The East Promenade sinkhole is not huge, maybe 3 feet long and 1 foot across. But blended with other information, does it suggest greater dangers ahead?
By David Stone
Apart from the size of the area blocked off by RIOC, the sinkhole is not, at first glance, impressive.
In an amateurish quick fix, the super secret state agency stuck an upside down stop sign and some debris in it. They even draped it in the ubiquitous yellow tape and fenced a wide area off around it.
What they didn’t do was explain anything. RIOC’s alleged communications department never mentioned it in an alert, although the promenade was closed all week.
East Promenade sinkhole up close…
The East Promenade sinkhole, even up close, isn’t immediately panic-inducing, but look at the elongated crack leading up to it. And the one running parallel behind it.
If that’s not enough, scroll back to the first image. The whole area is riddled with cracks, including along the walls.
Roosevelt Island, for all intents, is a two-mile outcropping of Manhattan schist, solid rock carved out by glaciers. Landfill added to the natural earthen covering, but gravity and moisture combine in pulling it downhill towards the East River.
In spite of warnings, RIOC’s done little to address it. And that’s because, according to former president/CEO Susan Rosenthal’s lawsuit, Governor Cuomo’s team in Albany refused to act on her urgent warnings.
But is there a looming “catastrophe” as she claims?
A catastrophe in waiting: The evidence
She says reports from both Langan and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers spurred her concerns. And looking into evidence supporting Rosenthal’s sworn statements, I easily found what looks like confirmation.
In 1952, when Coler Hospital opened, between Lighthouse Park and The Octagon, it got help from Goldwater. Steam ran through a tunnel along a reconstructed seawall all the way north to Coler. Later, other utilities were added.
Over the years, it was a boon for runners in winter as heat generated from transported steam kept the surface free of snow and ice.
But all that heat and moisture exacts a price. Freeze/Thaw cycles apply pressure in all directions, adding to the natural pull of gravity seaward.
When Rosenthal repeatedly warned Cuomo that a major weather event threatened catastrophic damage to the seawall, here’s evidence supporting her. Just from normal weather and aging cycles, numerous fractures like this appear along the tunnel/seawall.
Is the East Promenade seawall just another piece of evidence that the entire length is unstable?
But a catastrophe?
Roosevelt Landings, the community’s largest housing complex and Motorgate both rest partially on the tunnel/seawall.
The East Promenade seawall hazards: Who’s responsible?
RIOC and the governor’s office are not totally unaware of the threats. Years ago, sheet metal plates, a rinky-dink solution, were fastened to the broken seawall as braces. They’re unlikely to withstand a major threat, like a hurricane surge, and global climate change promised more of them.
Where’s RIOC on this?
We know that Susan Rosenthal repeatedly spoke up about fixing the seawall, and she swears that civil and government engineers reinforce her claims. But the current administration, one dancing openly to Albany’s tune, pushed her out.
The feckless I-wanna-keep-my-job administration, given license by a spineless board of enablers, defers everything upriver to Albany.
And we know exactly where Team Cuomo stands: Indifferently.