New York City

RIOC Caves: Partying On The Promenade At The Sanctuary

RIOC caved again, giving the Sanctuary carte blanche for a West Promenade party, free illegal parking for guests and more. A new era of indifference to community concerns paved the way, and RIOC’s board played along.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island News

“After considering the site, PSD will not be allowing any parking at the site of the event,” RIOC pledged, just one year ago.

“All existing fire lanes and roadways will be kept clear during the event. Anyone who drives to the event will have to park in Motorgate. Any other attendees to the event will be told to take public transportation. PSD will be on hand to monitor the situation…”

After repeated nagging about the lack of preparation for a first event at The Sanctuary, RIOC reluctantly agreed to needed safety standards. On short notice, the managers tried sneaking the party in under the radar, but residents caught them in time.

But in September 2020, RIOC Caves at The Sanctuary Like an Old Salt Mine

RIOC caved, allowing the Sanctuary Free parking and waterfront access.
Sunday, September 14th, at The Sanctuary. 15 cars line the West Promenade, and the only access is down an unmarked fire lane.

What looked like a birthday party brought cars parking along the West Promenade in an area marked “No Parking or Standing.” But it was no problem for RIOC’s ultra passive Public Safety Department.

And this was not a stealth event. PSD Chief Kevin Brown and RIOC’s entire board of enablers directors got notified, on Friday, about something happening.

A total failure to act earned each board member and Chief Brown a first time ACE (Acquiescent Cuomo Enabler) Award.

Event preparations at the Sanctuary.
On Friday, we sent PSD Chief Kevin Brown and fellow ACEs on the RIOC board this photo. It shows illegal parking as a weekend party was readied.

Another feature from the Friday photo (above) illustrates why Citi Bike’s plan for an Octagon docking station vanished. Seen on the right, the area previously set aside for bikes has been paved by The Sanctuary, an apparent gift from RIOC.

RIOC caved at The Sanctuary on Sunday, ignoring a row of illegally parked cars accessing the area through a fire lane. A search of the City database does not disclose any permits from the departments of building or health for use of this location.

So, what’s the big deal with a party at the old church…?

Per se, nothing, especially if you believe that this location, in the middle of former park space, is appropriate for an outdoor beer garden and a speakeasy.

But looked at thoughtfully, the problems accumulate, but RIOC’s indifference may distract from real hazards.

Access to The Sanctuary requires using a fire lane for two-way traffic. But the lane has no markings or stop signs protecting the active West Promenade and no sidewalks or crosswalks.

Misusing a fire lane for thru traffic is of little concern to RIOC. They’ve known about it for over a year and, not surprisingly, failed to act.

RIOC caved at The Sanctuary, allowing unfettered access along a route bordered by playgrounds and a day care center. A sign clearly states that no parking or standing is allowed, but as we showed earlier, more than a dozen cars parked without PSD interference.

When incompetence is an everyday experience…

Conflicting traffic signs at the top of the fire lane.
Comical if not so aggravating, RIOC’s directional signs at the top end of the fire lane send vehicles crashing into each other. Fortunately, drivers have more sense than RIOC has.

Which way do you go if you’re unfamiliar with the location? Down the Pony Field path? Onto the field? But there’s one more unnecessary hazard waiting.

Uprooted sign at Octagon Parking Lot
Even before misusing the fire lane, vehicles must cross the length of The Octagon’s outdoor parking lot. It also is completely unmarked and offers no safe walking area.

RIOC’s caving at The Sanctuary is rich with hazards, but it’s not without history.

Conclusion: RIOC’s Caving at The Sanctuary Continued A Tradition

A month after RIOC was coaxed into managing The Sanctuary’s inaugural event, PSD failed brutally as a Halloween Party kept residents awake until 5:00 a.m.

It created a messy traffic jam in the dark along the unlighted fire lane, but the worst thing was PSD’s lying about it.

“Chief Brown has conducted a thorough investigation of the event that took place at The Sanctuary from Friday, October 25th through Saturday, October 26th,” RIOC responded to the Roosevelt Island Daily/News.

“PSD officers became aware of an event when the first noise complaint came in at approximately 11:15 PM. PSD officers patrolled the site until the event ended at 2:00 AM and people began to disburse,” RIOC claimed.

“An officer also returned to investigate noise complaints at 4:30 AM, but at that time, the only people on site were the workers who were finishing their clean up after the event. A third complaint was registered around 5:15 AM when workers were leaving the premises.”

But multiple lies were embedded in that, first because this video was shot by an Octagon resident at 5:00 a.m.. And another Roosevelt Islander, living a couple of hundred yards south in Manhattan Park, complained about music so loud it kept her awake at 4:00 a.m.

Why did RIOC lie about it…?

We don’t know about that because RIOC, typically when confronted with misinformation, simply stops answering.

But there is no good reason why RIOC’s board, charged with overseeing the agency’s operations, fails repeatedly to do much of anything but vote “Yes” on whatever’s put before them.

“How, in short, will RIOC guarantee that the rights of residents and their visitors will not be permanently disrupted by this misnamed venue?” we asked, last October.

We await an answer.

2 replies »

  1. But are there permits in effect for the Sanctuary? Construction, parking, alcohol license? In other words, is this a NYS-NYC legit business? I’m thinking the local media, like newspapers and websites, can have a field day with it. Or an investigation from a TV channel? If, indeed, here are grounds for the Sanctuary to be exposed. If not, I guess we all have to suck it up.

    • The group applied for an alcohol permit last year but was already serving alcohol before that. Illegal parking is routine, and a search of government databases does not show licensing applications for construction or food service, although DOB shows four complaints about violations, which the city seems to have fobbed off. For example, with two of the complaints, DOB investigators report that they were unable to locate the address.

      Moreover, while court documents report the owners bragging about their connections with Governor Cuomo, before the pandemic, RIOC planned on spending an unprecedented $200,000 for unexplained work at the Sanctuary, even while aware of the violations.

      All I can say is, “Do the math.” These guys are going to be held to any rules or regulations as long the current administration is in power.

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