Cellular Towers Disguised As Street Lamps Not Promised

"Abomination on Main Street" Reignites Protest

Updated 1 year ago David Stone

It's like the Rockettes added an NFL linebacker to their kick line.
It's like the Rockettes added an NFL linebacker to their kick line.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Judith Berdy, Roosevelt Island's historian and influential activist was shocked. "Today, this object appeared at the Chapel Plaza. This is another example of RIOC's disregard for the cityscape, appearance, and necessity of an obtrusive object."

Crown Castle's Ungainly Cell Towers, How It Happened

Up close and impersonal, Crown Castle's tower is little income with our traditional, antique lamp style.
Up close and impersonal, Crown Castle's tower is little income with our traditional, antique lamp style.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

"Along with the "RI" letters at the Tram Plaza," she went on, referring to the generally unwelcome Monument/Sign/Icon, "we now have the WiFi tower smack dab in front of the Chapel Plaza. The Chapel is a landmark structure, but unfortunately the Plaza is not, which means inappropriate objects can be placed there."

In November, last year, Crown Castle NG East LLC presented its Proposal on Cell Service Infrastructure on Roosevelt Island, before RIOC's Real Estate Development Advisory Committee.

Under questioning, the company described the cell towers, designed to blend in with existing lighting fixtures, as unobtrusive.

Unobtrusive?

Hot sauce and chocolate chip cookies...?

They look like All-Pro linebackers parked in a row of dainty dancing ballerinas. 

They go together about as well as Frank's Hot Sauce

"Abomination on Main Street" Reignites Protest

and Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies.

You may like both, but probably not together. 

Parking one of them like a permanent tree stump in front of the graceful Good Shepherd Plaza is like hanging a Monet by pounding a spike through the canvas.

Board Members, especially Margie Smith, since resigned, who'd suffered through a long history of "bad service contracts," wanted a more robust review, but objections were waved off by Vice President and Legal Counsel Jacqueline Flug. 

The cellular towers installed on Main Street, Smith has since told an associate, are not like what she recalls Crown Castle presenting.

"Abomination on Main Street" Reignites Protest

This a license, Flug argued, and not subject to bidding. And also not about to change just because resident Board Members didn't like it. It was presented at the next full Board Meeting, a fait accompli that required approval from no one except the nonresident masters at 591 Main Street.

If this sounds like RIOC flexing its authoritarian muscle, it was. Motivated by pockets of poor cellular service on the Island, especially within RIOC's offices, Flug oversaw negotiations for contracting with Crown Castle.

But then, wait a minute...

Is what's being installed what was presented...?

My notes from the meeting show that Crown Castle promised a Fibre backbone, a "ring" of distributed antenna systems, "small cell systems," 23 sites around the Island in three to six months - over a year ago.

I probably wasn't the only one who thought "ring" meant... well, ring. My vision was of towers stretched out along the Promenades. Excuse me, I mean unobtrusive towers stretched out along the Promenades.

An installation of 23 of these stumpy things suggests their gracing parks as well as Main Street, a prospect so unappetizing I can't think of an appropriate food-related simile. 

Taj Mahal with an oil refinery in front...

Statue of Liberty draped in an Ivanka Trump gown...

Tram Plaza with red eight-foot Helvetica fonts thumped down like a broken promise... Oh, no, we've already got that.

As is customary in bunker mode when confronted with unwelcome news, RIOC did not respond to a request for comment.

Lest we forget - how could we? - the IЯ Welcome Sign/Monument/Icon
Lest we forget - how could we? - the IЯ Welcome Sign/Monument/Icon
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

This suggests that protests of the ugly cell towers are as welcome as were those over the RI Welcome Sign/Monument/Icon and dispatching historic, valued trees from the Rivercross Lawn without a single community conversation.

 

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