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Friday, October 31, 2008

Roosevelt Island Skywheel - Live in A Ferris Wheel At Southpoint Park

Image from Frame Magazine

Would you rather live in Santiago Calatrava's downtown Townhouse In The Sky of stacked cubes or Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park Ferris Wheel?

Following in the great tradition of conceptual plans for Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park such as the Trilogy project (Curbed named it the Roosevelt Island Tower of Death) and the Roosevelt Island Mermaid, we now bring you the Roosevelt Island Skywheel designed by MUT Architecture, a South Bronx collective. According to Frame Magazine:
... The building is meant to be placed on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in New York City. Inhabitants arrive with car which can be stored in the residential tower. From there on they can live their lives in this 'city within the city', whether they choose to live, work or relax.

Léo Morand (architect at Mut Architecture) explains the inner workings: 'Paddle wheels are sunk within the powerful changing currents of the East River. They are rotated to force a system of worm-gears into action. On each side of the wheel, the worm gears sync and rotate shafts, which span over 400 feet (almost 122 meters, ed.), extending to the hub of the wheel. A second series of gears translates the force, whichever direction the tidal strait below is flowing, to slowly, precisely rotate the massive structure. This structure attaches all moving components, such as the arms, the gardens, the elevator shafts and the base.'

Image of Roosevelt Island Skywheel from Frame Magazine

Weeee. The Southpoint Park Skywheel certainly looks like more fun than the Kahn/FDR Memorial mausoleum boondoggle!

UPDATE - 11/3- The designers of The Southpoint Park Skywheel add the following:
My name is John Mascaro - Leo Morand and I designed this project. NO, inhabitants do not "arrive with car" - we did not make this statement ANYWHERE to ANYONE, and have no idea where this quote comes from. The transportation options are, hopefully, to be limited to light rail, bicycles, and foot power. Please correct,

...and this project is a collaboration so if you don't mind adding John Mascaro as architect for the credit it would be cool!

Looking For Things To Do This Weekend In New York City & Roosevelt Island - Halloween Parade, Haunted House, Circus, Marathon and Eat A Roach


You Tube Video of Monster Mash - Happy Halloween

Looking for fun things to do on Roosevelt Island or in New York City this weekend? Here are some suggestions.

Tonight of course is Halloween so head on down to the 35th annual Village Halloween Parade which travels up Sixth Avenue starting at 7 PM from Spring Street to 21st Street or watch it at home on Channel 1. If you are looking for a true Halloween dining experience, the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium is offering this fine meal:
They’re crispy; they’re crunchy; they’re on the menu at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium in Times Square. Visitors can sit down and dine white-glove style on live roaches on Halloween day from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

The payoff? The first 20 people to down a roach will get free admission to Ripley’s that day - and bragging rights for the rest of their lives.
For a really scary experience, try Haunted House New York:
Featuring the new Halloween legend SAW V room, NIGHTMARE: LEGENDSis a classic haunted house from back-in-the-day, with a carnie feel and a cast of legendary horror characters: Blob, Zombie, Vampire, Witch, Frankenstein, Mummy and, of course, a maniac with a chainsaw.
On Saturday, have some fun at the Big Apple Circus in Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park or visit theanyspacewhatever exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. As described by the NY Times, the exhibition
... is a series of individual projects that will intersect, overlap in and respond to the museum’s spiraling Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda — from Mr. Cattelan’s fairytale sculpture, floating face down in the fountain, to Ms. Gonzalez-Foerster’s “tropicalization” (through light and sound) of a ramp to Mr. Höller’s rotating hotel room (reservations required), bathed in the LED twinkle of Ms. Bulloch’s night sky.
The New York City Marathon takes place on Sunday. If you are running in the race - good luck - but if you are just going to watch, here is a list of nearby restaurants to eat at all along the 26.2 mile route from the NY Times.
Each of the 26.2 stops (26 with a fixed address and one itinerant truck) represents at least one national cuisine. Remember, it’s not how fast you finish, but how much you enjoy the journey.
No events on Roosevelt Island this weekend but at least the MTA is reporting normal Roosevelt Island F Train subway service in both directions and RIOC is not reporting any Tram advisories.

Check out some other ideas on what to do in New York City this weekend from the NY Times Urban Eye, NY Post Weekend Calendar and Newyorkology.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Does Kahn/FDR Memorial Site Control Designation Violate the NY State Public Authorities Act? Does It Even Matter To RIOC?

Image of Kahn/FDR memorial from NY Times

In a post earlier this week on Public Authorities School for RIOC directors, I referenced a series of email exchanges between RIOC President Steve Shane and myself dealing with the issue of a possible violation of the Public Authorities Act by RIOC Board members in approving conditional site control of the southern portion of Southpoint Park to FERI for the Kahn/FDR memorial. If that is in fact the case, it might lead to the revocation of such approval. Below is the full October 21 exchange.

My initial inquiry to Mr. Shane:
Can you explain why the Public Authorities Act does not apply to awarding conditional site control to FERI for the southern portion of Southpoint Park as RIOC asserts it does for the vacant Main Street retail stores?

The awarding of conditional site control to FERI is certainly a disposition of real property, In fact, the value of that property is much, much larger than the value of the vacant Main Street retail stores and the proposed site control to FERI has at least the appearance of the sort of non-competitive transaction, in terms of land value and support of local politicians, that gave rise to the Public Authorities Act in the first place. I think that the Public Authorities Act may require RIOC to issue a RFP to develop the site as a park in accordance with the Roosevelt Island General Development Plan and allow other potential park concepts to compete with the FERI FDR memorial plan before executing a site control agreement with any party.

I understand you have asserted that conditional site control for FERI at Southpoint Park is no different than that which was given for both the Octagon and Riverwalk Developments. However, the difference between these two prior instances of site control for Roosevelt Island real estate is that the Public Authorities Act was not in force at the time of these transactions. It is now in force and should apply to FERI and the Southpoint Park site.

In addition, the Public Authorities Act exception RIOC has carved out for the renewal of existing RIOC owned tenant leases does not apply to the site control of Southpoint Park by FERI because FERI did not, and does not, have an enforceable legal right to the land prior to the execution of a valid conditional site control agreement. If FERI had any such right, there would have been no need for the RIOC Board to consider this item at the 9/11 Board meeting.

You have previously indicated that any significant change to the Tennis Club/Sportspark would require a RFP pursuant to the Public Authorities Act. Therefore, why does the Public Authorities Act not require a RFP for the southern portion of Southpoint Park as well so that other park proposals may fairly complete with FERI?

I am reminded of a conversation we had regarding the 1974 memorandum not binding the City and State to the FERI FDR memorial. At that time you dismissed such an idea as not being relevant. Apparently it was relevant since FERI has subsequently sought site control of the property, something you and they wrongly thought they already had.

Similarly, it may be that the 9/11 Board action approving site control for FERI without abiding by the requirements of the Public Authorities Act is not valid. I would think that prior to the execution of any conditional site control agreement with FERI, fiduciary obligations and responsibilities compel RIOC management as well as the RIOC Board members to have legal counsel review whether such action violates the Public Authorities Act.I hope you agree that in this instance, it does not matter if one is for or against the FERI FDR Memorial. If in fact, the award of site control to FERI does violate the Public Authorities Act, the award should be revoked. If it does not, then the designation can proceed.
Mr. Shane responds:
Even in your blood lust, you must admit that there is a difference between a private activity (canal land development, stores (even when in the public interest as service stores), tennis facilities, etc.) and a public purpose to be carried out by a not for profit and to be operated by the government. The effect of the 1974 agreement may be subject to legal determination, but certainly is not an illegal construct. Land value is not a consideration. I get that you, in your infinite wisdom, have decided that the FDR Memorial is not what you want for Roosevelt Island and that it offends you mightily that others might hold a contrary view. So it goes.
I reply:
So, it is the official legal opinion of RIOC management that the Public Authorities Act does not apply if a non profit is given control of land owned by a NY State Public Benefit Corporation such as RIOC. Is that correct? Upon what authority, other than your own opinion, is that based? Has RIOC counsel given a legal opinion on issue?

No blood lust here - just a private citizen trying to hold NY State employees accountable to the public. Nothing wrong with that - is there?
I have not heard back yet from Mr. Shane.

I also sent this email message to the resident RIOC Board Members, Assembly Member Kellner and State Senator Serrano together with the above email exchange with Mr. Shane.
Yesterday, I sent an inquiry to RIOC President Steve Shane inquiring of him why the Public Authorities Act regarding the disposition of RIOC owned real estate does not apply to the conditional site control agreement awarded to FERI for the FDR Memorial at Southpoint Park during the 9/1 Board meeting. I fail to see why a RFP is required for a tenant trying to lease one of the Main Street vacant retail stores but a RFP for other park developers is not required before FERi is allowed to control the southern portion of Southpoint Park. Mr. Shane replied that the reason why Public Authorities Act does not apply to FERI is that it is a non profit organization. That does not make any sense because non profits and their supporters can exert the same type of undue political influence on State corporations and Agencies as commercial ventures which the Public Authorities Act is intended to prevent. I asked him upon what his opinion is based but have not heard back from him with his answer.

Before the conditional site control agreement with FERI is executed, I respectfully request that members of the RIOC Board ask RIOC's legal counsel, or perhaps the State Comptroller or another independent legal counsel, to determine whether the 9/11 act of the RIOC Board of Directors awarding conditional site control to FERI for the FDR memorial without issuing a prior RFP was a violation of the Public Authorities Act. I would also request that this issue be raised at the 10/23 RIOC Board of Directors Meeting. This issue is not a matter of whether one supports or opposes the FERI FDR memorial. It is about following the law and the proper decision making process on Roosevelt Island.
I may be wrong. Perhaps there is some exception that excludes the Public Authorities Act from applying in this situation. But, it should at least be reviewed, the law complied with and fiduciary obligations obeyed. As NY State Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer issued this 2006 opinion letter advising of exceptions to the Public Authorities Act applying in the disposition of real estate by NY State Authorities. Spitzer wrote:
... As outlined in the legislative history, these requirements were intended to help ensure that authority property would be disposed of fairly, at an appropriate value, and without being steered towards particular purchasers.

The statutory examples of the types of purposes that satisfy the public health, safety and welfare exception are also instructive as to the intended scope of this exception. The specific examples listed - the prevention or remediation of a substantial threat to public health or safety, the creation or retention of a substantial number of job opportunities or substantial source of revenues - indicate that this exception was intended to be narrowly construed....
Nothing about a non-profit exception to the Public Authorities Act. Does it appear that the Kahn/FDR memorial boondoggle at Southpoint Park fits any of those narrow exceptions listed in the former Attorney General's letter to you?

United States Soldiers Battle Taliban in Korengal Valley Afghanistan - They Could Use Our Help



NBC News has been broadcasting a series of amazing video reports showing American soldiers in battle against the Taliban in Korengal Afghanistan. This is one report. Watch the others as well.

Seeing the enemy in Korengal Valley Afghanistan
Oct. 21: Soldiers from the Viper company encounter tragedy during a tense mission to drive the Taliban from their stronghold. NBC's Richard Engel reports. (Nightly News)
If you would like to help the soldiers of Viper Company, MSNBC reports how to do so:
How to help the Viper Company:

The Army servicemen featured in Richard Engel's reporting from their outpost in Afghanistan would welcome winter hats, gloves and socks, comedy DVDs, videogames, cigars and Christmas treats. Send them to:

FB Restrepo
C/O CPT Jimmy Howell
BCo., 1-26 IN, 3-1 IBCT
Korengal Outpost
APO AE 09254
UPDATE: 11/9 - A reader advises that:
the correct zip for CPT Howell is 09354
Thank you for the correction. More information on how you can help the soldiers of Viper Company in the Korengal Valley at Any Soldier forum.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Tale of Two Roosevelt Island Trellis Diners - Socialize With Friends But Flick Off The Bugs

Image of Trellis Diner from lenglekim

Tell me, what do you really think about eating at Trellis Diner - a community institution on Roosevelt Island for many, many years? Yesterday, I received this message to an earlier Trellis post from a reader, Rob, who was not very happy:
I'm seriously getting sick of Trellis. 65% of the time I eat there I get food poisoning. One time I got so sick I turned pale and shivered as if I was nude in Alaska and threw up all darn night. I was so dehydrated and instantly digested everything I ate or drank. I almost thought I had to go to the hospital. It took days and a lot of medicine to cure me.
I was in serious pain..
And:
Another time there was a bugs on my food and the waiter had the balls enough to try to convince me that it came from 'trees' and to just flick it off with his sleazy smug grin and crossed arms. The waiters clearly don't care about your health and laugh if you complain. They manage to try to convince you with incredibly lame excuses to eat your food and stop complaining that there's weird dirty things on your food.
Others comments from residents such as Michael indicate that they like Trellis.
i don't fully trust new york city restaurant inspectors, particularly in an area that is under gentrification pressures. i have eaten at trelli's for many years. it is a typical new york coffee shop, but it also has a neighborly feel that is increasingly rare in this city. i also would mention that the staff, most of whom are immigrants, are exceptionally hard working and friendly --- and they eat there all the time. Lighten up people.
And another reader appreciates the sense of community provided to the older residents:
... there are plenty of elderly and disabled people for whom a trip to the UES is pretty unreachable for a meal, and who would like to get out of the apartment rather than get food deliveries. Many regulars at Trellis use it to socialize as much as to eat.
I don't eat at Trellis often. When I've gone there I have always had a decent meal and service. I have spoken with the owner several times and he is aware there are those in the community with bad experiences and says he is doing his utmost to improve Trellis and provide the best food and service he can.

Meet The Roosevelt Island Residents Association Candidates For Common Council Tonight and Learn About Ballot Referendum

Image from You Are the City

In addition to the Presidential election to be held next Tuesday November 4, there will also be a very local election of great concern to Roosevelt Island residents - that of members of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council who represent a particular building or group of buildings on Roosevelt Island. The importance of voting in the RIRA election is explained in this excerpt from the 10/25 Main Street WIRE (PDF File):
... That’s because the politicians take notice. Every tallied vote in the RIRA election represents a potential vote in a general election – either now or in the future. When the total votes cast in a RIRA election approach or exceed the number cast in the general election, politicians know that Roosevelt Islanders go to the polls and vote, and that is worth a lot in political clout to resident leaders who champion residents’ interests in the Island’s most important issues...
The Main Street WIRE email bulletin reports that:
Candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association will appear Wednesday night (October 29) to appeal for residents' votes, along with candidates for Common Council seats from each of the Island's buildings or groups of buildings.

The session is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. sharp in the Good Shepherd Community Center.

[Results of the election will be reported Tuesday night, Nov. 4, on Website NYC10044 http://nyc10044.com and via this e-mail bulletin service, along with whatever Island voting results are available in the general election.]
The list of candidates are below:
RIRA COMMON COUNCIL CANDIDATES – November 4, 2008

President
William Buckley
Frank Farance

Vice President
Charlie Berg
Ellen Polivy

Octagon
Aaron Barth
Jennifer Barth
Charlie Berg
Francisco Bozzano-Barnes
William Buckley
Joanna Cuevas
Elizabeth E. Erickson
Elizabeth Kroll

Manhattan Park
Barbara Allen
Roman Baranov
Ava Dawson
Jonathan Kalkin
Peter Katopes
Erin Kenny
Prashant Palsokar
Isabel Perez-Cruz
Lynn Strong-Shinozaki
Joseph Terranella

2 River Road
Steven Heller
James Whalen

4 River Road
Jim Bates

Westview
Erin R. Feely-Nahem
Sherie Helstien
Matthew Katz
Rebecca Sucgang Ocampo

Island House
Frank Farance
Phoebe E. Flynn
Nikki Leopold

Rivercross
Ashton Barfield
Steve Marcus
Ellen Polivy
Howard Polivy
Sharon (Nneka) Pope
Ethel Romm
Ron Schuppert
Margie Smith

Southtown
Rachel Reid Chung
Peter Digilio
Aaron Hamburger
Gad Levanon
Alfred Plastino
Janet Zarish

Eastwood
Cynthia Ahn
Helen M. Chirivas
Claudiu Cornetti
Russell Fields
Sophia Marshall
Linda Maynard-Hall
Joyce Mincheff
Neal J. Stueber
Lorraine Williams

546 Main Street
Dolores Green
Anthony V. Moran
There will also be referendum questions on the RIRA ballot. They are:
RIRA ELECTIONS REFERENDUM QUESTIONS – November 4, 2008

On Tuesday, November 4, Roosevelt Island residents will be asked four referendum questions when they vote in the RIRA election. While the outcome of the vote is not binding, these referendum questions provide serious guidance to policy-makers and elected officials. Note: The voting booth will only have the *question* listed, not the background information.

Question #1: Building the FDR memorial park before the monument
FOR THE FDR MEMORIAL AT SOUTHPOINT PARK, SHOULD FERI COMPLETE THEIR PORTION OF THE LANDSCAPING PRIOR TO COMPLETING THE FDR MONUMENT?
Background: There are two components in developing the southernmost 3 acres of the Island -- general landscaping and construction of an FDR memorial. Given that, particularly in these economic conditions, funding may be too limited for a full implementation at this time, do you favor developing the general landscaping before the monument is built?

Question #2: Citizens review board for Public Safety Department
WHILE CITIZENS OF NEW YORK CITY HAVE ACCESS TO A CITIZENS REVIEW BOARD FOR THE NYPD, ROOSEVELT ISLAND RESIDENTS HAVE NO SUCH EQUIVALENT FOR THE PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT. SHOULD ROOSEVELT ISLAND RESIDENTS HAVE A CITIZENS REVIEW BOARD TO HEAR COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE OF THE PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT AND THEIR OFFICERS?
Background: RIOC provides State peace offices in their Public Safety Department. Residents have expressed a desire for a formal process that can hear and act on their concerns.

Question #3: Access to the Queensboro Bridge
SHOULD ELEVATOR ACCESS BE PROVIDED TO THE QUEENSBORO BRIDGE WALKWAY FROM ROOSEVELT ISLAND?
Background: A passenger and freight elevator in the support structure of the Queensboro Bridge was formerly the primary access to the Island, and its continued use was anticipated in the General Development Plan. If the elevator were rebuilt, would you use it to walk or bike to Manhattan and Long Island City?

Question #4: Leasing Stores on Main Street
SHOULD A PRIVATE COMPANY LEASE OUT MAIN STREET STORES?
Background: RIOC currently leases out Northtown’s Main Street storefronts. RIOC has argued that, because of restrictions in the Public Authorities Accountability Act, it is difficult if not impossible to rent out Main Street stores. As a result, Roosevelt Island has many empty storefronts. In comparison, Southtown storefronts are leased out by a private company and have filled up rapidly.
I plan on voting yes on all 4 questions. I do think that the referendum question on the FDR Memorial should be do the residents support it or not instead of in what order it be built but the RIRA Council decided that the survey in the Main Street WIRE had answered that question as inconclusive and did not want to take the matter up again.

The polling location will be at PS/IS 217 for all Roosevelt Island residents except for those who live at the Octagon where there will be a separate polling place in the building.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Barack Obama on American Patriotism - Remember, Don't Let Up, It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over


You Tube Video of June 30 The America We Love Speech

The Trail Blog from the Washington Post has the full written transcript of Barack Obama's Patriotism speech given June 30, 2008 at Independence Missouri. Excerpts:
... For me, as for most Americans, patriotism starts as a gut instinct, a loyalty and love for country rooted in my earliest memories. I'm not just talking about the recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance or the Thanksgiving pageants at school or the fireworks on the Fourth of July, as wonderful as those things may be. Rather, I'm referring to the way the American ideal wove its way throughout the lessons my family taught me as a child.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandfather's shoulders and watching the astronauts come to shore in Hawaii. I remember the cheers and small flags that people waved, and my grandfather explaining how we Americans could do anything we set our minds to do. That's my idea of America.

I remember listening to my grandmother telling stories about her work on a bomber assembly-line during World War II. I remember my grandfather handing me his dog-tags from his time in Patton's Army, and understanding that his defense of this country marked one of his greatest sources of pride. That's my idea of America.

I remember, when living for four years in Indonesia as a child, listening to my mother reading me the first lines of the Declaration of Independence - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I remember her explaining how this declaration applied to every American, black and white and brown alike; how those words, and words of the United States Constitution, protected us from the injustices that we witnessed other people suffering during those years abroad. That's my idea of America.
And:
... I believe those who attack America's flaws without acknowledging the singular greatness of our ideals, and their proven capacity to inspire a better world, do not truly understand America.

Of course, precisely because America isn't perfect, precisely because our ideals constantly demand more from us, patriotism can never be defined as loyalty to any particular leader or government or policy. As Mark Twain, that greatest of American satirists and proud son of Missouri, once wrote, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." We may hope that our leaders and our government stand up for our ideals, and there are many times in our history when that's occurred. But when our laws, our leaders or our government are out of alignment with our ideals, then the dissent of ordinary Americans may prove to be one of the truest expression of patriotism....

... In the end, it may be this quality that best describes patriotism in my mind - not just a love of America in the abstract, but a very particular love for, and faith in, the American people. That is why our heart swells with pride at the sight of our flag; why we shed a tear as the lonely notes of Taps sound. For we know that the greatness of this country - its victories in war, its enormous wealth, its scientific and cultural achievements - all result from the energy and imagination of the American people; their toil, drive, struggle, restlessness, humor and quiet heroism.

That is the liberty we defend - the liberty of each of us to pursue our own dreams. That is the equality we seek - not an equality of results, but the chance of every single one of us to make it if we try. That is the community we strive to build - one in which we trust in this sometimes messy democracy of ours, one in which we continue to insist that there is nothing we cannot do when we put our mind to it, one in which we see ourselves as part of a larger story, our own fates wrapped up in the fates of those who share allegiance to America's happy and singular creed....
There's just one week left until the election. Take nothing for granted. No matter how good the polls look now an Obama victory is not a done deal until every state election is over next Tuesday. As the wise philosopher Yogi Berra remarked:
It ain't over 'till it's over


You Tube video of Don't Let Up Obama Supporters

Make sure you vote and encourage family, friends and anyone else you know to vote Barack Obama for President of the United States. Also, be aware of potential problems with voting machines. From City Limits:
Eight years after hanging chads marred a presidential election and spurred calls for nationwide reform of voting systems, the signature of Election Day here is shifting from the heavy clank of metal machinery to the tap of fingertips on a computer screen....

RIOC Directors Going to Pubic Authorities School? If So, Maybe They Will Learn If FDR Memorial Site Control Agreement Violates Public Authorities Act

Image of NY State Public Authority Logos from Gotham Gazette

Will members of the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors be going to school soon to learn how better to do their jobs? It looks that way according to this article from the Albany Times Union:
Public Authorities, which are unelected, are responsible for more than $43 billion worth of debt in New York, or about 93 percent of the state’s long term indebtedness (the annual budget, which is different, has to be balanced each year).
And thanks to a bill that was passed in 2005 and took effect two years ago, PA board members are required to get some training on issues like ethics and proper governance.

Scott Fein, a lawyer and partner at Albany’s Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, has been putting on training sessions for board members for several years.
Now, his training is about to become digitized. The folks at Albany Law school’s Government Law Center will be recording the sessions, such as one planned there for Friday and will eventually post it on their site, said Fein.

Public Authorities have been referred to as a “shadow government,” due to their ubiquity and the fact that their leaders are appointed rather than elected.
Some are well known such as the Thruway Authority, but there are some relatively obscure, regional ones as well such as the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. or the Thoroughbred Breeding Development Fund....
One of the first lessons the RIOC Board members and management should inform themselves about is whether approving site control for the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute's (FERI) Kahn/FDR memorial during the 9/11 RIOC Board Meeting without a prior Request For Proposal for other park developers was a violation of the NY State Public Authorities Act requiring the revocation of that approval. After all, the reason given by RIOC for the long vacant Main Street stores is that the Public Authorities Act requires the issuance of a RFP prior to their leasing to a tenant. If the Public Authorities Act applies to RIOC controlled Main Street retail stores, should it not also apply to RIOC controlled Southpoint Park?

In a series of email exchanges between myself and RIOC President Steve Shane, which will be posted in full later this week, Mr. Shane asserts that the Public Authorities Act (text here) does not apply to FERI site control of Southpoint Park for the Kahn/FDR Memorial because:
... there is a difference between a private activity (canal land development, stores (even when in the public interest as service stores), tennis facilities, etc.) and a public purpose to be carried out by a not for profit and to be operated by the government....
Mr. Shane offers no basis, other than his own opinion, that the involvement of a non-profit negates the obligation of RIOC to comply with the requirements of the Public Authorities Act. The fact that a non-profit instead of a commercial venture is the recipient of a disposition of RIOC controlled real estate does not remove the appearance of undue political influence in the awarding of site control to FERI by the RIOC Board. As reported by this NY Times article titled "Gifts To Pet Charities Keep Lawmakers Happy":
... In interviews, donors said they were supporting worthy causes, such as scholarships, research and museums. But several also acknowledged that charitable giving was a way to build good will with lawmakers, whose decisions can have a huge effect on their business.

... “It’s a very personal way to curry favor with powerful lawmakers,” said Keith Ashdown, the chief investigator for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group. “It’s also a lobbying tactic that is not completely understood or even known by the public.”
One of the purposes of The Public Authorities Act was to combat the appearance of impropriety in the disposition of real estate controlled by State corporations such as RIOC. The involvement of a non-profit in such a real estate transaction should not make any difference as it applies to the Public Authorities Act. At the very least, RIOC's lawyers, the State Comptroller's office or some other NY State entity should inquire whether FERI site control for the FDR memorial at Southpoint Park is in compliance with the Public Authorities Act.

Maybe the Public Authorities School at Albany Law has the answer!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Window Replacements at Roosevelt Island's Eastwood Buildings- I Mean Roosevelt Landings


A reader sent in the images below of the windows being replaced at Roosevelt Island's Eastwood buildings. Sorry, almost forgot, the buildings new owners, Urban America, have renamed Eastwood, Roosevelt Landings in an attempt to what - upscale it?

From these photos, I do not see any protective scaffolding being used while the windows are being replaced. Roosevelt Island 360 reported on the same situation last September.








New Roosevelt Island Blogger Spots Obama Vote Boat Sailboat on East River


Obama New York City Sailboat image from ireport

Roosevelt Island has a new blogger, Hayley in New York and she thinks it is the coolest place ever. Last Friday she wrote:
Seadogs for Obama!
Today when I came out of the subway here on Roosevelt Island I saw the greatest thing ever: an Obama-themed sailboat floating in the East River. Seriously, this thing's sails were red, white, and blue and featured a giant image of Obama's face. Sadly, I didn't have my camera with me and a Google search for a picture turned up nothing...you'll just have to trust me that it was pretty cool :)
I also saw the Obama sailboat on the East River heading towards the 59th Street Bridge on Friday. I tried to take a picture but it was too far away at that point. I noticed two firemen in a FDNY truck nearby, one of whom took a picture of the Obama boat and asked him if he could send a picture to me so that I could post it. He said he would if he could figure out how to do it. He also said that FDNY received a call that the sailboat was in trouble but upon reaching the scene observed that the Obama sailboat was not in any trouble and was being operated by a very good sailor doing very skilled maneuvers in the water.


You Tube Video of Obama and McCain Sailboat doing 360's in East River

Roosevelt Island 360 reports:
It appears per the Vote Boat web site that the boat has images of each set of candidates, McCain and Obama, on reverse sides of the sails.
UPDATE - 4:30 - In the interests of bipartisanship and following through on Barack Obama's campaign theme that we are all Americans, here is the view of the Vote Boat's McCain side.


The reader who sent in the photo asks:
If the ship goes down who goes down first?
The answer is that we all do.

Here is You Tube Video of Barack Obama's Richmond Virginia speech emphasizing that We All Love This Country.


New York City Is Bursting With Main Streets Including Roosevelt Island's Which Is Part Of Manhattan


You Tube Video of Andy Griffith TV show opening theme

The term Main Street evokes images of small towns such as Andy Griffith's fictional Mayberry and wholesome Pro American values which some no-nothings running for President and Vice President believe are absent from New York City. Well, it is interesting to note that New York City not only has a Main Street but has 5 Main Streets, one in each borough including Roosevelt Island which is considered to be part of Manhattan. According to this article in yesterday's NY Times:
... Main Street on Roosevelt Island is just that, the main street running like a spine along the narrow island, and the closest thing to a Main Street in Manhattan, of which it is technically a part.

At either end of the street is a large hospital. Main Street, compared with streets in other boroughs, is crowded with the convalescing. Men and women in motorized and standard wheelchairs pass and pause to talk or sit in the sun or have a drink at the Trellis Diner beside the Church of the Good Shepherd.
And:
This Main Street may be New York’s closest to the idea of a traditional Main Street, as practically all business on the island takes place on it, most of it, like the hospitals, recession-proof. There are, among others, a Gristede’s, a Duane Reade, a Starbucks, a deli, a liquor store, a library and a police office. There has been no immediately visible effect of the economic downturn.
Of course, the NY Times fails to mention that much of Roosevelt Island's Main Street retail stores have been empty for many years prior to the current economic downturn.

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