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The city of Ellensburg is moving ahead with a fiber optic pilot project.

The Ellensburg City Council authorized an agreement between Ellensburg and nonprofit Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) on Monday after getting an update from city Director of Energy Services Larry Dunbar.

Dunbar recommended the city approve the interlocal agreement with NoaNet. The agreement will allow Ellensburg to piggyback off of and make use of an already existing contract between NoaNet and a contractor, Robinson Brothers Construction.

The agreement includes an exchange of dark fiber and engineering services of approximately equivalent value between Ellensburg and NoaNet to carry out the fiber optic pilot project.

The dark fiber, two strands on diverse paths, would be made available to NoaNet for three years and is valued at approximately $5,900 annually. In exchange, NoaNet will provide a total of 140 hours of engineering services to Ellensburg, valued at approximately $17,000.

Dunbar also gave an update on the geographic area to be served. The new area, which covers between Second and Fifth avenues, and Pearl and Main streets, is smaller than the originally proposed project area and would include approximately 50 businesses. Of those businesses, five have already expressed interested in the project. These businesses will need to re-submit applications to the project due to the changes that have occurred.

Twenty-five other Ellensburg businesses also expressed interest previously, but are no longer in the geographic area.

City Council members voted unanimously to approve the piggyback agreement.

As a result of this agreement, staff anticipates significantly better pricing to the city and its customers.

The project, which got its start in September 2016 after the city received $169,560 of economic development funding, has not moved forward smoothly.

No quotes were received from contractors this summer after the city requested bids. The city also tried negotiating directly with a contractor, but the quote exceeded the funding available, and the city allowed it to expire.

On Oct. 19, the Utility Advisory Committee recommended the city enter into an interlocal agreement with NoaNet.

Further information regarding the project, including a timeline, will be presented at a Utility Advisory Committee meeting on Dec. 21.

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