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Sportspark Pool Reopening Under a Cloud of Unanswered Questions

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RIOC’s Sportspark Pool reopening emerges from a cloud of confusion and mistrust over an apparent drowning, last month. Never explained, the incident claimed the life of a 21 year old man., according to skimpy reports.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island Daily News

RIOC, the state agency that never makes a mistake, released an advisory, after hours on Thursday before a summer weekend. As is also its custom, the advisory uses “no-reply” formatting; so that, folks receiving the message may not respond.

Although there is no evidence of wrongdoing or negligence, RIOC’s steadfast refusal to supply basic details is troubling. Generally, people with nothing to hide don’t hide anything, and RIOC hides whatever it can get away with. And then some.

Under the leadership of president/CEO Shelton J. Haynes, secrecy thrives as a government standard. The community pays all the bills, but RIOC fends off accountability like its a nest of angry hornets.

The Sportspark Pool Reopening Advisory

Here it is in all its clumsiness and opacity:

“Please be advised that, after a previous closure, Sportspark Pool will reopen on Monday, June 7th for normal operating hours:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Friday, 7:30 AM – 3 PM
  • Saturday – Sunday, 10:30 AM – 6 PM
  • Closed: Thursday

“Kindly note that standard COVID—19 operating procedures will continue to be followed and admittance will be free for all.”

The Unknowns

While the state agency takes a “Trust me” position without support, it leaves critical questions unanswered.

  • The identity and cause of death of the 21 year old victim.
  • Roles played by RIOC personnel on the scene. (We know that another swimmer, not a lifeguard, pulled the victim out of the water.)
  • Why was restaffing necessary as RIOC reported in an advisory?
  • Did RIOC leadership contact the victim’s family or send condolences?
  • What did RIOC’s internal investigation find and why was one required?
  • Who was the manager of Sportspark, responsible for safety and accountability?

Not only is RIOC’s refusal to answer legitimate question another sign of failed leadership, it signals a singular lack of responsibility.

How long with Governor Cuomo, ultimately responsible for this debacle of a state agency, look away? When will state assembly member Rebecca Seawright step up and represent constituents here instead of turning a blind eye on RIOC?

Neither has said a word about the death of this young man or RIOC’s role in handling the tragedy.

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