Cable television

Cable TV to be topic of Niskayuna reunion – The Daily Gazette

NISKAYUNA — A representative from Spectrum Cable Television will be at City Hall Tuesday night to answer questions about renewing a franchise contract with the city.

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

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

About 40 people attended a televised information session at City 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 getting Verizon’s Fios service, an all-fiber network that moves large amounts of data at high speeds. City officials said Verizon is not signing new cable franchise contracts with municipalities; the company has no intention of coming to Niskayuna.

Carol McTague, director of community relations for the state Civil Service Commission, responded to inquiries during the first session

“We’re going to have plenty of opportunities to have public hearings on this because we haven’t even negotiated the renewal, the cable franchise agreement yet,” Assistant Attorney Alexis Kim said. “The purpose of this session, and it’s just before the city council meeting – I’ve already conveyed to Kevin Egan the kind of big themes about what I think the city is going to ask for in their negotiations for the new contract of franchise.”

Residents of the city have also complained that they cannot buy set-top boxes and have to rent the devices from Spectrum. Kim said people want to buy their own boxes, or at least know rental costs won’t go up.

Kim also said people might voice concerns about the lineup changes.

“People are upset that [Spectrum] drop their TV shows that they enjoy, but they are still charged the same price, if not increasing the price,” Kim said. “I think maybe they want to talk about the possibility of having an a la carte option where you only pay for the channels.”

There may also be questions about customer service.

“I think they’re probably going to talk about the quality of service and being able to fix it through customer service,” Kim said. “I know a lot of complaints have focused on customer service not being friendly or helpful.”

At the meeting following the session, the municipal council will hold three public hearings:

Hearings will cover:

  • A local bill to amend the municipal code affecting hawkers and lawyers in Niskayuna.

If passed, the amendment will allow the city clerk to revoke licenses issued to hawkers and attorneys at any time after notice and an opportunity to be heard for any violations.

“This is really about revoking peddler licenses in our city,” said Councilman Bill McPartlon, who chairs the city’s police and public safety committee.

“It has come to our attention that some peddlers and lawyers have used tactics that make our residents uncomfortable,” McPartlon said at the Jan. 28 council meeting. “So this change in our code is going to allow us more flexibility with aggressive door-to-door salespeople and makes it consistent with our neighboring communities and state code.”

  • The application for a special use permit requested by Gail and Robert King to convert an existing multi-family residential building at 2220 Crescent Road into a mixed-use building that will provide space for Gail King’s smelter business.

King hopes to move his current business from Nott Street West to the nearby Crescent Road address. On February 10, the planning board passed a resolution recommending that the city council grant the special use permit.

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

The city’s public safety committee recommended installing a “No Parking Here Around The Corner” sign at the intersection.

“It has come to our attention and we have discussed it with the highway department that they park very close to the end of Schwaber and Balltown which makes it very difficult for buses and cars to pass,” said McPartlon.

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

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

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