Bill Morris in Board Operations on July 17, 2023
Joanna Cawley, executive director of an Upper East Side civic group called Carnegie Hill Neighbors, has three words for the three-story-tall 5G towers that are now spreading across New York City: "awful, ugly, brutalist."
So the group is fighting to keep six of the 5G towers off the pristine Carnegie Hill streets, Crain's reports, one of more than a dozen neighborhoods fighting a plan to install some 2,000 of the towers around the city. The towers, which stand 32 feet tall and are visible from third-story windows, will expand access to reliable, high-speed Wi-Fi and cellphone service, especially in underserved areas.
Some of those underserved sections of the city, including the Bronx, welcome the new technology. The New York project is run by a group called CityBridge LLC, with roots including Google funding, that’s under city contract and operates using the LinkNYC label.
“We need partners like LinkNYC who are committed to dismantling systemic barriers to accessing Wi-Fi connectivity,” Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson said in an email. “As more affluent neighborhoods might have stable connectivity and are opposing the kiosks in their communities, it is not the same reality for many of our residents and families in the Bronx.”
Carnegie Hill Neighbors wants a citywide moratorium on installations while an alternative is sought, Cawley said. At the group’s urging, Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democrat who represents the neighborhood in Congress, asked federal officials to assess the towers’ effect on historic districts. The Federal Communications Commission in April called for reviews, slowing deployment.
Similar tensions are set to be repeated across the country, as wireless providers move to blanket cities and towns with access to fast 5G — and with the gear to broadcast its signals.
About 90% of the towers are slated to be installed in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and above 96th Street in Manhattan, spreading the service beyond the richest parts of the city. So far New York has rolled out 107 and 86 have been activated to supply Wi-Fi to nearby users. Six community boards in Manhattan and 10 more in other boroughs have expressed opposition to the towers.
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