Reunion May Be Cancelled If RIOC Holds Firm

"The Rock," Roosevelt Island Pioneer Alumni Slammed with $7.5K Fee by RIOC

Updated 13 weeks ago David Stone
"The Rock," Roosevelt Island Pioneer Alumni Slammed with $7.5K Fee by RIOC

Back in the old days, circa 1975 to 1985, Roosevelt Island's first community called it "The Rock," and they used that name when gathering roughly annually to renew old friendships and introduce new generations. RIOC, which always supported the events, even supplying tents, may have put an end to the alumni get-togethers but changing course, this year, demanding a $7,500 fee to hold the picnic in Lighthouse Park.

All photos courtesy of Frank Farance.

Three generations on The Rock.
Three generations on The Rock.

"We'd like to have the permit fee waived, as RIOC has done in the past," Frank Farance appealed to RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal, on behalf of 'The Rock' alumni, "including SPP (Southpoint Park) and FFP (Four Freedoms Park) (before it was developed), Lighthouse Park, Blackwell Park (a tree was planted Paula Spiaggia, in memoriam, at that event), and the Meditation Steps. One of our parks, Capobianco Field, is named after one of our originals, Tony Capobianco, and his children are part of our reunions.  Brian Dorfmann, whose chess table is in Al Lewis Park, was one of our 'originals.'" 

Plans for the reunion were introduced with RIOC, last fall, and an application submitted in February. The group already has purchased insurance.

A family picnic with pioneer families.
A family picnic with pioneer families.

But The Rock always anticipated being allowed to use a RIOC managed park gratis, as in the past. They received no explanation for the reversal.

Complicating the issue is growing community resentment over outsiders being given priority rights over local groups for using playing fields.

There are also hints of resentment over favoritism. Organizers of The Rock argue that RIOC gave The Cherry Blossom Committee a free pass for a vastly larger event as well as providing tens of thousands in security and sanitary support, suggesting it had much to do with the Committee's leader being married to a RIOC Board Member.

The Rock alumni quietly spread out across Lighthouse Park.
The Rock alumni quietly spread out across Lighthouse Park.

The Easter Egg Hunt also seems to have gotten a free ride.

But not The Rock.

The Daily asked Rosenthal to explain the reasoning behind demanding a fee that virtually eliminates a pioneer group that has no organized fund raising or membership income. She did not respond.

Community Affairs Supervisor, Jessica Murray reached out to us with this information: "RIOC is conducting internal discussions to evaluate and decide upon fee structures for these types of activities. We will communicate with the applicant and the community as soon as possible. RIOC is committed to supporting community activities at all of our island amenities."

We as well as The Rock are awaiting that answer, hoping that it will be generous enough and fair enough to let their alumni reunion take place.

Of course, rock will never die, although The Rock might. Here's a video from their last event.

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