Are the Feds Deflecting UN Dangers Roosevelt Island’s Way?


UN dangers were on Roosevelt Islander Raye Schwartz’s mind when she emailed City Council Member Julie Menin as the General Assembly opened. The answer she got made her furious.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

“Blocking boats from going up or down the river as they usually do is not going to stop a suicidal terrorist who is being blocked across from the UN from firing a concealed missile or grenade!” Schwartz wrote.

“Meanwhile, sending them up the eastern side of Roosevelt Island and endangering our residents and workers with prolonged and frequented bridge openings…is not going to help.”

The Roosevelt Island Bridge must be raised frequently during United Nations General Assembly sessions as most pleasure yachts are rerouted along the East River’s East Channel. This cuts out immediate emergency services for Roosevelt Island.

While Schwartz understands that security precautions are needed, she protests how they are managed. Rerouting East River vessels into East Channel necessitates raising and lowering the drawbridge often. And every time, it blocks access for fire trucks, ambulances and cop cars.

Seconds count when emergencies strike. Roosevelt Islanders take on UN dangers that should be handled differently.

“Supposing if a child is hurt at one of our schools or playgrounds after school and the accident is more than an ambulance can handle? What if one of our senior citizens has a stroke or heart attack? What ifs are endless to one’s imagination!”

Schwartz also worries that frustrated terrorists might find Roosevelt Island or the Ravenswood Power Plant an inviting alternative.

Seeking Help From the UN Dangers

Schwartz turned to the nearest local elected official, City Council Member Julie Menin. It was a sensible choice. Menin has been a firm advocate for her communities. But not this time.

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“Julie: they don’t listen to Raye Schwartz or other individuals, but they may begin to listen to you and other elected city and NY State elected officials.”

The Roosevelt Islander got what she believed was a condescending response.

“If there is any specific closure of concern you have in mind, I would be happy to reach out to RIOC (although RIOC is a state entity and not under our direct oversight),” Harry Gale, a community liaison in Menin’s office wrote.

“The security protocols however, are determined by the Federal Government since this involves the UN and reaching out to Congresswoman Maloney’s office may be of some help.”

Schwartz, who has a graduate degree from Columbia, felt she was being talked down to. She was. And “reach out to RIOC…?” Really?

And if “…reaching out to Congresswoman Maloney’s office may be of some help…” why hadn’t he done so?

Roosevelt Island Is an Island, Once Again

Singling out Menin isn’t fair, of course. Roosevelt Islanders routinely feel adrift when it comes to officials stepping up for them. Governor Hochul, who oversees RIOC, tops the list of indifference.

And when it comes to the feds, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer are a hundred times more likely to answer CNN than constituents. And Maloney’s constituent services were hard to locate if they existed at all. Many of us found that out the hard way.

So, UN dangers emphasized by Raye Schwartz may not bring change. But they can’t hurt either. Island activism has stirred recently. We can hope for more, and shining bright lights on Roosevelt Island’s historic predicaments may wake the community up.

Being taken advantage of and ignored when in need are things anyone should sleep through.

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