Downtown businesses lobby for cable service

Published 11:35 pm Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fewer than 5 percent of the occupants of the downtown core have Charter cable, phone or Internet service. The Downtown Business Association is hoping to change that.

“It’s not an easy task, but I think it can be done,” said Andy Damiani, president of the association. “Some buildings are being restored, and now’s the time to put the system in.”

Many businesses in the downtown area have tried to get Charter services in the past, but were told that Charter was not available there. Robin Smith is one of the business owners turned down for Charter services.

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“They told me it’s not there, so they can’t hook me up to it,” she said. Smith owns the Treasured Memories scrapbook accessories store at 1009 W. Washington St.

Other business owners have had similar experiences, Damiani said. The Charter lines don’t run to every building in downtown, and putting them in can be difficult and expensive, said Audra Taylor, a Charter business representative. Taylor met with downtown business owners at Wednesday’s association meeting to talk about the cable service.

“Sometimes you have to bore through parking lots and things of that nature,” she said.

Many business owners and residents in downtown have made the mistake of calling the 800 number for Charter, Taylor said. Instead, people should call her directly at 539-0713 to obtain service in the downtown area. If Charter is not already hooked up to the building, it usually can be, Taylor said.

“There’s very few places that I can’t go with it.”

If needed, Taylor will initiate a survey to see how far the lines need to run to the building. Some business owners have been asked to pay for running the lines, and that has turned them off in the past, Taylor said. However, if enough people throughout the area are interested in obtaining service, Taylor can work with them to “cover the cost by providing more service,” she said.

“I try to make it as cost-effective for them as possible,” Taylor said. “If we all just work together, we can determine who’s interested and start working.”

Kevin Hughes, acting director of economic development, said during the meeting that Charter’s services are needed for redevelopment in the downtown core.

Damiani agreed.

“How can you develop the downtown business district if you don’t offer Charter?” he asked.

For more information on Charter’s service in the downtown area, call Taylor at 539-0713. A follow-up meeting will be held in the future.