The Return of the RI Monument and RIOC’s Lack of Integrity

May 20, 2019

The RI monument, installed on October 8, 2018, was erected on a three-month trial basis. According to the calendar, that period ended on January 8, 2019.


Long-time readers may recall that RIOC and the Roosevelt Island Historical Society solicited residents’ approval or disapproval of the proposed monument at the time it was erected. The Society collected a substantial number of disapproving comments and submitted the feedback to RIOC. Somehow, all those negative comments were misplaced. RIOC claimed residents’ approval and victory by only reviewing the favorable comments it itself had collected. 


It is now seven months since the installation. Since then, RIOC has not publicly discussed the status of the monument. 


There was no forum to announce that the trial period had ended and that it had been a success or a failure.


In fact, there are no metrics to determine whether or not the trial was a success or failure.


This monument was supposed to attract visitors and entice them to stay on the Island for “a great photo opp spot,” according to Hudson Related spokesperson Alex Kaplan.


Perhaps you also wonder if that objective was achieved.


 The RI Sign returning,  May 2019. Photo by Rachel Dowling 


The monument was recently removed for restoration and re-installed on May 16, 2019.


On that date, I contacted RIOC CEO Susan Rosenthal and asked for an update:


“Kindly report on the:

  • Increase of tourist dollars spent on RI;

  • Increase in social media activity on RI by non-residents;

  • Increase in favorable commentary about the sign by residents;

for the seven-month period when the monument was in place compared to figures for the same period 2017-18.”


Sadly, there is no such report.


According to Rosenthal, “RIOC does not maintain any of the statistics you have requested.  Note that the tram operators have shared with me the many tourists who enjoy the monument (taking photos, etc.) and I’ve witnessed this myself.”


Anecdotal glimpses of photos taken do not yield the stated metrics of increased social media activity nor increased time and dollars spent by visitors.


Living with this eyesore for months, it is past time to ask: “What has been the benefit to island residents and businesses?”


Asked if the RI monument has had any impact on sales at the Visitor Center kiosk, immediately adjacent to the tram, Judy Berdy, President of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, stated “Absolutely not. There has been no effect.” Moreover, she said visitors ask the kiosk staff for information because they find the directional signage and the map too complicated.


The temporary installation, despite vociferous opposition by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association and numerous individuals, is becoming permanent. There are no statistics to show the trial basis was a success because RIOC never planned to collect them. 


RIOC has no integrity. It does not respect the views of the community. It ignores our input. It has again been manipulated by Hudson-Related without considering the impact on island residents and businesses, to our detriment.


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