Roosevelt Island based charity, Orphans International profiled. (Huffington Post)
Roosevelt Island Tram film classic, Nighthawks with Sylvester Stallone, remembered fondly. (Moon in the Gutter)
Coler-Goldwater Hospital residents have their own radio shows. (NY Times)
How will Assembly Member Micah Kellner vote on Congestion Pricing. (StreetsBlog)
Roosevelt Island Architecture represents the exhausted butt end of the modern movement. (NY Sun)
Roosevelt Island Family profiled in NY Times Neediest Cases column. (NY Times)
Daily News corrects story on cost of Red Bus and PS/IS 217 (Daily News)
Former Roosevelt Island Community Theater Actor in Rent Road Show (Bay Windows)
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Roosevelt Island based charity, Orphans International profiled. (Huffington Post)
Friday, February 1, 2008
Pedestrian Bridge from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan - Can It Solve Roosevelt Island's Transportation Problems?
Since it is Friday it must mean another weekend without full F Train subway service for Roosevelt Island. Just like last weekend and the three prior, there will be no Queens bound F Trains stopping at Roosevelt Island but there will be Manhattan bound F trains service from Roosevelt Island. Hopefully, this will be the last weekend of F train service interruptions for Roosevelt Island. Unfortunately that will probably not be the case.
Roosevelt Islanders continue to need alternative transportation means for getting on and off the Island because of the inadequacy of Subway service and the planned shutdown of the Roosevelt Island Tram for at least 7 months in early 2009. Is a pedestrian bridge stretching over the East River from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan at all feasible as a way of transporting people on and off Roosevelt Island? It at first seems unlikely but yesterday Curbed speculated of a pedestrian bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan, designed by architect Rafael Vinoly, that was considered and rejected for the Domino waterfront development in Williamsburg. Why a pedestrian bridge is needed there when the area already has the Williamsburg Bridge is unclear to me but that is beside the point for Roosevelt Islanders.
Remember the proposed Trilogy skyscraper project, lovingly referred to as the Roosevelt Island Tower of Death by our friends at Curbed, that was developed by some Italian students from this earlier post. Though only an academic study, it included a pedestrian bridge from Southpoint Park over the East River to Manhattan. Watch the video and see for yourself. Pretty Cool!
Roosevelt Island's Tower of Death Pedestrian Bridge now joins the Chinese Rope Bridge, Peru's Urubamba River Crossing Box and Japanese Sling Shot as potential alternative transportation methods for getting Roosevelt Islanders over the East River in an emergency or as an alternative to the subway when the Tram is shut down next year for at least 7 months for repairs.
Here is the MTA F Train weekend subway advisory.
Weekends until Feb 4
12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon
How does this affect my trip?
~~ For service to 57 St, take the F to 5 Av-53 St and walk.
~~ For service to Lexington Av-63 St, take the F to Lexington-53 St and transfer to an uptown 4 or 6 to 59 St and walk.
~~ For service to Roosevelt Island and 21-St Queensbridge, take the F to Roosevelt Av and transfer to a Manhattan-bound F.
~~ For service from 57 St, Lexington Av-63 St, Roosevelt Island, and 21 St-Queensbridge, take a downtown F to 47-50 Sts and transfer to a Queens-bound F.
Why is service being changed?
We are making electrical improvements to ensure that trains continue
to operate safely along the F line.
UPDATE 1:35 - Roosevelt Island 360 has more on pedestrian bridge for Roosevelt Island.
The answer whether Roosevelt Island can build a footbridge similar in features to the Ward’s Island Bridge is probably not. But the idea in concept would work. A foot bridge that would include a central section that would raise and lower to let passing vessels pass under it as they journey up and down the West Channel of the East River.
Since the Packers lost to the Giants it has been difficult for me to get excited about football until, that is, I saw this sign posted on Island kiosks. Full contact, no pads football on Super Bowl Sunday here on Roosevelt Island where real men (and women?) play football the way it should be played. The only way it could be better is if it snows.
12 PM - Tony Cappobianco Field accross from Westview.
UPDATE 2/4 - Not only was this a full contact no pads game but the players wore spikes and mouth guards. They also joked about who would be the first one knocked out of the game and when. Tough Guys!
Today's NY Sun reports on the upcoming February 5 election to nominate Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) Board of Directors. According to the Sun:
As part of a new experiment, Roosevelt Island residents on Tuesday will vote to designate six nominees to the state corporation that runs the area, and Governor Spitzer will then choose whether to appoint any of the nominees. Previously, the governor has had complete control over the appointments, leading to friction with some in the community.According to Roosevelt Island Residents Association President Matt Katz:
"We're trying to bring some taste of democracy to the island,"And:
He referred to state government's current role in the island's affairs as "taxation without representation."But not so fast. According to RIOC President Steve Shane:
... the elections would not necessarily be successful. "If the people who are produced out of this are not sufficiently representative or appropriate to the enterprise, which includes being vetted by the state police, then it's not going to work. So we'll see how democracy goes."Here's my take on the RIOC election.
Come meet the candidates for RIOC Board Nominees on Saturday, February 2, 1PM at the Good Shepherd Church Community Center. If you can't make it there watch the video from Press HD.
There is also the Democratic and Republican Presidential Primary election to be held on the same day, February 5.
Remember to vote!
UPDATE 10:55 - Roosevelt Island 360 on RIOC nominee elections
Thursday, January 31, 2008
From the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. Ask Erica feature for 1/9/08:
Hi Erica,More on Roosevelt Island swimming here and here.
Can you please tell me if the open swim times on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, are still open? The website says so but I had heard that the pool might be stopping the open swims.
Due to the community's request, we have modified the open swim schedule for the winter season. The new schedule is as follows:
When: Tuesday 6:00 - 9:00 & Saturday 4:00 - 7:00
When: Thursday 6:00 - 9:00 & Saturday 12:00 - 3:00
Anyone under 18 Must be accompanied by an Adult
Where: Sportspark Swim Center - East side entrance 250 Main Street
Seniors Swim Free at ALL Open Swim Times
For additional information please call Carol Rubino at 212-832-4569.
No Rabbit Killer This Time, But Here's the Latest Roosevelt Island Public Safety Report and New Public Safety Director
1/19/07-700 AM to 1/20/08-700 AM
1/21/08-700 AM to 1/22/08-700 AM
Grand Larceny- At 455 Main Street grand larceny via E-Mail Scam of
$1,400.00 PSD responded. Victim will go to NYPD and file a report on
her own. PSD report done.
Lost Property- At 2 River Road handicapped Motorist lost his NYC
handicapped Parking Permit. PSD report done. Handicapped male will go
to NYPD on his own. PSD report done.
Investigation- At 575 Main Street a tenant was complaining about
another of noise allegedly causing vibrations. But tenant wrote a
letter, came by the apt and also called 4 times. No source of the noise
from tenant advised to contact RY mgt, and PSD when noise occurs. PSD
Criminal Mischief- At 560 Main Street there was a broken window. PSD
and UA mgt responded. A search was conducted of the stairwells and
hallways yielded negative results for the perp. PSD report done.
Criminal Mischief- At 580 Main Street a broken window. PSD and UA mgt
responded. A search of stairwells and Hallways yielded with negative
results. PSD report done.
Aided- At 555 Main Street an ill person was taken to the Hospital by
1/22/08-700 AM TO 1/23/08-700 AM
Faulty Alarm- At 625 Main Street an alarm sounded in an apt. PSD and
RY Super responded. The alarm was faulty no hazardous condition. RY
Super changed the batteries. PSD report done.
Property Damage-AT 560 Main Street during a previous reported water
leak another tenant had $1,500.of in property damage. UA Super
notified. PSD responded. PSD report done.
Aided- At 510 Main Street an ill person was taken to the Hospital by
EMS. PSD responded. PSD report done.
Lost Property- At 580 Main Street a tenant lost a handbag with various
credit cards and other important documents. PSD and NYPD responded.
PSD and NYPD prepared reports.
0700hrs January 24, 2008 - 0700hrs January 25, 2008
Hazardous condition-Officer observed mattress on floor in Eastwood.
Officer NTF management. PSD report taken.
Criminal Mischief - Officer observed hole in wall in Eastwood. Officer
NTF management. Report taken.
Lost property- Reporter lost his cell phone. Will go to pct. on his
own. PSD report taken.
Aided - Aided having stomach pains. Was transported by EMS. PSD
Criminal Mischief- complainant states unk person threw something @ his
windshield and sustained small hole. NYPD/PSD report taken.
Aided- elderly female reports unk person put poison in apt. Referred to
social worker. Refused EMS.
Dispute- minors got into fight. Both parties were taken to guardians.
Both parties refused EMS/NYPD. PSD report taken.
Investigation - Motorist claims motorgate employee tool air out of
tires and vandalizing vehicle in past. No damage was found. PSD report
1/25/08-700 AM to 1/26/08-700 AM
Aided- At 549 Main Street a female previously had surgery and had
additional discomfort. EMS took aided to the Hospital. PSD responded.
PSD report done.
Littering-At 595 Main Street a male was littering on Main Street. PSD
responded and issued a summons. PSD report done.
Aided- At 560 Main Street a female with a cast on her foot stated she
had discomfort and pain. EMS responded and transported aided to the
hospital. PSD report done.
Aided- At 250 Main Street a male sustained injuries while playing
Soccer. EMS responded and transported male to the Hospital. PSD
responded. PSD report done.
Investigation- At 556 Main Street there was smell of marihuana in the
hallway. PSD responded and conducted a search of the area for perp with
responded and conducted a search for the perp and additional damage with
negative results. UA mgt notified and stated they were aware of it.
PSD report done
1/26/08-700 AM to 1/27/08-700 AM
Aided- At 560 Main Street an ill person was taken to the Hospital by
Grestides supermarket. PSD responded. Asst Manager had perp sign a
trespass form. Perp cannot enter the store. NYPD was refused. PSD
Lost Property- At 580 main Street a female lost small luggage while
moving from the building. UA Asst Super and PSD responded. But the
luggage was not found. PSD report done.
Aided- At 560 Main Street a female broke her foot and was taken to the
substance on apt door in hallway and on plants. There was fear that the
substance could be toxic. NYPD, PSD and ESU/NYPD responded. NYPD
determined that the substance was in fact Baby Powder. PSD report
1/27/08-700 To 1/28/08--700 AM
Smoke Condition- AT 540 Main Street a resident had accidently burnt
food which caused a smoke condition. PSD responded. No injuries and no
property damage. PSD report done.
Investigation- At 523 Main Street at the Beauty Salon the owner
complained about garbage and alleged it was not hers. PSD responded and
grounds. The garbage was removed. PSD report done.
Domestic Incident/Harassment- At 888 Main Street a common Law Spouse
was verbally abusive to the resident. He threatened to take custody of
the child they have together. PSD and NYPD responded. NYPD prepared a
domestic incident report and a harassment report. PSD report done.
Lost Property-At 580 Main Street a green suit case was found on the
10th floor. It was found by PSD and secured. PSD report done.
Aided- At 546 Main Street an ill person was taken to the Hospital by
EMS. PSD responded. PSD report done.
Violation of Family Court Order. At 552 Main Street a female
complained about her ex-boyfriend with whom they have a child in common.
He did not bring the back the child at the specified time. PSD and
NYPD responded. The matter was referred to Family Court. PSD report
Graffiti- At 580 Main Street opp stairwell "V$" PSD found graffiti. A
search of the 4th and 7th floors yielded negative results. PSD report
UPDATE 2/1 - To finish out the Roosevelt Island Public Safety reports for the month of January, here is the 24 hour report for 1/31:
0700hrs 01/31/08 to 0700hrs 02/01/08
Aided - Female complaining of back pains. EMS responds and aided transported to Lenox Hill Hospital.
Aided - 3 youths (1 girl and 2 boys) stuck in elevator of 510 Main St. Urban Service responds and corrects condition. Youths left scene w/o giving PSD any information.
Aided - Female aided had fallen on floor and was picked up by her son. Aided complaining of pain in legs. EMS responds and aided was transported to Mt Sinai.
Hazardous Condition - Numerous lights out on level 7D in motorgate parking garage. Manager Chris Pepe notified.
NYPD Arrest - 2 males in stairwell "T" of 580 Main St. One male fled, the other was placed under arrest by 114th for Criminal Trespass / Poss. of Marijuana
UPDATE 2/10 - Here is a link to 24 hour Public Safety Reports to date.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
drivers aren't violating rules against refusing credit cards, talking on cell phones and general rudeness. Violators may face fines, and repeat offenses could lead to license suspensions.Gee, I hope they asked to be taken to Roosevelt Island and see the response by taxi cab drivers not wanting to go to Roosevelt Island. Among the bogus excuses are:
- I'm off duty when we know the cab light is on and we can see them pick up a passenger on the next block,
- I don't go to Queens,
- I don't know how to get there and
- the cab suddenly getting engine trouble near the 59th street bridge and has to go out of service
Roosevelt Island 360 takes you on a Roosevelt Island Red bus ride here.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Please, No More Red and Blue America, Just the United States of America - Vote Barack Obama in NY State Democratic Presidential Primary
I'm not a political expert. Just a small, local neighborhood blogger writing about Roosevelt Island and trying to do it with a sense of humor. On rare occasions there are important national issues which impact all Americans including Roosevelt Islanders and residents of other New York City neighborhoods. The New York State Presidential Primary is one of those issues. Below are my thoughts. I would encourage other NYC neighborhood bloggers to do the same regardless of who they support.
According to 1/28 NY Sun article:
Although a statewide win in New York appears unlikely for Senator Obama, he could score a symbolic victory in the February 5 presidential primary by carrying New York City, where recent polls show him to be competitive.The New York State Presidential Primary is scheduled for February 5, the same day as the election to nominate candidates to be appointed to the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors. As I wrote in earlier post, I have always been a registered Independent but since NY State prohibits Independents from voting in party primaries I had intended to switch my party affiliation to the Democratic Party in order to cast a vote for Senator Barack Obama in the NY State Democratic Primary. Unfortunately for me and and other registered voters wishing to switch their party affiliation, we are not permitted to vote in the upcoming primary because as reported in the NY Times:
Under New York’s somewhat complicated election law, anyone who wants to switch party affiliation must wait for a general election to take place before voting in the new party’s primary. In other words, Republicans who became Democrats or vice versa had to switch party affiliation by Oct. 12, 2007, to vote in the coming primary.For those of you who can vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary, I urge you to consider Senator Obama. Watch the You Tube video above of his address to the Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on the day before the Martin Luther King Day Holiday and try to imagine Hillary Clinton saying anything close to it and more importantly, if she could, would you believe her. I certainly couldn't.
This excerpt from South Carolina's The State via Andrew Sullivan expresses clearly the reasons for my preference for Senator Obama:
Sen. Obama’s campaign is an argument for a more unifying style of leadership. In a time of great partisanship, he is careful to talk about winning over independents and even Republicans. He is harsh on the failures of the current administration - and most of that critique well-deserved. But he doesn’t use his considerable rhetorical gifts to demonize Republicans. He’s not neglecting his core values; he defends his progressive vision with vigorous integrity. But for him, American unity - transcending party - is a core value in itself.
Can such unity be restored, in this poisonous political culture? Not unless that is a nominee’s goal from the outset. It will be a difficult challenge for any candidate; but we wait in the hope that someone really will try. There is no other hope for rescuing our republic from the mire.
Sen. Obama would also have the best chance to repair the damage to America’s global reputation. A leader with his biography - including his roots in Africa and his years spent growing up overseas - could transform the world’s view of America. He would seize that opportunity.
About Senator Clinton The State correctly observes:
... we also have a good idea what a Clinton presidency would look like. The restoration of the Clintons to the White House would trigger a new wave of all-out political warfare. That is not all Bill and Hillary’s fault - but it exists, whomever you blame, and cannot be ignored. Hillary Clinton doesn’t pretend that it won’t happen; she simply vows to persevere, in the hope that her side can win. Indeed, the Clintons’ joint career in public life seems oriented toward securing victory and personal vindication.NY Times has endorsed Hillary here.
It is unfair, especially after seven years of Mr. Bush’s inept leadership, but any Democrat will face tougher questioning about his or her fitness to be commander in chief. Mrs. Clinton has more than cleared that bar, using her years in the Senate well to immerse herself in national security issues, and has won the respect of world leaders and many in the American military. She would be a strong commander in chief.The NY Times is merely regurgitating the tired and worn out experience argument. Senator Clinton, based upon her 8 years in the Senate and 8 years as First Spouse to Bill Clinton, is more able to deal with the complex issues and personalities that will face a newly elected President in January, 2009 than is Senator Obama, a newbie Senator according to this line of thought.
Domestically, Mrs. Clinton has tackled complex policy issues, sometimes failing. She has shown a willingness to learn and change. Her current proposals on health insurance reflect a clear shift from her first, famously disastrous foray into the issue. She has learned that powerful interests cannot simply be left out of the meetings. She understands that all Americans must be covered — but must be allowed to choose their coverage, including keeping their current plans. Mr. Obama may also be capable of tackling such issues, but we have not yet seen it. Voters have to judge candidates not just on the promise they hold, but also on the here and now.
In it's endorsement of Senator Obama, the Harvard Crimson counters the purported greater experience reason for voting for Senator Clinton with this:
Various critics have voiced concerns that Obama is too ambitious and inexperienced to be the next president of the United States. We disagree. Obama’s candidacy reflects a lack of political maneuvering and instead is based on a desire to see dramatic change in the political system. And what Sen. Obama might lack in political experience, he makes up with sound judgment, intelligence, charisma, and a personable and bipartisan demeanor. Furthermore, in office he will surround himself with some of the smartest and most experienced advisors in the world.After the last 16 years, I think America needs a President who we are not ashamed of because of personal behavior or embarrassed by sheer incompetence. Hillary Clinton will not embarrass us like her husband has nor is she incompetent like the current President. But, if she wants to take credit for experience gained during some of the successes of the Bill Clinton administration, she also cannot escape the taint and divisiveness of all that went wrong with her husband's administration. Neither is she capable of bringing America back together again and end the politics of personal destruction which has so corrupted our political system that it makes solving the difficult issues confronting our country impossible.
Obama represents an opportunity for a Democratic nominee who represents the value of service, intelligence, and judgment, and, most of all, an opportunity for real change, unburdened by favors owed and ideals lost. He deserves your vote.
In a 1/27 NY Times Op-ed piece, Caroline Kennedy summarizes the reason for voting for Senator Obama:
I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.For me, I think Barack Obama evokes more of Senator Robert Kennedy than President John Kennedy. Here is an excerpt of 1966 Day of Affirmation speech made by Robert Kennedy in South Africa and tell me who it reminds you of.
I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.Here is audio of speech. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton or any other contemporary American politician saying such things and being believed.
Here is You Tube video and text of his South Carolina victory speech. Simply amazing. As Andrew Sullivan wrote:
He was able to frame the attacks on him as a reason to vote for him. He was able to frame his foes as the status quo - beyond the Clintons or the Bushes, Democrats or Republicans. He was able to cast his candidacy as a rebuke to the Balkanization of the American public, a response to the abuse of religion for political purposes, a repudiation of the cynicism that makes all political commentary a function of horse-races and spin. It was an appeal to Democrats, Republicans and Independents to say goodbye to all that. It was a burial of Rove and Morris
We can do better. We can have a President not of Red or Blue America but of the United States of America. Hillary Clinton IS the Red and Blue State divide. Barack Obama is the United States of America. Vote Barack Obama in the NY State Democratic Presidential Primary on February 5.
YES WE CAN!
(Note that the introductory paragraph was written an hour after post was originally published)
Statements by candidates for election as potential nominees to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp's Board of Directors are now available for viewing via The Main Street WIRE.
The vote is scheduled for February 5, the same day as the NY State Presidential Primary. Hopefully, with such a hotly contested New York State primary, there will be a large turnout for both the Presidential and RIOC election. Roosevelt Island residents can vote for any number of RIOC Board nominee candidates up to six.
There will also be a second opportunity to meet and listen to the RIOC Board Candidate's on Saturday February 2, 1PM at the Good Shepherd Church Community Center.
My view on the candidates to date.
Roosevelt Island 360 has more on the election here.
Press HD has interviews with some of the candidates here. All were invited, three agreed.
Main Street WIRE election page.
For those who have never attended a RIOC Board meeting (unfortunately this includes many of the candidates) here is a link to a RIOC webcast of the most recent meeting last December 20, 2007.
Have you ever attended a RIOC Board meeting? from PressHD.com
To be fair to those candidates who have never been to a Board meeting, most RIOC Board meetings are held during regular workday hours at 9:30 AM or 4:30 PM though some start at 6PM as well.
The following announcement came in from the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation.
"We are having a three class series on Judaism for adults. It is open to all. We certainly do not mind non-Jews who want to explore the Jewish roots of their religion or are just curious."
Roosevelt Island Jewish CongregationHere is earlier post listing information regarding Religious institutions on Roosevelt Island.
548 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NY 10044
Leana Moritt, Rabbi
Please join us for our adult Judaic studies
Finding Meaning in Jewish Ritual and Practice
Jewish practices, both common and lesser known, can lead to a sense of holiness and connection. This series will explore their inherent spirituality and how home and Synagogue practices are invitations to a more meaningful, mindful life.
Classes are free and open to all. You are most welcome to attend the whole series or drop in for one class.
Refreshments will be served
Where: The Main Street Cultural Center Classroom. The main entrance is down the stairs by the General Store breezeway (Just follow the Main Street Theater signs). The elevator can be found at our 548 Main Street entrance.
Time: 7:30 pm.
Dates: On Wednesdays, January 30, February 6, and February 13.
Please visit our website
Questions or suggestions? Email Joreljr@msn.com
Rabbi Moritt: Rebleanamoritt@optonline.net
Monday, January 28, 2008
Roosevelt Island Mermaid Heroically Trying to Save Southpoint Park Waterfront Views from Architectural Elite
Below is the 1/22 statement of Roosevelt Island Residents Association President Matt Katz speaking before the Community Planning Board 8 Roosevelt Island committee on the proposed Louis Kahn/FDR memorial at Southpoint Park. Mr. Katz makes clear that he is speaking in his individual capacity when he speaks in opposition to the Kahn memorial but in his RIRA role when speaks for community input into the eventual design of Southpoint Park.
Read the whole statement but here are some highlights of his presentation:
- I believe that this plan is an anachronism that ignores thirty-five years of architectural progress, ignores the community of 12,000 people that I represent that didn’t exist when the plan was put on paper, ignores the Americans with Disabilities Act that wouldn’t be signed into law until 1977 and violates the incredible 360° views that grace those southernmost three acres.
- The concrete bunker, to my mind a mausoleum, which is designed to house Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, puts blinders on the view down the River of Cormorant Island, where these birds fish from the rocks, and of the bridges to the south. The “pollarded linden trees” the term of art for this highly stylized double row of trees that will front both the east and west lengths of the three-acre lawn, will interdict the spectacular views of the iconic Pepsi sign to the east and the United Nations and Manhattan skyline to the west.
- Let’s get back to my fundamental question: Who decides? Well, the landlord, of course. Who is the landlord? Well, New York City owns the land and leased it to New York State for 99 years, ending in 2068. The State created the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation in 1984 to represent them in all questions of administration and development and RIOC has done so ever since.... RIOC is a pubic benefit corporation, therefore the public must be heard and it has not been heard since Mr. Kahn presented his design in 1973.
NOTES FOR COMMUNITY BOARD 8 (ROOSEVELT ISLAND AND PARKS COMMITTEES) PRESENTATION – January 22, 2008Can the Southpoint Park Mermaid save Roosevelt Island residents from the Louis Kahn Mausoleum? She's certainly trying.
Good evening and thank you for including me on your agenda:
• My intention, when I first requested inclusion in tonight’s meeting, was to speak to the issue of community involvement in the Kahn Memorial question, not the plan’s appropriateness. However, I’m prepared to do so now given that the Ambassador and FERI under Gina’s supervision has made its case.
• I will speak as RIRA President as I make a case for a Town Meeting or a survey of this population, as we are stakeholders in all Roosevelt Island land-use questions. However, I will speak for myself, as an Island resident, as I speak against this particular plan.
• First, let me say that a fitting memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt is about thirty years overdue. Most Islanders would agree, I suspect. My objections are to this particular plan. And, as a result of eight years of conferring with my neighbors, and with five years as RIRA President under my belt, I believe many of their objections as well, are to the Kahn design. Why?
• This plan was designed by one of the great twentieth century architects, Louis Kahn. He did so thirty-five years ago, died in 1974, and therefore, is unable to speak to the suitability of this plan for the twenty-first century. I would remind you that, before the work to rebuild the World Trade Center site was begun, there were town meetings all over New York (I participate in two) and a design competition among the world’s best 21st century architects was conducted. There has been no give and take for the FDR plan in 35 years; FERI has placed all its eggs in the Kahn basket, and 35 years have elapsed with only $6M of the $40M required for the project ever raised. Not that raising this money should be the criteria for construction, mind you. The question is and always should be, “Is this the right use for that land?”
• Let’s get this out of the way first: I believe that this plan is an anachronism that ignores thirty-five years of architectural progress, ignores the community of 12,000 people that I represent that didn’t exist when the plan was put on paper, ignores the Americans with Disabilities Act that wouldn’t be signed into law until 1977 and violates the incredible 360° views that grace those southernmost three acres. I did a walking tour with a New York Daily News photographer on Saturday and was reminded of how special that particular facet of the site truly is. The concrete bunker, to my mind a mausoleum, which is designed to house Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, puts blinders on the view down the River of Cormorant Island, where these birds fish from the rocks, and of the bridges to the south. The “pollarded linden trees” the term of art for this highly stylized double row of trees that will front both the east and west lengths of the three-acre lawn, will interdict the spectacular views of the iconic Pepsi sign to the east and the United Nations and Manhattan skyline to the west. Roosevelt can and should be honored and his Four Freedoms is most appropriate. But why block these panoramas?
• Let’s get back to my fundamental question: Who decides? Well, the landlord, of course. Who is the landlord? Well, New York City owns the land and leased it to New York State for 99 years, ending in 2068. The State created the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation in 1984 to represent them in all questions of administration and development and RIOC has done so ever since. RIOC hired the Trust for Public Land to develop those thirteen acres in 2003 and Mr. Stewart and I were pleased to participate in the year-long conceptual planning for Southpoint Park. TPL surveyed park users and the community in October 2004. The results indicated that people wanted the greenest of the three designs, designated “Wild Gardens/Green Rooms” with “picturesque nature, artistic landscape spaces and a “Mount” with elements of surprise and panoramic views” as the most popular design element. And they rejected a village crescent with commercial rental space and the “Roosevelt Memorial by Lou Kahn.” It has been said that the survey was flawed; the number of people queried was insufficient. I propose that the landlord, the client, the steward of this property be urged, be required to follow up, unilaterally or through TPL, to rectify this situation. And while a majority of my neighbors are unlikely to participate in a Town Meeting or even a survey, I am a firm believer that decisions should be made by those who show up. RIRA voted in favor of the following resolution (READ RESOLUTION) but in retrospect, I feel that a neutral party, RIOC, should ask these critical questions within the context of a Roosevelt Island Town Meeting and that neither I nor FERI, advocates for a specific point of view, should be the convener. After all, architects, even great ones, work for clients, not the other way around.
• It has been said that any edifice designed by Louis Kahn will attract architects from all over the world. This may be true, but I suspect that NYC Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benape, whom Judy Berdy and I encountered at the Tramway Plaza dedication, got it right when he said that they will come out for the ribbon-cutting and will never come again. Whom do we build parks for anyway? RIOC is a pubic benefit corporation, therefore the public must be heard and it has not been heard since Mr. Kahn presented his design in 1973. I suspect that most of the people who were a party to the original agreements are long-since dead or out of office!
• It is interesting to consider who has expressed a view and who has not. The General Development Plan, written by two world-class architects, Philip Johnson and John Burgee, in 1969 and most recently amended in 1994, makes no mention of FDR, memorials of any sort or Louis Kahn. The mighty New York Times editorial page endorsed the Kahn plan but without ever mentioning that it is only a part of a thirteen-acre Southpoint Park or that this site shares an island with a community of 12,000 souls that will grow to 16,000 or more within the next few years. And, to their embarrassment, our local politicians, usually so responsive to the concerns of my neighbors, also endorsed this plan without so much as asking for our opinions. Shame on them!
• I came here this evening only to ask you to urge, really to require, RIOC to accept the responsibility of polling park users and this community as to their inclinations. If the premise is that governments build parks for those who will use them, then our preferences should weigh as much as the architectural community, FERI or anyone else.
• Dr. Noel J. Brown, President and CEO of the Friends of the United Nations and former Regional Director of the UN Environmental Program has called for a “living legacy” to Roosevelt’s memory, noting that the Four Freedoms was a cornerstone of the United Nations philosophy. By this he meant a park open and accessible to the disabled that would honor FDR through living things, not a static, stylized, conventional monument.
• I have a quote in 36-point type next to my computer desk from another New York City Parks Commissioner, Henry Stern, who said, “Parkland is forever. If you lose that land you can never get it back.” Let’s be good stewards, good tailors, if you will. Let’s measure twice and cut once.
Thank you. Are there any questions?
UPDATE - 6:55 - Roosevelt Island 360 has video of almost all of Katz's presentation. As you will see when viewing video the above statement is not verbatim text of speech but Katz's notes for the presentation.
Also, the most recent amendment to the Roosevelt Island General Development Plan was in 2003 not 1994 and still makes no mention of the Kahn design for a FDR memorial at Southpoint Park. Had a legally or morally binding commitment been made to the Kahn design, surely it would have been included in Roosevelt Island's governing planning document - the General Development Plan. Indeed the General Development Plan makes mention that:
Lighthouse and Southpoint Parks at the ends of the Island will offer sitting and picnic areas at the edge of the water.The Louis Kahn design for the FDR memorial does not allow for sitting and picnic areas at the edge of the water.
NYC Considering Selling Naming Rights to Central Park Zoo - Will RIOC Do Same For Roosevelt Island Tram?
1/25 NY Post is reporting that the NYC Parks Department is seriously contemplating selling naming rights to corporate sponsors for some of their major attractions. According to the Post:
That group includes the zoos that draw in thousands of visitors annually, the amphitheaters that pack in summer revelers, the gigantic swimming pools or scores of tennis-court clusters.And:
Under this program - which would raise an estimated $3 million a year - entire parks wouldn't be renamed, so Central and Prospect parks would keep their monikers but attractions within them could be renamed for a price.This reminded me of a series of earlier posts regarding corporate sponsorship and naming rights to the Roosevelt Island Tram using the example of the potential sponsorship being considered, though ultimately rejected, for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I speculated that given the costs associated with the operation, continued maintenance, and future $20- 25 million repair of the Roosevelt Island Tram, the temptation must be great to find alternative additional revenue sources such as corporate sponsorships or advertising even though there is a current ban on such practice by the NYC Council. There is a poll on the issue of corporate sponsorship of the Tram on right hand column. To date of the 150 votes cast, 89 think it is a good idea and 61 a bad idea. What do you think?