A Life in Art

Did RIOC Forget About the FDR Hope Memorial?

Did RIOC forget about the FDR Hope Memorial? Adopted with many thanks in 2018, the long planned site is idle and overgrown.

By David Stone

“The FDR Hope Memorial, a work the late Jim Bates, President of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, championed since its conception in 2010 until his death last November, took a long stride toward completion when RIOC‘s Board approved taking over the project at its recent monthly meeting.”

FDR Hope Memorial Site, August 12th, 2020
In 2018, RIOC pledged resources to finish the FDR Hope Memorial in Southpoint. But it’s mostly abandoned since.

We reported that in April, 2018.

“The State agency acted on a request from RIDA and will bring both funding and expertise to finishing the tribute.”

But what went wrong?

Did RIOC Lose the FDR Hope Memorial?

The tribute to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a disabled hero had an extended history.

In April, 2011, Gallery RIVAA hosted the first formal event. Meredith Bergmann, the artist creating the installation, presented her concept.

By the time of our 2018 report, completed figures waited in her workshop.

But according to an article in DNAinfo, in 2015, it lacked enough funding.

Before an anonymous donor chipped in $150,000, the late RIDA president Jim Bates said, he’d raised $125,000 of the $300,000 project from private donations and grants from the Roosevelt Institute and Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright.

Yet, three years later, it stalled. Until RIOC stepped in.

“In the approved deal to accept responsibility for completing the Memorial, RIOC agreed to handle future procurements and to cover additional costs not to exceed $278,000.”

So, what happened?

A look at a rendering of the planned memorial excites appreciation for the hopes and promise of those of us with physical limitations.

The overgrown, weedy mess at the top of this page is a far cry from the concept RIOC promised to complete two years ago.

While the state agency seems to have done little, except put up a fence and stack supplies in the meantime, other concerns arrived.

With its home, Southpoint, exposed as a harbor for unmitigated toxic wastes, the FDR Hope Memorial appears at risk. An old growth tree nearby tells the story.

This area was not protected by the limited membrane barrier installed in 2011.

But RIOC plans to plow ahead anyway.

Without explaining why the project sat idle for over a year, RIOC expects a restart in two weeks. The contractor completes pandemic safety plans, and after that, expect two months until the finish.

That’s according to RIOC, but it seems fanciful for an agency that finishes few things on time. Or without additional contractor expense. So, add a RIOC cushion of, say, another hundred grand and three months. And hope for better.

For the last ten years, along with Jim Bates, the memorial has been championed by Dr. Jack Resnick, the unstoppable Nancy Brown and current RIDA president Wendy Hersh.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.