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January 28, 2014 - 8:50am

Today's Poll: Should the city provide a few free wi-fi hot spots?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Robert Brown
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No! And I use Wi-Fi...a lot!

There are already free Wi-Fi hot spots downtown, on the east end, and on the west end and in the Town (west). Plus the taxpayer subsidized Richmond Library. Enough already. If businesses believe Wi-Fi will draw customers, they'll provide the hot spots.

Now, for government sites that already have Wi-Fi (password protected hot spots in place) maybe it makes sense to have a hot spot where people are waiting. Maybe there should be one in the courthouse. Maybe. And only without increasing the budget.

Elizabeth Downie
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I voted yes, but I think that provisions need to put in place to block access to certain types of sites and that the network must be on lock down. Require registration for use... if you want the password to access the free wifi, you must register with your name, address and phone number and then the password/login information will be provided to you. That way, you can track and find anyone who uses the free wifi for hazardous purposes (ie. sex offenders, criminals). This is not a sure-fire way, as criminals may use a fake sign up, but it may make those think twice about signing up.

I'm not just talking bologna. I know provisions can be put in place. We have a guest wifi network, that is password protected, and has provisions in place that block access to various types of sites. When we have friends and family over, we offer them the password so that they can get onto this network and use the internet and we do not have to worry about what they search and utilize on the web.

Free wifi hotspots are a good idea for our growing City, but it needs to be dumbed down or locked down to avoid the further increased crime that our City is experiencing. Though, there are plenty of other free wifi hotspots around Batavia... so we probably do not need any more, realistically.

Just my two cents...

John Roach
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I see no reason to give anyone "free" Wi Fi. You want constant internet access, get a smart phone or a tablet and pay for it. And Bob Brown is right, if business thinks it will help their bottom line, they will provide it. And this idea would be limited to a small area of the City, meaning most will never use it, but have to pay for it.

Bob Heininger
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Elizabeth,

These provisions you're talking about? Who, exactly, is going to pay for them? What you're suggesting is adding not only the expense of providing wireless access points and bandwidth, but another layer of Government to support it. That means taxpayers are going to pay for them. As the IT Manager at my workplace I can assure you what you ask is not trivial and without cost as it requires software and manpower.

I voted no. If you need mobile connectivity you are more than free to purchase your own or find free hot spots offered privately instead of leeching from taxpayers.

tom hunt
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I voted NO. Bob Brown made some valid points and I support him in his views.

I run a computer repair service and I maintain a open channel Wi Fi router as I do not want to set up security on all my customer's machines that I service. I know my neighbors on both sides use it with my approval. I only request that they do not down load any material that could get me into trouble: kiddie porn and such. I monitor it carefully for unwanted intruders and usually can identify all users.

There are enough access points in the City that any user should not have any difficulty in hooking up to the InterNet.

Howard B. Owens
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For a long time this city was heading in the wrong direction. Now, a good foundation has been laid to build on the future.

But what's the response? Let's not build. Let's remain retrograde.

Free wi-fi hot spots or charging stations for electric cars -- very minor little steps forward, but they're still positive-energy kind of actions.

The cost for both, even together, is minimal. Taking these items out of the budget won't move the tax rate at all.

Yet, there's this baffling opposition.

The objections to wi-fi: business should pay for it, nobody will use it, are total nonsense. The proposal isn't to install wi-fi for businesses. The businesses that want to provide wi-fi for customers already have it. We're talking about a couple of installations in public places where no business is going to provide free open wi-fi for. I carry a smartphone and an ipad, both with always-on Internet access, but I also appreciate free wi-fi when I can find it. It's often faster than what my phone provider provides and I don't have to suck up my monthly allotment of bandwidth. It's a nice courtesy ot make a available. it's something that communicates "we're a friendly city and you're welcome here to enjoy what we have to offer." It's basic hospitality.

Free charging stations send the same message -- welcoming, friendly, and Canale is right, the city would get a nice charge of positive publicity. I imagine most of the Rochester and Buffalo TV stations would cover the opening of the charging stations. For the minimal cost to the city it strikes me as utterly foolish to pass up this kind of marking to say, "we want people to visit Downtown Batavia."

None of the arguments against either of these proposals are convincing at all. It's just more negativity and resistance to trying to improve Batavia.

Mark Brudz
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You know the city has been trying to promote the concerts at Jackson Square, I have seen it steadily grow. Free Wi-Fi in that spot would be ideal, so it would in the mall area.

I am all for limited government, privatization of SOME things, but of late there is this obsession in the City that everything anyone in Government is bad. Bringing tourist to the city is good, and money very well spent. {BIG BOX STORES LIKE DICK's Isn't What I mean] We need to build traffic into the downtown area or it will just crumple. Events, especially regular every week end events are how you really do it, you need to market the people and the flavor of a city to bring "Tourist Types"

We had this discussion a month or two ago about building up a High Density area downtown to increase people from other areas coming here and spending money. Again we need only look toward Buffalo. they built the canal side with public funding, it steadily grew, the concerts canal side grew to almost remarkable proportions, people come there each week in the summer from all over the state, Then and only then, the City starting next year handed it off to a private organizer that is paying the city for the privilege and generating sales tax to boot..

If you really want to revitalize downtown, you almost have to attract people from outside the city, you have to target your audience, and guess what, many of the those cash droppers drive electric cars and use Wi-Fi like it was medicine.

You are NEVER going to make that appeal to a private company until you create a market, anyone that thinks that you can bring manufacturing into downtown is dreaming, and apartment, office and small store fronts require traffic, these tiny little expenditures are a huge steep toward creating that marketplace.

Pat McGinnis
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I would support it if they could make it cost neutral. They could possibly achieve this through advertisements. We could also offer a pay option through Boingo or a similar service.

Pat McGinnis
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I would support it if they could make it cost neutral. They could possibly achieve this through advertisements. We could also offer a pay option through Boingo or a similar service.

Bob Harker
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Correct me if I'm wrong Howard, but I would venture to say that the vast majority of your wireless activity is related to The Batavian.

If this is indeed true, why should taxpayers be required to underwrite your for profit business? I think the actual cost of the service is irrelevant.

There is PLENTY of free wifi available through the private sector.

Howard B. Owens
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Bob, actually, just as likely no as yes.

But anyway, why should taxpayers underwrite Route 5 when I'm heading to cover a fire or accident? Should I be required to pay rent for the table and chair in City Hall when I'm covering a council meeting? What about the electricity I'm sucking down if I plug in my computer? Or even the light I need in the council chambers to properly expose a photograph? The taxpayers underwrite all of those business activities.

And as a person who pays attention to where I can get free wi-fi or not, there is very little of it available in Batavia, especially compared to other cities.

But more importantly, it's the principal of the matter -- do you want Batavia to be a city that says to visitors, "we welcome you here," or a city that says, "mah, who cares about your visit here." Simple choice.

John Roach
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I don't think Howard relies on free Wi Fi or anything, and don't think he wants anything given him for free.

Howard B. Owens
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John, I'm not looking at this for me directly -- though I think I benefit even if I never use a minute of free municipal wi-fi.

There are a couple of businesses I'll go to during lunch hour or what not because I know I can get free wi-fi there. Sometimes I work. Sometimes I read articles from my RSS feed (kind of work and pleasure).

None of the places being considered for free wi-fi will benefit me much personally. If I'm covering something in Jackson Square, I'm not on the computer or my iPad.

We had a booth there during one Friday night concert and during the Ramble and maybe wi-fi would have been nice, but I'm busy enough during those times that it wouldn't be a huge benefit to me personally.

I do believe I'll benefit, however, because I'm a local business owner, and anything that makes Batavia more friendly to visitors and consumers benefits my business.

I think it's important to send a positive message about Batavia, and I think these two initiatives are a small step in a positive direction.

Bob Harker
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Howard, with respect: I find your analogies a bit far fetched.

That being said, will wifi accessibility determine if tourists visit here or not? I find that highly doubtful - any more than there being a Dick's here (thank you again, GCEDC). All the local hotels offer free wifi and I contend free wireless is available in just about any restaurant (including fast food) the library, etc.

As far as the electric charging stations, does that responsibility actually fall to the taxpayer? I think not. What about the manufacturers of the cars - they make money on every sale of this misconceived concept. What about the purchasers that choose to spend extra money so they can "feel" green?

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one my friend.

Howard B. Owens
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Bob, just to be clear. I didn't say it would bring tourists here. I said it sends a small message about being a more friendly and welcoming city. That's all. It's not even a big message. It's a little peep. But it is a positive message, and we need all the positive messages we can get.

Kyle Couchman
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No one wants to change the status quo. Everyone is so worried about what their taxes pay for. I can see the arguments on the entanglements of assistant managers and garbage costs. But like Elizabeth said this is not a difficult thing to set up. Everyone hates the damn mall in the middle of town so what happens it sits mostly empty like a retail ghetto. That would be a great place this time of year to have concerts and public get togethers and such, that costs money people and like it or not sometimes you DO have to spend money to make it.

I once forwarded a suggestion about putting a small hotel back in downtown and make that mall a confrence center for businesses (medical symposiums come to mind) Reopen that bakery/cafe next to City Hall and make it a destination again. There is so much wasted space there, and for what? Greed? I dont think the empty spaces are making much rent. But utilized properly it could be a showcase. HLOM could put a display area in to showcase stuff they have to rotate in and out of storage. We could see mini shows for medical stuff, or have hunting/fishing shows. How about a electronics/ham radio/ computer show for buy/sell and trading? I see with very little effort a turd could actually be made into a gem and get some needed tourism and retail traffic into downtown.

But what stops it all? No one wants to make much effort, no thinking no ideas will ever grow if all people do is shoot it down and bitch about the way things are. I challenge each of you to something simple..... if you have a bitch or complaint about something, fine then when you publicly speak it also have a solution to correct whatever it is. I know most wont but honestly if you put 1/4 the energy into thinking of a solution, that you do into griping and fighting anything that might cost a little. Then nothing is gonna change and you'll have your status quo til the bottom opens up like a trapdoor leaving you in the crap you ignored.

Kyle Couchman
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LOL Dayum where did that come from I guess I have been thinking bout this a little while more than I thought.

Kyle Couchman
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By the way I like the idea of free or low cost fuel offered alongside of the electric car recharge stations. Why cant we get bio diesel going here, we got enough darned eateries with waste oil to be a major player...

John Roach
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Kyle,
The mall is private property (other than City Hall). Each business is privately owned. You should ask to speak with the members of the mall owners association and see if you can get them to consider your ideas.

Kyle Couchman
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Who owns the empty spots then? What about the public hallways and mall stage?

Also I'm sure this doesnt happen (the hotel and such to support the Confrence center. Without some city involvement. Also may have to get the evil GCEDC involved as well as make our city economic development co-ordinator do something a little more substantial than being/doing window dressing.

John Roach
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Kyle,
Empty spots are privately owned. The hallways (concourse) are owned by the Mall owners association as is the stage. The association has a paid manager to run the day to day business of the mall. The City of Batavia does not own any of the Mall.

The City does have a contract to pay a portion of the (concourse) maintenance. The City also has a representative on the Mall Operating Committee. And the City is now in litigation to end any involvement with the mall.

There was a presentation at City Hall that showed what the Economic Development Coordinator and others have recommended for the mall, along with other development plans. Guess you missed it.

Mark Brudz
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Kyle, Revamping downtown isn't going to start with the Mall, it is going to start on Jackson and main on that side of the street. You can't go with a field of dreams approach, it pretty much has to be event generated and built up from there

Howard B. Owens
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I continue to advocate for street vendors on the west side of Jackson Street ... in the spirit of Buffalo's Canalside project you referenced earlier.

Mark Brudz
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EXACTLY HOWARD, that is how you start it, the mall property and what we do there is the end game, it starts with building local flavor that appeals to not only people in the community but beyond the community

Howard B. Owens
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Start small, grass roots, build up. Makes a lot of sense to me. Successful economies aren't built overnight.

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