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The Sanctuary’s Christmas Gift for Roosevelt Island


The Sanctuary’s Christmas Gift for Roosevelt Island is no surprise. Just what we didn’t want and expected anyway. RIOC‘s response…? Fair to assume nobody at 591 Main got a spine in their Christmas stocking, this year.

The Sanctuary's Christmas Gift for Roosevelt Island
After a party at The Sanctuary, some of it unsecured against rats, etc., was again left out to “freshen” overnight.

Early on Christmas Eve, running an errand, I found the mess above left out near the West Promenade. Remainders from a party, the night before.

Reacting to resident complaints about careless, unneighborly conduct at the venue, RIOC said The Sanctuary’s owners promised to do better. They’d notify PSD about events and take good care of trash and traffic.

Trash and traffic matter because the event space and planned beer garden are off-line locally for both. The old church is not in the AVAC system, and you can drive there only by using a limited access fire lane.

Checking in with RIOC

Were they told about a party?

No, public information officer Terrence McCauley said.

I sent him the above photo, adding, “There were fresh ruts from car tracks on the lawn.” This echoed an earlier attempt to skirt a parking ban, but it still requires using the fire lane as a street.

But what forced me to leave any hope for The Sanctuary’s goodwill at the door was the trash.

Fresh tire tracks after Christmas party
Fresh tire tracks from parking on the lawn for a December 23rd party.

RIOC’s response to The Sanctuary’s Christmas gift…?

It was worse.


The trash is “on their property,” RIOC said, as if that made it okay. And waiting for pickup.

PSD was silent. And passive. But what would you expect from a force intimidated by bicycles? Decisive action against folks reported to drop Governor Cuomo’s name for impact?

But concerns run deeper.

No, it’s not “their property.”

RIOC’s tried this dodge before, and it’s totally false.

In the first place, New York City owns Roosevelt Island. Meanwhile, the City leased most of the land to the State, back in the 1960s.

Coler Hospital and Cornell Tech are exceptions.

UDC handed over responsibility to RIOC in the late 1980s. RIOC’s a public benefit corporation run by Albany through surrogates.

At no time has land under its control become private.

In other words, The Sanctuary is ours. It’s public space, and RIOC is fully in charge. And responsible.

Palming it off as “their space” is feeble, timid and should be embarrassing.

Why The Sanctuary’s Christmas gift matters for Roosevelt Island…

Mismanaged trash is not a huge issue. Until you look at it in perspective.

If The Sanctuary messes up a series of small events now, what about when it becomes a full time speakeasy in the spring?

Does anyone really think RIOC’s PSD will suddenly muster enough spine? Will they do anything to protect residents? From jammed up fire lanes? Trash left to the pleasure of rats?

The Sanctuary's Christmas Gift for Roosevelt Island
By this morning, trash grew along with neglect. RIOC enforcement? Zero.

Finally, above, more trash left out in the open from a second unreported party.

David Stone

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  1. To me this looks like a hit job in order to build a history of malfeasance. RI has had nothing and needs something so lets just let it play out before we start losing our minds over some trash. There’s trash all over the island in the same manner so I hope you make light of those as well.

    • When you know as little about Roosevelt Island as you seem to, you’re better off not wasting our time with nonsense comments. “There’s trash all over the island in the same manner” is nowhere near true. Our AVAC system means we don’t have “trash all over.” It’s one of the community’s finest features.
      And so, if we just “let it play out,” as you recommend, how do we go about correcting it, with RIOC spineless and The Sanctuary’s owners indifferent to community concerns? How exactly would that work?
      As far as “a history of malfeasance…” If their track record in this space since September isn’t enough, look into how the Sanctuary’s owners got booted out of Coffeed, a corporation they founded. Do you know why their own board of directors kicked them out?

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