Chappaquiddick expects to fall short of Comcast threshold

The island of Chappaquiddick on the eastern end of Martha's Vineyard, is without cable service. — File photo by Bill Brine

Dennis Goldin, a Chappaquiddick resident who is among several community leaders that have worked to bring cable television to Chappaquiddick, told Edgartown selectmen Monday that he expects to fall short of the threshold of 270 household signups Comcast requires before it will extend its cable infrastructure across the harbor channel to the small island community. Mr. Goldin asked selectmen to push for a revised contract with Comcast, to lower that threshold.

“In a little less than two months the December deadline is going to expire,” Mr. Goldin told selectmen. “It’s our best estimate at this point, we’ll have 200 homeowners that will have signed up.” He said the estimate comes from a poll of Chappaquiddick homeowners.

On July 16, shortly before one of two summer Chappaquiddick Island Association (CIA) meetings there were 92 deposits being held in escrow from homeowners who committed to cable service, according to residents involved in the negotiations.

Under a deal that took more than two years to negotiate, Comcast agreed to extend its cable infrastructure to Chappaquiddick if 270 households paid an advance construction deposit of $2,139 each. The original July 21 deadline for the deposits was extended by agreement between the town of Edgartown and Comcast.

Dr. Paul O’Donnell made a plea for the service Monday night. He told selectmen he was recruited to move to the Island to provide medical services to cancer patients at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He said he needs cable service, including high-speed Internet access, to treat Island patients.

“My wife and I bought a house on Chappy and moved here in March,” Dr. O’Donnell said. “In order to provide the services I need to do, I need to have access to MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital) electronic medical records, and have ready access all the time. With the provider I have now, the service is so unreliable, half the time I cannot connect to the medical records.”

Chairman Art Smadbeck pledged to continue to work with Comcast.

“We’re so close,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “We’re not going to rest until we can close the gap. Some of the points you make, we’ll be able to use.”

In other business, selectmen voted to accept the quarterly report of animal control officer Barbara Prada, who said her department answered 415 calls for service from April through September.

“It was a quiet summer, which is fine with me,” Ms. Prada said. Selectmen Michael Donaroma noted that Ms. Prada’s detailed report included as many calls for seals, as snakes this summer.

“There are a lot of animals that people don’t realize are out there,” she said. “I’ve also had a couple calls about peacocks.”

Ms. Prada told the selectmen that she will take a medical leave in February, which she said is the slowest time of year for her department.