What the hell’s going on with Blackwell House? The question popped into my head when I saw the historic landmark under a protective wrap again. But now, the wraps are off, lights are up and doors opened.
By David Stone
Getting your mind around the mess RIOC’s made of this potentially gorgeous historic landmark, you need to know that that quote is from April, 2011.
RIOC had just agreed on a usage plan with the Roosevelt Island Historical Society.
But now, as Historical Society president Judith Berdy posted today, she cut the ribbon and the restored place is finally open again.
What the hell’s going on with Blackwell House? Intolerable dithering.
Former RIOC president Susan Rosenthal staked her claim to success on infrastructure, and in June, 2017, her board approved $1.465 million for restoration of Blackwell House. The award went to AFL Construction.
A year later it was a mess and 50% more expensive.
Years of incompetent management haunt at September, 2018, Board Meeting
At that meeting, Stephen Noone, Assistant Vice President for Capital Planning, requested an increase $750,000. Above and beyond $1.465 million already awarded, ongoing repair work at Blackwell House demanded it.
Noone, since dismissed by RIOC, cited damages undiscovered until repair work started. This left the board little choice, and they approved the expense.
Noone said that, after opening up the building’s foundation, they found voids as well as no waterproofing.
Waterproofing, board members Kraut and Shinozaki noted, had been contracted and paid for under an agreement with a prior administration.
Not just that, Shinozaki said, RIOC also paid a consultant to oversee the work and verify that it was done properly.
It was, as Noone discovered, never done at all.
What the hell’s going on at Blackwell House, today?
Three years and $2.4 million later, i.t finally reopened.
At a September 2019 RIOC board meeting, Rosenthal said “Blackwell House is not ready,” adding that Fire Department and Department of Building inspections were needed.
She did not offer details, and that made the wraparound of Blackwell House, weeks later, a surprise.
The millions invested will finally show off the results.