Y’all welcome to RIOC’s Swift Rapid RIVAA COVID-19 Art Testing Site Gallery

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Roosevelt Island’s original hybrid, the Swift RIVAA COVID-19 Art Testing Site Gallery is coming soon. And y’all are welcome to the confection born of art and nose swabs.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island Daily News

Yessir, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s (RIOC) making us all proud again. This time, it’s an all new things, a previously unimagined mix of public health and high culture.

Swift Rapid Testing Site, Empty at mid-afternoon, Day Two
Swift Rapid COVID Testing Site during working hours.
Gallery RIVAA, Vernissage 20
RIVAA Gallery during Vernissage 20 opening reception.

So, here’s what tumbled out of the alleged Communications Team on Monday afternoon.

“Please be advised that the COVID-19 Testing Site will be closed from Wednesday, May 19th through Saturday, May 22nd. This temporary closure comes ahead of an anticipated relocation of the site to RIVAA Gallery (527 Main Street).”

Your first reaction is probably, “What?” as was mine. My second was, “Ew, that’s awkward.”

The wording I mean, struggling for formality where casual is called for. But then, there’s the striking peculiarity of packing up the huge but barely used COVID testing site and carting it across the street, jamming it into RIVAA’s gallery.

Swift RIVAA question… of which we have a few answers

First, is RIVAA being kicked out? No, but Swift Rapid’s needing someplace to bunk. And RIVAA’s got some spare hours when the gallery is closed. Details are not fully worked out yet, but no conflicts are expected.

That’s possible because Swift Rapid’s become Swift Limited. To just two days a week.

Testing is down all across New York City, and Swift Rapid was never nearly as busy as RIOC anticipated. Or, sadly, reported.

Second, is this fair to RIVAA? Apart from being associated with RIOC’s biggest boondoggle in years, yes. Although we don’t have a lot of details, we know that RIOC CFO John O’Reilly is working things out. O’Reilly’s like the adult in the room in RIOC’s snakepit/playpen. He has a solid reputation for integrity and ingenuity in finding solutions, a RIOC rarity.

And look at it this way: the very few people using the Swift RIVAA site get free cultural immersion in the bargain.

Third, is this good for Roosevelt Island? Well, yes and no. Yes, because it reduces the burden on Roosevelt Island taxpayers, up to nearly half-a-million dollars blown through so far. And no, because RIOC still refuses to square with residents paying all the bills.

Details are as scarce snowflakes in Tijuana. RIOC just doesn’t want us to know what they’re doing with our money? Is a little knowledge really a dangerous thing?

As we reported after last month’s RIOC board meeting, a presentation raised questions about possible financial shenanigans involved in setting up the Swift Rapid Testing Center. And then, what appeared as inflated charges for some testing rolled out doubled the doubts.

Conclusion

With an agreement expected soon, the Swift RIVAA COVID-19 Art Testing Site Gallery will open, restoring the old library site as a yawning Main Street gap again. Flops On Main will resume its floppiness of storefronts as empty as David Kramer’s promises.

Nostalgic in a twisted way, once you think about it. If you can bear thinking about it.

Anyway, y’all are welcome for a visit. Come for the nose swab, stay for the art.

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