The Conservancy joined seven colleague groups in a letter to City Hall decrying the “chaotic and opaque review process” for the 32-foot tall 5G towers that threaten historic districts and individual landmarks and would “clutter” City streetscapes generally.
Promoted as providing “equity” to areas lacking sufficient wireless and cellular service, the poorly designed towers have been clustered, instead, in the Upper East Side, Soho, and Greenwich Village. Residents are alarmed and outraged.
City, State, and Federal elected officials wrote the Landmarks Preservation Commission noting that 18 towers are planned within Community Board 8, 12 of those within historic districts. “The siting of massive cellular towers in historic districts is antithetical to the purpose of preserving these districts,” they wrote. The electeds said they were concerned about moving forward without “hard data to confirm the actual need for these towers.”
The colleagues’ letter noted that the review process for these initial installations has been “piecemeal and confusing, leading to uneven community engagement, and a lack of clarity on the full effect of 5G towers across the City.” Many of these towers will contain advertising screens. No one has explained what, if any, data, will be collected from passersby.
It is not clear whether now obsolete 4G kiosks, which mainly function as advertising screens, will be removed. And what happens when these 5G towers are obsolete in the foreseeable future?
The City’s Public Design Commission approved the towers under the DeBlasio Administration. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has a say on installations in historic districts. But it needs similar authority over installations near individual landmarks. The City Parks Department will have to review and approve installations adjacent to public parks.
Elected officials, Community Boards, and the public deserve a thorough explanation of where and why tower sites have been selected. Though the colleagues’ letter did not call for a moratorium on installations, the Conservancy appreciates those who want the process halted until all the questions about the towers are answered.
City Hall has not responded to the colleagues’ letter.
5G Update – February 2
Previously, we shared a letter from the Conservancy and colleague groups to City Hall asking for a detailed public explanation of the “chaotic and opaque” review process for siting 32-foot tall 5G towers throughout the City. We addressed our letter to two Deputy Mayors. But we have now received a response from New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew C. Fraser. If any of you can decipher it, please let us know. It is as opaque as the review process.
This response is totally unacceptable. The City should pause further 5G installations until there is adequate public information and all the questions the installations and proposed locations have raised are answered.