Comcast contract signed
First Selectman Brent Colley (seated) holding the contract between Comcast and the Town of Sharon on Thursday, March 2. Left to right are SCTF co-chairman Jill Drew, Selectman Dale Jones, SCTF co-chairman Meghan Flanagan, Selectman Casey Flanagan and contract performance manager Nikki Blass. 
Photo by Leila Hawken

Comcast contract signed

SHARON — After years of study by the town and the Sharon Connect Task Force (SCTF), culminating in a town vote in late 2022 to approve a contract between the town and Comcast Corp., the selectmen voted unanimously to direct First Selectman Brent Colley to sign the $1.6 million agreement on Thursday, March 2.

The completed final contract clears the way to providing high-speed broadband access for every home and business in the town.

With the contract signed, Nikki Blass will begin her work in earnest as the contract performance manager, serving as a liaison between Comcast, town leadership, residents and the SCTF.

“Comcast is responsive to everything,” Blass said, praising the relationship between the town and the company. SCTF co-chair Meghan Flanagan added that Comcast maintains a regional corporate presence for timely response to questions as they arise.

On behalf of the town, the Board of Selectmen praised the years of work by the SCTF in finalizing the agreement, including the miles logged by the co-chairmen Jill Drew and Meghan Flanagan who drove every road and found every property in the town, trying to ensure that the planning maps could be as accurate as possible.

Soon after the Tuesday, Feb. 14, selectmen’s meeting when she expressed concern over discrepancies found within Comcast’s planning map (Exhibit A) and what she had observed from personal inspection of properties, Drew arranged for a day-long drive with a Comcast engineer to resolve the issues. As a result of the drive, the Comcast map was revised to include the six properties that were in question. The properties shown as needing service but where service was already provided were adjusted on the map, leaving only a few open questions. For example, Drew noted, at the Miles Wildlife Audubon Sanctuary the SCTF would need to determine which buildings would benefit from internet connection.

Selectman Dale Jones commented that the SCTF had done its due diligence in contacting residents, their best faith effort.

Selectman Casey Flanagan felt that there is sufficient flexibility within the contract wording, that solutions can be found to individual situations as they arise.

“Through hard work, you got it there,” Jones said. Flanagan pointed out that Drew has spent the equivalent of years of her life driving over the town’s roads inspecting internet access.

“It was good faith on Comcast’s part as well,” Drew said.

“This is the culmination of the town of Sharon and their enthusiastic endorsement to ensure that everyone in town would have access to broadband,” Jones said, referencing the town meeting vote.

The next step, according to Drew, Flanagan and Blass will be to schedule a meeting with Comcast’s Matt Skane, Manager of Government and Regulatory Affairs, within the Comcast Western New England Corp. While Comcast has already begun the process of obtaining permits for the work, the meeting will decide the next steps at the local level.

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