Shelton Haynes
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Plans for a new bank on RIOC’s agenda, but you probably won’t like it

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A new bank is now likely for Roosevelt Island, but its location has already angered some residents. “Just no end to the torture,” one wrote.  “These people remain shameless…” Shameless? Maybe? Incompetent? Probably.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

A new bank for Roosevelt Island where?

As they usually do, RIOC’s operations committee meeting chugged into action with president/CEO Shelton Haynes racing through the state agency’s achievements.

“We’re very pleased…” and “We couldn’t be more proud…” and such spill out in a semi-mumbled rush while uncritical board members sit back at home. A serious issue concerning the Cultural Center’s conversion into warehousing flipped past without causing a blink.

The future home of a new bank for Roosevelt Island?

But when Haynes landed on the subject of a new bank for Roosevelt Island, the sleeping pills wore off. Well, only for two of the three board members present. The third, Howard Polivy, had already exhausted himself showering Haynes and company with praise.

The banking bullet point caused Michael Shinozaki to sit up in his chair. But Shinozaki, his reputation for standing up to the Albany-to-RIOC Express safely in the past, wasn’t worried about the bank’s strange location.

He worried about “the narrative.” Which, he claimed, would spread through the community’s aged and disabled population. Not that he believed they’d be right. It just wouldn’t look good.

That, he said, would mean residents seeing it as the Cornell Tech Bank, a nifty dodge because the proposed location isn’t on the campus. It’s in a RIOC facility, and it’s another breathtaking leap into RIOC WTF territory.

And like it or not, Cornell Tech is vastly more well-liked and admired in the community than the local patroon, RIOC, empowered out of Albany.

Let’s spell it out. S-P-O-R-T-S-P-A-R-K. Anyone see a bank in there?

No, it’s a “park,” and it’s for “sports.”

And here’s a bonus. Putting a bank right up next to public transportation offers a whole new level of imported crime where none previously existed.

But the misfit of all misfits did not arouse the attention of a single board member.

Then, David Kraut came on strong for residents… until he didn’t

Kraut, one resident told me, is “a man who looks both ways before crossing, then follows the leader.”

In the end, he did not disappoint.

After raging over how RIOC need be cautious about perceptions over “whose water we’re carrying,” implying — yes, implying, not saying — it should be residents’, he found a scapegoat: our elected officials.

It made him happy, having an out.

Careful not to name Seawright, Kallos, Serrano or Cuomo, he roared, “They fucked up!” A couple of board members not as familiar with Kraut’s standard public profanity reacted in shock on the Zoom call.

But all was soon jolly, again. Kraut joined up with Shinozaki, agreeing that a nifty public PowerPoint presentation could manage a sell in spite those annoying residents.

And so the argument went for a new bank in Sportspark…

After leaking new details on how they failed at retaining Amalgamated Bank, Haynes and CFO John O’Reilly made the case for a bank in the recreation facility.

Their big argument is that the banks simply refused any Main Street location other than Southtown and Sportspark. Banks were not specified, by name or number.

Southtown got a pass because there are no empty spaces.

But, Haynes chimed in that they gave tours, hoping to sell Main Street.

Can you just image that gem of a tour past the stutter of empty storefronts and no foot traffic?

David Kramer’s Flops On Main decimated an already struggling business core, almost from the day he pledged “shock and awe” for the small district.

Technically, he was correct. He shocked the hell out of the community when he evicted the hardware and stationery stores, along with the charity shop, without viable replacements.

Awe? There is — for the sheer gall of his claims of success and the companion strength of making RIOC dance to his tune.

Note: these same board members took part in forming Shops On Main but provide virtually no oversight.

Conclusion

Is it possible that a driving force in the move for a new bank in Sportspark is a new revenue source for free spending RIOC? And might Flops On Main rake in some cash too by adding this bank to its roster?

Neither question came up, but Haynes mumbled David Kramer’s name at least twice without going into specifics. And there is no indication that management in Westview, where the last bank remains empty, was ever consulted or even contacted.

All that aside, this move is devastating for the community’s challenged elderly and disabled populations. Needless to say, none of them were consulted either.

“As long as there’s a red bus stop,” O’Reilly said, he was satisfied, emphasizing RIOC’s executive disconnect.

Has he ever tried standing upright on a red bus as it shakes, rattles and rolls down pothole filled Main Street? Has he tried boarding one at rush hour when immovable passengers jam the doors, afraid they’ll miss their stops? Has he ever navigated the aisle-filling strollers with moms taking up “reserved for seniors” seats while drivers refuse to act?

In short, this is a manifestly bad idea hatched by out of the loop managers while a disengaged board snoozed along.

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