Broadband grant could allow for internet hot spots, music in Historic Downtown Clinton

Katherine Birkbeck, director of the Historic Downtown Clinton organization, talked to Clinton Mayor Scott Burton after the June 24 City Council meeting. During the meeting, she discussed the possibility of bringing broadband and loudspeakers to downtown Clinton. (photo:Ben Pounds )
In the future, loudspeakers could fill downtown Clinton with melodies. 

Katherine Birkbeck, director of the Historic Downtown Clinton organization, spoke to the Clinton City Council at its June 24 meeting about the city applying for a state of Tennessee Broadband Ready Communities Grant. 

She said the grant’s broadband could help set up a public service emergency alert system, but the speakers for that system could also play music in the downtown area.

The grant will be for 100% of the cost, she said.

The council took no vote, and Birkbeck said didn’t need an answer on the proposal until November.  

“Some of it is adding life to downtown,” she said. “If there’s music playing, people are happier. They’re more likely to buy things and shop, so that’s a whole part of it as well.” 

City Manager Roger Houk said the grant could also help people access the internet in an area that could stretch beyond downtown. In response to that, Birkbeck said the grant could also provide hot spots to Clinton City Schools for students to rent for internet access.  

Birkbeck said other Tennessee communities had received similar grants.  

“I wanted to go ahead and give you the information so that we can begin talking about that and what it looks like,” she said, describing her work now as “very early” in the stages.    

In response to Mayor Scott Burton, she said the grant could allow for broadband internet or fiber optics. She said the cables could connect to downtown lamp posts.  

Burton pointed out however, that the city already has a “reverse 911” emergency alert system.  

Xen Hicks parking lot 

At the same meeting, the council, at Birkbeck’s suggestion, approved applying for a $100,000 Tourism Enhancement Grant to help pay for paving expenses and other aspects for a new parking lot in downtown Clinton.

The parking lot will be at the one-time site of former Mayor Xenophon Hicks’ home.  

Birkbeck said she would like to “make it a more historic site and do brick pavers in areas” instead of just asphalt. She also said she would like to use columns from the remains of the house, adding elm trees and a sign. 

Houk said these measures would help the site look “less like a parking lot, more like a park.” He said the grant could help with a retention pond, as well.