All that we lost when they mangled Southpoint Park


It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Updating Southpoint Park as a welcoming open space, Roosevelt Islanders worked with RIOC, putting together a plan. The Smallpox Hospital ruins would be stabilized with a planned future. There would be better seating for the disabled and interactive pop-ups… Maybe a food truck or two. But that never happened. The state never explained why, but the contrast – what we lost – is glaring.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

A Simple Story About What We Lost

The meadow in FDR Four Freedoms Park on Sunday afternoon. Not only does Southpoint have nothing remotely like this, thousands walk through, without pausing, to get here.

Public parks should be special places, whether it’s Central Park in Manhattan or your own backyard. They offer opportunities to relax and escape the pressures of work and everyday life. They’re also important gathering places for communities, where people can come together to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, or just take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

That was the idea for Southpoint Park, but it’s not like that. Even the Smallpox Hospital, its ruins now a local treasure, was ignored. That was surprising after RIOC President Susan Rosenthal stressed a need for its future as the key element in investing in Southpoint renewal.

Instead, we got zero investment inside the park and rock farms degrading both shorelines.

But It’s Not So Hard…

As anyone can see from walking just a few minutes longer, an example of what could have – should have been – is right there in neighboring FDR Four Freedoms State Park.

FDR Four Freedoms State Park is one of the most beautiful open spaces in New York City. It’s also one of the most popular. It’s as welcoming as Southpoint is harsh and cold.

Four Freedoms is lush green. Southpoint is rocks and fields without any amenities. Oh, and one other thing, Four Freedoms does it with far fewer resources along with eager volunteers and supporters.

The cost in dollars and cents is almost nothing, but in heart and commitment, it’s a fortune

A Pop-Up Library under the sweet shade of the Beech Tree Row, a Pride Progress Flag welcoming everyone and, in the meadow, dozens of visitors lounging in and around brightly colored Adirondack chairs…

The venues are the same age, but they’ve gone in different directions.


It didn’t have to be this way. We lost a lot when they mangled Southpoint Park. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. With some investment and imagination, we can turn it around and make it the special place Roosevelt Islanders deserve.

That, of course, means reimagining RIOC as an engaged member of the community with new leadership and a responsive and responsible board.

Chip in. We’re free, but we have expenses. Thank you.

The Roosevelt Island Daily is always free to read. But our expenses are not. Publishing has costs beyond the human ones of writing and reporting. We appreciate your generous contribution in support our work. Thank you.

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