The City plans to allow 18 of these 32-foot tall Link5G towers to be installed on the UES | Upper East Site
The City plans to allow 18 of these 32-foot tall Link5G towers to be installed on the UES | Upper East Site

Moratorium on Massive 5G Towers Approved by UES Community Board, May Not Slow Rollout

A moratorium on the installation of massive new three-story tall 5G towers attached to LinkNYC kiosks on the Upper East Side was overwhelmingly approved by Community Board 8 Tuesday night, taking a stand against the rollout of the gigantic transmitters that some members called nothing more than a ‘selling of the street.’ Their strong stance still may not be enough to slow their rollout.

“It is egregious that a for profit company like [a wireless carrier] would determine the construction and location of these towers, particularly in historic and residential neighborhoods,” said Elizabeth Fox during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“The fact is that the individuals who live in these homes send their children to schools in these neighborhoods and pay taxes had very little input and buy in,” she added.

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This month, the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation’s plan to install three clusters of the 32-foot tall antennas around the Upper East Side was revealed — half of which would be grouped in historic areas of Carnegie Hill from Park to Fifth Avenue between East 86th and 96th Streets.

Another cluster of three Link5G transmitter sites would be built around the Hospital for Special Surgery and Weill Cornell Medical Center along York Avenue and East 71st Street. While a larger group of five would be built from Park to Fifth Avenue between 63rd and 65th Streets. 

“These towers are unnecessary,” said Andrew Fine, Vice President of the East 86th Street Association and they’re yet another private taking of public space for advertising and revenue.”

Once again, concerns about everything from the aesthetics of the giant 32’ foot towers, its advertising screens, privacy concerns regarding surveillance cameras in the structure, cyber security and data handling and even the potential for the kiosks to become gathering areas for the homeless using the free phone chargers were brought up once again.

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City Council Member Keith Powers, who represents part of the Upper East Side, said he’s also “expressed concerns with the current proposal for where they’re going.”

“They are just gigantic and they are huge and they definitely … stick out like a sore thumb,” Powers told the community board meeting.

The City is looking to fast track installation of 18 massive new 5G towers on the Upper East Side
The City is looking to fast track installation of 18 massive new 5G towers on the Upper East Side | NYC Office of Technology & Innovation

“I’ve received a lot of concern a lot of emails a lot of calls on this issue,” said Upper East Side City Council Member Julie Menin, who recently met with OTI officials.

“They will not remove [5G towers] based on radio frequency emission concerns if they are FCC compliant,” Menin explained, “but, [OTI] said they will remove them if there are … accessibility [issues] on the sidewalk, impact on outdoor dining sheds, impact to bus shelters and other conditions on a specific block.”

The sweeping measure from Community Board 8 for a moratorium against the rollout of Link5G towers, as they’re known, was ultimately approved with just two dissenting votes. 

However, it remains to be seen if that will do anything to prevent their installation, which could begin as soon as next month, according to OTI. 

“We thank community members for sharing their valuable feedback and look forward to continued engagement with community leaders during the 60-day review process,” an OTI spokesperson told Upper East Site.

“This administration believes that digital connectivity is a human right, necessary to fully participate and access opportunities in modern society. As part of our city’s ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide, Link5G ensures reliable, ultra-fast network speed and expanded mobile coverage are equitably delivered across the five boroughs.”

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