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Lockport prepares to go wireless Town hopes to raise $50,000 in grants for Wi-Fi nodes on Main and South Transit

LOCKPORT -- Plans are afoot to install wireless Internet service on South Transit Road and Main Street. Now all that's needed is about $50,000 to make it a reality.

Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith said at a Town Board work session Monday that about nine nodes -- or wireless receiving stations -- will be needed to establish the wireless Internet access, called Wi-Fi, on the two major commercial strips.

Larry L. Helwig, Niagara County Central Data Processing director, is assisting the project, and said after the meeting that each antenna will have to be mounted on a utility pole, since they need power supplies. The antennas themselves are 12 to 15 inches high and housed in plastic boxes.

A router-server to connect the signals to the Internet also would have to be installed somewhere in the area, Helwig said. He said City Hall is a likely location on Main Street, while the South Lockport Fire Company hall is a possibility on South Transit Road.

Smith said each node covers a 600-foot radius and will overlap slightly with the neighboring node to provide unbroken service. He said he also hopes to have some service installed on the Pendleton side of South Transit Road, south of Robinson Road.

But for now, the target areas are Main Street between Transit Road and Washburn Streets, and South Transit between Dorchester and Hamm roads.

"Main Street in the City of Lockport is a must, and [so are] our most densely populated part of town and a part of the Town of Pendleton," Smith said. He said the total project will include nine or 10 nodes, at about $5,000 each.

"We're looking for grant money," Smith said.

Helwig said he was in charge of installation of Wi-Fi in downtown Niagara Falls and on the Lewiston, Youngstown and Wilson waterfronts, and that project cost about $5,000 per node. It was funded by a "member item" grant lined up by Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Niagara Falls.

Wi-Fi also is in place at Gateway Park on the North Tonawanda waterfront, Helwig said, because of a grant obtained by Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore.

Smith said he met with Les Hoffman, of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, to discuss technical aspects of the project. It was a meeting set up by Thomas Riley, executive director of Lockport Community Television.

The supervisor said offering Wi-Fi will be of value primarily to people passing through for work, with less value for residents or businesses located in the affected areas, who would presumably already have Internet access.

On other topics, Smith said he received a telephone call from a second outlet mall developer who had expressed interest in a location on South Transit. He made contact with developers during a trip to a shopping center convention in Las Vegas in May.

Smith also announced Town Hall will host a meeting at 3 p.m. July 24 for local restaurants interested in offering "Flight of Five gourmet menus." It's an idea Smith cooked up with the Niagara University College of Hospitality and Tourism. Its students would create the menus, matching a featured dish with an appropriate Niagara County wine.

Also, at 1 p.m. July 25, town department heads and representatives from other communities will meet with Systems East, the company Smith wants to hire to provide credit card payments options for town taxes and fees.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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