City to upgrade marina, parks Wi-Fi

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 4, 2021

 St. Clair Shores is improving Wi-Fi access at both of its harbors. Lac Sainte Clair harbor, pictured here, will be completed first, potentially by Memorial Day weekend.

St. Clair Shores is improving Wi-Fi access at both of its harbors. Lac Sainte Clair harbor, pictured here, will be completed first, potentially by Memorial Day weekend.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Whether it’s working remotely, livestreaming the Detroit Tigers game or starting up Spotify for some boat tunes, Wi-Fi is something boaters turn to more and more these days.

The system at Lac Sainte Clair Harbor, however, was first installed in 2012 and, even before it failed, the slow speeds left boaters and visitors to the park and City Hall wanting more.

Now, St. Clair Shores is looking to put in place a new Wi-Fi system at Lac Sainte Clair and Blossom Heath harbors to provide wireless service for boaters and users of the surrounding parks.

City Manager Matthew Coppler said he hoped to have the service upgraded at Lac Sainte Clair Harbor before Memorial Day and to Blossom Heath shortly thereafter.

“Our goal was to get this done by boating season,” said Mayor Kip Walby. “The complaints are already coming in now. I think this is imperative that we move forward and try to get this for the boaters as soon as we can.”

Coppler said the new system will include redundancy and lightning protection to try and prevent outages of the service. The new system should be good for the next 10 years, he told members of City Council April 26.

“What we’re looking to do at Blossom Heath will be upgradeable,” he said, as there are plans to expand the pier at that park. “You’ll go all the way out to the water.”

Coppler said the Lac Sainte Clair Wi-Fi failed in 2020.

“It was ... not designed to provide the highest level of service to those that would be using it,” he said.

For one thing, the service was based in City Hall but did not have a clear line of sight to all parts of the marina because of trees. Now the service will be based at the pool house.

“The intent is not to provide it just to the people who are renting (boat wells) there, but also people who are going to be in the park,” he said.

City Council planned to formally vote on the $87,113 expenditure for All-Covered to upgrade the system at its May 3 City Council meeting, after the Sentinel went to press, but gave Coppler the go-ahead at the April 26 budget hearing.

“Because the system is down right now at Lac Sainte Clair and we have people there already, we wanted to try to expedite this as much as possible,” Coppler said. “It allows us to start spinning things up under the assumption that they are supportive of this.”

He said Wi-Fi is a service most boaters expect marinas to provide.

“You can’t run marinas today without this type of service,” Walby agreed.

The parks are just the first step, however. Coppler said they hope to be able to offer Wi-Fi access soon in city buildings, as well.

“Everyone now is using Wi-Fi,” he said. “It’s just totally different what those needs are, today. It’s a much overdue overhaul of our Wi-Fi system, starting with the marinas, and then we’ll start moving to our buildings.”

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