Wednesday, December 18, 2013

FDR Four Freedoms Park Explains Why It Was Closed For Snow Last Saturday Disappointing Roosevelt Island Visitor - Will Try To Keep Park Open Whenever Possible This Winter Even If Southpoint Park Closed They Say

Roosevelt Island got a little bit of snow last Saturday when resident Trevre Andrews tried to enter the FDR Four Freedoms Park (FDR Park) but was:

very disappointed 
to be greeted by a closed gate

Image From Trevre Andrews

and signage that said the Park was closed

Image From Trevre Andrews

due to weather (the sign actually said the park was "close").

I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato and the RIOC Directors:
On Saturday during the snow storm, a Roosevelt Island resident sent me the two attached pictures showing the FDR Four Freedoms Park closed during the day.

The resident was very disappointed in not being able to enter the park during the snowstorm.

According to the sign on the closed gate to the FDR Park, the Park was closed due to the weather.

No other NYC parks were closed during the snowstorm including Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park.

Why was FDR Park closed?

Does RIOC have any policy or requirement regarding the times that the FDR Park is open to the public?
Ms. Indelicato responded that the FDR Park was not within the jurisdiction of RIOC. Not sure if that is completely accurate but will explore the issue later.

I also asked representatives of the FDR Park why the park was closed on Saturday during the snow. Suzy Brown, Director of The FDR Park Visitor Experience, responded:
Although we hope to keep the Park open as much as possible this winter, we will always have to close the Park if weather conditions cause visitor safety concerns. Since the Memorial was constructed out of a very particular type of granite and is situated in a very specific location surrounded by water, we cannot simply follow the closure advisories of NYC Parks or NYS Parks.

We are able to clear the Park of snow, but since we can't use salt on the granite we have to be very careful if we feel that icy conditions are developing. Saturday was a particularly challenging day and very specific weather challenges were faced by many different locations throughout the City.

 The 9/11 Memorial had to close early in the afternoon on Saturday, and the High Line was unable to open until after 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Our onsite staff felt that it was safest to close on Saturday. I apologize that we did not send out a notification, and that we had to use a makeshift sign. However, as I mentioned in my email, going forward we will be sure to send out email notifications about closings as soon as we have made the decision.

I am happy to report that we have also made arrangements with RIOC to keep our Park open whenever possible, regardless of whether or not Southpoint Park is closed. Unfortunately, there were many days last year when we had cleared our Park and were ready to open but Southpoint Park was not cleared and was kept shut, restricting access to our Park. This winter, even if Southpoint Park remains closed due to heavy snowfall, if we are able to clear the Four Freedoms Park sufficiently, our staff will then clear a path in Southpoint Park from the back East gate allowing pedestrian access into our back East gate until RIOC staff is able to clear all of Southpoint Park and open the front gate and Southpoint Park fully to the public.
Ms. Brown added:
Please note that the Four Freedoms Park will be closed on Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25th. Regular winter hours of 9:00 to 5:00 (closed Tuesday) will resume on Thursday, December 26th.

Going forward, the Four Freedoms Park will send e-mail notices to this contact list if the Park is closed or opening late due to inclement weather. Notification will be posted on the website and through social media and, whenever possible, signage will be posted at the Park.
Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy is concerned about the FDR Park workers. According to Ms. Berdy:
It is most unfortunate that the humanitarian legacy of President Franklin Roosevelt is not being executed by the administration of the FDR Four Freedoms Memorial Park.

In recent weeks, as well as last winter, the park staff sit huddled in a tiny unheated vehicle while on duty. There is no shelter for them as they stand at the windblown south end of the Island, speak with visitors and maintain the austere and pristine granite of the site.

The park is never closed due to inclement weather. Countless visitors to the park remark on the situation of the staff when they enter the RIHS Visitor Center.

It is well known that architect Louis Kahn died before completing his plan for the memorial. He may have intended to provide (seating and shade for the public and even) shelter for the park staff. Certainly, there is plenty of space on park property to provide an enclosed heated shelter for the comfort of staff and visitors.

The callous indifference of the influential and wealthy members of the FDR Four Freedoms Park speaks louder than the desire to maintain the architect's unknown intent.

Just in case the park administration says they are a poor not for profit, here is a listing of their Board:

John Dyson, Chairman of Millbrook Capital Management, Inc.,  Jack Rosenthal, President-Emeritus of The New York Times Company Foundation;, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher of The Nation, Warren Hoge, Senior Adviser for External Relations to the International Peace Institute; and William Whitaker, ex officio, Curator of The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, Ambassador vanden Heuvel; Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.; Barbara Shattuck Kohn, Carl Weisbrod; Sally Minard; William R. Griffith, Secretary & Treasurer; James Polshek; and Gina Pollara.


YetAnotherRIer said...

Yes, we get it. You all hate the park.

Judith Berdy said...

Just noticed that a resident chose this day to visit the park, when the weather was the worst. As a resident you can easily come back another day.