Many Details Are Sketchy, Questions Unanswered

FIGMENT NYC 2019 Opens Tomorrow at 10:00: What You Need To Know

Updated 3 weeks ago David Stone
FIGMENT NYC 2019 Opens Tomorrow at 10:00: What You Need To Know

While lower attendance than some fear is likely to mitigate risks, FIGMENT NYC 2019 opens Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. with welcome excitement Although RIOC reports that unspecified segments will take place at various places north of the subway station, Lighthouse Park at the north tip of Roosevelt Island will be the main, ticketed venue. There's a lot we do know and much we don't.

Starting early in the shadow of the poorly planned Cherry Blossom Festival, RIOC jumped in energetically with FIGMENT, recruiting critical city agencies in support and delegating RIOC's own oversight to PSD Chief Jack McManus, an experienced veteran of New York City events. McManus's deputy, Kevin Brown, has also committed many hours to security and safety and will be on hand.

  • How many people are coming? Less than 3,000 have registered for tickets to the event, but nowhere does RIOC or FIGMENT NYC say what happens if you show up without one. So, no one is really sure. Nevertheless, experience with free events tells us that far fewer than the number registered typically show up. No investment yields lesser commitment. On FIGMENT's website, they say tickets are required, but it's downplayed. Will non-ticketed visitors be turned away at some point? We don't know, and if either RIOC or FIGMENT does, they're not saying. Note: Last year's claim of 12,000 visitors for opening day on Governors Island may have been mostly promotional and is not a reliable guide for Roosevelt Island where completely different transit conditions exist.
  • What should residents and visitors expect to see? Again, we don't know. There is no known schedule of events or list of participants. FIGMENT is, by definition, participatory art, but that definition is very broad. You can get an idea by checking out video for 2018 here.
  • Should we be worried? Frankly, no. Organized by RIOC, which recruited all relevant City resources to help meet community concerns for safety and security, and overseen for event activities by FIGMENT, the project poses no unusual hazards. NYC Emergency Management will establish a command center in Good Shepherd Plaza to guarantee immediate response in the unlikely event of an emergency. NYPD has scheduled a presence to compliment PSD's. FIGMENT has an established history of not creating hazards or drawing unruly crowds. This is an art event, after all, not a festival or celebration. Expect an excited but not unruly crowd.
  • Accommodating residents: Without explaining why or how things might play out, RIOC advises all residents to carry current IDs " ensure easy access to and from home and to and from the island." So, do so. Details are unnecessarily vague or totally absent, but why risk being stalled somewhere with bags full of groceries from Whole Foods? Pack a drivers license or other government ID with your Roosevelt Island address.
  • Transportation: According to RIOC, "The Tram will run on a regular weekday schedule throughout the event. Red Bus service will also operate on a weekday rush hour schedule, though some delays may occur due to crowding along parts of the route." To assist physically the physically challenged, "The Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) bus will be stationed at Good Shepherd Plaza for disabled individuals who want a direct ride to Lighthouse Park. The RIDA bus will also stop at all Red Bus stops. Anyone requiring RIDA transportation may also contact the Public Safety Department at 212-832-4545." All good news, well thought out. Subway and buses? Regular weekend schedules are in effect with no planned disruptions. Unplanned disruptions are always a risk, if almost always minor. The MTA's automated alert system is not reliable, so be prepared as you normally would be. 
  • Motorgate parking: Drivers have been advised to obtain a placard from the office on Motorgate's 4th level, if they hope to leave and reenter the parking garage during the weekend. NYPD's plans for traffic control exiting and entering the Roosevelt Island Bridge are not clear. There are no known accommodations for drivers not using Motorgate. Employees who regularly park at Coler seem to have been left out of the mix. Visitors hoping to drive to the event should expect to be disappointed. Roosevelt Island was never planned for heavy vehicle traffic and is barely able to handle routine weekday cars and trucks.
  • There will be portable toilets available all along the event route as well as water stations and food vendors.

Those are the basics.

Despite a paucity of event information, expect to have some fun and surprises with the art, participating as you like. Be wise and get your tickets today here. You can download and print them or plan to show them on your mobile device. This will simplify entry and help the planners be better prepared.

Roosevelt Island is lucky to be home to FIGMENT NYC 2019. RIOC's done a great job in securing the event and showcasing the community. The weather looks great, and the art should both surprise and amuse all weekend.

Let your hair down.

We will see you there.

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