The Community Redevelopment Agency Board voted 4-3 to provide fiber-optic internet to Heartwood, a CRA neighborhood project in East Gainesville.
CRA members proposed the plan to the board during Monday’s meeting. The CRA board is comprised of Gainesville city commissioners and four citizen advisory boards for each redevelopment district.
The plan includes Gator Net Gigabit services at one gigabit upload and download speeds. The CRA board already approved an upfront charge for GRUCom of $45,923.15 prior to the meeting, which the CRA will cover. Gator Net is GRUCom’s fiber-optic internet service for multi-family communities, apartments and student housing.
According to the proposal, an 84-month plan will cost Heartwood residents a monthly service charge of $62.48. Additional costs include an estimated Homeowner’s Association fee of $83.68, which totals $146.16 per month.
There are several different plans, ranging from 24 months to 84 months. The per-month cost of HOA and service fees total to $164.42 for a 24-month plan.
Although the CRA board approved the plan, Stephanie Seawright, chair of the Eastside Redevelopment Advisory Board, voiced an opposing opinion.
“We want to see this as a 21st century development, but we don’t want to see people have fees that they may not want,” she said.
Seawright was particularly concerned with the doubling of HOA fees.
“The intent was to provide an affordable housing subdivision in Eastern Gainesville,” Seawright said.
CRA board member and Gainesville city commissioner Gigi Simmons said that everyone on the board needs to strongly consider the feedback from the Eastside Redevelopment Advisory Board.
“The members of this community should have a choice to take this internet plan or not,” Simmons said.
Simmons also expressed concern about the price and affordability of the plan.
Fellow CRA board member David Arreola said residents need the best internet possible to compete in the 21st century and that HOA fees are not relevant to the conversation.
“The idea that gigabit internet is for some and not others must be dispelled,”Arreola said. “Anything short of the best is a disservice, especially when speaking to the context of Heartwood.”
Mayor and CRA board member Lauren Poe added that the HOA and service fees are marginal costs, not absolute costs.
“I want to see this as a fully inclusive and integrated neighborhood and there needs to be access to a basic utility. It’s not a luxury anymore,” Poe said.