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One Last Autumn Look, 2020 in a Changing Southpoint Park

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Autumn 2020 in Southpoint Park was poignant because the badly flawed conversion underway changed it forever. We left the visible scars out for a nostalgia tour of the treasure it once was.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Autumn 2020 in Southpoint Park, a nostalgia tour…

Defying resident wishes, oblivious to serious toxic waste concerns, RIOC plunged ahead with a plan apparently driven by a favored real estate developer.

Scars are visible all along the shores, and the vision of Brooklyn Bridge Park North is taking shape. But we decided on capturing one last look while the legacy remains.

Seen here with autumn colors clinging to its front wall, the historic Smallpox Hospital is the gem of Southpoint Park.

When then RIOC president Susan Rosenthal sought an update on Southpoint Park in 2016, she emphasized a long-term plan for the Smallpox Hospital as crucial. But as outside influences took over, that diminished and spun off to a nonprofit group with unknown local connections.

This pushed residents farther onto the sidelines.

Sloping meadow spills fall colors across a city backdrop.
Quiet corners, still easy to find in Southpoint Park.

With RIOC’s plan for making Southpoint Park a tourist draw, autumn 2020 retreats like this may cause a last stand.

Pathways lead to unexpected discoveries in corners of the park, and there remain plentiful places to sit and enjoy.
A mischievous squirrel plays in the fallen leaves, unconcerned with visitors.

Although RIOC appears on the verge of missing another promised deadline for opening the Hope Memorial, our autumn 2020 tour of Southpoint Park found some slow progress.

Strolling the lanes and meadows…

Fall foliage frames the New York City skyline, accenting the contrast. The photo was taken before RIOC’s ugly redesign.
The richness of autumn 2020 in Southpoint Park, shared by strollers and Canadian geese.

Flocks of Canadian geese that have raised generations in the park are now endangered because RIOC’s plan wipes out the last natural shorelines. Next spring, safe areas for birthing goslings will be nearly non-existent.

Treasured views remain for now, but faith in RIOC’s park stewardship is over.

Finally, a note of farewell, autumn 2020 in Southpoint Park

Seasons will come and go, but the park will never be like this again. Vistas change, and traffic increases. And RIOC makes clear that resident concerns are of little value. The turn now is to tourists and real estate developers, and it isn’t coming back.

Enjoy this gem… while you still can.

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