With a strong eye toward revitalizing Roosevelt Island into a vibrant, healthy community, Shelton Haynes, CEO of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, understands the challenges that he’s facing. Moving up from his position as COO of the organization, he’s taking a mindful approach to revitalizing the historic island nestled in the East River. With beautiful views, both natural and urban, Roosevelt Island has something to offer everyone.
Ravaged in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, the changes that Shelton Haynes has been making to Roosevelt Island are being made with both a careful eye toward climate change and future growth. “Superstorm Sandy showed us how real and devastating climate change can be,” stated Haynes in a recent interview. “The mitigation efforts we took to protect and reinforce Southpoint Park’s shoreline were necessary and forward-thinking. The bonus is we have created a holistic waterfront oasis at the same time — something we are very proud of and looking forward to our residents and visitors enjoying.”
These efforts have caught the attention of New York Governor Hochul, who mentioned, “The reality is that we’re seeing more cases of extreme weather caused by climate change wreaking havoc on our communities, and we need to build up resiliency to this threat. Not only will Southpoint Park’s new promenades offer amazing views and access to Roosevelt Island’s rich history, but the improvements made to the shoreline will help ensure the island is protected from the impacts of extreme weather for years to come.”
However, that doesn’t mean that Shelton Haynes has turned his back on the historic island’s past, with plans to help protect the island’s history as well as its shoreline. Renovations of Blackwell House, built in 1796 and slated to include interior restorations including historically accurate 18th-century decor as well as images of other island landmarks that are no longer standing, such as its insane asylum, prison, and hospitals. Additionally, the corporation is working on the Seawall Raising Replacement to install 1658 new railings and 829 new posts that span nearly the entire shoreline of the island, stretching about 3.7 miles in length at the cost of $9.2 million.
That’s not where Shelton Haynes stops his plans for the island, with these plans being only the beginning. Though many CEOs of similar organizations may be stymied by trying to manage such vast change, Mr. Haynes simply sees more opportunity long not the future. “We have accomplished a great deal together over the past few years,” stated Haynes in a recent interview, “and I am confident that our best days are yet to come.”
The island has extensive work in the future, which will continue to develop it into a hot spot for residents, visitors from the city, and tourists from the world at large. With so much happening on the island, Shelton Haynes sees very promising days ahead, both for the corporation and for those who are enjoying the island.
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