Monday, August 12, 2013

Great Before And After Pictures Of Roosevelt Island's Southpoint/FDR Four Freedoms Park - Food Trucks Now Welcome At FDR Park

Paul Sahner's NYC Grid has some great pictures of Southpoint Park before the FDR Four Freedoms Park (FDR Park) was built and opened last October.. Remember Southpoint Park like this:

Here's what the FDR Park looks like now.


More great before and after pictures of Southpoint Park and FDR Park from NYC Grid. Take a look.

Reported previously that the FDR Park Conservancy rules would not allow food and beverages other than water to be brought into the FDR Park. Apparently there have been some modifications to that policy since at least one food truck has been welcomed in the FDR Park.
There will be no visiting the FDR Park for food trucks or other reasons during the next three days. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Please be advised that Four Freedoms Park will be closed from Monday, August 12th to Wednesday, August 14th due to scheduled maintenance. The park will re-open to the public on Thursday, August 15th at 9 AM.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
FDR Four Freedoms Park Conservancy President Sally Minard adds:
The Park will be closed Monday and Wednesday next week. We are always closed Tuesday.

The scheduled work is to replace the road surface in the entry to the Park.

The surface installed just before the park opened to the public last fall was supposed to be a hard packed surface, ADA compliant for wheel chairs and scooters, and suitable for emergency vehicles as required.

The surface never performed as expected. It is slippery and breaks apart when wet. That is why we have maintained temporary gravel paths across the surface to provide safe passage into the memorial for visitors in all weather conditions.

The existing surface will be taken up and removed from the island. Asphalt will be laid. Crushed granite will be rolled into the surface when the asphalt is still wet to give the appearance of gravel. This surface is again ADA compliant and more attractive than asphalt alone, which was the other alternative considered.

I think visitors will be pleased with the aesthetics and the performance of the new surface. Most of the work takes place within the Park site. RIOC has issued a permit for the section of the work that is outside the Park site. As the area is continuous, the same surface will be applied throughout and in the same time frame. This small section, not the site, is within the transition area the Conservancy took responsibility for finishing and maintaining over two years ago. We are assured the project can be completed within the three days allotted.
UPDATE 8/13 -Yesterday, I asked FDR Park Conservancy President Sally Minard:
Has there been any change in FDR Park rules regarding visitors bringing in beverages and food other than water?

I understand that Food Trucks are now allowed into the Park. Can visitors bring their own food as well?
Ms. Minard replied:
No food truck is in the park. A food station is installed; will be open for business Friday-Sunday in August, between 11am and 4pm.

All food and drink is to be consumed within the defined food service area within the Park site but outside the built memorial. The rules against food and drink other than water inside the memorial are unchanged. Visitors can bring their own food and drink to be consumed within the designated food service area.

No one is required to purchase from the food station.
According to the FDR Park web site:
Today we welcomed our first food truck, Katchkie Truck from Great Performances and Katchkie Farm! We also welcomed our first food truck customers who were visiting the Park from Israel!

Featuring a menu inspired by the organic produce at Katchkie Farm, the Katchkie Truck offers fresh farm fare to FDR Four Freedoms Park visitors. The truck’s menu is designed thoughtfully and healthfully with seasonality in mind....


OctagonParent said...

Does the food truck have to pay the fee they charge those
that are parked on Main Street? If not under what theory would they be
exempt? If I recall there are only three approved places for the food
trucks to park and Southpoint Park on land "borrowed" by FDR Park was not
included. Preferably, they should remove the fee for all trucks but if
they won't shouldn't they all pay.

Also, why are the security guards allowed to have their personal vehicles on
Southpoint Park land in front of the FDR Park near closing time? Did RIOC
give them permission to idle their car in the park while they smoke?

YetAnotherRIer said...

I like the current park a lot better than the ugly mess before. Just my opinion.

CheshireKitty said...

I disagree. I liked it better before it was built up - although Southpoint is OK now with some areas that at least resemble wild meadows, and fields of dying wildflowers. The FDR design is great but there are dozens of other spots throughout the metro area where it could have been installed - even somewhere along LIC or Brooklyn - to much the same effect, with the stunning view etc. There are very few "wild" areas left on RI - can anyone walk by the soccer field and not regret the butchery of the wonderful trees that were once there, a mind-numbing error authorized by Shane? Irreplaceable trees and thickets were replaced by -- cookie-cutter pine trees?! Even that almost "wild" area was removed - replaced by a lawn and the scattering of identical "Christmas trees"! The last wild place is the water tunnel area which we can at least view if not walk around in. Let's hope the City of NY never gives it up to RIOC: Knowing RIOC's track record, the last bit of remaining wildness on RI will immediately be replaced with lawns/blandless/artificiality/no doubt more identical "Christmas trees"!

Random said...

They really made a mess of it didn't they? Why were the politicians all in favor of this sad monument to bad taste?

Nicolas said...

We tried the truck on Sunday. I have to share my feeling here, because really, the quality of the food was shameful! We had a "smoked turkey sandwich" and a salad. Both were barely edible. The sandwich comes in plastic (never a good sign), the bread was extra-dry (presumably not what it should be). The salad was not appealing at all. The closest comparison I could find is railway-station food.
The sandwich was $8 and the salad $7.
For that price, I was expecting much, much, much better. Highly disappointing.
The only "OK-ish" item was the Berry basil lemonade. The rest was disgusting. It kills me that their motto is "celebrating food"...

To add to my pain, I noticed a group of people enjoying their picnic on the grass while one of the guard told us that we can only eat in the restricted area.

Sorry for the rant, but it had to be said!

CheshireKitty said...

Nicolas: Thanks for the heads-up on the food truck. Incredibly sad that this business is taking advantage of its "monopoly" in being the only food vendor in the isolated area to sell overpriced, stale, inedible products.

Also, the question of why are some allowed to picnic on the grass yet those buying sandwiches from the truck aren't allowed to do the same: This sounds both incomprehensible and infuriating.

There is something very wrong with the way FFP is being operated.

Westviewer said...

I also prefer the memorial designed by Louis Kahn, one of the most distinguished U.S. architects, better than the scrubby landfill that it replaced.

Westviewer said...

No, the FDR Memorial was designed at the time the name of the island was changed to "Roosevelt Island." Get it?

CheshireKitty said...

As the RIOC history page says: "In a ceremony in 1973, Governor Rockefeller and Mayor Lindsay were present for the renaming of Welfare Island in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the ceremony, architect Louis Kahn revealed his design for the memorial park to be constructed on the island's Southpoint."

I do get it - I was referring to the design of the FFP which although admittedly great, about 40 years later may not have been the optimal design for an FDR memorial on the island.

The idea of an FDR memorial may have served the purpose of changing the subject on RI - formerly Welfare Island - re-branding it. I get that. I also have said the Kahn design is brilliant. However, it would just as brilliant were it built at almost any other point of the probably hundreds of miles of shoreline in NYC - think of the unending beautiful vistas from so many shore points in NYC. Why drop it on us, a small-ish community physically cut off from the rest of the city? That's a distinct disadvantage - we have no easy access to many things the rest of the city residents enjoy often within walking distance, such as adequate park land. A different FDR memorial could have been commissioned and built or the existing design could have been modified/adapted/updated to make it more user-friendly. The FFP is on a scale - or maybe beyond the scale - of a national monument (despite the fact that FDR himself never wanted a grandiose memorial): A gigantic V-for-Victory leading to the gigantic gleaming sculpture of FDR's head. This design - although brilliant - is almost pharaonic. Whatever the pros and cons of the design, its construction meant that scare/valuable land was converted into a monument as opposed to a park.

Westviewer said...

It is site=specific.

CheshireKitty said...

I disagree. It could have been built at any number of other shore points say along the Brooklyn or Queens shoreline, along Manhattan, Governor's island, etc etc. It might have even had a more dramatic effect at another location with better access as far as bus parking etc. The monument is gorgeous - I just don't think it, at least in its present form, should have been put on RI. A low-key memorial to FDR - for example, the sculpture of FDR in his wheelchair that will be installed at Southpoint Park - perhaps accompanied with the inscription of the 4 Freedoms on some other sort of structure rather than the room, which does block out the view, might have been more suitable.

The concept of the room is fine - except why would anyone want to block out the view? The room concept is used in other settings - but usually not where a spectacular view would be blocked.

Either Kahn didn't think of this or, he may have wanted to further refine the room itself - perhaps eventually build out the open side of the room into a lookout/platform so visitors could take in the view from that point. Instead there is a moat at that side of the room beyond which visitors aren't permitted. The sense a visitor has is that of being trapped a bit in the room, of the walls of the room framing the panorama a la letter-box cropping. This unnecessary cropping is what is most unpleasant since there is no need for it, and most visitors would want to take in the view without obstruction.

Kahn designed a great monument but I think had he lived he might have further refined some aspects of the design, such as the room, and he might have looked at the design and said, you know - this is a highly formal and cold monument. Is this really what I want to say about FDR - who was not known to be a cold man? What can I do to make it possible for visitors to linger and contemplate the legacy of FDR? Could I add some seating to the monument so that the monument could be used as a park instead of only briefly visited as a kind of "pilgrimage" destination? If it's supposed to convey a sense of grandeur, couldn't that also veer into grandiosity? Is either the most appropriate way to memorialize FDR?

Maybe it's right that a monument to FDR was designed to be as coldly perfect as possible. I just feel that this design might have made more sense at a different spot - probably somewhere along the Manhattan shoreline although there are also plenty of spots along the Queens/Brooklyn shore that would also have been suitable.

Westviewer said...

I, too, have some ambivalence about constructing a design a generation after the designer has died. As for the rest, I'm not inclined to second-guess Louis Kahn, who did design the memorial with this specific spot in mind and not any other shore place in Brooklyn or Queens. Like it or not, it is site-specific.

CheshireKitty said...

Technically, of course Kahn designed it for the specific triangular site he was given. However, there are similar sites at other locations the same design could have been built on. Yes - that's exactly the point, Westviewer. Had Kahn not died, then he would have evolved as an architect. His thinking would undoubtedly have changed about the design 20 years on since his designs from 20 years before the FFP monument were different than his later designs. He would have continued to evolve. We'll never know unfortunately how Kahn might have changed or modified the design had he lived and waited for 20 years for his design to be constructed.

Westviewer said...

The other sites (if they exist) are not on ROOSEVELT ISLAND. Roosevelt Island is the point in more than one way. That being said, I think they could have scrapped the Kahn plan and chosen a living architect, but the Kahn name and reputation were just too seductive to pass up.

CheshireKitty said...

There was that plus going against the will of Gov Rockefeller. If Rockefeller was anything, he was into big projects. Just look at the description of Empire State Plaza in Albany, that he conceived of, commissioned, devised a financing scheme for. Empire State Plaza features the tallest building in NYS outside of NYC on an expansive marble platform bordered with trees/plantings. The Plaza created an Albany skyline. RI was another Rockefeller redevelopment project. It's not surprising that Kahn obliged Rockefeller by producing a suitably sculptural and pharaonic design which was appropriate for that time, and certainly pleased Rockefeller. Of course Kahn was selected in the first place because of his reputation for wonderful and sculptural designs - that were also many times monumental, seem to invoke eternal themes. Kahn and Rockefeller were ideally matched vision-wise in this project.

The only thing that was missing then as now was considering the neighborhood/residents. Empire State Plaza was also controversial in that it displaced a moderate income Jewish and Italian neighborhood. With FFP, although no community was displaced, our community (which of course didn't exist at the time FFP was designed) essentially lost a usable park.