Truth Emerges Over RIOC Closing Sportspark and The Youth Center


Technically, RIOC has not closed Sportspark, but as one insider confirmed, it “should have opened in Sept. The FDNY story is BS.” The truth emerges, exposing it effectively as a closing. And it’s not just President/CEO Seldom Seen Shelton Haynes and his protective circle. Governor Kathy Hochul is also deeply involved.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

How Albany Tendrils Stretch South

To fully understand how RIOC works, you need to learn about the Executive Chamber. Sometimes called “the Second Floor,” it’s the network of operatives charged with carrying out the governor’s policies. They are in near-daily contact with RIOC’s CEO, according to legal papers filed by former CEO Susan Rosenthal.

Because she advocated for the community and acted independently at times, she ran afoul of Cuomo’s Chamber, then run by Melissa DeRosa. But Haynes appears more compliant and is protected by Hochul.

As for Hochul, her disdain for Roosevelt Island was apparent when she vetoed legislation the community developed with legislators. The new law would tighten resident membership on the board, but like Cuomo, Hochul saw it as lessening detached Albany control.

What we have then is a Hochul/Haynes administration in which each party gives the other cover.

Truth Emerges in a Vacuum

Because Team Hochul/Haynes never provided clean explanations for closing, first, Sportspark, then the Youth Center, speculation surfaced. RIOC insiders eagerly shared their insights.

The consensus: Haynes thinks their operations are too expensive. Working with the Second Floor, he’s planning dramatic fee increases for Sportspark, they say.

And for the Youth Center, he wants a first-ever fee required for children using the space and programs there.

In short, informers say he doesn’t want to spend the money needed for operations and is working out new fee structures with Hochul’s crew.

This cheapskate community approach is consistent with the embarrassing holiday displays this year under Hochul and Haynes. The lights didn’t work, and there were no interactive elements.

But to see the trend, you need to go back a year to the cancellation of Black History Month in February when not a single poster graced Main Street. And carry on through the profoundly diminished Roosevelt Island Day and Fall for Arts, which Haynes tried canceling altogether.

In October, community pressure forced RIOC to organize a Halloween parade at the last minute. Then came the dreary December holiday decorations.

Contrast this with huge salary increases for Haynes, his cronies and his inner circle of loyalists. Seldom Seen Haynes now pulls down more pay than any governor in the nation including Hochul.

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