Chappaquiddick residents, upset over Comcast’s failure to serve them, got cold comfort when they took their case to the Edgartown selectmen this week.

Peter Getsinger, the president of the Chappaquiddick Island Association, was assured by selectmen that getting cable service to their island was the town’s “first, foremost and primary objective” in negotiating a new 10-year franchise agreement with the monopoly cable provider.

However, there was little the town could do to force the issue that it had not done already. Certainly they could not hold the contract negotiations hostage to the desire of Chappy residents to have cable service, when there was no alternative service provider.

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck put it simply.

“The reason they’re not doing it is it has negative cash flow implications. That’s why, all over the Island, when they deem that it’s too expensive to bring the service, they just don’t do it. And it’s been an issue for years all over the Island,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

The existing 10-year contract to provide cable service to all the Island towns expires at the end of June. Technically, the deal relates to providing cable television, but because of service bundling, Comcast’s failure to serve some parts of the Island also deprives residents of Internet service.

And that, said Mr. Getsinger, should be considered an essential service these days.

He said the level of frustration is high among Chappaquiddick residents, many of whom rely professionally on Internet service. “The group that has to hold their feet to the fire,” is the selectmen, Mr. Getsinger said.

And if other towns are having the same problems with lack of service, he asked, they might collectively draw a line in the sand.

“Is the Island willing to not sign a new contract with Comcast if all these various groups and towns are unhappy with the level of service that’s being provided?” Mr. Getsinger said.

Replied Mr Smadbeck: “I don’t think we could get anybody interested to start from scratch here.” But he added:

“They know that this is primary with us. What you guys can do is keep contacting them, keep sending the letters and keep up the pressure. If they know you guys aren’t going away and the pressure will continue, I think that will be very, very helpful. As long as the public is engaged, these people will listen.”

He encouraged Mr. Getsinger to apply that pressure at the next scheduled negotiating meeting on May 11.

On the positive side, the selectmen noted that new cable conduits had recently been installed from Edgartown beneath the harbor to Chappaquiddick by the power company NStar at a cost of some $2 million.

If Comcast could negotiate the use of that conduit for its service, it would greatly reduce the cost.

“It’s a question of some kind of deal between Comcast and NStar,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

But as selectman Michael Donaroma noted, there appeared to be a lot of corporate red tape involved in the negotiation between the two companies. It was “excruciating to get anything positive” out of either of them, he said.

Mr. Smadbeck said the town’s desire to see Chappy served had been made clear throughout the period of negotiation, and the town’s representative on the committee, town administrator Pamela Dolby, would keep up the pressure.

After the meeting, Mr. Getsinger remained frustrated.

“It’s unclear to me what their commitment really is,” he said of the selectmen. “I was not comforted by suggestions that it was hard to deal with giant corporations.”

As for Comcast, public affairs spokesman Doreen Vigue said in a statement:

“We appreciate the desire and passion Chappaquiddick residents have to receive Comcast products and services. We want to serve as many customers as is geographically and economically feasible, and continuously evaluate opportunities to deliver our innovative technology to new areas and customers.”