Hey, RIOC! Why You Must Save This Space Now


Hey, RIOC! Save this space! You’ve really blown it so far, but this is our space, entrusted to you. You owe us better than this.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island News Now

When RIOC board member David Kappel stirred discussion about reversing decades of neglect of the Motorgate Atrium, it was a landmark switch.

A miracle on Roosevelt Island’s Main Street?

Maybe, because the board recognized the space for the first time in years. Terribly neglected. Filthy. But there. Maybe change is possible.

But really, reviving the atrium in a vacuum ignores the broader public space. Most don’t even notice it’s there.

Yet, in fact, RIOC contemplates even worse: uprooting vibrant cherry trees, destroying public space by pour tons of wet concrete in to finish off a Palace of Versailles bike ramp.

RIOC: Save This Space Perspective

Motorgate Public Space in Perspective
In perspective, seen from the connected ball field and basketball court, the Atrium’s extended public space can be picked out immediately: It’s where RIOC’s abandoned multiple, ugly rusting containers.
RIOC: Save This Space, Container dump
Up close, the ugliness prevails. Rusted, graffiti covered containers occupy space meant to enhance public enjoyment. Does RIOC retain some right to take over our space and use it as a junkyard?
Graffiti and mold dominate
Graffiti and mold dominate an area leading along the grassy, tree-filled public space. A set of stairs waits.
Cherry Trees in the public space.
In spite of being ignored by landscapers, surrounded by filthy, mature cherry trees near full bloom. The lawn looks forgotten.

But even before you get that far, more dumped off construction material greets you.

RIOC: Save this space from dumped construction debris.
Another abandoned container… construction debris left in heaps. Why is this space a public junkyard?

A reversal means taking responsibility…

RIOC: Save This Space… Across the road, adjacent to the atrium, it’s actually worse.

Bicycle Junkyard
Startlingly, while RIOC plans a virtually gold-plated bike ramp, there’s a bicycle graveyard right alongside.

In September, 2018, after an expose in The Roosevelt Island Daily, PSD Public Safety Chief Jack McManus announced a policy for removing the Island’s giant inventory of abandoned bikes.

But before removing all the bikes, Chief McManus went on sick leave. He later retired, his program abandoned, along with bike safety.

RIOC: Save this space, Tram Cabins
Possibly a greater insult than wrecking public space, RIOC’s cold refusal to honor island history… The original Tram cabins left to rot and rust for a decade now. RIOC’s rejected every suggestion for repurposing them, but at least one of the ideas must’ve been better than this.

Treating the historic Tram like debris didn’t stop with the cabins.

Tram Pulley Left to the weather
The original pulleys that carried Tram cables for 25 years were saved for history. Then left to rust by RIOC, fenced outdoors for close to a decade.
Hey, RIOC! Save this space! Neglected Steps.
Completing the awful picture, immediately outside the Tram cages, eroding and filthy, a wide set of steps meant for people and community life, left as dead as the original Tram.

RIOC! Save This Space

Archival View, Roosevelt Island Bridge Helix
In perspective, public space extending from the ball fields to Motorgate is integrated. The green space within the helix… That’s where RIOC plans to pour tons of concrete for a lightly used Palace of Versailles bike ramp. Because the state neglected the area for so long, its value is dangerously unappreciated.


RIOC needs to save this space, not destroy it with a bike ramp.

In hot pursuit of an Albany grant, RIOC creates a false need for bicycle access to Roosevelt Island. That’s already here, always has been.

The only thing we lacked was Albany cash. So, RIOC invented a need for it.

This should not stand.

Roosevelt Island Farmers Market
Take a look at last week’s Farmers Market in the public space, and you get an idea of its vibrant potential.

Turning this space into a junkyard, then an unneeded bike ramp, is a betrayal of public trust.

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