Two important committees made significant recommendations

In the March 5 RSF Association (RSFA) board meeting, on behalf of the ad hoc Technology Infrastructure Committee, Philip Wilkinson and Kim Eggleston presented the findings of the Magellan Advisors feasibility study for building a community-owned fiber optic network. The study addressed technical specifications, related cost considerations, community sentiment and revenue potential and payback.

Magellan recommended that RSFA build the entire fiber-optic network, including the fiber connections all the way to the home. By building and owning the core network, RSFA can maintain control of its technological infrastructure. Among other benefits, having this control would allow RSFA to: 1) keep the network “open” to competing providers; 2) lease the network to other potential users including cell phone tower companies and utility “smart-grid” providers; and 3) keep the power to update, modernize, and/or expand the network, rather than leave those activities to the discretion of a major service provider’s bottom line.

Magellan also recommended that RSFA not be in the business of providing the actual services in the home. Instead, by contracting with any number of service providers, RSFA would transfer the responsibility to service providers for customer service and “in-home” equipment such as modems and routers.

Based on the findings in the study, the Technology Infrastructure Committee recommended that the RSFA board take the next step to contract with Magellan to develop an in-depth business model. The due diligence will include getting hard numbers from engineers and contractors, obtaining letters of intent from service providers, and understanding the permitting process from the county and how various state legislation could impact this project.

The board authorized $100,000 for Magellan to undertake this next step. The contract will be subject to review by the both the Technology Infrastructure Committee and the Finance Committee. We hope to have the results back in about 60-90 days.

Also at our March 5 meeting, the board heard a report from the Intersection Study Committee. The history on this report goes back many years.

About 15 years ago, complaints increased to the Association about motorists using local streets to bypass traffic to and from Del Dios Highway. In response, the Association began looking for ways to improve traffic flow on the Del Dios/Paseo Delicias corridor. Many alternatives were investigated: various right-hand turn prohibitions; movable barricades; and traffic signalers (human and electric). Eventually, the county conducted a feasibility study on the use of roundabouts as traffic controls at three intersections along the corridor. Those intersections are: Camino del Norte, La Valle Plateada/Montevideo, and Via de la Valle.

In 2005, after preliminary designs for roundabouts were completed, the Association asked the County to prepare an Environmental Impact Report. The draft report was completed in early 2013. One of the conclusions it contained is that installing either roundabouts or traffic signals would greatly improve the functioning of the three intersections. Although the roundabouts performed slightly better than traffic signals in the analysis, the difference was not dramatic.

On Feb. 7, 2013, approximately 140 residents attended a meeting of the Association board to hear the presentation on the draft environmental impact report. The duty of the board was not to approve or oppose roundabouts, but merely to oppose or not to oppose the report. After reviewing the staff report and listening to public testimony, the board voted not to oppose the environmental impact report. In addition, the board decided to work with the county on a preliminary design for traffic signals at each of the three intersections. The board established an Intersection Study Committee to work with staff and the engineering consultant to evaluate the designs for traffic signals.

The ISC report last week reviewed the findings in the original environmental impact report as well as the comparisons between designs for roundabouts and signalized intersections. The committee evaluated the two alternatives with respect to impacts on adjacent properties, community character, and the overall aesthetic of the intersections.

The ISC voted to recommend that the preferred project be roundabouts. However, with substantial input from members supporting signals, the board agreed more community input is needed before the Board should vote on which alternative to pursue. We want to ensure that Covenant members understand the impact of both alternatives, and especially roundabouts, on traffic flow, neighboring residents and the community as a whole. To their credit, the county has agreed to temporarily delay action on the environmental impact report in order to incorporate additional input from the Association. We will schedule a community meeting in the next few weeks. Details to follow soon.