Cable television to be topic at Niskayuna meeting

Town's 10-year cable franchise agreement with Spectrum expired last August

Categories: News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

NISKAYUNA — A Spectrum cable television representative will be at Town Hall Tuesday evening to answer questions about renewing a franchise agreement with the town.

Kevin Egan, director of state government affairs at Spectrum (formerly Time Warner), will be at the 6 p.m. information session at Edwin D. Reilly Jr. Niskayuna Town Hall. The session will  precede the regular monthly meeting of the Town Board.

The town’s 10-year cable franchise agreement with Spectrum expired last August. Negotiations for the next cable television franchise agreement — the town’s current, non-exclusive agreement is with Spectrum — are ongoing.

About 40 people attended a cable television information session at Town Hall last October. They listened to the renewal process, asked about available cable choices and complained about the lack of competition for cable service.

Residents also wondered about obtaining Verizon’s Fios service, a 100 percent fiber-optic network that moves large amounts of data at high speeds. Town officials said Verizon is not signing any new cable franchise agreements with municipalities; the company has no plans to come to Niskayuna.

Carol McTague, community relations director for the state Public Service Commission, answered inquiries during the first session

“We’re going to have many opportunities to have public hearings on this because we haven’t even gotten to negotiating the renewal, the cable franchise agreement,” said Deputy Town Attorney Alexis Kim. “The purpose of this session, and it is right before the Town Board meeting — I’ve already relayed to Kevin Egan kind of the big themes about what I think the town is going to be asking for in their negotiations for the new franchise agreement.”

Town residents also have complained they cannot purchase cable boxes and must rent the devices from Spectrum. Kim said people want to buy their own boxes, or at least know rental costs are not going to increase.

Kim also said people may voice concerns about programming changes.

“People are upset that [Spectrum] is dropping their TV shows that they value, yet they’re still charged the same price, if not increasing the price,” Kim said. “I think they want perhaps to talk about the ability to have an a la carte option where you’re just paying for channels.”

There may also be questions about customer service.

“I think they’re probably going to talk about the quality of the service and the ability to get it fixed via customer service,” Kim said. “I know a lot of the complaints have centered around customer service not being amicable or helpful.”

In the meeting that follows the session, the Town Board will hold three public hearings:

The hearings will address:

  • A proposed local law to amend town code affecting peddlers and solicitors in Niskayuna.

If adopted, the amendment will allow the town clerk to revoke licenses issued to peddlers and solicitors at any time after notice and an opportunity to be heard for any violations.

“It really deals with revocation of peddlers’ permits in our town,” said Councilman Bill McPartlon, who chairs the town’s Police and Public Safety Committee.

“It has been brought to our attention that some peddlers and solicitors have been using some tactics that make our residents uncomfortable,” McPartlon said during the board’s Jan. 28 meeting. “So this change in our code is going to allow us more flexibility with aggressive door-to-door salesmen and it makes it consistent with with our neighboring communities and state code.”

  • The application for a special use permit sought by Gail and Robert King to convert an existing multifamily residential building at 2220 Crescent Road into a mixed-use building that will allow space for Gail King’s electrolysis business.

King is hoping to move her current business from Nott Street West to the nearby Crescent Road address. The town Planning Board on Feb. 10 passed a resolution recommending the Town Board grant the special use permit.

  • The parking situation at the corner of Schwaber Drive and Balltown Road.

The town’s Public Safety Committee has recommended the installation of a “no parking here to corner” sign at the intersection.

“It’s been brought to our attention and we’ve gone over this with the Highway Department that they’re parking very close to the end of Schwaber and Balltown which makes it very difficult for buses and cars to pass there,” McPartlon said.

Residents will have the chance to speak during the meeting’s privilege of the floor segment.

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]


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