A late winter walk south on Roosevelt Island


Late winter is a mixed bag on Roosevelt Island. Great, beautiful things stand out, but there is no escaping a drop off in quality of life issues. Sadly, the worst of it is manmade.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

A late winter walk…

The photos here are all south of the bridge. I walked all the way up to the Lighthouse too, but the lack of attention from RIOC, reported here many times, is unmistakable. On the way to The Girl Puzzle and the still unfinished lighthouse, you find lawns wrecked with tire tracks through mud and parking areas strewn with debris. Cross your fingers for summer better than the last.

The Wildlife Freedom Foundation’s Sanctuary in Southpoint.

Ever inspiring is the WFF animal sanctuary in Southpoint. Rossana Ceruzzi’s crew shelters Canadian geese with broken wings, opossums and rescued cats. Last year, after RIOC destroyed their habitats, Canadian geese took refuge, giving birth to dozens of goslings.

Shelton J. Haynes/Langan Rock Garden

Denuded now, trees, grasses, bushes and wildlife banished, the shoreline in Southpoint offers limited pleasures and little warmth, even on a sunny day.

The only ruins given landmark status in New York.

The historic Smallpox Hospital, designed by James Renwick, recalls a time when refuge included artful construction.

The Roosevelt Island Renewal Tree.

Last fall, when it was bathed in brilliant colors, we featured the Renewal Tree because it’s a survivor. In late winter, it’s architecture is even more impressive. It’s sturdy base stayed strong after careless “pruning” sawed off mature branches. Nowadays, vibrant sprays of fresh branches promise a vibrant future. It still spells promise.

NYC Ferry Landing on Roosevelt Island.

The ferry landings brought a fresh touch, yet while RIOC invested millions in a failed Southpoint makeover, other shorelines carry on decades of neglect.

Midtown Manhattan skyline from FDR Four Freedoms State Park.

Four Freedoms Park remains a destination, even in late winter, and one attraction is Manhattan’s ever changing skyline.

Fire hydrant locked behind a gate under the Queensboro Bridge.

An echo of the ridiculously fenced-off fire hydrant, farther north on Main Street, the state rendered this one completely useless in an emergency.

FDR Four Freedoms State Park.

After a busy week of movie filming, Four Freedoms Park offers refuge for the last vestiges of winter snowstorms but retains its angular grace.

Along the East Promenade near Cornell Tech.

High tech and homeless find a match along the East River, but while nobody likes homelessness, nobody does much of anything about it. The underlying truth, at least in New York, is that we’d rather talk about it than fix it. The money’s there for clothing, feeding and sheltering everyone, if that’s what we want, but year after year, it persists.

Hazardous shoreline barrier in Shelton J. Haynes/Langan Rock Garden.

Langan’s design for Southpoint was dreadful, but perhaps, the worst features are the dangerous shorelines. Bets are out on how soon a child or careless adult suffers serious injury tumbling over these harsh, too-short barriers and into the rocks and filthy water.

Shelton J. Haynes/Langan Rock Garden.

Late winter is not good for the rock garden tumbled into place where wild growth was home to countless species, from nesting squirrels to underground communities of fungus and insects.

Canadian geese in Southpoint.

Finally, Roosevelt Island’s colony of Canadian geese survive in Southpoint. In a few weeks, they’ll set up nests for the next generation of native residents on the river.

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