Roosevelt Island Remade

Roosevelt Island Remade

Sweeping changes scheduled for Roosevelt Island.

Map of Roosevelt Island.

Map of Roosevelt Island. Photo contributed


Roosevelt Island.

Earlier this year, Roosevelt Island faced an invasion. Swaths of the forests that cover the island were devastated by a swarm of emerald ash borers, a small green beetle that feeds on ash trees. The island was closed in June, the trees were removed, and now plans are underway to bring back Roosevelt Island better than before.

In a Facebook Live discussion on Aug. 14, Simone Monteleone, chief of resource management for the George Washington Parkway, outlined the upcoming process for Roosevelt Island. The first step is a Cultural Landscape Report and an Environmental Assessment. Monteleone presented some of the history of the island as an introduction to the Cultural Landscape Report, from the earliest records of pre-Columbian settlement to the island’s transition into a national park. Monteleone said much of the historical records of the site are a result of a study done in the 1970s, but that a new study will be conducted in 2018 into the history of the site. Renovation of Roosevelt Island will also include new accessibility to the historic resources of the island.

As part of the Environmental Assessment, Monteleone said one of the chief questions will be whether to replant ash trees like the ones that were destroyed by the emerald ash borers or to look at other types of trees to take their place.

Throughout the winter, the National Park Service will draft the Cultural Landscape Report and begin identifying alternative approaches. In Spring 2018, the National Park Service is scheduled to make a public review of the final reports on Roosevelt Island and begin moving forward with an improvement plan.