Clipper Staff Writer
DAVIS COUNTY — For Centerville and Layton residents, $16 million will translate into what city officials see as the backbone for the long-awaited UTOPIA telecommunications networks in both cities.
The $16 million in federal stimulus funding that was recently awarded to UTOPIA is designed to be spent on laying fiber to public facilities in a short list of member cities that includes both Centerville and Layton. Once the money is officially released, that means that city buildings, hospitals, libraries, and other buildings in both cities will get connected and create a base for more fiber to branch off from.
“It’s a very big deal,” said Layton City Manager Alex Jensen, who is also a member of the Utah Infrastructure Agency Board (UIA). “It’ll get 60 to 70 percent of the network’s trunk line system into the city.”
The $16 million is from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, which was signed in 2009 with the goal of creating new jobs and spurring economic growth. The government has said that they hope to have all money awarded through the act spent within three years of the act’s creation, which has led city officials to hope that the money will be released within the next few months.
“We’re already more than a year into the window,” said Centerville City Assistant Manager Blaine Lutz. “Hopefully, that means we’ll get the money quickly.”
Layton will be getting a larger chunk of the stimulus money than any of the other UTOPIA cities, a fact Jensen said was due in part to research done by the city staff. They’ve already earmarked several buildings that they plan to connect to the network, including the fire station and other city buildings, Davis Hospital, the library, and some schools.
Centerville also plans to connect their city buildings and library, though some of their money will go towards monitoring the city’s wells. Currently, that task is being done by wireless sensors, which according to Lutz aren’t reliable and take a significant amount of money and time to maintain.
“Fiber would be much more reliable,” he said. “There will be some savings.”
Officials from both cities are also looking forward to the fact that the lines to the public buildings will serve as groundwork to help get the fiber to the rest of the city.
“It’ll be much easier and more efficient to come off of the trunk line,” said Jensen. “We’re excited.”