As reported yesterday, RIOC President/CEO Seldom Seen Shelton Haynes floated an error-filled, self-serving press release about a preservation award. The news inspired historian Judith Berdy to rip Haynes, and she was joined by others. Community disgust with Haynes is running high.
by David Stone
President of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, Berdy has probably done more for the community than anyone else – while demanding little credit. Strong in person, she’s modest about her contributions.
She’s far more likely to shine a spotlight on others than step into one herself. So, when she read the Shelton-J-Haynes-does-it-all flavored press release about an award for the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse, her patience drained.
“Haynes did not have one thing to do with the lighthouse project,” she began. “The only staff person was Prince Shah of the Engineering Department.
“Architect Thomas Fenniman was the person who made this project a success. His diligence and expertise lead to an accurate and successful restoration. I remember sending him images of the structure over a decade ago.
“Fenniman has been awarded numerous awards for his architectural projects. Fenniman was the architect for the RiHS Visitor Center Kiosk, the slate roof of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd and the Chapel entry. He has vast knowledge of the structures on our island, and we are fortunate to have had Fenniman design and supervise the Lighthouse project.
“He has been knowledgeable about the deteriorating condition of the lighthouse when he wrote a conditions report 10 years ago.
“Giving any credit to Haynes is pure fluff. This project was well underway under President Susan Rosenthal and her administration, not Haynes.”
Quoting the Press Release, Berdy Said This..
“This quote is pure fiction:“
In 2021 President Haynes decided to proceed with the restoration of the historic Roosevelt Island Lighthouse, originally built in 1872. The Lighthouse renovation came about as hundreds of thousands of tourists each year come to explore the beauty of the Island and revel in its history. The iconic Lighthouse had seen its best days behind it – in desperate need of repair to restore it back to its former glory. RIOC sought approval from the Board of Directors for a $3.1 million investment to repair the Lighthouse reviving the historic landmark for tourists and residents alike to visit the towering fifty-foot-high building along the majestic East River. The Lighthouse renovation was completed in less than a year, available for the start of Spring so visitors near and far can enjoy its storied history.
Berdy Was Not Alone
Reading Berdy’s comments, a RIOC insider chimed in.
“I agree. The island is in a bad place with him in charge. It’s all about him, and he cares little about improving things for the community. He just wants to be paid for as little work as possible.”
At $226k per year, Haynes currently pays himself more than any governor in the United States.
“She is correct,” the insider added. “I mean he literally had nothing to do with the project. Zero…….nor Hope Memorial or Motorgate or the Girl Puzzle or the tram elevator. Or any of the tram work. He knew nothing about Blackwell House. It goes on and on.
Indeed it does.