In a letter sent directly to President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes, elected officials representing Roosevelt Island asked that RIOC pause never before established disabled permit holder fees. As we reported earlier, the fees hit some of the community’s neediest out of nowhere. The electeds also asked that RIOC also rethink the amount of the “increase” – from $0 to $125 monthly.
by David Stone
The letter (See attached below) was sent yesterday, February 8th, The Daily learned, at least in part because contacting Haynes otherwise has been difficult. Signing it was Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, long an advocate for people with disabilities, along with Senator Liz Kreuger, City Council Member Julie Menin and Manhattan Borough President Mark D. Levine.
The electeds went straight to the issue.
“We ask that you pause on implementing this fare increase and consider a more gradual approach.
“We understand that since the 1990s, the Motorgate Garage, owned by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, has provided… disabled residents to apply for a parking permit to be used in a handicap-designated parking spot at no cost to the resident. This has been a tremendous service to the disabled community on the island, the vast majority of whom survive on severely fixed incomes and need a vehicle to access essential services on and off the island.”
Addressing Apparently False Claims
“However, at a recent community meeting, our offices heard from several disabled
residents who claim to have never received notification of this price increase.”
In an advisory lacking any mention of Haynes, RIOC said notices had gone out no later than December for the February increases.
“Additionally, we received reports of different versions of notification – one disabled resident claimed to simply receive an emailed February invoice with no further explanation, while another disabled couple were simply verbally informed about the increase when taking their vehicle out of the garage.
“Other residents raised concerns about the lack of clear and appropriate signage in the garage itself.
“In addition to these concerns about notification, our offices have also received concerns
about technical issues with SP Corporation’s online payment system. We understand that some residents attempting to pay their invoice were unable to do so after being locked out of their accounts.”
Many Object to Disabled Permit holder fees Altogether
According to their own public budget releases, RIOC is flush with cash with no need for new revenues. That’s reflected in huge staff salary increases – Haynes now pays himself more than New Yorkers pay Governor Hochul.
And unknown to most Roosevelt Islanders, RIOC staff parks free in Motorgate as an employee benefit.
Haynes himself commands four free parking spaces across the street from his Blackwell House bunker.
“Finally,” the electeds wrote, “a number of disabled residents have raised concerns about the significant jump from $0.00 to $125 per month. Such a dramatic increase can have a tremendous impact on an individual or family budget, particularly for those who are relying on limited and fixed incomes.
“Due to these concerns, we would like to request the RIOC pause the implementation of
this fare increase to allow for improved communication with impacted community members and consider a more gradual approach which gives the disabled community more time to plan financially and become familiar with the new payment structure.
‘We also request that RIOC reconsider the $125 fee and adopt a small fee per month. While we appreciate the increased operating costs and worldwide inflation, the rollout of this particular increase has caused significant harm to some of our most vulnerable residents.
“We look forward to hearing from you on this matter, and remain committed to working together for the benefit of the entire Roosevelt Island community.”
This is breaking news, and we will update you when and if Haynes or someone else at RIOC responds.