It is the missing link!
The city is just weeks away from flipping the switch on new free-internet kiosks in Park Slope, and plans to install several more in Prospect Heights in about a month — but residents of Red Hook and Gowanus claim they’re being left in the cyber lurch, and are demanding officials dole out the gratis web connections with a more even hand.
“You’re missing a hell of a segment of the Gowanus and Red Hook population that could use it,” said Community Board 6 transportation committee member Jerry Armer at meeting on Thursday, where the city’s contractor provided a presentation on the program. “If you really want to bridge the divide that’s one of the places to bridge it.”
The city has already installed eight of its super high-speed Link NYC booths along Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue — and will follow up with more along Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights — which will project gigabyte-per-second download speeds in a radius of roughly half-a-football-field when they’re turned on two weeks from now, according to a rep.
“You can download a movie in a moment,” said Ruth Fasoldt of Intersection, the telecommunications company doing the installation. “It’s awesome.”
But if there’s anyone who can afford to pay for brain-melting information-superhighway speeds out of their own pockets, it’s the residents of Park Slope, according to Armer.
“I’m curious as to why you’re in the community that has pretty damn good coverage to begin with,” he said.
Fasoldt responded that it is just because Park Slope already has the infrastructure for the booths.
“It came down a fiber route that already exists and, now that we have this, we’ll be able to break off into other neighborhoods,” she said.
Intersection and the city typically look to put local Link booths in old pay-phone sites, because Mayor DeBlasio has jurisdiction over the use of phone booths, and replacing them with the wifi doesn’t require any kind of public review.
But that’s not to say the city can’t or won’t install Link kiosks in Red Hook — where there’s a decided lack of pay phones — just that doing so will require an additional 60-day public comment period, during which locals and lawmakers would have an opportunity to nitpick.
Intersection has installed 700 stations around the city so far but still has 6,800 more to go — and most of those locations haven’t been selected yet — so chances are good that the spurned neighborhoods won’t stay off the grid forever, Fasholdt said.
Still, the committee members voted unanimously to fire off a letter to the city’s tech agency demanding it give a little online love to the western parts of Community Board 6.