After years of delays, missed deadlines (the original due date for Central Park was fall 2005) Wi-Fi Salon has finally thrown in the towel because it could not find corporate sponsors.
The original agreement, made in 2004, called for Wi-Fi Salon to pay the city’s Parks Dept. $90,000 over three years for the right to wire 10 parks in four boroughs, including Central Park. (The deal was extended once, for an additional $30,000 for a fourth year.) The plan was apparently to raise corporate funds to make up the shortfall caused by the relatively minuscule concession fee. Without sponsorships to sustain the operating costs, the company’s founder, Marshall W. Brown, said he had no choice but to shut it down.
I am personally dumbfounded by this entire farce. According to OpenWiFi.com there are 169 public parks in the U.S. that provide free W-Fi. This includes nine in Kentucky alone. That’s nine. And here, in the NYC, in Central Park, the heart of Manhattan and the world’s most famous public space, we have none. That’s zero. Kentucky nine. Central Park zero. It’s an embarrassment to the city to think that this critical service at the center of the most important cultural and economic, not to mentiuon tourist, center on the planet was left to languish for years. It defies common sense to think that a corporate sponsor could not be found that wouldn’t be happy to brand a Wi-Fi connection in Central Park. They find sponsors for everything else. The Marathon, the Opera, David Blaine hanging upside down like a bat. All sponsored events. An internet service that could be used by the 25 milion people that visit the park each year, no. It sounds to me like the deal in Brooklyn when they couldn’t get cable service for years. And it wasn’t because they didn’t have it wired.
Then again, given politics in New York, I suppose we should be thankful they didn’t find some way to award the franchise to the carriage-horse industry.