A Roosevelt Island Lost and… Wasted

A Roosevelt Island Lost and… Wasted

While complaints over Roosevelt Island lost and found wasted grow, few sources of sorrow exceed the devastation in Southpoint Park. A then and now comparison, just one year apart, says it all.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Roosevelt Island Lost

Over intense protests, blowing past worries about contaminated wastes, RIOC wiped out the last natural shorelines on Roosevelt Island. That attack, extended from an unchallenged need for repairing storm-battered areas, got underway in July 2020. With a vengeance.

Lower section of shoreline in Southpoint Park, approaching Four Freedoms, in 2020, just before RIOC sent the bulldozers in.

The state agency countered protests, claiming, through contractor Langan, that the redesigned park would be more natural than what they were tearing out. In a virtual town hall, a Langan “expert” went so far as insisting that the birds that nested there and other animals would return.

But today, from the same perspective, it doesn’t look much like any of those whose habitats were destroyed will feel at home here.

…And Wasted

Southpoint Park on the border with Four Freedoms, November 2021.

The naturally growing trees in the distance are in FDR Four Freedoms State Park. The widely separated plantings represent RIOC’s idea of “more natural” than before.

Someday, there may be an accounting, but it’s not likely. Accountability for the state’s recklessness on Roosevelt Island faded under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s watch, and his successor has shown little improvement, just a change in rhetoric and wardrobe.

But we will document as much as we can before it’s all gone. We can never get Roosevelt Island lost back. We can remember, though, enhanced by images.

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