Monday, May 4, 2009

Report From RIOC's President- FDR Environmental SEQRA Process, New RIOC Director, No Southpoint July 4 Fireworks & Other Roosevelt Island Issues

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RIOC President Steve Shane sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents. Mr. Shane addresses issues on Approval of Public Purpose Fund Allocation, A new RIOC Director, Southpoint Park Developments including the 4th of July Fireworks celebration not taking place at Southpoint because NYC is moving the fireworks show to the Hudson River, proposed FDR Memorial Environmental SEQRA permitting process and the Tram Modernization among several other items of importance to Roosevelt Island.
1. Board of Directors: Special Meeting was held April 22, 2009. Public Purpose Fund allocation recommended by RIRA, after reconsideration, was approved. Next meeting scheduled for May 14, 2009 at 4:30 PM with a Town Hall meeting to follow. Mr. Howard Polivy’s appointment by the Governor and Senate confirmation is scheduled for this week. Mr. Polivy will occupy the seat that has been held by Michael Shinozaki. Charlee Miller has announced her intention to retire from the Board at the end of her appointed term in June. Our thanks to both Mike and Charlee for their service to the Roosevelt Island community.

2. Southpoint: As to projects:
(A) Renwick Ruins: Stabilization work nearing completion. The entrances to the building will be boarded up to secure the interior and prevent trespassing.
(B) Green Rooms/Wild Gardens: The contractor, Coppola Paving & Landscaping Corp., has started with mobilization, rough grading, paths and stone walls. Phase 2 will be the finish grading and capping of the site, utilities, fencing and planting.
(C) FDR Memorial: FERI is working on engineering and permitting with DEC, Army Corp. of Engineers, Coastguard, etc. FERI has delivered its Environmental Analysis to RIOC as lead agency and our consultants are reviewing as part of the SEQRA process. The State Budget’s $4 million capital appropriation to RIOC, conditioned on a matching $4 million from the City and at least $8 million from FERI as necessary to complete phase 1 seems to complete the financing hurdle when finally committed. Even after permitting process, much remains to be worked out, including coordination of funding and supervision among State Parks Department, NYC Parks Department, RIOC and FERI before bringing the project back to the Board for further consideration.

3. Tram: Work is underway on design and fabrication. Spools of cable are to be shipped from Europe by early May. Scheduling of tower reinforcing and top replacement, cable pulling, street and park closures, crane locations, etc. with permitting for everything is ongoing. Met with Community Board 8 on April 7. On schedule for July 6, 2009 shutdown and December reopening. Thornton Tomasetti has undertaken architectural work in addition to its previous structural engineering engagement. As soon as designs and sketches are available, will make available to the community. Studies of present day code requirements (ADA, fire, electrical, lighting, access & egress, communications, security, HVAC and sprinklers for sub-grade rooms, wind, rain and snow barriers, etc.) as applied to both stations is in the works. Likely to reorient the approach to the Manhattan station to Second Avenue. The last Tram Emergency Evacuation Drill for this equipment is took place April 26. We are coordinating with NYPD and NYFD to develop familiarity with and establish protocols for the new system.

4. Red Bus, Tram and Subway: By running the Tram and a connecting Red Bus all night, the late night 36th Avenue bridge closures passed without incident. Hopefully, the last scheduled closures in late June will be similarly painless. Coordination with emergency services will be done again. Follow our website and notices from DOT for updates. MTA has put out notices that due to emergency track work, trains will be slowed down, reducing the rushhour schedule by two trains, increasing the degree of difficulty when the tram will be out of service from July 6 to mid December. Despite our questioning, there is apparently no good answer to the inconvenience and discomfort.

5. Projects: Replace the exterior of the AVAC building, install replacement chambers for AVAC, lighting at Motorgate, repaving portions of Main Street, fa├žade at Sportspark and start on the improvements to PSD. Public Safety has temporarily relocated to 504 Main Street while the work is being done. Flowers for Main Street are here. The Board agenda will include upgrading the fire safety systems and resurfacing the pool at Sportspark and replacing the HVAC system for Good Shepherd. Enjoy the spring weather.

6. Sportspark Swimming: In response to requests, morning weekday adult swim hours are 6 to 11 AM especially to accommodate those with child care responsibility. We hope for greater participation. The synchronized swimming exhibition sponsored by the RI Seniors was an example for all.

7. Bank: RIOC received a notice from NYNB that it intends to close its branch at 615 Main Street on June 6, 2009. We met with Amalgamated to urge it to come to the Island and supplied a letter of support for application to the State Banking Department to allow opening a branch. Let us hope.

8. Southtown Buildings 5 and 6 moving toward completion. Landscaping being done and interior finishes and fixtures being installed. The roadway in front of the Tram is scheduled for paving. The Ground Rent Increase Deferral Agreement is no longer on the table as the lender would not agree to the terms.

9. Standing room only crowd for the R&R Concert April 18th. Wonderful.

10. The Mobile Van for Free Mammograms was on the Island April 18th, but was fully booked. There will be a return visit on May 30th. If interested in scheduling an appointment, call Erica Wilder at our office (212) 832-4540.

11. Blackwell Park Playground: In response to the request of some parents, we have emphasized the purpose of the tot playground by increased Public Safety presence to discourage inappropriate older people from hanging out at the area.

12. Bicycles: To clear what is becoming an increasing problem, the bike rack at the subway station will have notices posted that leaving bikes for more than 24 hours is not permitted. Public Safety will remove what appear to be permanently stored bikes to increase availability for those who utilize the space as intended.

13. July 4 Fireworks: Apparently, the City has decided to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s sail by moving the fireworks to the Hudson. RIOC’s annual July 4th celebration by fireworks watching is apparently not going to happen, but suggestions for alternative festivities are welcome.

14. Finally, the firearms incident on April 14th was determined by NYPD to have been in self defense. Thankfully, no one was injured.

This message was also published as the RIOC column in the 5/02/09 Main Street WIRE.