Tompkins County Council of Governments
for September 14, 2022
by Councilperson Robert Lynch
Enfield TCCOG Representative
The Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG) met on August 25. It will meet again October 27.
The August meeting’s most newsworthy item—and an effort most important from Enfield’s standpoint—was the initiative detailed by Trumansburg Mayor Rordan Hart, a member of TCCOG’s Emergency Planning and Preparedness Subcommittee. Hart said the subcommittee will pitch its proposal to the County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee this Thursday, September 15. According to Hart, the idea already has the support of Michael Stitley, Director of the County’s Department of Emergency Response.
What’s being proposed? Hart said the subcommittee will propose a County-funded Medical Rapid Response service; what the T-Burg Mayor described as “a flycar model paramedic service that the County would put together to provide mutual aid support for existing ambulance agencies.”
This proposal could benefit Enfield greatly. At our quarterly meeting with Enfield Volunteer Fire Company representatives, Supervisor Redmond and I heard the EVFC’s concern that Bangs Ambulance, our community’s commercial provider, has become increasingly overwhelmed with emergency calls and finds itself unable at times to provide our residents sufficiently rapid response. When Bangs is unavailable, Trumansburg gets called. And when Trumansburg also becomes unavailable, an ambulance needs to respond from as far away as Dryden.
And, yes, Bangs and Trumansburg frequently become overwhelmed. Hart said Trumansburg’s Ambulance Service had to answer eleven ambulance calls in the City of Ithaca during July because of what he described as “Bangs being under a lot of their own stress.”
Hart cautioned that there’s “no interest in creating a county ambulance service” at present, since its price tag, he said, would be “astronomical.” But a Rapid Response system—however it might operate—could fill in the gaps and provide what Hart described as “mutual aid standby support.”
Providing the legislative committee welcomes the Medical Rapid Response concept upon its first presentation this Thursday, TCCOG may be asked to endorse the plan, perhaps in October. We, our Enfield Town Board, may want to endorse it as well.
(A schedule conflict will likely prevent my attending the Public Safety Committee’s Thursday meeting. But I intend to forward the committee my written support of the concept as the subcommittee described it.)
On a second matter, TCCOG members renewed their discussion of improved local broadband infrastructure, including the potential to replicate the Town of Dryden’s $15 Million initiative for municipally-owned broadband service—or at least something resembling it—in other municipalities.
I reported extensively on the Dryden project in my August report. I’d detailed a July 26 online presentation by Hunt Engineers, Dryden’s consultant. Representatives of only five municipalities, including Enfield, attended the Hunt presentation. Some attending TCCOG’s August meeting expressed interest in a second presentation, perhaps at TCCOG’s October meeting. That presentation may or may not occur.
I cautioned August’s attendees that municipal broadband likely stands beyond Enfield’s financial reach. Yet I saw no harm in another presentation. Hunt’s engineers had described a range of available options for a Town’s involvement in broadband extension. Danby Supervisor Joel Gagnon expressed interest in some sort of “middle option,” one lying between compensating private providers to extend broadband to unserved areas and a more expensive, Dryden-style municipally-run service. Gagnon suggested TCCOG might create a subcommittee to pursue that middle ground. As the meeting continued, a broadband subcommittee took shape. Supervisors from Danby and Caroline will likely lead it.
Though he could not attend, County Planner Nick Helmholdt shared a memo with TCCOG indicating that Tompkins County has selected the firm ECC Technologies of Penfield, NY to assist County Government in the expansion of high-speed Internet to all areas of the county. The primary goal is to fill unserved gaps. The County has formed a five-person steering committee to work with the consultants. ECC plans a seven-step program of assistance, the first step being creation of a “broadband inventory.” A development tool, one that Helmholdt stated should become available this month, will include a survey and an Internet speed test.
In addition, Helmholdt wrote, New York State in August shared source data on its statewide broadband availability map, one created from an inspection of utility poles. He said the State has authorized the County to employ the data, but the State demands the data remain confidential. Lansing, Newfield, and Danby have conducted their own pole surveys, and Helmholdt said the ECC consultants will compare the New York State data with the local inventory.
Ulysses Supervisor Katelin Olson sent out an open invitation for membership in TCCOG’s new subcommittee on cybersecurity, a subcommittee that she chairs. Members need not be TCCOG members.
TCCOG has for several years had a Water Quality Subcommittee. It’s in transition, with Ithaca City Alderperson Cynthia Brock having replaced the subcommittee’s former chair as the City’s representative to TCCOG. Alderperson Brock chairs the Tompkins County Water Resources Council, and I urged Brock to assume the subcommittee’s chair as well. I also said I’d encourage members of the Enfield Water Protection Committee to join the subcommittee as off-TCCOG members of that group. Given Enfield’s concern about ground water and its aquifer, Enfield Water Committee participation might benefit the subcommittee’s efforts. Those interested can email Alderperson Brock.
Robert Lynch, Councilperson
Enfield TCCOG Representative