One more PSD failure as RIOC folds on promenade safety


“REALLY??? Is this the leadership you can provide? Is Public Safety also so oblivious?” Giovanni Battistini asked RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes. “I am disappointed.” RIOC gave up on West Promenade safety, never living up to promises made.”

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

PSD Failures, Topped Off by Alibis

It’s not just the promenades. Here on a weekday evening, you see a PSD officer chatting with a friend while a notorious delivery biker races, ignored, through the 246 Main Street crosswalk. Observing for five minutes, I watched eBikes, cars and trucks speed through, getting no reaction from the officer. But the worst offense was a RIOC Red Bus rolling through the crosswalk with pedestrians in the middle.

Battistini’s outrage was understandable. In October, his beloved family dog Luigi died after being struck by a speeding car on the West Promenade. Just days later, a child was struck by a car on Main Street after PSD reportedly refused to provide security for a party. Two women were also hit on Main Street in August.

But all Battistini got from PSD were evasions and falsehoods. Following Luigi’s death, RIOC’s Deputy Chief Amoroso stopped by his home unannounced and offered this, according to the grieving family…

  • It is absolutely illegal for any electric vehicle to use the West promenade, but RIOC is not enforcing this rule with signs or any type of barrier at the entrance of the promenade because the setup would cost too much to RIOC, it would go against the rules of the Fire Department, and it may make some residents upset.
  • It is impossible for PSD officers to enforce those rules on the West promenade because the riders of those electric vehicles run away from them when they try to stop them; PSD officers cannot possibly run after them.
  • PSD is understaffed and therefore cannot patrol the promenade effectively.

Soon after the child was struck, RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes – who has overseen PSD for years – weighed in. In a letter signed but almost certainly not written by him, Haynes addressed the community. It was barely literate.

But what are the facts on the street…?

We will get back to this, item by item, but first here’s how a frustrated Battistini finished off his complaint:

The barriers have been removed for many days now.  When I asked a PSD officer the reason why, he did not have a clue and declined to follow up to my request to reinstate them.  I keep seeing PSD and RIOC cars driving way above the speed limit, including one at 11:20 pm on Dec 31: when I asked the officer to drive slower he ignored my request and continued at the same speed.  The list can go on, should I provide pictures?  Is this what the residents of this island have to do to request simple and reasonable actions?  The plan never arrived.  The execution of the non-plan was even poorer.  I would like to know what is keeping you so busy that all this can’t be addressed. 

Giovanni Battistini/Westview Resident

We’ve reported repeatedly on Main Street Safety issues, and although RIOC responds, even announcing efforts at improvement, PSD failures always follow, just as they do here. Remember the promise of confiscating the bikes of persistent violators? How about the useless signs put up along both promenades?

As the tracks show, coupled with the absence of signs, PSD’s failures include virtually no enforcement on the East Promenade.

Fact Checking Shelton J. Haynes on PSD Failures, Promised Change

Main Street Safety Improvements

  • Two crossing guards will be posted on Main Street near PS/IS 217 intersections during school
  • hours. No idea why this was included. The child was struck on a weekend, not during school hours. In any case, you can check for yourself, but there are not officers posted like this during these hours. PSD does perk up briefly at opening and closing.
  • Speed bumps will be strategically placed on Main Street. There are no speed bumps on Main Street, and they are illegal in New York City anyway.
  • Portable radar signs will be placed in strategic locations on Main Street. God only knows what these would do, if actually set up. But what good are they when nobody knows the speed limit for Roosevelt Island? (PS: It’s 15 mph.) And along with everyone else, RIOC Red Buses and other state vehicles ignore it all the time.

Promenade Safety Improvements

  • Restriction of vehicles, motorized scooters, and e-bikes on promenades. However, emergency vehicles or permitted vehicles will be escorted by PSD. But it was more like a blanket ban. Barriers went up that even wheelchairs couldn’t pass through. Worst of all, RIOC blocked some building owners from accessing their own properties. Even contractors and emergency repairs were blocked. Now, as Battistini noted, it’s wide open again, and PSD officers appear unaware of what the prevailing rules are.
  • Public Safety officers will be posted on the west promenade to ensure compliance. An officer or two more than usual showed up while the weather was still good. Rarely seen, these days.
  • New signage will be ordered. If it was, it wasn’t installed.

Essentially, all promised “improvements” were shams that either never happened or were soon abandoned. But another Shelton J. Haynes “fact” is worth noting: his direct contradiction of what Deputy Chief Amoroso told Battistini: “As another point of clarification,” Haynes wrote, “the Public Safety Department is not short-staffed as we have only one vacant position at this time.”

Although, according to RIOC’s official budget, there are 51 PSD slots that Roosevelt Islanders pay for… But their employee roster, also supplied by RIOC, shows only 41 of them filled…

The disturbing, underlying story here is, RIOC and PSD know better. They know they should be doing some of these things, but they don’t. The question is, why?

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