RIOC Blew Off Another Resident Before the Race

Part 2: "A Failure To Communicate," Roosevelt Island Style

Updated 44 weeks ago David Stone
Part 2: "A Failure To Communicate," Roosevelt Island Style

Janet Falk, it turns out, wasn't the only person trying to pound sense into RIOC's thick head, last weekend. "I just received this advisory and I’m really shocked and dismayed that our community has become so thoughtless and insensitive as to allow this. It’s Mother’s Day," wrote resident Raye Schwartz in an email to RIOC Vice President Shelton Haynes, after receiving a last minute notice about traffic and parking restrictions due to unidentified races on the holiday.

Related: "A Failure to Communicate," Roosevelt Island Style

Apparently blissfully unaware of consequences, RIOC released an Advisory Alert via email, Friday afternoon. (It's important to remember that the vast majority of Roosevelt Islanders are not on RIOC's mailing list and would not get the message, sent too late for the Main Street WIRE to include in its current issue.)

Due to 5K and 10K races around the perimeter of Roosevelt Island this Sunday, May 13, Mother's Day; there will be "No Parking, No Stopping or No Standing" from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations:

• Between the Tram and the Blackwell turnaround; (the rear of 405 to 475 Main St.)
• the front, rear and across from Sportspark and the R.I. Racquet Club; (from 250 to 281 Main St.)

"It really isn’t necessary to have this kind of event on Mother’s Day, when so many families look forward to being together," Schwartz wrote in an email to RIOC Vice President Shelton Haynes. "To have such an event which limits street parking is absurd. Further, the red bus and Q102 are also already limited because of weekend schedules as well as the construction of the helix.

"You are a father: would you like it if your family couldn’t be together to celebrate such an important annual event?"

Haynes never responded, but Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson, who's taken the role of putting as nice a face as possible on the rolling treadmill of RIOC blunders, did. It wasn't pretty, and it was late, coming at nearly 4:30, as RIOC staff were heading for the exits or already out.

In a response approaching theatre of the absurd proportions, Robertson laid out what was already known as if it somehow exonerated the State agency:

"The Mother’s Day parking restrictions described in the advisory only apply to 20 spaces between the Tram and the Blackwell turnaround (the rear of the Riverwalk buildings) from 5 a.m. – 1 p.m.," he wrote.

"There are 10 additional spots impacted by the parking restrictions near Sportspark and the Racquet Club. Main Street parking will remain available as also the Motorgate parking garage.

"Thus," he concluded, "the overall impact of this race will be minimal; we don’t believe it is preventing families from being together as you stated in your email."

But excusing the loss of 30 parking place immediately adjacent to residences was not the high point of the message's absurdity.

This was:

"Please be assured that RIOC supports families being together on this holiday and all others. We are working tirelessly to repair the Island’s roads, sidewalks, benches, parks, railings and trees for all Roosevelt Islanders and their families to enjoy together. We’ve even made parking free after 7 p.m. weekdays and free all-day on weekends for residents."

Robertson blithely equates necessary infrastructure work with supporting families. My immediate thought was, "Is that the best you've got?"

"We think these races are family-oriented activities," he lamely concluded.

But Schwartz was now incensed. Robertson's answer to a heartfelt appeal for consideration landed badly.

"I strongly disagree with some of what you wrote," she fired back.

"First, most of the participants in these frequent races are not residents. Second, many families like to celebrate Mother’s day with either lunch or brunch, especially when there are very young children, and these parking restrictions are in effect until 1PM which is around the end of the lunch hour. And these races, while some include our community members, are not typically family oriented, as for example a Little League softball or Youth Soccer game," Schwartz pointed out, essentially telling Robertson what RIOC should already have known, but apparently didn't.

"Finally, the notice came to our mailboxes midday today…right before the weekend when most folks have already made their plans."

Raye Schwartz's last appeal for common sense and consideration was wasted. By now, RIOC, with the exception of Public Safety, had closed up shop and left Roosevelt Island. They had, after all, a Mother's Day weekend to get lost in, elsewhere.

No one from RIOC followed up with Schwartz on Monday.

By then, additional damage had already been done, as reported by Janet Falk, when loudspeakers for the race event blasted residents out of bed before 7:30 on Mother's Day.

We'll leave the last word to Raye Schwartz.

"Our island population has slowly but surely been taken over by people who obviously do not realize that this is very much a family oriented community, or should I say was a family oriented community, often with family members not living nearby..."

Amen to that.

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