A company’s plan to increase coverage in the area by adding more rooftop cell phone antennas has come under fire from residents who say the antennas represent an ugly safety hazard.
Metro PCS, a cell phone service provider based out of Dallas, Texas, has proposed placing six new antennas on the roof of 53-00 65th Place in Maspeth. The roof already houses antennas for Verizon, Nextel and Sprint, and ones for 911 emergency services.
The company appeared before Community Board 5 to apply for a special permit for the antennas, making its case that a stronger signal would eliminate a coverage gap that extends across a wide swath of Maspeth.
Metro PCS is “looking to expand coverage in the area,” said company representative Fahd Kamaneh in his presentation to CB5. The new location would be the company’s sixth in the area, Kamaneh said.
“From our perspective it’s the least intrusive location,” he said, because the proposed antennas would only add to the existing cell phone infrastructure already installed there by other companies.
Maspeth residents were not so sure.
The plan is “horrible” said Susan Kohl, who has lived at 53-00 65th Place her entire life. She said the last thing she wants are more antennas on her rooftop. “We really don’t need it.”
Candida Baez, another tenant there, said she conducted an informal survey of the building’s residents to gage popularity for the project. She spoke with 31 people representing different apartments (the building has roughly 60 units); everyone surveyed, said Baez, is against the project.
Kohl and others said the antennas represent an eyesore and, perhaps most importantly, an additional safety hazard.
A 2008 fire at the building destroyed five apartments. A fire department report of the incident found the existing cell phone antennas got in the way of the rescue effort.
“Operations were hampered because of the presence of cell phone equipment,” the fire department stated in a report of the incident, according to CB5 member Kathy Masi.
Masi said more rooftop equipment would make the building even more dangerous.
An engineer representing Metro PCS shot back, saying their proposed equipment installation would be entirely unobtrusive, and well within building regulations.
Nonetheless, CB5 member and Maspeth resident Manny Caruana urged Metro PCS to look for a new home.
“We’ve got too many antennas all over the place already,” he said. “You’re really not wanted.”