And Now, Roosevelt Island Day 2023 Without Much Roosevelt Island


Kids, strollers, even bicycles clogged the Rivercross Lawn for Roosevelt Island Day 2023, but RIOC cluelessness abounded… because there was scarce room for anyone else, no matter the age. This was children’s carnival, and it said nothing about the community.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

“Looks like they imported some kids,” one observer noted shortly after arriving.

That may or may not be true, but whatever the case, the lack of attention to anything else by RIOC exaggerated it by contrast.

With bouncy houses and other state fair-style diversions ringing the west and south borders of the Rivercross Lawn, you could barely make it through the throngs of happy children.

But fat chance you’d find anyone over forty.

Most of the community was swept aside, and nothing in the energetic mix said, “Roosevelt Island!” It was just a carnival for the kids.

Roosevelt Island Day 2023

Emphasizing the community be damned point of view was the treatment of what RIOC called “our wonderful” community groups. Planning shunted the wonderfulness out of reach across the street in Blackwell Plaza.

There were no signs, no temporary crosswalks nor any officers protecting anyone crossing over for a sample of the wonderfulness.

Also missing: RIOC’s executive team with the exception of President Assistant Vice President Akeem Jamal who was probably responsible for the kids’ fest.

President Assistant Vice President Akeem Jamal in yellow shirt.

“What immediately came to mind was the absolute silence on the Chapel of the Good Shepherd Plaza after the Farmers Market left,” said one “Island newcomer since 1983.”

“And kinda waiting for the sounds of the small stage being erected & the folding chairs being put out by Eastwood & RIOC staff for the many concerts with sing-a-longs and impromptu dancing by Islanders of all ages…”

And “Missing Fay and Ron Vass and Doryne … and a handful of folks of all ages, abilities and backgrounds making it so great. Missing the early morning clean-up / plantings / bagels…”

That ball’s been dropped during the Hochul/Haynes years.

Some Important Show Ups

Although RIOC’s overpaid executives couldn’t find time, some elected officials did.

State Senator Liz Krueger visits casually with Roosevelt Islanders.

Although the state legislature remains in session, Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright made time over a weekend away from Albany.

Rebecca Seawright’s dynamic crew set the table for her arrival in the afternoon.

The Lonely Exiles

Roosevelt Island Day shrank to half its size in days past. But so did its engagement…

“And, yes, RIOC’s total disrespect for Island organizations and the Islanders of all ages and abilities they serve continued unabated by crushing them together on the sidewalk across the street.  And I guess inviting the many different faith-based groups wasn’t on their radar either …” an Island observer said.

But more went missing. Before the reign of Seldom Seen Shelton, enough folks pitched in that the posters struggled to include them all. This year’s chintzy offering didn’t mention any.

Residential building management kicked in in the past, but only L+M, owners of Roosevelt Landings, had a table. And a scan did not find a single Island business represented. No Four Freedoms State Park. No café. And no Cornell Tech.

But worst of all, not a single word about Roosevelt Island as a community, nothing rising above the kids’ carnival.

But RIOC secured the best position on the sidewalk, promoting their ludicrous Constituent Services and ineffective Public Safety Department.

Nobody seemed much interested, even with the “RIOC Giveaways.”

A Wrap: Roosevelt Island Day 2023

Roosevelt Islanders with long local histories may be accused of kissing the past’s ass, but so what? What happened pre-Hochul/Haynes is at least guidance for what could and should be now.

Times when Matt Katz and Sherie Helstien rallied residents for a cheerful morning clean up, complete with T-Shirts, bagels and cream cheese set a tone worth repeating. But that was an essential piece of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association that’s since collapsed in a pile of personal agendas.

As much as RIOC’s out of the loop, RIRA presents more disappointment. RIRA once embodied community spirit and involvement. It confronted RIOC and built strong relations with elected officials.

Activists then would never calmly accept the OMNY mess with the Tram or Haynes’s slamming the door on Southpoint Park on the Fourth of July.

Maybe RIOC fails because resident representation did. The state sloughs off media concerns, but a community drumbeat might hold its attention.

Maybe the real negligence is with us.

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  1. I saw Seldom Seen walking around followed by his own personal photographer. Snapping photos of him as posed by every table.

    • He was at the Sportspark ribbon cutting, and I heard he got hired. I doubt it was on merit. I talked with three better photographers from Roosevelt Island, just at that event. Haynes does not hir on merit.

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