With no place to contact locally about Comcast for several months, people frustrated with the cable and Internet provider have instead been calling members of the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen with their concerns.
However, the volume of those calls may decrease soon as a a local physical presence by the cable provider is returning. An Xfinity Store is planned to open next month at the Greeneville Commons Shopping Center. Permits have issued for a commercial buildout and renovation for the new store, Building Official Bert Seay told the board at its meeting Tuesday.
The new store will be located in a 2,400-square-foot retail space between Workout Anytime and the State Farm Insurance office, according to Maria Pace, a spokesperson for Brixmor Property Group, which owns and markets the Greeneville Commons Shopping Center and three out parcels.
Mid-February is the projected opening date for the new store, which will feature interactive displays and lounge-like seating areas where visitors can explore all Xfinity products, from internet, video and connected home solutions to mobile telephone service, according to Comcast.
Tuesday’s board meeting was held via the Zoom meeting platform and streamed live on the town’s Facebook page due to the increasing number of local COVID-19 cases.
Mayor W.T. Daniels said the start of the distribution of vaccinations locally is a welcome sign at a time when people are nervous and concerned about how the virus is spreading in the community.
“Hopefully, we will soon begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” the mayor said.
As the pandemic continues, Daniels asked that people continue to be respectful of others by wearing a facial covering in public and observing social distancing. “I hope everyone does it because it means so much,” he said.
Daniels said he has been concerned about seeing the behavior of some people in public who appear to be acting in defiance of the measures recommended by health experts to reduce the spread of the virus. “People need to be more considerate,” he said.
In action items, the board authorized the mayor to sign a quitclaim deed to transfer an excess right-of-way on Jeff Wood Memorial Drive owned by the town to an adjacent property and elected Cal Doty as vice mayor.
Construction has started within the new Xfinity store, according to so Sara Jo Walker, a Comcast spokeswoman. The new store will be open seven days a week, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m on Sunday.
The opening of new Xfinity stores is part of Comcast’s multi-year strategy to transform its customer experience; the stores provide new and existing customers a place to learn how to optimize their Xfinity services and to address any service needs, according to the company.
Xfinity stores are designed strategically by product area —Xfinity Mobile, Xfinity X1 personalized home Wi-Fi, Xfinity Home and Xfinity Internet – so customers can see the company’s products in action, according to Walker.
During the pandemic, Walker noted, Comcast has implemented several new policies in its stores including requiring face coverings for all employees and customers, limiting the number of customers in the store to maintain social distancing requirements, installing plexiglass dividers between interaction areas, kiosks and on workstations and cleaning stores professionally twice every day.
Comcast and the complaints from residents were discussed at the end of the board meeting. Alderman Scott Bullington said he had received numerous calls from people expressing their frustrations and asked that Comcast’s government liaison be asked to come to a future meeting to address the issues.
The cable company’s local office closed several months ago after the pandemic began. With that closing, Bullington said people are frustrated in not having a place to take equipment for repairs and making payments online or sending money orders, which cost them more money.
Others are frustrated in the time that it takes for a repairman to come to their home, he said, and some have complained that company has not repaired their yard after a repair crew has parked or driven across their yards.
Comcast is the sole cable television provider locally. The Greene County Cable Committee has been working on a new franchise agreement with the company.
The board voted to authorize the mayor to sign a deed transferring a .29-acre parcel of excess right-of-way along Jeff Woods Memorial Drive to the owner of the adjacent property, SMN Investments, Inc.
When the roadway was constructed, its path went through a corner of a parcel that was part of the Crockett Crossing Shopping Center, separating it from the remainder of the parcel. The town then acquired the separated property as right-of-way.
The .29-acre parcel is not needed by the town for road maintenance and was originally to be considered to be vacated. City Administrator Todd Smith explained that in researching the situation, the town has a deed to the parcel and it could be transferred by a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign a quitclaim deed.
That action seems appropriate for the town since that property owner provided about 1.8 acres for the roadway, Smith said.
In other action, the board elected Doty as vice mayor. Smith explained that the action was needed under the town’s updated charter which calls for the election of a vice mayor by the board.