Saturday, November 22, 2014

Report From RIOC President Charlene Indelicato - Roosevelt Island Emergency Alert System, Tree Lighting Ceremony, Sportspark Heating, Cultural Center Renovation & Contact Info

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato sends the following report to the community.
RIOC Advisories

This past week, RIOC launched an improvement to the RIOC Advisories electronic alert system, upgrading the former email-only notification system to Everbridge Platform, one of the leaders in critical communications systems in the United States. Everbridge uses the most advanced cloud-based technologies and allows text alerts and voice messaging in addition to traditional email notifications. The new system also allows subscribers to choose the kind of alerts they’d like to receive, such as traffic alerts, special event notifications, RIOC facility updates and more. If you have not already signed up for this free service, we encourage you to do so by visiting and clicking the link to sign up. These advisories are the fastest way to get local information that affects daily life on Roosevelt Island as well as critical alerts in case of an emergency.

Whenever an advisory is issued, our system will attempt send out a message to subscribers through all of the contact methods that were provided during the sign-up process, including by phone, email and text message. If you would rather not receive messages through a particular method, you may log into your account and remove that contact information from your profile. Once you make this change, our system will immediately stop sending notifications to that device or email address. The only required contact method is an email address. To edit your profile information or advisory subscriptions, visit and click the link to be taken to the RIOC Advisories member portal.

If you have questions or require assistance, we encourage you to send an email to or to call 212-832-4540 during our daily office hours. A member of our staff will be happy to work with you to resolve any difficulties, or to provide help during the sign-up process.

Tree Lighting Ceremony

On Friday, December 5th at 7 PM, the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place on Blackwell Plaza (500 Main Street). This much-loved tradition brings residents together each year for musical performances by local talent, giveaways for children, and an appearance by a very special guest! We hope you’ll join us this December to kick off the holiday season and to celebrate with your neighbors.

Sportspark Heating System

This week, the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) informed us that the Island’s Steam Plant has been decommissioned and that steam heat will no longer be provided by the facility. Last spring, contractors installed a temporary boiler system at Sportspark to service the building in place of steam heat. As this temporary heating system is already in place, no disruption to the facility’s schedule is planned at this time. Going forward, RIOC’s Engineering department will work with contractors on the installation of a permanent solution for Sportspark. Once a work schedule is in place and installation begins, the public will be advised of any effects construction will have on the facility’s schedule.

Cultural Center

Construction is nearly complete at the Cultural Center on Main Street. After being severely water damaged by Hurricane and subsequent flooding, the facility required extensive restoration work. Now that the Center’s walls, doorways and electrical infrastructure have been installed, contractors are hard at work laying down the building’s flooring and finishing off the ceiling. It’s important to us to restore this community space for public use, and we are pleased that the restoration process is nearing completion.

Contacting RIOC

While RIOC Advisories are a great way for you to get local updates from us, we’d also like to hear back from you. If you would like to get in touch with RIOC about your questions, comments or concerns, please send an email to or call the offices at 212-832-4540. In addition, you can contact us through RIOC’s Facebook page, Feel free to send us a Facebook message, or use the contact form on the page to get in touch. You can also visit our Facebook page for event photos, news, announcements, and more.

You're Invited To Gallery RIVAA Holiday Exhibit Snow Opening Reception Tonight Saturday November 22 From 6-9 PM

 Image Of Gallery RIVAA

According to Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA:
Gallery RIVAA is pleased to invite you to the opening reception of its annual holiday show "SNOW" on Saturday, November 22nd from 6 - 9 PM at Gallery RIVAA.

Date: November 22nd, 2014
Time: 6-9pm
Venue: Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main Street, Roosevelt Island
Stop by Gallery RIVAA tonight for the Snow opening reception, view some art, greet your friends and meet some new neighbors.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Good News, Roosevelt Island F Train Service To And From Manhattan This Weekend - Bad News, MTA Proposes Fare Increases Starting March 2015

According to the MTA Weekender, there will be Roosevelt Island F train service to and from Manhattan this weekend.

Now for the bad news. The MTA proposes to increase subway and bus fares starting March 2015. According to the MTA:

The MTA offers several ways to pay for rides on subways, buses. and the Staten Island Railway, including Pay-Per-Ride and Unlimited Ride MetroCards, cash on buses, and Single Ride Tickets on subways. Two alternative fare structures are being considered that treat the base fare and bonus structure differently. The single-ride fare must increase in 25-cent increments, which limits the alternatives available and may lead to proposed increases that are lower or higher than 4%. Changes to 7-Day and 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards are the same in both proposals.
  • In Proposal 1, the base fare increases by 25¢, and the bonus amount is increased from 5% to 11% when putting $5.50 or more on a MetroCard.
  • In Proposal 2, the base fare for cash, Single Ride Tickets, and Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards remains unchanged at $2.50, but the bonus for putting $5 or more on a MetroCard is eliminated.
  • In both proposals, the cost of a 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard increases to $116.50 and the cost of a 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard increases to $31.
  • Senior Citizen/Disabled/Student Reduced Fare/Paratransit Zero Fare discount policies (except as otherwise noted) remain unchanged and will pertain to applicable fares as modified.

Note: The $1 fee for purchasing a new MetroCard would remain unchanged
  • Bonus Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards are used for 43% of New York City Transit trips.  
  • In Proposal 1 the price of these trips increases 4.1%.
    In Proposal 2 the price increases 5.0%.
  • 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards are used for 29% of trips and would increase 4% under both proposals.
  • 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards are used for 21% of trips and would increase 3.3% under both proposals.
  • Non-bonus MetroCards and cash on buses are used for 6% of trips. Single Ride Tickets are used less than 1% of trips and tourists appear to be the most likely users. These prices would increase by 25¢ or remain unchanged.
Since the major difference between the two proposals is the treatment of the bonus and base fare, the MTA encourages comments on the importance of the bonus to its customers.

Proposal 1, with an 11% bonus, results in unusual residual values for relatively frequent transactions. Residual fare values are the dollar value amounts remaining on MetroCards that are less than the cost of a fare. For example, the purchase or refill of a round trip will result in 61¢ in residual value and the purchase of a new card using a $10 bill will result in $1.74 of residual value.

Because of the frequency with which Proposal 1 will result in these unusual residual values for relatively common purchases (round-trip and new card Pay-Per-Ride are approximately 1/3 of all purchases, though they only represent approximately 10% of trips), MTA invites comments on this issue. Since pennies cannot be used at MetroCard vending machines or at station booths, customers will need to be educated on how best to capture unusual residual values on their cards. Possible solutions that may be considered by the MTA include:
  • taking steps to educate customers on how to minimize the number of purchases which have these unusual residual amounts and to capture residual value from their cards;
  • lowering the bonus amount to 10%, which would result in a 5% fare increase for Bonus Pay-Per- Ride customers; or
  • increasing the minimum purchase eligible for a bonus to $10.
Proposal 2, which would eliminate the bonus, would minimize the issue of residual fare values.

The choices the MTA makes this year could affect not only the 2015 fare, but also the way in which future fare increases are structured. For example, if the bonus is eliminated with the 2015 fare change, it could be reinstated in 2017.
The Roosevelt Island Tram fare will be the same as the MTA's subway and bus fare. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Approved Budget For Fiscal Year 2014-15 (Page 5):
... Tram Revenue Sharing Agreement – as noted in “Tram Operations”, the Tram is profitable. However, the Corporation had received full fare ($2.00) up through July 2009, the date of the last MTA fare increase. Since then, the MTA has continued paying the $2.00 fare while retaining the $0.25 increase. In order to maintain the future long-term viability of the Tram, participation in future fare increases would be necessary....

Roosevelt Island Elected Officials, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, NY State Senator Jose Serrano & NYC Council Member Ben Kallos Support President Obama's Executive Action On Immigration Enforcement

Image From The White House Gov

The NY Times reports:
President Obama chose confrontation over conciliation on Thursday as he asserted the powers of the Oval Office to reshape the nation’s immigration system and all but dared members of next year’s Republican-controlled Congress to reverse his actions on behalf of millions of immigrants.

In a 15-minute address from the East Room of the White House that sought to appeal to a nation’s compassion, Mr. Obama told Americans that deporting millions is “not who we are” and cited Scripture, saying, “We shall not oppress a stranger for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.”...
President Obama said yesterday:
... For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities –- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken -- and everybody knows it.

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart

It’s been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven’t done much about it....
and announced these executive actions:
... First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.

Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable -– especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally. And let’s be honest -– tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours. As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it: “They are a part of American life.”

Now here’s the thing: We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes -- you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is....
Click here for the full text of President Obama's Immigration remarks last night and here's video of the speech.

Roosevelt Island's elected officials praised President Obama's Immigration executive action. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney issued this statement:
It has been 511 days since the Senate passed a bipartisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. House Republicans haven’t allowed a vote, and haven’t proposed an alternative. Where they have failed, the President has acted just as Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did.

This executive action will help keep families together. It will boost our economy and generate new tax revenue. It will help end the daily fear, distress and heartbreak that is unnecessarily inflicted on millions of undocumented immigrants, over 800,000 of whom live in New York.

Those who complain about this executive action were given ample time to propose and pass an alternative plan to fix our broken immigration system. The American people by wide margins support comprehensive reforms. They are tired of the obstruction and ready for both sides to work together on immigration. Perhaps tonight’s announcement will incentivize House Republicans to become partners in that effort.
and NYC Council Member Ben Kallos added:
America is a nation of immigrants, from the pilgrims to today. We have always welcomed 'your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free' from all over the world to our nation of opportunity. We must continue to give our newest residents an equal opportunity to achieve the American dream. I am glad that this nation, that once provided safe harbor for refugees from Anti-Semitism, like my wife and grandparents, will become a safe haven once again.
The New York Daily News reports that Roosevelt Island's NY State Senator Jose Serrano:
... hailed the “bold” move to overhaul a broken immigration system.

“This is historic,” Serrano said. “This is really historic.”
The NY Times reports that House Of Representatives Speaker John Boehner:
... said Friday that President Obama was “damaging the presidency itself” by using his executive authority to prevent the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants.

Mr. Boehner said that the House would act to counter the president, but he declined to be specific.

“With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek,” Mr. Boehner told reporters. “And as I told him yesterday, he’s damaging the presidency itself.”

Not known at this time if the President's Executive Order on immigration applies to any Roosevelt Island residents.

UPDATE 11/22 - State Senator Serrano adds:
I have always been a vocal supporter and ally to immigrant communities across New York State and beyond. I applaud President Obama for taking these courageous and necessary actions to put an end to the unjust deportations that plague our Nation and result in too many broken families and shattered communities. Yesterday's major announcement will go down as a great day in American history.

Bike New York's Roosevelt Island Historic Landmarks Ride Tour - Freezing Fun Ride Filled With Interesting Stories And A Hot Drink

Bike NY Roosevelt Island Historic Ride At  Landmark Strecker Lab From Caitlin Goodspeed

Bike New York's Roosevelt Island Community Outreach Manager Caitlin Goodspeed reports:
We had our very first Roosevelt Island Historic Ride Sunday, November 16, and it went really well!

Bike NY Roosevelt Island Historic Ride At The Landmark Octagon From Caitlin Goodspeed

There were a total of 21 adults and children, some with their own bicycles and some using bikes from the Bike New York fleet. Joining me on the ride was Rich Conroy, Education Director at Bike New York. Janet Falk, a member of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, led the tour around the island.

Bike NY Roosevelt Island Historic Ride At The Landmark Lighthouse From Caitlin Goodspeed

We stopped at the six historic landmarks, where Janet shared interesting facts and stories.
Bike NY Roosevelt Island Historic Ride At Smallpox Hospital  From Caitlin Goodspeed

Everyone agreed they learned a lot about the island's history! After the ride, we went to Main Street Sweets for a hot beverage, which was nice because the weather was FREEZING that day! We plan a spring bike tour and will announce it when the date is determined.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roosevelt Island Wildlife - Up Close And Personal With Firefighters Field Geese

Roosevelt Island certainly has its share of wildlife not ordinarily seen in New York City.

Last week, we saw a red tail hawk lunching on a rat at the waterfront promenade pier and tonight we get up close and personal with Wild Geese dining at Firefighters Field.

Safari anyone?

You're Invited To Share Ideas About New Roosevelt Island NY Public Library At Community Town Hall Meeting Tonight -Come Join NYPL Reps, NYC Council Member Ben Kallos And Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer 6 PM Tonight At Good Shepherd Community Center

 Image from NYPL

As reported previously:
Please join The New York Public Library for a Community Conversation about the new Roosevelt Island Library
Thursday, November 20, 2014 | 6-8 PM
Good Shepherd Community Center
543 Main Street, Roosevelt Island

The New York Public Library is planning for a new home for the Roosevelt Island Library. We would like to hear your thoughts and ideas on the programs and services for the new library.
The new Roosevelt Island NY Public Library will be located on the ground floor of 504 Main Street and is scheduled to open in 2017.

Future Home Of Roosevelt Island NY Public Library

According to Diane Chin of the Roosevelt Island NY Public Library:
The following NYPL staff members will be speaking at the Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, November 20:

Nicole Nelson, Library Manager of the Roosevelt Island Library
Dawn Chance, Library Network Manager
Christopher Platt, Acting Vice President of Public Service
George Mihaltses, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs
Roosevelt Island's NYC Council Member Ben Kallos will be at tonight's NYPL Town Hall Meeting as well as Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer:
Roosevelt Island Parents' Network Coordinator (RIPN) Eva Bosbach adds:
Most parents are very happy with our local library, especially with the fact that we do have a NYPL branch right here on the island. Among the appreciated services RIPN members often mention are the children's books and play area, the three age specific story times as well as the craft workshops, the friendliness of the staff and the bathroom.

Improvement suggestions include sorting or at least labeling the books according to the age and reading level of the children and providing reading level recommendations lists, adding children's books and story times in different languages (and we have moms who would volunteer for that), expanding the children's area into a large space so that children of different ages have enough room to read and play, implementing more music classes and craft workshops while minding the lunch-nap time window (12-3pm), or adding a changing table at the bathroom.

Recently a concern was raised that books do not always get back to our library after they had been returned at other branches and that the toys need cleaning. Parents would also appreciate a more efficient communication strategy on the programs with the community, like a newsletter for the month where all upcoming children's workshops and activities would be listed. Since there already is a calendar paper version at the desk in the library, it should be possible do distribute such information electronically.

Overall, the library is a very valuable resource for families with children of all ages, especially during the winter time. We thank Nicole and the entire RI library staff for all their work and efforts!
Members of the RIPN had these suggestions for the new library.
  • The library has been a very important part of our lives since moving to the island eight years ago. My children have loved the accesibility of the children's books and the friendly librarians.
We recently learned that the NYPL has stopped returning to our branch books that have been returned at other branches. This means the stack have been depleted. Nothing is more important than having full stacks and for our librarians to be able to order books for our community with our needs in mind.

  • I would love for it to take on more of a community meeting space function. RIRA and RIOC meetings could be held there, boy scouts or girls scouts could meet there and so on. I think that the research function the library used to have is fading because most people do research online and they have computers so to keep libraries relevant they have to start doing other things, like serving a purpose in the community by meeting the primary meeting space/place for community info.
  • Here are my wishes. More Japanese/Spanish Books ( for kids and adult ) Spanish story time. Japanese story time. Clean the toys frequently especially in the winter ( I don't know how frequently they wash/clean the toys but I have never seen them cleaning them...). I notice they have a mandarin class (with little birds or something like that). With the high Hispanic population in the island it would be wonderful to also have Spanish for toddlers.
  • The most important part is that the library remains accessible for moms with babies, toddlers, both in strollers and that stairs are not involved. This branch has a shelf for children's book in Chinese, 10 books in Spanish and that's it. So being an International Island I don't see the point of only having a shelf in Chinese and not the rest of languages. If possible to have the super quiet reading area far far away from the children's area. I do not know why, adults complain more about toddler/babies being excited or not comfortable rather than school age children and early teenagers being to loud. So if possible, if the 2 areas are in opposite sides or different levels parents will be more comfortable going in the afternoons.
  • Library is for adults as well. What I believe is missing is books about art. Painting and history of music. This is something that interests me and I did not find it, although I have not asked the librarians.
  • I would also like to see expanded hours and a larger, more private kids area. Kids are loud, and instead of silencing them all the time, put their space far away from the tables where older people study. 
  • The Westport, CT library and Chicago libraries were featured earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal for investing in interactive robots (~$6k each for high end models) and 3D printers for their patrons' use, changing the way we see libraries as mere repositories for books but also as a community's resource for technology. Is NYPL considering a similar program? In light of Cornell tech campus moving to Roosevelt Island, it may be worth bringing this up. Who knows, Cornell may contribute to costs associated with such purchases.
  • The only other suggestion would be to have a small computer kiosk where we can look up books we are interested in either by author or title (specifically the children's books where we know the book and not the author). The labeling isn't great at the library, and I always need to ask a librarian for a book, or author, or where to find a certain level of reading for my child. They are always helpful but I remember back in the day, I was taught how to find books through the library card files (before everything became digital). It truly teaches children and adults how to research something individually. I feel like right now I'm always at the mercy of the librarians.
  • I would add more variety of activities for different ages (puppet shows, music activities...) and a more flexible schedule. Currently the only suitable activities for older kids is always at 3pm which often coincides with nap time.
  • I would also hope that they fix the outdoor space and remove that old "playground" which is terrible! It would be nice to have grass instead and a couple of benches and tables where some programs could be held in the good weather months.
  • I am also interested in the living library project. I see the beautiful garden but never quite understood how families can participate, specially the little ones. It would be great to see this program expanded.
Now it's your turn to tell the NY Public Library your thoughts and ideas on programs and services for our new library. You can tell them at tonight's Community Conversation.

More background on getting a new Roosevelt Island NY Public Library branch at this previous post.