MONTVILLE, NJ – Township Committeeman Matt Kayne put Altice on notice and reminded Pine Brook residents that Verizon provides FiOs service in some parts of the township at the Oct. 13 township committee meeting.
Planet Networks will be using the town’s right-of-ways to build their network to provide residents with fiber-optic wifi service, Kayne said, due to a recent resolution the committee passed.
“We look forward to them developing a presence as an alternative [to Altice/Optimum] in our town,” he said at the meeting.
In 2014, township administration spoke with Verizon FiOs officials who said they were not interested in expanding into Montville Township, Kayne said, and again in September of this year, Kayne and administration met with Verizon FiOs officials who said they will not be expanding into the township. Further, state law restricts Verizon into the 70 most populated municipalities and county seats, he said, which does not include Montville.
However, Verizon does serve parts of Pine Brook, and Kayne said residents could call and inquire if they might be better-served by FiOs.
With regard to Altice, Kayne said he finds the level of service they have been providing to be beyond troubling and simply unacceptable. But he is forcing Altice’s hand at this point, after speaking with residents and officials from the company.
“Eight weeks ago we took this matter to a different level,” Kayne said at the meeting. “We requested information in writing and for Altice to memorialize for our residents the system and service upgrades that we are being promised to address. Eight weeks later, despite promises from Altice, we still do not have a plan for our residents, nor do we have an acknowledgment from corporate of the firm’s malpractice.”
Kayne said he asked township attorney Fred Semrau to prepare a formal resolution to file a complaint with the NJ Board of Public Utilities.
“However, in an eleventh hour discussion, Altice has confirmed that they would like to meet with our administration as early as [Oct. 16] to disclose what they have done so far and provide an action plan detailing what they intend to do to make the service in our town what it should be,” Kayne announced. “Based on this request, we are giving AlticeUSA a two-week grace period, and if we are not satisfied with the response, will proceed with said resolution at our next meeting.”
Township Administrator Victor Canning announced that the township will receive $238,883 through the CARES (pandemic relief fund) grant to cover extra COVID-19 expenses.
The project status report is under the tab of “government” on the township website now instead of being on the township committee agenda. It will be updated by the 15th of every month, Assistant Township Administrator June Hercek said.
There has been an uptick in Coronavirus cases, Canning said, and meetings are being held to make plans about the implications. On Oct. 23, there were 16 active cases in the township; several days this month had no new cases reported, but on the 21st and 15th, 6 and 7 were reported, respectively.
Resident Dan Pagano asked when meetings would be in-building, since the meeting room is large enough for social distancing. Mayor Frank Cooney said that no matter what, meetings would have to be on the phone even if they were in the building, in order to accommodate citizens’ needs. The meeting room can hold 184, he said, and at 25% mandated capacity, that would be 46 people, and would have to include staff and the committee. The people who come in have to sign in and have their temperature taken, Cooney said, and some benches would have to be cordoned off.
“If we have more than 46 people who want to come to a meeting, and then we have other residents who want to participate in the meeting, but don’t feel it’s safe enough to go out in the community, we have to allow for them,” he said. “Either way, we have to be on phone lines. If a township committee member is in quarantine, we have to give them the opportunity to serve via phone. The governor’s executive order is difficult in this situation until he ‘frees it up more.’ We don’t see it freeing up for several months.”
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