RIOC gives up commercial leasing and it’s handled by outsiders, who farm out the job to successions of other outsiders.
RIOC now charges for the use of facilities, some created by Islanders, that used to be free.
RIOC rents “our” sports facilities to outsiders; Island organizations don’t always get priority.
RIOC itself is run by non-residents.
Outdoor movies, originated by Islanders, are then outsourced by RIOC outsiders to other outsiders.
Even The WIRE now outsources its distribution, once handled by local volunteers, to the U.S. Postal Service.
And now the Senior Center, once run by the Roosevelt Island Senior Association (RISA), has been outsourced to the non-Islanders of the Carter Burden organization. The “old guard” resists, as they see things they built in an act of love for community being farmed out to non-residents.
Do these changes sting because we are not allowed the democratic choice of our closest level of government? Or because we gave so much to start these organizations and keep them running for so long?
Bit by bit, this community’s affairs are being run by people who don’t live here and don’t always make decisions that are right for the people who do live here.
RISA survives, perhaps in defiance, perhaps because its leaders are fighters – true believers, even. Yet, since losing City funding, they must charge for classes that were once free.
Sometimes, outsiders can do a better job with greater resources. Sometimes not. We like to think of our community as special and different – as something we have created and we understand: Cookie-cutters not welcome here. Truly, this kind of change comes with pain. Yet, as the Island built in diversity and creativity grows, some change is necessary, perhaps even when not wholly good.