The big red RI Sign stays, RIOC’s board decided yesterday, and that brought closure after more than a year. It did not bring satisfaction. Or respect.

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

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

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 was about as creative as a frying pan, the sign added only size and more red to the Tram Plaza.

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

Kramer is 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 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 forgotten. RIOC instead diddled along, leaving it off agenda after agenda, until weariness set in.

Big red RI Sign, here to stay.
One year ago, 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: the big red RI sign stays, but not without a cost in trust

Vicki Feinmel got the last word. 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.

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2 Comments

  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.

    1. Author

      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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