04 January 2008

Neglect: Nature's Wrecking Ball

Even ruins need a little love.

City Room reports that everyone's favorite historical haunted house, the Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island, is a little less there than it was a while ago. Last month part of the facade fell to the ground.

This should come as a surprise to no one. Sure, the 1856 relic is a landmark and has been for 31 years. But pinning a ribbon on a building doesn't help it stay vertical. Preservationists have been trying to get a plan going to stabilize the building for years. Wrote City Room:

Stephen H. Shane, the president and chief executive of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, the state agency that oversees the island, said he was “perfectly willing to declare this an emergency situation and skip the usual government requirement of bidding in order to get the ruin stabilized as quickly as possible.”...

Under the current master plan for Southpoint Park by the Trust for Public Land, the ruin would be stabilized, though the building would not be rebuilt. There is $12.9 million available for the entire first phase of park development, which is to begin this year, of which $4.5 million has been set aside for the stabilization project.

And Mr. Shane said that the salvage of the latest collapse would have to come out of that money. “I can’t spend budget dollars I don’t have,” he said.

The building is about the only thing of interest left on Roosevelt Island and a solid reminder of the isle's grisly past. It really was a beautiful structure, too. Take a look below.

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