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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reader Comments On RIOC Budget, Submetering, RIOC President/Blogger Antagonism, Tram Modernization & FDR Memorial - Keep It Coming!

At the Bar image from First Second Books

I receive all kinds of messages from readers commenting on particular posts, providing tips or ideas on future stories and events, as well as personal opinions of concern to Roosevelt Islanders. Sometimes I feel as though I am sitting on a bar stool (at night) or coffee shop (during the day) and having a great conversation with new and old friends. Please continue to share your ideas. The more Roosevelt Island voices being heard, the better.

A reader sent in the following comment:
Thanks for covering the Eastwood stuff -- even though we live in Manhattan Park I'm stunned at what's going on just up the street. The quote you put in from Douglas Eisenberg is unreal -- it's the tenants who now need to take responsibility? How tone-deaf is that guy? Good to see that the Eastwood tenants seem united and prepared to fight. Do you know if Kellner or others have suggested counsel for them?

Another thing that caught my eye from the Wire -- am I the only one (besides Steve Shane of course) who thinks it's ridiculous to ask RIOC for projected budgets beyond 5 years? Shane is right -- those numbers would be absolutely worthless, and it would simply amount to make-work to compile them. Frank Farance and others should really back off that demand because it makes them look pretty ignorant regarding setting and adhering to budgets.

Shane's an interesting cat -- it appears you and he have a bit of an antagonistic relationship, but I appreciate the fact that he takes time to respond to your queries, usually in detail. On the other hand, the thing you've frequently pointed out, that he can be dismissive of Islanders concerns, is something I've experienced myself. In the only time I met him (introduced myself to him on the red bus, last November), when in the short ride from the tram to his stop, he basically swept aside concerns about both the Roosevelt memorial (park needs to serve more than narrow interests of the Islanders -- the obvious retort to which is how does this park serve the broader interest of NYC residents? Didn't have time to ask that), and the empty retail storefronts in town (he basically said yes the permitting and RFP process is onerous, but hey, if anyone cared they would have supported the businesses that had been there).

I agree with Shane about the tram refurbishment (and began our conversation that way so I could ask him about the Roosevelt memorial and retail) for 2 reasons: 1) the availability of the state money, which given the environment may not be available again for some time, and I'm a big believer in making boring, preventive up-front investments; and 2) the need to have independent movement of the tram cars. The jigback system is arcane and debilitating in an emergency, imho. Whether the current system could last another 30 years or not is neither here nor there to me.

Still, he seems like a diligent and conscientious bureaucrat, and he really does make an effort to communicate despite the endless grief and frankly over the top criticism that gets pitched at him in the Wire and elsewhere. Pretty thankless job, if you ask me, though probably pretty good dough. And no, I don't work for RIOC...
I replied:
Thanks for the very thoughtful comments.

I agree with just about all of your comments although I do not think that Shane and I have an antagonistic personal relationship - just disagreements over certain issues which on occasion leads to a snide or sarcastic response from one of us.
To which the reader responded:
Ha, I guess I haven't learned to parse your sarcasm with one another. I hope Steve is like me and views your blog as a great, valuable resource for Island residents, despite however you may disagree on the issues. Although for the life of me I can't understand the support for the Roosevelt memorial.
UPDATE - 2/15 - The reader wished to clarify comments made above about RIRA President Frank Farance's request for capital budget information more than 5 years in the future:
One thing I sort of regret is obliquely calling Frank Farance "ignorant". He seems like a well-meaning, diligent guy, and God knows he's in a thankless role. And if his request had been to receive, say, a report of capital improvements that are planned over the next 10 years or so, that would be different. But budgeting is a different beast and much more formal, and to ask for prospective budgets beyond 5 years is an exercise in futility, obviously so. Even more than 2-3 years out is really shaky, as the numbers and discretionary priorities will surely change, often dramatically.
One negative aspect of blogging is there are occasions upon seeing something you have written appear on the web when you realize that the comment does not represent the full measure of what you wished to convey. Fortunately, it is very easy to correct with a subsequent addition or clarification.

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