Comcast comments

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This paper has actively covered the cable license renewal negotiations between Comcast and the towns on Martha’s Vineyard since those discussions started in early 2011, including the request of a small number of citizens to bring Comcast services to the island of Chappaquiddick as a condition of a new agreement.

We should set forth a few facts to set the context. No one disputes that a $2 million investment is required to build out the island of Chappaquiddick. Similarly, there is agreement that there are only about 500 homes on the island, and we understand that fewer than 20 per cent of those homes are occupied on a year-round basis.

We think most observers would agree that a $2 million capital investment for this build out is financially questionable. Nevertheless, in view of the strong opinions expressed, Comcast’s latest offer to the board of selectmen does provide several options to the selectmen for a build out of Chappaquiddick. These types of options are quite common, and we have successfully worked with other communities facing similar desires and challenges, enabling us to serve additional homes we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to connect to our network. So at this point, it is essentially a matter of allocation of resources, and the decision whether to allocate the capital dollars available to a build out of Chappaquiddick or to other pressing island concerns is up to the selectmen.

Despite the disproportionate attention on Chappaquiddick, there are other important elements of the franchise agreement that positively impact all Islanders, including a generous financial package that includes franchise fees of approximately $5 million and half a million dollars in capital payments. Comcast remains committed to delivering on its strong and proven track record of product innovation and community support on Martha’s Vineyard. Our customers on Martha’s Vineyard are at the forefront of the latest technology and product innovations, contributing to what the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable has called “the highest concentration of broadband anywhere in the Commonwealth.”

As the franchise renewal negotiations continue, they will undoubtedly be the focus of additional discussions and media attention. We hope the above helps residents understand one of the topics being addressed, and reinforces Comcast’s deep commitment to serving and supporting Martha’s Vineyard.

Steve Hackley

Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Greater Boston Region

Big Science

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It was so refreshing to read what should always be front page news, a story recognizing the accomplishments of our future, our youth, a science whiz, Isabel Smith, who’s project significantly reduced the amount of hydrocarbons that may leach into the harbor whenever it rains. At-A-Girl, Isabel.

Peter Cabana

Vineyard Haven

Flying skunks

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I was interested to read your story about cormorants, which appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of the paper. A single cormorant will eat 50 fish a day, according to an article outlining the problem for fishermen in Michigan and Minnesota, which I read in the New York Times some years ago.

When I was a child on the Vineyard in the 1940s and ‘50s there were no cormorants. Can we talk of them as an “invasive species,” like the skunks (there were no skunks either).

Why do we need to protect a non-native invasive species, may I ask?

Cormorants drive out fish eaters such as kingfishers and maybe ospreys. One gentle but effective way to control the burgeoning population is to oil their eggs. They roost in rookeries, which should not be too hard to find.

Diane Spurr