The City of Evanston and the cable company locked horns earlier this week, but the matter seems to have been resolved. But by the end of the Feb. 22 City Council meeting the adversaries had reached detente.
The City wants Comcast to relocate the Evanston Community Television “head end” equipment from its current Hartrey Avenue location to a new home at the City’s Service Center on Asbury Avenue, as agreed per the newly signed franchise agreement. Comcast wants to renew a lease for the small space in which it houses some equipment in James Park near the Levy Center. It turns out that Comcast cannot have one without the other.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told City Council that he saw “no reason why [the lease] should be continued at this time. So we ask for no action at this time.” According to Mr. Bobkiewicz’s memo, Comcast has simply not responded to requests for action on the ECTV relocation. As such, he said, “We don’t believe it is in the City’s best interest to continue this lease.”
The lease is for a facility that connects Evanston, Skokie and Wilmette to the Comcast’s Chicago fiber optic ring, said Mr. Bobkiewicz. The City has “provided notice to Comcast to remove its facilities from City property no later than 30 days after the expiration of the current agreement,” according to the memo. The lease expired on Feb. 28.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asked what the effect would be on Evanston television sets if Comcast pulled its equipment. Mr. Bobkiewicz said that his understanding is that all Evanston, Wilmette and Skokie customers would lose cable service.
During the meeting, the City received a contract from Comcast under which it would provide services requested, said City spokesman Eric Palmer. Staff is reviewing the contract proposal, Mr. Palmer said, and the City hopes to resolve all issues with Comcast quickly. Residents and readers continue to await further developments.