Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Parking Problems For Roosevelt Island - Spaces In Front Of PS/IS 217 Removed

Main Street in Front of PS/IS 217

Received a copy of the following message sent today from RIRA President Frank Farance to RIOC President Steve Shane:
Yesterday, 22% of the parking in the Main Street corridor was removed by RIOC. We had 55 parking spaces for the 6000 people of the WIRE buildings and you have removed the 12 spots in front of PS/IS 217 (adjacent to Westview) leaving only 37 spots.

Parking is already a problem on Roosevelt Island, as noted by residents, as noted by numerous articles in the WIRE over the past decade, and as noted by the recent Columbia study. Because parking is so scarce, many of us have to park many "city blocks" away just to unload packages, etc.. Result: Parking is now worse and will create more double parking in the already congested Main Street corridor.

Did RIOC consult with RIRA to discuss the impact on the residents? No.

Did RIOC consult with the building committees whose tenants and buildings' services are affected? No.

Another Result: Because of the parking signs say "No *Stopping*, No Standing, No Parking" (and on both sides of the street), the only legal way to drop-off/pick-up students is to park elsewhere: limited spaces in Manhattan Park, thus Motorgate is the only practical choice. This adds about 40 minutes to a parent's daily pick-up/drop-off (20 minutes each morning and afternoon to park the car in Motorgate, transport the children to/from school, return to Motorgate). And this adds about $3,600 a year in cost for each parent (approx. $10 per parking, twice a day, for a school year of 180 days).

Did RIOC consult with the PS/IS 217 school? No. In fact, the head custodian said "Wouldn't it have made sense to let us (the school, the principal, the PTA) know about this change *in advance*?". Sure it would have, but RIOC didn't notify them. The head custodian (who does not live on Roosevelt Island) continued "Maybe they should have had a town meeting?". The DHCR Commissioner and RIOC Board Chair has recommended such a forum for communicating with the community, but RIOC didn't let anyone know.

Just look at other schools in Queens: no one eliminates parking in front of the school because that creates a more unsafe environment by having children to walk farther, cross streets, and interact with traffic -- and more double parking and traffic congestion.

With these changes, the new traffic on Roosevelt Island and kids being dropped off away from the school will further complicate the traffic patterns at the base of the Motorgate ramp. Already, Public Safety does a poor job of managing the intersection: Public Safety officers just sit in their cars and watch traffic, regardless of traffic congestion and traffic back up from the bridge onto Main Street. It would cost Public Safety nothing more in resources: they already have an officer stationed at the bottom of the ramp. Getting the officer out of the car would utilize the officer better -- despite resident suggestions, which would provide more actual "public safety", the Public Safety Department continues to choose to use its officers ineffectively.

Possibly RIOC's only benefits on the parking restrictions are: increasing Motorgate revenues, increasing Public Safety's ticketing of illegal pick-up/drop-off in front of the school, rationalizing a increase in staffing for Public Safety officers (to patrol the newly illegal stopping, U-turns, traffic congestion, etc.). However, for the residents there are *no* benefits -- only negatives:

- Reducing parking by 22% for 6000 residents
- Not consulting any of the parties affected (school, residents, business, etc.)
- Creating an unsafe environment for children's drop-off/pick-up
- Adding 40 minutes a day to parents' commuting time
- Parents having to pay $3600 annual additional cost to park legally

In conclusion: RIOC's parking reduction is A SPECTACULARLY BAD IDEA!.

This is one of those moments when residents complain: Can't RIOC do anything competently? Just in the past few weeks we've had other majorly questionable events from RIOC:

- RIOC experiments with a new red bus schedule and discovers that it is able to pick up passengers with schedule consistency and reliability, but after the successful experiment, RIOC *chooses* to go back to the unreliable schedule where passengers might have to wait up to a half hour for a red bus. After discovering a workable, reliable, and consistent schedule, how is choosing to go back to an unreliable schedule a sign of competency?

- RIOC changes the lights in Motorgate to make them less safe and less bright. The Motorgate staff recommended against it (RIOC still doesn't listen) and RIOC's own Director of Engineering can prove that it is the worst possible lighting scenario (really poor engineering work done on the lighting).

This issue isn't about getting dinged on minor errors, these are all major errors that involve bad management, bad executive management, taking unnecessary risks, poor utilization of resources, poor review process, not listening to stakeholders, "not enough money to do it right, but enough money to do it over", and so on -- all major errors. Right? For example, it has been abundantly clear that parking is scarce and it is a sensitive topic for Island residents. Thus, a lesson learned by Steve Shane, Fernando Martinez, or Keith Guerra might be: "Gee, we should review with the residents and other stakeholders". But that didn't happen. So either the lessons haven't been learned by RIOC management and executive management (one kind of major management failure) or the lessons have been learned but RIOC management and executive management chose to take on more risk by eliminating resident/stakeholder review (another kind of major management failure).

Since RIOC Board Directors are CCd on this E-mail, maybe you can ask: Why can't RIOC manage itself properly/competently? And, as Directors, maybe you can exert your own changes upon RIOC management and executive management.

Really, from a management consulting perspective, why does RIOC continue to make such spectacular mistakes? If you abide by the six sigma approach to quality management, then all of these kinds of mistakes involve processes that could be improved to reduce mistakes, e.g., stakeholder review is one such strategy. There are many quick wins on improving RIOC management's performance, but RIOC (cognizant of better paths) *chooses* not to take better paths.

I expect answers to these questions at the RIRA Town Hall Meeting on July 22.

Frank Farance
RIRA President
I asked RIOC President Steve Shane to comment. He replied:
Yes I will. But first, unlike Mr. Farance, I am attempting to gather facts before blasting.
More on Roosevelt Island Parking here.

UPDATE - 7:25 PM - Mr. Shane responds:
Mr. Farance:
In your usual bombast, you have made assertions without bothering to call to find out what the issue may be before casting your aspersions about the competency or concerns of the RIOC personnel. No matter how you may have been conditioned, RIOC is not your enemy and is here trying to provide service to the residents of the Island as a public benefit corporation of the State of New York.

That having been said, the maintenance crew, reaching one of the long listed items for attention, painted the curb in front of the school yellow to indicate a "no parking" area and restored "no parking" signs to where they had previously been. You may remember that the signs which were mysteriously removed without RIOC's involvement had indicated no parking except for Board of Ed employees with placards. However, if there is no Board of Ed reason for keeping those spaces as "no parking", then they shall be returned to available street parking under the same rules as the rest of Main Street.

No one was out to get residents. No one was out to get non-residents, as they are the only ones, I presume, who drive their children to school from off Island. The Board of Ed does ask DOT to restrict parking in front of their schools for drop-off by school buses in Manhattan. Roosevelt Island is not in Queens. Public Safety was not involved in this matter at all. You may recall that the reason a Public Safety officer sits in the patrol car is at the loud request of residents so as to have a presence at the bottom of the ramp when and if a vehicle goes through the Stop sign. Being on foot doesn't give much hope to apprehending moving vehicles. Your opinions on appropriate deployment of public safety personnel are noted.

Increase in Motorgate revenue redounds to the benefit of all as it is part of RIOC's operating revenues which go into paying operating expenses. RIOC gets no part of ticket revenue as all tickets are adjudicated by the City, with a prior cut to the State by agreement between City and State. RIOC does get the meter revenue, so using your argument, why would it want to eliminate metered spaces?

As discussed, we continue the Red Bus experiment, but until the school year starts in the Fall and school buses again fill Main Street, the data collected to date are not fully representative, so we have discontinued data collection, having several weeks of daily ridership in the southbound corridor during the late morning rush hour and thereafter. Unquestionably, predictability has improved at the cost of frequency.

As you know, the new lights at Motorgate are an experiment to see whether alternate fixtures with motion sensors would result in energy savings, BUT NOT AT THE COST OF PERCEIVED SAFETY. The engineers involved called for a specific type and arrangement. Your fulminating would discourage all experiments unless they were successful. Thank you for your "enlightened" commentary and we will attend to better illumination.

I continue to believe that cooperative communication to resolve issues is better than the scorched earth diatribe throwing approach. I know that you think, by your explicit statement, that such an approach is the only way to get action. I have never refused your call or failed to pay attention to your issues, as I have similarly treated all other residents of the Island. Indeed, because of the presumed responsibility you have as the duly elected head of RIRA, I have accorded you even greater priority in the attention line. I believe you do neither yourself or your constituents any favors by the approach you have adopted.


Anonymous said...

I would actually like the idea to remove all street parking on the island. Stopping for unloading is allowed but long-term parking should not.

Is there anyway to vote Farance out of office? He is an embarrassment for the RIRA in specific and the island in general.

Anonymous said...

Wait. Let me get this straight. First he ripped those poor Columbia students a new one and now he is using their study because they had good points? Can that guy make up his mind?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'm sure the politicians, bloggers and WIRE Editor all get a kick out of this guy's antics. This way, they all have something to talk about. Get a life Frank!

Anonymous said...

Shane rocks! Farance 0, Shane 1.

Anonymous said...

Frank Farance is a moron with no tact or intelligence. DOWN WITH FRANK FARANCE.

Plus, he looks like a chipmunk.


It's interesting how those who make personal attacks never address the substance of Mr. Farance's remarks.

I happen to agree with the first comment that Roosevelt Island parking should be much more limited - only for loading and unloading.

Anonymous said...

Hire more Public Safety Officers. We as a community want them patrolling our buildings better, controlling stop signs and yield signs, etc... It's obvious that we need to hire more of them.

Who do we contact to let them know we want this to happen? Guerraro or Shane?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Farances style and tone render the content of his remarks pretty much irrelevant. I agree that the RIOC must step up in how it communicates its actions but I am very sure that yelling at them and calling them names is not going to work with Shane. He's too classy for that and will put Farance into the drawer labeled "Joker".

Anonymous said...

Farance thinks that being the RIRA president is an actual title that means something. It's not. That's his problem. He's pompous and arrogant with absolutely no reason to be. It's quite sad.

Anonymous said...

What I get from the substance of Farance's e-mail is that he thinks RIOC should consult with RIRA on everything to get their permission. I believe the Governor has this corporation in place here and pays them to do a job. So let's let them do it. When I'm at work, I don't call Farance to get his permission on my projects. Who would he call to get permission - himself?