Sunset Park’s wifi stolen! Locals: ‘Wait, the park had wifi?’

System update: Carl Gambrell did not know he was using precious data in the park when he could have been on the Sunset Park Improvement District’s free wifi network.
Community News Group / Dennis Lynch

If a network falls in the woods and no body is on it, does anyone make a sound? No!

Someone stole a $600 gizmo that blasted free wifi in Sunset Park on May 26. But unplugged park-goers were just shocked to learn the green space was hooked up to cyberspace in the first place, and one recreationist wished he’d picked up on the signals sooner, he said.

“Wifi in the park? I had no idea. I’ve lived here for five years, I should know that. It’s too bad,” said 42nd Street resident Carl Gambrell, one of a dozen who had no idea about the service.

The tech — purloined from atop the park’s bathroom — connected the area to a larger network that the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District set up along the avenue between 38th and 64th streets.

But the doohickey is not much good on its own, and the merchant group’s leader doesn’t know why someone would swipe it, she said.

“I could almost understand — although I wouldn’t be happy — if you could it use it, but it’s not something someone can even use,” said Renee Giordano, the organization’s director. “I don’t understand why anyone would do it.”

The group built the wifi network — which cost roughly $60,000 to install and another $13,000 each year to maintain — in 2013 to give businesses and shoppers open web access, Giordano said. It funds the service with dues collected from area businesses and property owners, she said.

Park-goers may be out of the loop, but avenue shop owners and residents use the free Internet heavily. The signal still reaches about a third of the way into the park, and any free Internet is good, one local said after hearing about it.

“I’m all for it,” said 18-year resident Mike Fleshman.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Hacked!: Someone stole this free-wifi-blasting gizmo from the top of the bathroom in Sunset Park.
Sunset Park Improvement District

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