Who’s responsible for this “ugly and dirty” Southtown eyesore?


The answer for who’s responsible for the Southtown eyesore is as simple as its solution is not, but the conditions are so ugly in contrast, maybe exposure can make a difference.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Southtown Eyesore on a Rainy January Day

The worst of it contrasts not only with its surroundings of cleanly constructed residential buildings but also the fast rising Long Island City.

The Way We Were: Roosevelt Island (Images of America)

A reader came to us, last week.

“For several years, the site played host to a multitude of functions and has constantly been out of sync, both visually and socially, with the surrounding promenade and parkland.

“For the last 12 months, however, the conditions became even worse, and it’s now akin to a refuse site or abandoned shipping yard.”

Enhancing that, over the last six months, were piles of black garbage bags, Manhattan-like, signaling a series of AVAC breakdowns.

Southtown eyesore enhanced after one of many AVAC system collapses.

One Problem, Two Sources

Fans of the classic Barney Miller TV series may recognize this as where NYPD assigned Det. Stan “Wojo” Wojciehowicz when the precinct closed. The K-9 unit worked out of Roosevelt Island. Wojo frowned at being sent far out of the action, but the unit operated there for decades. He might have loved the place as buildings went up and a community formed.

It’s current assignment is empty lot surrounded by ugly fencing. It’s as if RIOC, which is responsible for that part of the area, and the community are singing two different songs. And they don’t compliment each other.

Because RIOC is celebrating its second year of the Shelton J. Haynes Media Blackout, we asked Hudson President David Kramer about the Southtown eyesore. Kramer acts as frontman for the partnership with The Related Companies. He is, even in disagreement, as accessible as RIOC is bunkered.

“The future Building 9 is still RIOC’s responsibility until we sign a ground lease,” Kramer told us. “That’s why it’s had the K-9 space and other things over the years.”

Building 9 is the last of the Southtown development, and it’s long been delayed by economic downturns as well as COVID. With the future of Roosevelt Island as a New York State controlled outpost in the middle of a larger city uncertain, financing has been difficult, as well.

Future site of Southtown Building #9.

So, improvements in that piece of the Southtown eyesore are RIOC’s responsibility and, in other words, hopeless. But Kramer had better news for the garbage dump area.

About the Dumpsite

“The dumpster,” Kramer wrote in a follow up, “is the responsibility of our Riverwalk retail tenants. So, we need to do a better job of keeping an eye on their maintenance efforts. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.”

The “Riverwalk retail tenants” are the businesses bordering Riverwalk Commons, from Granny Annie’s to Starbucks. Just a guess, but the culprit may be the absence of an alliance between the businesses. Without someone leading, even well-intended efforts often don’t get done.

We’ll stay in touch with Kramer and look for improvements. On the RIOC side, things are unlikely to change for all the obvious reasons.

More from the Roosevelt Island Daily


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