St. Clair officials still want more information from a company that has offered to provide WiFi service in exchange for placing antennas on the city’s “hot” and “cold” water towers.

Thomas Tarabelli of Missouri One LLC discussed the service with aldermen for a second time during the last board meeting of the year. In the end, board members thought the idea has potential, but they said they needed more specifics before they vote to proceed.

In a nutshell, Tarabelli said his company and its service provider, Bays-et out of Pacific, would provide free WiFi service to city buildings if it could place the antennas on the towers located on the north side of Interstate 44. He said the antennas would allow for better Internet service on the north side of the interstate, and individuals could subscribe through Missouri One.

WiFi is technology that allows an electronic device to exchange data or connect to the Internet wirelessly using radio waves.

Tarabelli also said the same WiFi service is coming to the Lake St. Clair area just south of the city limits in late February or early March. An agreement has been reached with the homeowners association there, he said.

A second portion of the Missouri One proposal would open avenues for the city to place surveillance cameras at numerous locations throughout St. Clair and be able to monitor them remotely through the WiFi service.

“I think this would be a great benefit to St. Clair and its residents and businesses,” Mayor Ron Blum said.

Blum, City Administrator Rick Childers and the aldermen agreed, however, that there are two separate issues on the table. Adding the WiFi only is the first with the surveillance opportunities being the second.

“We’re really looking at two different pieces,” Childers said. “We have the WiFi piece but without the WiFi piece it’s difficult to discuss the remote surveillance camera portion.”

Through the remote access, cameras could be placed at strategic locations in Orchard, Evergreen and Main Street parks to provide better security.

Childers said without having the WiFi portion figured out it makes little sense to discuss the surveillance option.

In his written proposal, Tarabelli said the project entails using the Lake St. Clair access site as well as the proposed water towers.

The aldermen wondered if the Lake St. Clair antenna would carry to Interstate 44 to provide better Internet access to the majority of residents in the city. Tarabelli said it should, but he also said that positioning of the antenna on the city’s water towers also could improve service south of I-44.

He said the Lake St. Clair antenna should at least cover the downtown area.

“I think this is a great idea, but I’d like to see a little more about it,” Ward 1 Alderman Zach Fuchs said.

Tarabelli said he would try to come up with a more specific proposal and add some detail and numbers to it. 

In November, Tarabelli told the aldermen and city officials that if his company can use St. Clair’s towers, “we should be able to get pretty close to Union” in regards to improved Internet service.

Currently, individuals living on the far north side of St. Clair can have difficulties with Internet service. People especially have said the worst area is north of Interstate 44.

Tarabelli said the Internet signal would originate from Pacific and be relayed off of the water tower antennas.

Other Presentation

Steve Lindemann, co-owner of St. Clair Health Mart Pharmacy, also addressed the aldermen to see if the city was willing to help pay for repair expenses incurred when a contractor was performing work near the business.

He said the contractor accidentally hit a water supply line to Health Mart, but that Dig Rite, the information system that marks underground lines, did not include city lines.

“I assumed everything was good,” Lindemann said. “Then we hit the supply line.”

He said his repair bill was $1,775.

Blum said it is his understanding that the city does not provide mapping information on private supply lines.

“It’s unfortunate, I know,” he said. “But it’s up to the property owners to be responsible.

“In my opinion, it’s not the city’s fault.”

Lindemann said his beef was that he didn’t know that the city didn’t supply that information.

“Nothing was said that the supply line was not marked,” he said, adding that if he had known, more precautions would have been taken.

“The city didn’t say it doesn’t mark its supply lines,” Lindemann said. “That’s my issue.”

City Attorney Kurt Voss told Lindemann he could file a claim against the city.

“The city would turn it in to its insurance company,” Voss said. “But from what I’ve heard, it’s the contractor’s responsibility.”

As the discussion quieted City Administrator Rick Childers said he would look into how much it would cost to make hangtags to inform residents and businesses that the city does not provide the mapping service.

Aldermen agreed that would be a good idea.