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Town of Lewiston, Time Warner Cable set to finalize new franchise agreement

Sat, Mar 28th 2015 07:00 am

Janese looks to hold more electronics recycling events

By Terry Duffy

Editor-in-Chief

Beyond the Frontier House proposal, the Town of Lewiston was active on a number of fronts at its regular meeting Monday.

The town's Cable Commission reported that, following years of negotiations with Time Warner Cable, it had reached consensus in the form of new franchise agreement between the town and the cable provider that would cover the next 15 years.

"The franchise process has changed dramatically," said Lewiston Cable Commission Chairman James M. Abbondanza in his remarks before the board.

Abbondanza recounted a years-long process of discussions between the town and TWC intended to restructure the original cable services provider contact, which dates to 1990. Lewiston had been working under the parameters of original agreement since then.

 "It must be understood that, over the past 25 years, there has been a significant shift in the technology and cable service franchising models," Abbondanza said.

He said the cable commission, following a 2008 franchise renewal between Lewiston and TWC, embarked on heightened discussions with the provider and the state's Department of Public Service, Office of Telecommunications, to create a new agreement that will "guarantee the Town of Lewiston significant revenues for the next 15 years."

Abbondanza said that, as a result of additional fine-tuning of that document with Chris Muller, director of local franchising for Time Warner, all pertinent issues have been resolved. "We have a final franchise agreement in hand," he said.

Highlights of the agreement include:

•A projected increase in revenues to the town. Over the past two years, the town received $350,062.29 in franchise payments from TWC. Over the 15-year course of the agreement, assuming a 1.00405 percent increase compounded yearly, the town is projected to receive $2.717 million.

•Basic cable services provided to a number of town facilities at no cost. Included in that offering are cable services for the town's Water Pollution Control Center.

•A one-time advance of $9,210 for audio-visual equipment to the town for public, educational and governmental access channel programming. The funding will allow for the production and broadcast of town government programs (Town Board and other like meetings), plus other public interest-oriented programming.

"There are a lot of benefits to this agreement," Town Councilman Bill Conrad said. He reported the Town Board would hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. April 27 at Town Hall to gauge comments prior to finalizing the agreement.

In other news from the session:

•Deputy Supervisor Sean Edwards announced his retirement from that position effective immediately. Edwards said he was facing surgery and he would be unable to fulfill the varied demands of the job for the foreseeable future. Supervisor Dennis Brochey and board members expressed surprise at the announcement and thanked Edwards for his service.

Edwards is expected to continue his work as a member of the Niagara River Greenway Commission.

•Town Attorney Mark Davis said he was still waiting to hear from cell providers on a proposal for the adjustment of fees en route to the town finalizing a new cell tower renewal fees agreement.

"We haven't heard from them," he said of the fee proposal to providers that is linked to the type and extent of cell phone services utilized on individual towers in the town.

No action was taken and Davis said he anticipated an update for next month's work session.

•Likewise, no action was taken on the town's finalizing a new agreement with Local 284 as Lewiston readies for the upcoming Highway Department paving season. Town Attorney Brian Seaman said the issue of projected paving needs and expenditures remains to be finalized.

The matter was left with the board directing Highway Superintendent Doug Janese to compile a list of paving needs in the town and plan work according to his available budget and any anticipated funding from the state (CHIPS funding).

•Janese sought and was given the board's OK to explore holding additional electronics recycling events in the town this year. He requested roughly $8,500 to hold additional programs and said he would look into utilizing available money in the Highway Department budget.

•Councilman Ron Winkley announced Joshua Salada (no relation to Lewiston Police Chief Chris Salada) would be joining the Lewiston Police Department as a new part-time officer. He replaces Travis Maggard, who will be joining the Niagara Falls Police Department as a full-time officer.

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