Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Roosevelt Island Boat Prow Dock Eyesore Getting A Long Awaited Restoration and Facelift - Graffiti To Be Removed, Eroded Corten Steel Base To Be Repaired But Solution Still Needed To Prevent Future Graffiti

Reported way back in April 2008:
While walking towards the Octagon Park this past weekend, I passed by the West Promenade dock shaped like the prow of a boat and was disgusted by the amount of graffiti plastered all over it. The graffiti strewn dock, both inside and out, is quite an eyesore and has been like that for years. It should be cleaned up....
At the time, Steve Shane was President of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC). Mr. Shane responded to the post:
The prow has always been an attractive grafitti spot, has been cleaned many times. Gets done on summer list.
and in response to a suggestion to hire local kids to clean up the graffiti on the boat prow, a philosophical Mr. Shane replied:
We do hire local kids.
Clean up of prow only creates tabula rasa. We will do it, again.
(Yes, there was a time when the RIOC President actually engaged with the Roosevelt Island community through the media.)

It's now August of 2012 and the Roosevelt Island Boat Prow Dock is still an eyesore plastered with graffiti.

However, during the July 30 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors meeting (full webcast is here), RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez reported that RIOC will begin a Boat Prow Restoration project to remove the graffiti from the prow and to repair eroded Corten Steel damage to the base of the Prow caused by the East River salt washing up against the prow. Mr. Martinez added that RIOC has not found any type of material that can be used to prevent graffiti from being placed on the prow so RIOC will have to be vigilant and remove the tags as soon as they are placed on the prow. Here's the presentation by Mr. Martinez:

and July 24 RIOC Operations Committee meeting discussion of the topic (audio webcast of full meeting is here)

There is also an interesting exchange between RIOC Director David Kraut and Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) President Judy Berdy regarding when the public is allowed to participate in RIOC committee meetings. Mr. Kraut explains to Ms. Berdy that public participation is solely at the discretion of RIOC Board members.

I recently took a walk around the Boat Prow Dock. Join me

and look forward to a time when the area is not filled with graffiti.

It is not hard to believe that a Roosevelt Island public space formerly dirty with pigeon poop and graffiti could be cleaned up and revitalized. Just look at what happened to the Subway Pier area that is currently an outdoor restaurant for this summer, Pier NYC, and how that was cleaned up by the Riverwalk Bar & Grill owners.

Sustaining Your Heritage Blog has more information on removing graffiti from steel structures similar to Roosevelt Island's Boat Prow Dock:
... One of the major challenges we face in the conservation of public art is dealing with human impact on the artwork. And of course, graffiti epitomises the negative impact that comes from some members of our society.

Graffiti removal is almost always problematic. Often, the marker (paint or pen) penetrates the pores or surface roughness of the materials used for the sculpture, and cannot be easily removed. At other times, the process required to remove the graffiti causes damage to the substrate....
This NY Times FYI column from 2000 provides some more information on Roosevelt Island's protruding rusty old ship's prow:
It's a performance stage and observation platform, built over an old boat landing in 1997 and designed to look . . . well, like a ship's prow. It projects about 50 feet out into the West Channel, and consists of a flat, unadorned concrete wedge clad with rusty plates of steel. Two small slots near the tip -- presumably for imaginary anchor chains -- are the only real nautical embellishment, though a few heavy mooring posts have been placed nearby.


Anonymous said...

Install a camera and arrest the "garbage" when identified!!!!

Mark Lyon said...

Perhaps we can stage an extended public taser demonstration on the first person found decorating it.

Trevre Andrews said...

What a waste of time and effort cleaning off graffiti. I don't think it looks that bad. Take all the money they would have spent on cleaning it up every year, cut it in half and give it to Gallery RIVAA to commission an annual mural or make it a graffiti allowed zone? Give it a theme or something. Sounds like a simple enough solution to save some money and add another piece of art to the city.

CheshireKitty said...

These are pretty much random tags on rusting, decaying metal, and communicate "nobody takes care of this prow" and "nobody cares". A gallery - indoors or outdoors - could be established for graffiti art. There's a great former industrial space in LIC that was turned into a mega-graffiti space by its owner which however, is about to be torn down to be replaced by - you guessed it - yet another luxury apartment building. So, yes - the prow should be cleaned up, unless RIOC goes the route of letting it be a permitted street art site, which I very much doubt.

Personally, I've always thought the spiral would make an eye-popping "welcome" art project if covered in some kind of dynamic mural/design - but somehow I doubt the State of NY would ever go for something like that. The spiral, and the unused gigantic circular bike parking spot nearby, could be sites for public art. They are kind of dreary - but they could be converted into exciting spaces through street art, which would also perfectly complement the skate-boarders who sometimes zoom around there.

30RiverRoad said...

i may be in the minority, but i don't mind the graffiti on the prow. for whatever reason, it seems fitting to me. as long as it's not extraordinarily obscene or a sign of tagging (and it doesn't look like tagging to me), i'm not sure it's worth the cost and man-hours.

Mark Lyon said...

Dallas is trying an interesting approach to graffiti control - providing "free walls" where it is ok to tag, hopefully discouraging tagging of those places where it is not.

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