Waldoboro selectmen on Jan. 12 encouraged Town Manager Bill Post to move forward with a grant application to expand broadband Internet access in the town.

Post said there is a list of residents who want but cannot get broadband access because it is not available where they live. There are large gaps in broadband availability in Waldoboro, Post said at the Board of Selectmen meeting.

The grant application is through the ConnectME Authority. Post said if the town works with an Internet service provider to expand access, the ConnectME Authority could provide a 50 percent match for the project, with the Internet service provider picking up the other half.

Selectmen Bob Butler and Ted Wooster were excited to hear that the town may not have to pay for the matching part of the grant.

“I’m wholeheartedly in favor of it,” Wooster said.

Post said selectmen will consider the letter of intent for the grant at their next meeting. There is still a lot of work to do in the next few weeks to get the letter of intent ready, Post said. The town manager and Planning and Development Director Patrick Wright are working with the Lincoln County Economic Development Office on the grant application.

Wright said Jan. 13 that the grant program will help expand broadband access to unserved parts of the town by providing subsidies in areas where it may not be cost effective to put in the infrastructure. Wright said it is a communication issue as well as an economic development issue.

“There is no question that the core of our economic vitality is in home-based businesses,” Wright said. “This is key to helping that.”

Phillip Lindley, executive director of the ConnectME Authority, announced Dec. 21 the opening of the fourth round of the broadband infrastructure funding program.

He said Jan. 13 that the authority does not want to use public money where private dollars could be used. That is why grant applicants must submit letters of intent by Jan. 29. The ConnectME Authority will publicize the locations of the proposed projects to see if a private company has plans to provide broadband access in the targeted community. Full applications will be sent Feb. 15, and the deadline for completed applications is March 15. The ConnectME Authority plans to award grants a few weeks later, by the start of construction season when the ground thaws, Lindley said.

Lindley said grant applications can come from a town or a service provider. The matching part of the grant can be shared or come from a service provider. Towns have also provided in-kind contributions for the match, such as access to town property, Lindley said.

Lindley said the most important criteria for the grant is that it provide broadband access to an unserved community, but the community does not need to be the entire town of Waldoboro. The town could define the community in its grant application to include the parts of North Waldoboro and South Waldoboro where there is no service, Lindley said.

The town of Jefferson received a $52,550 grant from the ConnectME Authority’s third round of grants in July 2009. Partnering with Midcoast Internet Solutions, the $120,000 project was expected to serve 684 households.

“We keep putting out grants to try to fill pockets of unserved areas,” Lindley said.