Upper East Side battles 32ft 5G cell towers making upscale shopping district uglier
A city plan to build a network of 32-foot-tall 5G cellphone towers on the Upper East Side has posh neighbors and business owners up in arms.
And the controversy – including the return of the fashionable Madison Avenue shopping district – has now landed in the lap of Mayor Eric Adams.
The Office of Technology and Innovation is overseeing the installation of 2,000 Link5G street towers across the city to bolster service, including 18 in Community Board 8 on the UES.
But residents and businesses complain the towers are an eyesore, a potential environmental health hazard and will attract vagrants.
State Deputy Rebecca Seawright, who represents the SIU, even sent a letter to Adams calling for a moratorium on 5G expansion amid the not-on-my-street backlash.
“Our office is receiving numerous complaints about the 18 additional Link NYC sites that have been proposed for the Upper East Side,” Seawright told Adams in the Dec. 7 missive.
“While we understand the importance of expanding access to critical telecommunications tools, contribution at the community level is essential. With great concern from our neighbors for rushed implementation, I call for a moratorium on further 5G expansion on the Upper East Side before residents can weigh in on proposed sites.
Seawright said she was concerned the installation of the towers was already “in the final stages before implementation” by the time city officials and the wireless consortium shared details with the community.
The lawmaker also said she was ‘suspicious’ after complaining that OTI ignored requests to install an antenna on a city-owned street plan outside 520 East 90th Street “without notification” to elected officials. She said she received no response to requests to move the tower.
The 18 locations identified for 5G towers are: 1190 Madison Avenue, 1050 Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, 46 East 91st Street, 1040 Park Avenue, 1354 Madison Avenue, 24 East 63rd Street, 680 Madison Avenue, 30 East 64th Street, 1105 Park Avenue, 1115 Fifth Avenue, 1175 Park Avenue, 570 Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue at 62nd Street, 1095 Fifth Avenue, 1283 York Avenue, 510 East 71 Street. and 510 East 70th Street.
Three of the towers are said to be in the Madison Avenue Historic District, noted Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District – and said “that doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem fair.
Resident Radames Soto said wireless towers were not needed because “our service is excellent, our wifi is excellent”.
He said the Madison Avenue shopping district – with the most luxury stores ‘on the planet’ – is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, is struggling to clamp down on theft and shouldn’t be soiled by ugly tricks.
“We have to help make it more elegant…not make it uglier,” Soto said.
East Side Councilman Keith Powers also repeated the NIMBY mantra.
At a virtual Community Board 8 meeting last week that drew more than 100 anti-tower attendees, a statement from Powers said the towers “threaten the aesthetics and charm of the neighborhood.”
“I share the concerns of my constituents regarding the installation of towers in residential areas where they will. surely be invasive,” he said.
But city officials defend the Link5G project as essential for the future of the Big Apple.
OTI spokesperson Ray Legendre told The Post that the agency welcomed the “valuable feedback” from the SIU during the 60-day review process, but added, “This administration believes that digital connectivity is a human right, necessary to fully participate in and access the opportunities of modern society.”
Adams, when announcing the Link5G program in July, said “access to broadband and phone service isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.”
“When it comes to digital services, we know too many New Yorkers have been left behind,” he added. “Our administration is committed to changing that and ensuring that all residents of our city have access to technology services, no matter where they live.
According to OTI, the statistics prove the need, noting that:
- 40% or 1.5 million urban households do not have an adequate combination of home and mobile broadband.
- Of the 2,000 Link5G stations being built across the city, 90% will be installed in underserved neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and above 96th Street in Manhattan.
- 65% of NYCHA residents said they had interrupted their calls in the previous month.
- All 5G equipment must meet the Federal Communications Commission’s strict safety rules.
- The Public Design Commission has approved the Link5G design.
New York Post