New York City

Big Red RI Sign: Get Over It, Roosevelt Island

The big red RI Sign stays, RIOC’s board decided, just one year ago, and that brought closure after more than a year of protest. It did not bring satisfaction. Or respect. And the state says, “Get Over it, Roosevelt Island.”

By David Stone

At a RIOC committee meeting with mixed results for the community, a decision to make the RI sign permanent added disappointment and snark.

Janet Falk roasted RIOC's Board over this installation
RI isn’t always what it seems, and lack of ingenuity played a role in resident dislike for it.

Opposition to the sign ranged from wishing it were placed elsewhere to wishing it would be melted down for pottery. An unadorned pair of eight-foot tall Helvetica fonts is about as creative as a frying pan. The sign added only size and more red to the Tram Plaza.

It was further evidence that RIOC suffers from EADD.*

  • Elbow Ass Distinction Disorder

RIOC shadow president David Kramer declared it, “Fun!” RIOC’s then real president/CEO Susan Rosenthal echoed that, but so is dangling your toes in cool water during the summer.

Doesn’t make its permanence a good thing.

Kramer is also president of Hudson, responsible for creating the sign, and Rosenthal is an Andrew Cuomo acolyte. The Cuomo administration genuflects to real estate developers, otherwise known as “big campaign contributors.”

The Big Red RI Sign Stays. Again.

At an April, 2017, full board meeting, RIOC approved a proposal for what was then sometimes called a “monument.”

Fierce resident protest led to backtracking. The sign, it decided, could get a three-month trial, and residents would get a fair chance to see how they felt about it.

All that was just a maneuver to wave off protests and was soon forgotten, of course. RIOC instead diddled along, leaving it off agenda after agenda, until weariness set in.

Big red RI Sign, here to stay.
In 2018, the plain as a barn door RI Sign was up for review, but instead of three-month review, it got a chance to wear out resistance.

In the end, Judy Berdy was left alone to make a case against it. Berdy is president of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, and she believes the sign detracts from the historically significant Tram Plaza kiosk.

Here’s where the snark came in.

While Berdy made her case, rather than listen respectfully, Rosenthal interrupted her in mid-sentence with an irrelevant comment about income. Board member David Kraut, from his seat at the table, snorted indecipherable snark.

Kramer stood by, grinning.

Conclusion: It Stays. Trust Goes.

Vicki Feinmel got the last word on the big red RI sign. Why, she asked the board, let residents think their input matters “when RIOC’s going to do whatever it wants anyway?”

It was a good question.

There was no answer.

2 replies »

  1. I had not one iota of a thought that the sign was going anywhere. The idea that the residents of this island have any say in anything that the current RIOC board or Hudson wants to do is a joke.

    • Well, we do live here, you know, and our rents do pay most of the cost of maintenance and upkeep. Why wouldn’t we expect RIOC to consider our opinions? Isn’t that what democracy is all about? You pay your taxes, you get to have some say in how they’re spent. It’s the American way.

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