NORTHFIELD CENTER — WOW!, a new cable company, is here.
Well, service is not yet available, but workers are literally digging in to make it so.
Wide Open West Cleveland LLC posted a $40,000 insurance bond on the work it is doing in Rolling Brooke, according to Township Trustee Paul Buescher. The next neighborhood on the new cable company’s list appears to be Brandywine Preserve, he said, because "Call Before You Dig" flags are posted in the ground throughout the allotment.
"They’re going to have to post a new bond or carry that bond over to their next phase ... once the [Rolling Brooke] project is finished and our service department and zoning have made an inspection to make sure everything done right and restored," he said.
WOW! is planning to wire all of Northfield Center Township, Buescher said, noting that township officials were taken by surprise when the digging started. They learned that construction had gotten underway when their offices were flooded with questions from residents.
Representatives from WOW! did not respond to questions by press time.
Buescher recalls WOW! first came to the township last December to tell officials the company was bringing its cable, internet and phone service to Northfield Center, and with it an alternative to Spectrum/Time-Warner.
Buescher said WOW! is only installing buried lines where utilities are already underground. In areas where utilities are above-ground on poles, WOW! will string cable overhead.
Thus far, Northfield Center appears to be the only Nordonia Hills town where WOW! is expanding.
Northfield Village Mayor Jesse Nehez said WOW! has called his office about setting up a meeting, but doesn’t yet know the cable company’s plans.
"I don’t know that it would replace the existing cable company," Nehez said, "but if it gives us more choices, I’m all for that."
Macedonia Mayor Nicholas Molnar is exploring the option of bringing WOW! to the city, according to his executive assistant, Diana Augustine. "He definitely would like to offer the residents another means of cable networking," she said.
Augustine said Molnar has conferred with the city’s law director, Mark Guidetti, and the mayor is "working on the behalf of the city to see if that is a feasible option for the residents."
A spokesperson for Walton Hills said the village is unaware if WOW! has plans to extend its service there and Sagamore Hills officials previously said they had not been contacted.
Jeff Cole, executive director of Community Focus, formerly Cable 9, said he does not know if or how the arrival of a second cable company would affect the community access programing he oversees.
"In their defense, I’ve always heard positive comments about WOW! cable," Cole said.
Beuscher said he had to do something to address the deluge of residents’ concerns once WOW! started work.
"All of a sudden we started getting emails and phone calls," he said. "’What are all these flags doing up?’ ‘What’s going on here?’"
"I have personally visited the area quite a few times to see things for myself, including this past weekend," Buescher wrote in his July 30 newsletter. "I also took time to talk with many residents, including chance encounters and stopping at the homes of those who complained by email who also included their addresses so that I could follow up."
Regarding communication, Buescher said, "WOW! has promised to keep us better informed."
While the company is not authorized to work on private property, "WOW! is a public utility and as such, they have every legal right to dig and do other work on utility easements," Buescher said. Unfortunately, he added, most of the easements in the Rolling Brooke area are in the middle of front yards and/or within 25 feet of the road.
"Call Before You Dig" flags do not necessarily indicate there will be digging, but indicate where buried utilities are located. Residents should not remove the flags because if they do and a worker is injured or property is damaged, the resident could face criminal charges or a civil lawsuit.
Buescher stressed that invisible fence lines, sprinkler heads and lines, or trees that are damaged in the utility right of way are the homeowners’ responsibility.
Damaged lawns, however, will be repaired or replaced, he said.
"WOW! posted a $40,000 bond with our Township for damages and restoration," Buescher wrote. "Remember, this is a construction project and some damage is to be expected. Please wait until the installation and work is completed before complaining about damages, especially to lawns. Our Zoning Inspector and Service Department personnel will make final inspections and take the appropriate actions for damage and restoration resolution."
Residents can contact WOW! directly by email with questions and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporter Steve Wiandt, can be reached at 330-541-9420, email@example.com or @SteveWiandt_RPC.