Chappy’s battle for bandwidth gets a boost


As the clock ticks more loudly on the deal that could bring high-speed Internet to Chappaquiddick, advocates of the Comcast deal got a boost this week, when Edgartown town administrator Pam Dolby sent a letter to all island residents, stating unequivocally that there is no financial liability to any residents who send in their commitment letters to Edgartown National Bank, escrow agent for the deal, by the deadline of October 1.

Confusion on the financial liability issue had dogged the process from the start.

The original letter of commitment, sent out in early June, said each customer would have to pay a one-time fee of $2,139, plus sign up for two years of basic cable and that additional construction fees may be added, “depending in part on the distance of the dwelling unit from the main conduit.”

In her letter dated August 19, Ms. Dolby wrote, “In lieu of waiting for Comcast to obtain and send out a letter approved by their legal department and knowing time is of the essence I am writing to assure you that the commitment letter which must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2013, does not commit you to pay the $2,139.00, it does not commit you to anything. If there are 270 commitment letters sent back Comcast will begin a survey process. By approximately March 1, 2014, your cost will be mailed to you and you have until approximately July 1, 2014, to pay for your installation. There is no money due until that time.”

Lionel Spiro, former Chappaquiddick Island Association president and active member of the communications committee, said that as of Tuesday morning, 233 people had either verbally committed or sent their votes to Edgartown National Bank. “And just a minute ago, we had someone say yes, who had said no, because of Pam Dolby’s letter,” he said in an email to The Times.

Asked for a current total of commitment letters on file, a spokesman for Edgartown National Bank said, per the deal with Comcast, she was not allowed to divulge the information.

“The current total at the bank is not on target,” Ms. Dolby told the Times. “It’s somewhere around 125, but that’s not a good number to go by. People in favor of the deal shouldn’t panic. We’ve sent a lot of letters out in the past two weeks to households that were left off the mailing list due to code issues. The letter going out today is from me, I did it myself so we could get it out quicker. We’ll have a much more accurate number in two weeks.”