Google Fiber hut construction put on hold; city reviews more locations

City staff recommends no more parks, residential properties for huts

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Google Fiber is coming at a slower pace to San Antonio as the city reconsiders the placement of the company's huts or switchboards for the high-speed network.

"All remaining 15 Google hut site locations are under review and temporarily on hold from any Google hut construction activity," City Manager Sheryl Sculley said in an email Wednesday afternoon to Mayor Ivy Taylor and other top city leaders and officials.

The email did not list an exact cause for the review or construction hold, but Sculley mentions that during the construction of West End Park and Haskin Park "it became evident that we needed to reevaluate the remaining hut placement locations."

Seventeen huts were planned for city-owned property, including six city parks, five fire stations, three vacant residential properties, two libraries and one police station, according to Sculley's email.

But Sculley's email eliminates some initial locations.

"City staff's initial recommendation from this review is that no future park location or residential lot should be used for Google huts," Sculley said.

She also said the staff has identified other locations that should not be used for the huts because of "various constraints."

Sculley's email was in response to a Monday email from Taylor raising earlier concerns over the placement and noise of the huts. Taylor requested that Sculley "work with Google Fiber to remedy these disruptions to community life, which City Council never intended."

The new review is good news for Megan Kromer, an Oak Hills resident. Oak Hills Park was planned for one of the huts, but Sculley's email specifically says the park will no longer be used.

"It's not a place for a new utility function," Kromer said. "It's a park!"

But that didn't stop the development at the first hut location, Haskin Park, where the local neighborhood association is very frustrated.

"As you can see, it's taken away (the) T-Ball area, soccer area, that kind of stuff," Oak Park-Northwood Neighborhood Association President Jonathan Delmer said. "So we need to get it out of here."

Delmer thinks the change in course for future huts should mean that the existing two parks should be included. After all, he said, there is an election coming up in May.

"So I imagine some of the people that are running for office are going to be a lot more easier to get along with, with something like this," Delmer said.

Sculley wrote in her email that the city is in discussions with Google about the hut location issues. The email didn't specify say whether the talks include the existing locations.

A Google Fiber spokesperson released the following statement regarding the issue:

"Google Fiber remains excited about delivering high-speed connectivity to San Antonio residents. We want to be good neighbors, and we will continue to work with the city to follow all permitting and other requirements throughout construction and when selecting network hut sites."

The City Council will receive an update on the project at its B-session meeting Jan. 18.

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