With an Oct. 1 deadline fast approaching, Chappaquiddick is nearing the goal for phase one of the small island’s quest to get cable and internet service.
Chappaquiddick resident Woody Filley told the Edgartown selectmen Tuesday that nearly 270 people, the required minimum, have said they will submit commitment letters to Comcast by the deadline.
Under a long-negotiated deal with the cable company, the 270 Chappaquiddick residents need to sign up for two years of at least a minimum level of service from the company. Each dwelling will also have to pay $2,139 in construction costs as well as any additional costs needed to bring cable service to the home.
To begin the process, the required number of residents needed to sign and submit commitment letters postmarked by Oct. 1 to an escrow agent at Edgartown National Bank. In an August 19 letter to Chappaquiddick residents, town administrator Pamela Dolby said submitting the letter does not commit residents to pay the $2,139 price tag. The commitment letters will instead allow Comcast to begin a survey process, she said, and an estimated cost will be sent to residents around March 1. They will have until July 1, 2014, to pay their portion if they choose to do so. Comcast will only bring service to Chappy if 270 people pay the required amount and any additional fees required.
“270 is about 60 per cent of the homes on Chappy so that’s been a real challenge for us,” Mr. Filley said.
The next part of the process, which will require a financial commitment will be “more challenging,” he said. “That may be where we’ll have some real questions.”
“As you know Chappy isn’t all affluent homes,” he said. “There are people who are definitely economically challenged there and the community has risen to the occasion.” He said some people have started funds to help others pay, and the community is “trying to work out anything we can to make this happen.” Modern infrastructure is increasingly a necessity, he said, especially for school children who live on the island.
Mr. Filley thanked the town, particularly Mrs. Dolby, for helping to push the project along.
“Things are looking much better than they were a short time ago,” selectman Margaret Serpa said.
In other business, selectmen approved three dredge projects presented by dredge advisory committee member J. Howell Kelly. One project would take place in Edgartown Great Pond at the request of the shellfish committee, and another project would move sand from Lighthouse Point to Fuller Street Beach. Mr. Kelly said the town already has permits for these two projects.
The committee has also applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge and discharge dredge material below the high tide line in several areas. Dredging sites include Cape Pogue Bay, Edgartown Harbor and Eel Pond, Katama Bay, Sengekontacket Pond and the Great Pond. Beach nourishment would take place in several spots, with 200,000 cubic yards of sand removed and then deposited on about 18 acres of town beaches.
The Army Corps has posted the project for a 30-day comment period, after which the town could be issued a comprehensive permit, Mr. Howell said.
The selectmen also looked at a list of more than 100 lots available to the town through tax title possession. The board agreed to have discussions with the town affordable housing committee and conservation commission about the lots.