NEWTOWN AREA TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

NEWTOWN BOROUGH FIRE HALL

14 LIBERTY STREET

NEWTOWN, PA

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, 2006


DRAFT - SUBJECT TO AMENDMENT BY THE NEWTOWN AREA TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE UNTIL APPROVED.


Members Present: James Manahan, Chairman; James Bowe, Member; Harry Stevens, Member and Jerry Schenkman, Liaison Representing Newtown Township; Patrick Foster, Vice-Chairman and Don Smith, Liaison Representing Newtown Borough. Not present were Barbara Jankowski, Member and Robert Hafner, Member Representing Newtown Township.

Also present was Brian Jeter, Director of Government & Community Relations representing Comcast Cable Communications, Inc.

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman James Manahan called the meeting to order at 7:34 P.M.

MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 1, 2006:

James Bowe moved to approve the minutes of February 1, 2006. The motion was seconded by Harry Stevens and passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS:

Hosting Campaign Debates

The Committee members discussed the Township/Borough hosting campaign debates.

James Bowe suggested that the Committee draft guidelines for the campaign debates, before presenting the idea to the Board of Supervisors/Borough Council.

The Committee members discussed how the production would be paid for and who to invite. James Bowe suggested having the candidates sponsor the debate.

The Committee members discussed Northampton Township currently hosting debates.

The Committee members discussed this year’s Primary Election and General Election.

Harry Stevens suggested the Committee have a trial run with this year’s General Election.

The Committee members discussed the cost involved to produce the debate. James Bowe advised that currently Video Gold charges the Township $1,000.00 for four (4) hours of production.

The Committee members discussed the Township/Borough sharing content with local municipalities.

The Committee members discussed the possibility of having volunteer’s videotape the program.

The Committee members discussed the agreement between the Township and Video Gold.

The Committee members discussed the studios at the Bucks County Community College. James Bowe advised the Committee members on past discussions with the Media Services Department Head regarding developing content for the Township/Borough. James Bowe and Jerry Schenkman advised that they would approach the BCCC to discuss the matter again.

James Bowe commented on the need to begin drafting the guidelines now.

The Committee members suggested inviting representative from the County parties, representatives from the local parties and the League of Women Voters.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members on his prior experience in Pittsburgh with regards to debates and On-Demand content.

James Bowe commented with regards to Comcast offering the debates as On-Demand content. Brian Jeter advised that he would look into the matter.

James Bowe suggested inviting the League of Women Voters to next month’s meeting. The members agreed that was a good idea. James Bowe advised that he would contact Jay Seinsbaugh to gather contact information for inviting the League of Women Voters to a meeting.

Harry Stevens discussed the Bucks County Congressmen running in the Fall General Election.

Jerry Schenkman commented with regards to On-Demand content and the Senate race.

Jerry Schenkman commented with regards to the publicity for the Township/Borough and the Committee.

OLD BUSINESS:

Verizon Franchise Agreements/Permits

James Manahan advised the Committee that there have been no new developments with regards to the Verizon Franchise Agreement since the February meeting. He also advised that he should have more information at the April 5th meeting.

Don Smith advised that the next meeting schedule between the Fred Polner and Verizon is March 13, 2006.

James Manahan updated the members with regards to Verizon and Road Occupancy Permits. Bob Pellegrino advised him that all required Permits were obtained.

Patrick Foster updated the members with regards to his research regarding Verizon and Road Occupancy Permits. He provided the members with copies of the Township’s current and prior Road Occupancy Permit Application, Verizon’s Fiber Optics Road Openings, the Township’s Fee Schedule, PECO’s Permit for Electric Cable Replacement in the Newtown Crossing Development and various correspondence from John Boyle with regards to Verizon. He advised the Committee members that he feels Verizon should have applied for more Road Occupancy Permits. He commented with regards to the time lapse between when the permits were applied for and when the work was actually completed. He also advised the Committee that per the Codes Department he has been advised to direct anymore questions to the Township Manager.

The Committee members discussed Patrick Foster’s research.

The members discussed the new amended permit showing an expiration date and the old permit not showing an expiration date.

The members discussed the dates that Verizon applied for their permits and when the work was completed.

The Committee members discussed the lost revenue to the Township and the Supervisors’ discussions to raise taxes.

The members also discussed some neighborhoods only having two (2) permits (examples: Newtown Crossing, Newtown Grant), permits for private developments, and permits for streets that have not been dedicated yet.

Don Smith commented with regards to Verizon and permits within the Borough.

The Committee members discussed the public right-of-way.

The Committee members discussed Verizon applying for one (1) permit for several ground openings and PECO and the Newtown Artesian Water Company having to obtain a permit for every ground opening.

The Committee members discussed their lack of knowledge that Verizon was going to be doing work within the community.

Jerry Schenkman advised the Committee members that he has not discussed the matter with the Board of Supervisors and on his discussions with Bob Pellegrino.

James Bowe updated the Committee members with regards to past problems with Verizon and Comcast.

Brian Jeter commented with regards to the Comcast upgrade within the Township and the Borough. He also commented with regards to the State’s regulations regarding utility companies.

Patrick Foster advised the Committee members that his research shows that Verizon is now applying for the proper number of permits.

James Manahan thanked Patrick Foster for his research work.

Verizon General Discussion

Harry Stevens commented with regards to Verizon disconnecting copper lines and replacing them with fiber.

The Committee members discussed the possibility of Verizon auctioning off the copper lines and creating competition.

Jerry Schenkman advised the Committee members on an article with regards to the Trump Tower.

James Manahan advised the Committee members that per Scott Harp, Dan Reavey has advised him that he would have a representative from Verizon start attending the Committee meetings quarterly.

James Bowe bcommented with regards to the Township’s residential complaints regarding Verizon’s work within the Township being forwarded to John Boyle. He updated the members on a problem with a cut line running to the monument in Pickering Chase neighborhood and John Boyle’s outlook with regards to who is responsible for repairing the cut line. The Committee members agreed that the Township should present the problem to Verizon and ask them to accept responsibility for the cut line. James Manahan asked James Bowe to keep the members informed on the matter.

Commonwealth Drive Cleanup

James Manahan advised the Committee members that the issues with regards to the cleanup of the property located at 192 Commonwealth Drive and Verizon have been resolved.

The members discussed the way that Verizon handle the matter.

COMCAST UPDATE:

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to contacting Joe at the Ambulance Squad.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to the channel move that will take place on/or about March 28, 2006. He advised that around March 28, 2006 the Township’s Government Access Channel would be relocated to Channel 22 and WNJT would be aired on Channel 23. He explained why the change has to take place.

The Committee members discussed Channel 78 being shared between the Council Rock School District and the Bucks County Community College.

Brian Jeter advised the members on audio problems at Council Rock School District’s head end.

The Committee thanked Brian Jeter for his time.

OTHER BUSINESS/MEMBER COMMENTS:

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting adjourned at 8:36 P.M.

The next meeting is scheduled for April 5, 2006. The meeting will begin at 7:30 P.M., in the Newtown Borough Fire Station located at 14 Liberty Street, Newtown.

Respectfully submitted:

 

______________________________
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary