A Sanctuary or Betrayal? RIOC PSD’s New Failure to Protect and Serve

A Sanctuary or Betrayal? RIOC PSD’s New Failure to Protect and Serve

RIOC’s Public Safety Department (PSD) has a simple mission: Protect and Serve. But this week, it was more like a repeat performance of past failures. The precedent is documented. The accident: waiting to happen.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

It was Monday evening, according to a Facebook post, and the situation was threatening along the West Promenade outside The Sanctuary Event Space. Cars choked the illegal parking lot, clustered around a “No Motorized Vehicles” sign. A Roosevelt Islander said she and her dog were nearly run over.

Lighting is too poor for safe vehicle operations after dark, and there is no safe and legal access by car.

But not to worry unless you’re planning on using the area as it was designed to be used.

Promenade: a paved public walk, typically one along a waterfront at a resort.

Not a parking lot nor a thoroughfare for cars.

Protect and Serve

Kidding? That mission faded fast after Chief Jack McManus retired. Here’s a video from an event at The Sanctuary in 2019, shortly after Chief Kevin Brown took over. This was time-stamped at 5:00 a.m. Remember that.

Around the same time, a caller from Manhattan Park, at least an eighth of a mile away, complained about music so loud that she couldn’t sleep.

Confronted with the chaos and confusion, RIOC responded:

“Chief Brown has conducted a thorough investigation of the event that took place at The Sanctuary from Friday, October 25th through Saturday, October 26th,” RIOC responded to the Roosevelt Island Daily/News.

“PSD officers became aware of an event when the first noise complaint came in at approximately 11:15 PM. PSD officers patrolled the site until the event ended at 2:00 AM and people began to disburse,” RIOC claimed.

“An officer also returned to investigate noise complaints at 4:30 AM, but at that time, the only people on site were the workers who were finishing their clean up after the event. A third complaint was registered around 5:15 AM when workers were leaving the premises.”

Someone lied or was covering up because multiple individual reports contradict the disappointing official story.

A Different RIOC Took Responsibility

Unlike today, RIOC under President and CEO Susan Rosenthal, while never admitting a mistake still took appropriate action. Before The Sanctuary tried staging another uncontrolled event, The Daily alerted Rosenthal and steps were taken. Their then-professional Communications Department told us:

“After considering the site, PSD will not be allowing any parking at the site of the event. All existing fire lanes and roadways will be kept clear during the event. Anyone who drives to the event will have to park in Motorgate.

“PSD will be on hand to monitor the situation, setting up an Uber turnaround away from the venue so as to minimize traffic congestion. PSD will also monitor noise levels during the event. Anyone who has a complaint, contact PSD directly at 212-832-4545.”

Those were the days, when “protect and serve” meant protect and serve.

Why Are Sanctuary Events Inherently Hazardous and Need Oversight?

We took photos yesterday in the daylight because they better illustrate why allowing cars and trucks into an unsafe parking lot must stop. But how? When we already know that Chief Brown can’t manage pedaled bikes or, God forbid, motorized scooters on Main Street, how can we expect him to handle full-size cars?

Although some of the Monday night party vehicles enter by way of the West Promenade – poorly lit and intended for walking – the only entrance from Main Street presents one hazard after another.

Visitor Parking at the Octagon.

Driving to The Sanctuary Event Space requires passing through an unmarked parking lot. There’s room for only a single lane, and it’s poorly lit because regular traffic is not expected.

Moreover, the people using this area are visitors and not expecting two-way traffic from party goers.

This has gone on for three years, but how does it protect and serve anyone?

Fire Lane along the south wing of the Octagon.

This is like an invitation to injuries and loss of life.

With barriers pushed apart to allow traffic, a fire lane serves as an entrance to The Sanctuary’s illegal parking lot on the West Promenade.

Only a short stretch on one side has a sidewalk, and there are no lane markings, painted crosswalks or stop signs. It’s the Wild West as drivers – often in the dark – cruise by a cat sanctuary, a community garden, a nursery school entrance and a kids’ playground.

The Sanctuary Parking Lot. Yes, it’s illegal, but it also explains why the once-planned CitiBike docks were never installed. The Sanctuary trumped residents.

Along with the Facebook photo showing parked cars blocking the West Promenade, we have clear evidence of cars making a farce of the “No Motorized Vehicles” signs PSD thoughtlessly posted.

The law, in reality, is what they are willing to enforce. But RIOC’s Public Safety Department enforces next to nothing, although they do issue parking violation tickets. But not here.

Finally, The Sanctuary and its Event Space visitors left a gift behind in the grass.

You can even see the tracks of cars making their way along the supposedly restricted West Promenade.

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