Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was sent to the Edgartown selectmen:
In response to the latest Comcast proposal for cabling Chappaquiddick, it is doubtful that any homeowner located along a town or state road on the entire Island of Martha’s Vineyard has had to pay to get Comcast service to their property. Martha’s Vineyard homeowners located miles down private subdivision roads have received cable service without having to pay a dime beyond their monthly bill. Yet Comcast has suggested that on Chappaquiddick we should kick in $3,800 each to build a system that Comcast will profit from for years to come. The amount of $3,800 paid over 24 months comes to nearly $160 per month, and together with the monthly cable fees of $57 would require taxpayers on Chappy to pay $217 per month. Would any resident of Martha’s Vineyard sign on to this deal? As Comcast apparently hopes, there is little chance 200 of the 500 property owners on Chappy will buy into such a plan, and so Comcast essentially is just saying no to Chappaquiddick.
A quick review of the seven miles of town-owned and maintained roads — Chappaquiddick Road, Litchfield Road, Dike Bridge Road and Poucha Road — shows 171 dwellings. Ten are served by underground power and conduit is in place; the remaining 161 are served by overhead lines. This density is well within the proposed contract limits suggested by Comcast for cabling on Martha’s Vineyard and Edgartown of 15 homes per mile overhead and 20 per mile underground with conduit. Add in the private roads that may want to tie into the cabling of the town roads, and it is unclear why the cable advisory board or the selectmen would entertain Comcast’s proposal in any serious way. Again, is there any resident on Martha’s Vineyard with a street address along a town or state-maintained road that has had to capitalize cable television access to their property line?
Is not Chappaquiddick part of Edgartown? Property owners on Chappaquiddick pay over $2 million yearly in taxes to Edgartown and send approximately 10 kids to the town schools. The entire town-capitalized infrastructure on Chappy consists of seven miles of road, half of them unpaved, and a recently-built firehouse, manned by Chappy volunteers. The Chappy ferry and its transfer bridges are entirely privately capitalized and paid for by ratepayers, and its service is provided to the town at no charge. It’s clear that Edgartown, happy to collect taxes from Chappaquiddick property owners, should include at a minimum, Chappy’s town roads in the Comcast license. Its capitalization should be financed by the profit-makers at Comcast or, if not, by the residents of Edgartown who are benefitting from Chappy’s tax base.
Roger Becker, Chappaquiddick
The writer is president of the Chappaquiddick Island Association.