The AVAC is fixed, RIOC crowed on September 3rd, but for much of Roosevelt Island, the claim was false. Clogged chutes, smelly, cramped refuse rooms and trash-lined streets persist.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

The AVAC Is Fixed. Not.

Midday, September 3rd, RIOC pushed out an email blast. “After a long battle with a bed frame, the AVAC system is now up and running as usual!”

For several months, at least eight buildings went without the pioneering pneumatic tube system sucking daily trash into compactors north of Motorgate. Yet, the state agency that never makes a mistake failed to inform any residents until local media reported the crisis.

Then, they used the occasion for boasting about how diligently they’d been working at removing a stuck bed frame. They never said where nor was there as much as a photo, before or after. And of course, they neither apologized nor explained the absence of any notifications for months.

In claiming the AVAC is fixed, however, they patted themselves on the back.

“We owe a big thanks to our Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation engineering team and Owner Representatives, LiRo, who worked in conjunction with the New York City Department of Sanitation to clear the obstruction.”

And although they pointed a finger at residents for putting inappropriate items down AVAC chutes, they have never posted instructions on any chutes, guiding the heavy flow of newcomers unfamiliar with the unique system.

Ten days after RIOC announced that the AVAC is fixed, black trash bags lining Main Street in Southtown tell a different story.

It was another incident where RIOC declined all responsibility for their part in creating problems.

The Test of Reality

In the interim, the AVAC system worked intermittently. But it’s not been 100% reliable since May. Today, blocked buildings run north of the Tram Plaza at least as far as Rivercross. Relying on Manhattan-style pickups of mountains of trash at curbs is the norm.

Along with RIOC’s ongoing failure at communicating with affected residents comes concerns about the state’s ability to keep the system working in the long term.

With RIOC increasingly a patronage dump for the Democratic Party and its supporters, enough skilled staff may be out of reach. You can’t eat up payroll with unqualified patronage, low and no show jobs and expect enough left for meeting basic requirements.

Roosevelt Island may be witnessing the early signals of system too badly supported for survival.

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