Roosevelt Island fails its neighbors, this week, chucking them for wine with dinner at The Sanctuary.
By David Stone
Last week, a group of Roosevelt Island residents left their neighbors in the ditch. It was all for a plan to dump a full time “speakeasy and alfresco beer garden” next to a children’s playground and family picnicking location.
Table of contents
An opening that closed doors
The Sanctuary’s brain trust invited a select few to a fundraiser for the Titan Theatre Company. It was opening night.
No press releases hit inboxes, and the invite list was strategic.
Owner Frank Raffaele plans to open a “speakeasy and alfresco beer garden,” according to a kissy face report in the New York Post. Since, he waffled on that without denying it. Smart move.
It won over some locals.
See how fast Roosevelt Island fails its neighbors
A glowing report in the Roosevelt Islander blog slanted the story so heavily it nearly tipped into the East River. Only frothy reporting kept it afloat.
The most telling thing about the story is that none of the cheerleaders live anywhere near The Sanctuary.
None of their children’s safety will be compromised by partying at all hours. Lost pleasures of Octagon Park won’t force them to change their exercise routines, and they won’t have to be extra cautious taking their dogs for late night or early morning walks.
Just fine for yours, but not in my backyard…
The Roosevelt Islander originates from Southtown.
Effusive supporters quoted in the Roosevelt Islander:
- Kristi Towey, executive director of Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance, from Rivercross, raised her family without a beer garden or speakeasy next door. “The event at The Sanctuary was very nice,” she said. “It is a beautiful building. I look forward to hearing more about his mission and plan here on Roosevelt Island.”
- Judith Berdy, president of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, also lives in Rivercross: “We look forward to having a venue that the community can use and enjoying the improvements made.”
- Rossana Ceruzzi, executive director and founder of the Wildlife Freedom Foundation, a resident of Island House, chimed in: “Congratulations to Frank Raffaele on a wonderful event! It was a pleasure meeting him and Francesca.”
- RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal commutes across the river from the Upper East Side. “No issues, no complaints and everything went smooth thanks to the dedicated men and women of the Public Safety Department.”
Hm. And nobody noticed the playground, the fire lane access or the picnic tables…
Pretend for now that Rosenthal was truthful but failed to say that PSD stepped in only after The Daily blew the whistle. PSD did a good job — at residents’ expense.
Neither Raffaele nor Hudson Related planned to avert traffic chaos entering and leaving the venue.
Not a single individual living north of Island House got quoted in the Roosevelt Islander report.
One thing slipped by most observers…
The Octagon, where a parking lot must be converted for two-way traffic, risks financial loss if the complex becomes less desirable.
Who wants to raise a family next door to a speakeasy and alfresco beer garden? The hazards sped invisibly past The Sanctuary’s fans.
The Octagon is Hudson Related’s competitor for luxury apartments on Roosevelt Island. So, they win. Twice, collecting rent and, maybe, damaging an option for renters.
Did that enter into their thinking?
What else do the cheerleaders share…?
Their organizations rely on the community for support, and it’s not just the money.
In 2018, the Wildlife Freedom Foundation collected signatures island-wide to fight RIOC’s attempt to kick the cats out of Southpoint.
The Historical Society asked support in trying to keep the RI Monument from being planted in the Tram Plaza.
Each asked for help and got it.
How Roosevelt Island can avoid failing its neighbors…
Why not do away with traffic and security problems simply? Move The Sanctuary downtown to Blackwell House.
RIOC can’t open the place after more than a decade and millions in rehab costs. Why not let the “regulations don’t matter” license given The Sanctuary ease the move?
It can be done in weeks, not years.
Supporters already approved an outdoor beer garden adjacent to a children’s playground and a family picnicking area. They won’t mind one looming over Blackwell Playground.
Think about the ease…
Blackwell house is just steps away from public transit. That takes away the car traffic, and we lose the half-drunk visitors urinating over the seawall. That’s worth something.
The area is well lit. PSD patrols will be easy, and fines add cash to RIOC’s bank account.
It’s a better plan, don’t you agree?