An important message from MAIN

Dear Friends of Progressive Media:

Many of you know that the non-profit Mountain Area Information
Network has worked for many years to provide an alternative to AT&T
and Charter for Internet access.

Today this mission is in jeopardy. If the Asheville City Council
does not act on April 24, MAIN must vacate a City-owned cell tower
and shut down a major part of its Asheville network on May 1.

Many of your friends and neighbors will lose Internet access. And
MAIN’s ability to upgrade and expand our broadband service will be
greatly limited, making Asheville even more dependent on AT&T and

We need your help.

Please review the notice to MAIN subscribers below and then call or
e-mail the members of City Council (contact info below).

Ask City Council to allow MAIN to continue providing nonprofit
Internet access via the City-owned tower.

For a More Democratic Media!

MAIN Staff and Board of Directors

Dear MAIN Subscriber:

We are writing to inform you that your Internet service via MAIN may
be terminated May 1, 2012. The reason is that your service from MAIN
is delivered via a cell-tower owned by the City of Asheville, which
could require MAIN to vacate the tower on May 1.

We apologize for the possible disruption of service, but we are
hopeful that it can be prevented.

The decision to have MAIN vacate the tower was made at the
staff-level. MAIN is currently requesting a policy directive by the
Asheville City Council to prevent this action, and we need your

On March 21, the MAIN Board of Directors passed a resolution (see
below) asking the City Council to grant MAIN access to this
cell-tower for 36 months. This in-kind support has a commercial
value of approximately $60,000 (including past-due rent).

We want to be clear: MAIN is NOT requesting any funding from the
City of Asheville.

As you know, the City of Asheville routinely awards grants and
subsidies to for-profit companies to locate or expand facilities in
our community. Recently the City awarded $3.5 million in incentives
to New Belgium Brewery. Last June, the City awarded approximately $2
million in subsidies to Linamar, a Canadian auto-parts manufacturer.

While MAIN is a nonprofit, we believe our unique public-service
mission merits a small fraction of the support provided these
for-profit enterprises. In return, MAIN is prepared to invest a
minimum of $25,000 to upgrade and expand our broadband network in

MAIN also plans to seek additional private funding as well as
federal broadband support proposed in the National Broadband Plan.
The $60,000 value of City tower space would qualify as “in kind
matching support” to attract future broadband investments in our

As you know, MAIN is the only organization in Asheville dedicated to
bridging the broadband Digital Divide for individual households and
small businesses, a goal shared by the regional Economic Development
Coalition to which the City belongs.

The Asheville City Council meets on April 24, just six days before
the May 1 deadline.

Please contact Council members and urge them to support MAIN’s
request for continued access to the City-owned cell tower. Again,
this request is ONLY for tower space. MAIN is NOT requesting any

Thanks for supporting MAIN’s unique public-service mission!

MAIN Board of Directors

Asheville City Council contact information:

Mayor Terry Bellamy: mayorbellamy at –– 828.259-5600

Vice-Mayor Esther Manheimer: emanheimer at ––

Councilman Cecil Bothwell: cecil at –– 828.713.8840

Councilman Jan Davis: jandavis at –– 828.253.5634

Councilman Marc Hunt: marchunt at –– 828.273.2172

Councilman Chris Pelly: chrispelly at –– 828.231.3704

Councilman Gordon Smith: gordonsmith at –– 828.279.2551

A Resolution by The Board of Directors

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8 Responses to “An important message from MAIN”

  1. Jo Ellen Wade says:

    Oh wow! What a horrendously misguided idea that is: let’s help the City by depriving residents and small businesses of their Internet access. We’ve emailed all the Council members.

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  3. Teresa Strickland says:

    In our rapidly-changing technological environment, MAIN is just about obsolete. No need to keep a net under them. The world now is an entirely different place than when they started.

  4. Dr Jim Dreyfuss says:

    Teresa Strickland’s personal agenda driven statement makes her observation about MAIN obsolete, and indicates she lacks understanding about MAIN’s mission. MAIN empowers the local community, and provides a “green technological community” alternative to massive multi-national economic corporate dictates. I wonder which company she holds stock in.

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  6. Elouise Reynolds says:

    I’m a little concerned that MAIN has repeatedly failed to honor its financial commitments and allowed itself to become more the $30,000 delinquent in the bills it obligated itself to pay the taxpayers of Asheville. In response to being sent to collections, us taxpeyers are supposed to support MAIN in asking for more free taxpayer support when they already violated the public’s trust? Sounds very fishy to me.

  7. Wally Bowen says:

    Eloise – MAIN has never asked for, nor received, any taxpayer funds from the City of Asheville. From 2009 through 2010, MAIN led a coalition of local agencies and nonprofits – including the City of Asheville – in applying for a stimulus grant to greatly expand affordable broadband access throughout the city. Our proposal was selected for funding by the federal review committee, but then turned down by the federal agency due to lack of local matching support. Virtually every partner in this coalition contributed some form of in-kind (non-cash) support. Due to a misunderstanding between City staff and City Council, the City of Asheville made no contribution of in-kind support. As result, our community lost out on a major investment in broadband infrastructure. Many citizens of Asheville would prefer an affordable alternative to Charter or AT&T. Communities which have the foresight to secure this alternative infrastructure will have a major economic advantage. MAIN is the only organization in Asheville working to meet this goal. If this goal is not important, or if it’s poorly understood by our elected officials, MAIN will vacate the tower and move on.

  8. Lucy Doll says:

    What was the outcome on April 24?