Joplin, Mo., RFP for Broadband Network Sees ‘Enormous Interest’

(TNS) – A request for proposals to build a fiber broadband service in Joplin has been issued and is hitting the market at a good time, Joplin City Council was told on Monday evening.

“We are receiving tremendous interest,” said Riz Shah, a consultant to Alvarez & Marsal and Capital Projects LLP, consultant on the project. Proposals expire by the end of January.

At that point, the consultants will compare the proposals and eliminate those that don’t meet Joplin’s needs, said another consultant, Jack Schaller, vice president of Olsson, a Joplin engineering firm. He said the consultants have been working with city departments to determine the details of the service that would best serve Joplin and connect residents to the Internet at the least cost.

The city will consider proposals where Internet service providers would invest in partnerships to bring service here or facilities where the city contributes funding, but not proposals where the city would be asked to pay all costs, Schaller said.

The council has been told that applications on the Request for Proposals must be submitted by interested suppliers by the end of this week. Once proposals have been received and reviewed, interviews with submitters should be conducted in late February or early March.

Mayor Pro Tem Keenan Cortez asked advisers if it is a buyers market in the industry right now. He said Joplin appears to be getting a generous response and could be in a good position over the next six to nine months to get good service at a reasonable cost. He was told that the amount of interest would suggest that outcome.

Councilman Phil Stinnett asked the city manager if council members would have input before he was asked to approve a settlement. He would like to have input before a final agreement.

City manager Nick Edwards said if there is anything that is not meeting the needs of the community, city staff can discuss it with council.

Stinnett said the priority at the start of the project was to get Internet access for schoolchildren across the city. She does not want broadband service to be overburdened with special interest or commercial use so that the city cannot achieve its original purpose of providing affordable access to residents and families.

Regarding other activities, a final progress report on the Solid Waste Master Plan was presented during the meeting.

Joplin residents could see some changes to recycling and collection services in the future if the city adopts the recommendations that are coming in the Solid Waste Master Plan.

Even with more than three years to go before a new trash and recycling contract, consultant Julie Davis of the firm Burns and McDonnell said moving from voluntary curbside recycling to making it available to all residents would be a final recommendation.

That recommendation is intended to take more materials that can be recycled from the garbage that is dumped into landfills. He also said that to keep trash and recycling prices as low as possible, the report recommends the city reduce the frequency of bulky items and limit the quantities of bulky items that can be discarded.

It is also recommended that the city’s recycling center be moved to a site where it can be operated alongside tree branch and leaf disposal so that residents can use all of these services in one visit.

The cost to build a new recycling center with the sites combined would be $3.2 million, Davis said.

Near the end of the meeting, the board was conducting a public hearing that drew numerous residents in support of the operation of the CODA Concert House at 2120 E. 24th St. where house concerts are presented. The council needed to determine if a special use permit would be issued for continued use of the property as a concert hall and if special conditions would be imposed because some people testified at an earlier Planning and Zoning Commission meeting that c ‘was noise and traffic issues with the site being in a residential neighborhood.

A number of people, including neighbors, said none of these nuisances caused the concert hall.

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