Scrambled Standards

Two RIOCs, Tasteful or Tasteless?

Updated 1 year ago David Stone
Iconic World's Fair Benches along the East Promenade
Iconic World's Fair Benches along the East Promenade
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

RIOC welcomed the weekend with a justifiable brag. The final phase of 70 World's Fair Benches installed in various locations around Roosevelt Island will be completed, this spring. A big improvement over rotting benches they replace, they're historic, comfortable and built to last. I took some pictures, began the story in my head, but then saw something starkly contradicting that tasteful urban esthetic, also attributable to RIOC.

World's Fair Benches

“We’re proud to finally replace all of our worn and damaged benches,” said Fernando Vargas, grounds manager for the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, in a press release. “The World’s Fair benches are sturdy, durable and comfortable.  And they bring a beautiful look across the island.”

True. The bench design is a legacy of legendary Robert Moses, New City Park's Commissioner, starting in 1934. They were a Central Park hit that carried over with 8,000 built for the 1939 World's Fair.

Roosevelt Island's style is a bit different, pleasingly cedar colored instead of green, and for longer life, ours are made, not from wood, but from something commercially dubbed "recycled plastic lumber."

Some, like me, may have trouble getting their heads around "plastic lumber," but the benches look great, will never put a splinter in a sensitive body location or take the kind of beating from the weather that wood does.

RIOC has reason to be proud, but then, there's this...

Modern day outhouse and scenic skyline make strange partners.
Modern day outhouse and scenic skyline make strange partners.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Sunset Over the Toilet

For an agency pitching skyline views as selfie draws for tourists, an industrial-looking public toilet parked smack dab in the middle of one of the Island's most scenic locations is a startling rejection of any known public taste.

"A Royal Flush" it shouts with pride, and anyone wandering up from the subway or Tram to try out Main Street attractions can't miss it.

The scenic view includes Rockefeller University's growing campus along the East River as well as the Queensboro Bridge.

With so many other possible locations for a needed public toilet, what coalition of bureaucratic genius selected this one?

Wouldn't the no longer used Red Bus stop across the from subway be better as well as closer for needy visitors? RIOC's sister agency, the MTA, has already uglied up the spot for years and will for more while blowing taxpayer dollars on the East Side Access fiasco. A theme around waste would be perfect.

A "royal flush" makes a solid description of what the MTA's done with our money. And if amused by the falsehoods spendthrift politicians toss around, you might make a note that public toilets do not actually flush, royal or otherwise.

They sit quietly and stink.

Summer's coming. Can we count on RIOC to step up with a better spot?

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