LinkNYC kiosks are magnets for perverts, vagabonds: business owners

Midtown business leaders want to unplug LinkNYC, Wi-Fi and ad kiosks they say have become hubs of perversion, harassment and crime.

“I want them removed,” fumed Barbara Blair, the head of the Garment District Alliance, which is grappling with a wave of open heroin use on the sidewalks. “There does not seem to be any political will to restore order in the public domain. We have ceded the public domain to bad actors.

Blair said she wrote to the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) commissioner again two weeks ago, but has yet to hear back. Blair wrote to DoITT several years ago asking that the “inconvenient links” be removed.

Blair said there are nine crossovers between West 40th and West 36th Street on Eighth Avenue.

“It’s a huge redundancy,” she says.

Anthony Mignano, who manages 1450 Broadway, a 42-story office tower on the corner of West 41st Street, said homeless people are “creating living space with chairs, boxes and tents” at kiosks .

A person using the Wi-Fi kiosk at 37th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.
JC Rice

“They’re sitting there charging their devices, on full speakerphone, masturbating, sitting in some kind of stolen chair. …Out in the open, you see naked homeless people, outdoor drug users using the orange needles that the de Blasio regime launched,” Mignano said. “That’s all you see everywhere. The sea of ​​orange needles deters people from coming to our sales areas.

On Thursday, Mignano pointed to a grate next to the WiFi kiosk that was stuffed with used hypodermic needles and broken glass pipes.

Mignano said he witnessed two assaults and called 311 “about 75 times” since Memorial Day, complaining about homeless encampments in LinkNYC spots in the Garment District. He knows “five or six guys” who accost women, “shoot each other and fall asleep right next to the ties”.

Building manager Anthony Mignano insists LinkNYC hotspots aren't needed because businesses
Building manager Anthony Mignano insists LinkNYC kiosks are not necessary as each business “provides their own WiFi”.
Helayne Seidman
Business owners have become furious that homeless people are creating their own makeshift shelters next to LinkNYC WiFi kiosks.
Some business owners have become furious that homeless people are creating their own makeshift shelters next to LinkNYC hotspots.
Handout
Business owners have become furious that homeless people are creating their own makeshift shelters next to LinkNYC WiFi kiosks.
Garment District Alliance boss Barbara Blair said “we’ve ceded the public domain to bad actors”.
Handout

The NYPD is doing its part, but “they’re handcuffed” by understaffing and bail reform, Mignano said.

‘A cop said to me, ‘ [A] dude can literally spit in my face and piss on me, and i can stop him, but he’ll be out tonight.

“The kiosks are a disaster. They just attract drug dealers and homeless people,” said Steve Kaufman, owner of 450 Broadway, a 46-story apartment building on Seventh Avenue between 34th and 35th streets. “They serve no legitimate purpose.”

Mignano added: “Each company now provides its own WiFi. There is no need for kiosks.

A homeless woman camps out next to a LinkNYC kiosk on 37th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.
A homeless woman camps out next to a LinkNYC kiosk on 37th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.
JC Rice

The revenue generated from ties is “far outweighed by the economic damage done to the neighborhoods where you have ties,” Blair believes, adding that city and state officials “need to restore order.”

The Post last September documented the predicament of the Garment District as the city’s newest shooting galley, where heroin addicts shoot each other in broad daylight.

On July 14, the NYPD, Department of Sanitation, and city homeless outreach workers cleared the links.

A pile of hypodermic needles and broken glass from pipes are seen in a grate next to a LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosk on West 41st off Broadway.
A pile of hypodermic needles and broken glass from pipes can be seen in a grate next to a LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosk on West 41st St. off Broadway.
Helayne Seidman

But the problem persists.

“It’s a temporary solution. The kiosks are still there. They are already starting to come back,” Mignano said the following afternoon.

The city announced the LinkNYC program in January 2016, designed to provide free high-speed Internet access in the city’s old phone booths. Months after its launch, the project’s operators were forced to add filters to the kiosks after The Post reported that homeless people were using the street kiosks equipped with tablets to access pornography.

Mayor Eric Adams, checking his connection to the LinkNYC tower.
Mayor Eric Adams tries a connection at the LinkNYC tower during a press event outside 127 West Burnside Avenue in the Bronx on July 10, 2022.
Tomas E. Gaston

In the first two years of the program, the city collected just under $43.4 million in payments, narrowly beating the minimum of $42.5 million it was guaranteed.

On July 10, Mayor Eric Adams and LinkNYC were in the Bronx to unveil the city’s first Link5G kiosk.

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