN sent out to its service subscribers:

Dear MAIN Subscriber:

We are writing to inform you that your Internet service via MAIN may be terminated May 1, 2012. The reason is that your service from MAIN is delivered via a cell-tower owned by the City of Asheville, which could require MAIN to vacate the tower on May 1.

We apologize for the possible disruption of service, but we are hopeful that it can be prevented.

The decision to have MAIN vacate the tower was made at the staff-level. MAIN is currently requesting a policy directive by the Asheville City Council to prevent this action, and we need your help.

On March 21, the MAIN Board of Directors passed a resolution (see below) asking the City Council to grant MAIN access to this cell-tower for 36 months. This in-kind support has a commercial value of approximately $60,000 (including past-due rent).

We want to be clear:  MAIN is NOT requesting any funding from the City of Asheville.

As you know, the City of Asheville routinely awards grants and subsidies to for-profit companies to locate or expand facilities in our community. Recently the City awarded $3.5 million in incentives to New Belgium Brewery. Last June, the City awarded approximately $2 million in subsidies to Linamar, a Canadian auto-parts manufacturer.

While MAIN is a nonprofit, we believe our unique public-service mission merits a small fraction of the support provided these for-profit enterprises. In return, MAIN is prepared to invest a minimum of $25,000 to upgrade and expand our broadband network in Asheville.

MAIN also plans to seek additional private funding as well as federal broadband support proposed in the National Broadband Plan. The $60,000 value of City tower space would qualify as “in kind matching support” to attract future broadband investments in our community.

As you know, MAIN is the only organization in Asheville dedicated to bridging the broadband Digital Divide for individual households and small businesses, a goal shared by the regional Economic Development Coalition to which the City belongs.

The Asheville City Council meets on April 24, just six days before the May 1 deadline.

Please contact Council members and urge them to support MAIN’s request for continued access to the City-owned cell tower. Again, this request is ONLY for tower space. MAIN is NOT requesting any funding.

Thanks for supporting MAIN’s unique
public-service mission!

MAIN Board of Directors

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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0 thoughts on “MAIN: If city council doesn’t act we will be forced to shut down a major part of our network

  1. tatuaje

    “This in-kind support has a commercial value of approximately $60,000 (including past-due rent).”

    So MAIN is late on their rent, which they want the city to forgive, as well as asking for rent-free status for the next 3 years, and they’re waiting until one week prior to eviction to make this request?

    If that doesn’t sound like poor management unworthy of incentives from the city I don’t know what does.

  2. Gordon Smith

    I thought this response from Council Member Marc Hunt sounded the right notes:

    “I have long been appreciative of MAIN

  3. Dionysis

    ” This in-kind support has a commercial value of approximately $60,000 (including past-due rent).

    We want to be clear: MAIN is NOT requesting any funding from the City of Asheville.”

    Seems like a distinction without a difference to me.

    I support having as many voices as possible, but come on…owning 60k in past rent and wanting it ‘forgiven’ is tantamount to asking for funding from the city.

    tatuaje is right.

  4. D. Dial

    Appealing to the heartstrings of the people for continued support without showing actual facts on benefits, is problematic.

    “If the City were to provide additional subsidy to MAIN via tower usage, we should do it only in light of quantified and targeted community benefits. So far, MAIN has not provided that info to the City in a sufficient way”

  5. JOHN-C

    Is anyone else interested in renting tower space from the city?

    Or is Main the only business who would want to use that tower?

    If Main is the only viable customer for that tower, it would benefit the city and the Asheville community to continue to rent it to Main…

    What does Asheville have to lose?

    Main provides a special and needed service to Asheville:^)

  6. Big Al

    The issue here is not renting the tower to MAIN vs another tenant, it is the question of overall FAIRNESS (a word which “progressive” non-profits love to lord over the community when it suits them), i.e. if CoA is willing to forgive $37,000 in late rent AND allow years of rent-free usage to MAIN, how many other non-profits, PACs, philantropic institutions, etc. will demand THEIR “fair share” of public funds.

    Once one group is allowed to dip their snout into the trough, a whole herd will want their free lunch, too. And who pays for all this free slop? Joe Taxpayer! (which is OK with the prog-hogs, as Joe is just a capitalist-imperialist swine, right?)

  7. Barry Summers

    Update – On Tuesday, Council ignored the original MAIN request, and instead gave them 30 days to come up with a solid plan to repay the back rent and make future rent payments, or they’re booted off the tower.

    And city staff did confirm that they have limited space on the tower and are foregoing paying customers if they continue to let MAIN stay there.

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