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RIOC Chopped City Part 2

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RIOC Chopped City, Part 2, provoked by mealy-mouthed excuse-making and evasion, takes an objective look at the careless destruction of inkberry trees. RIOC’s grounds crew decimated a couple of hundred feet of healthy plants and, of course, made it worse. Then worse again.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

By David Stone

Between resident appeals about the destruction of roughly 200 feet of healthy bushes and RIOC’s mealy-mouthed response, there’s a gap. One best shown in before and after pictures.

Compare the brutal remains of RIOC’s “pruning” and “rejuvenation” work. Above is a photo from April 4th, after an early, legitimate pruning. On the right is the view on July 10th.

For decades, sprays of inkberry relieved a section of the West Promenade with shade. The area is especially hot because the hard surfaces harshly reflect sun, and for twenty years, strollers took advantage of the shade.

Adding a hearty spark of unintended humor, RIOC said that one strike against the inkberry trees was that they “inhibited…views of the river.” Now, even if you treasure views of one of the most polluted rivers in the Western Hemisphere, you can add this two-hundred feet to the four miles already in place

Not really, though, because the tree row behind it is, was and will be the main obstruction between you and the brown water.

Local with a wider range, 24/7: Roosevelt Island News

RIOC Chopped City, April 4th
Here are larger views, April 4th and July 10th, 2020..
RIOC Chopped City, July 10th

But at least as large a piece of this follow up story is what RIOC’s bulk advisory left out.

RIOC Chopped City Made Worse

The advisory rambles along in preachy fashion, but for all its information, it leaves out two critical facts.

  1. Cuttings this extreme means the promised “rejuvenation” will take around three years, but that may not work at all.
  2. Since the work was done well after the recommended late winter to early spring period, the mistakes may be fatal. The correct time frame allows for healing prior to the return of cold weather. Tardiness restricts the time available for nature to do its thing, and it’s too late for fixing now.
RIOC's chopped city may have ended the twenty year life of this inkberry tree.
Judging by the ring count, this inkberry tree was about 20 years old. It was there before 9/11, but it may never come back.

And there’s more…

RIOC’s wordy rationale, clearly meant to counter our article posted yesterday, skirted misconduct and intimidation by its own staff.

As we showed in a video shared earlier with RIOC acting president/CEO Shelton Haynes, a burly groundskeeper without a face covering shouted at a resident to “stop recording us.”

Watch as RIOC’s groundskeeper, with his face mask drawn completely down, shouts at a resident, “Stop recording us.” After the recording stops, he calls PSD.

Yet there’s no mention of the groundskeeper’s violating coronavirus protocols RIOC’s pledged to support, and of course, the resident had every right to record the event.

The so-called advisory skipped the misconduct above, but it also failed mentioning that the Public Safety Department showed up…

And when they arrived, they compounded the bad behavior by demanding IDs.

RIOC Chopped City up close. Here’s the result, and it’s clear why green space loving locals object.

In Conclusion: RIOC Chopped City, Some Perspective

In the end, the cause for all this may be the inevitable friction between residents long deprived of adequate representation and a governing body with the esthetics of a suburban shopping mall.

No RIOC executive has ever lived on Roosevelt Island, and the resulting disconnect is inevitable. RIOC just doesn’t get it. Never has.

The deed is done, and RIOC shows no remorse, not about any of it, the cutting, the disrespect for rights, the intimidation.


While out and around before Friday’s drenching rain, I did a quick follow up on a related issue.

PSD, which we believe is overstaffed and should be subject to budget cuts, rushed personnel over to the Chopped City site, but the department still neglects other, real responsibilities.

Here’s a shot of Blackwell Park’s playground. Distance protects the kids identity. They aren’t responsible for Mom’s or Dad’s poor judgment.

In an earlier report and in a conversation with Haynes, we described parents and children flocking to the Blackwell Park playground… without face masks or any sign of PSD.

The unofficial count today: 18 park visitors, but only 3 face masks in place.

Where’s PSD when we need them?

No groundskeepers around to defend from cellphones today; so, where are they?

6 replies »

  1. Why does RIOC insist on all this stuff – cutting trees, removing greenery, more construction?
    Is it just bureaucracy needing to demonstrate they are doing something? Is it shady deals with service providers and construction companies?
    Residents should have veto power over RIOC!

    • Possibly any of that, but another, less obvious thing, i.e., they’re overstaffed and need to stay busy to justify staffing levels. They have a contractor doing all of their routine grounds work; so, why keep so why have 11 full time groundskeepers to the tune of nearly $700,000 per year on the payroll? That question is and should be unsettling to management.

  2. In addition to the decimation/wanton destruction of our trees, they have clearly also destroyed our squirrel population. I understand there are those who, unlike me, aren’t fans of squirrels, but that is no excuse for wholesale murder. I have always loved and enjoyed their antics, and they remind me of my youth at home in rural Pennsylvania, where my father would always have a bag of peanuts at hand to offer them. They are wonderful creatures, and my heart aches to note their absence. When we first moved into our 2nd apartment in Rivercross, there was one I nicknamed Wavy, because he/she noticed us on our first floor balcony, and we occasionally had a peanut or two to offer — in time, if we appeared and there were no peanuts forthcoming, Wavy would stand up and wave his arms at us, asking for his bounty. If we tossed one to him, he was very good at catching it, too. I realize everyone has an issue with feeding wildlife, but this was the occasional peanut, and it was a delightful link for me with my dad. I remember at the time someone freaking out about the “aggressive squirrels”, as if they were an army descending on hapless humans. How sad. So we have to have a pristine environment for humans only (but now dogs). And never any transparency when measures are taken. Just destruction.

    • Can’t agree with you more. I miss the daily antics I’d see walking to and from work.

      As with most of nature, we invade territory, then declare displaced fauna and flora nuisances.

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