Amid construction under a hot sun, discarded, a local treasure suffers the abuses of neglect. Rejecting creative suggestions for reuse, RIOC finally leaves historic Tram cabins open to graffiti or worse.
By David Stone
“This abandonment is from 2009. So, lots of folks to blame,” remarked one longtime resident after seeing the damage. But while that’s true, the current state of utter neglect and indifference to our history is jarring.
“Shameful and disgusting,” another said. The legacy and hard work of historian Judith Berdy and others simultaneously trashed.
When the rebuilt Tram went into operation in 2009, the administration thoughtfully stored the old cabins and gears in a fenced off area outside the Motorgate Atrium.
Surely, someone would come up with an idea for preserving this local treasure.
A local treasure collects dust…
It wasn’t for lack of ideas.
Probably the most robust came from the imagination of architect Tad Sudol. Sudol leads the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA) which helps RIOC organize public art installations.
Sudol designed a Motorgate Atrium come alive with the colorful gears offsetting its austere poured concrete.
And in 2016, RIOC paid over a million bucks for a redesign of Southpoint Park by Fitzgerald and Halliday. Approved by its board in January 2017, the plan included the cabins as a welcome center. RIOC has never adequately explained why that plan was scrapped in favor of a vastly more expensive deal with longtime partner Langan.
Others were simpler. A refurbished cabin might welcome visitors in Motorgate Plaza.
But none were adopted, leading to a local treasure left open for abuse.
As work progressed on Motorgate, the protective fencing came down, peeled away, leaving the cabins open to graffiti and subject to damage by construction crews.
Another piece of Roosevelt Island’s legacy bites the dust, a local treasure left in the care of RIOC.
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