The old American Legion building on Emberson Drive and the city pool a few yards away on Cotter Street are the two locations where the new wireless internet feed will be installed.
In August the council discussed and came close to installing Wi-Fi at the Little General Children’s Park, but ultimately decided against the endeavor following citizens’ concerns.
Some citizens felt that having Wi-Fi at the children’s park would be a distraction to parents and guardians watching their kids. They also believed it would entice sexual predators to the park.
“We’re not talking about installing it at the park this time,” said council member Earl Henderson in the pre-meeting work session. “We’re looking at installing it at the old legion building and at the pool. I hope that we will also consider having it (Wi-Fi) reach the ball fields right the next to these locations.”
Henderson said having the Wi-Fi extend to the ball fields would be appealing for parents and spectators at games and for those attending the Celtic Festival and Highland Games that are held at the fields every Labor Day weekend.
Vice mayor Randall Franks, who is also a member of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau that will fund the project, added that having the Wi-Fi reach the site of the Celtic Festival would assist vendors wishing to accept credit and debit cards as payment during the event.
The council approved the project during the actual meeting with a 4-1 vote.
Council member Terry Crawford, who voted against, stated that his vote centered on citizen feedback he has received lately.
“I’ve talked to folks in the community lately, and I get a lot of the same responses,” Crawford said. “I haven’t heard anybody say that they really need it (Wi-Fi) there.”
Following last year’s skepticism towards the Wi-Fi at the park, city manager Dan Wright says that the city extended surveys to other city governments in the state inquiring about their usage of Wi-Fi in parks, children’s parks, recreation centers, and public establishments.
“We sent out surveys so that we could get a better understanding of how and where other cities offer public Wi-Fi,” Wright said. “We had 55 city managers reply to the online survey and there were different percentages as to who offered Wi-Fi, and where they offered it throughout the city.”
Wright stated there were three particular questions on the survey that stemmed from the concerns expressed last year asking.
“The survey asked whether or not having Wi-Fi in parks contributed to sexual predators, child neglect, or teen loitering, and one-hundred percent replied no,” Wright said.