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Friday, October 23, 2009

Report From RIOC's President - Main Street Retail Report, Consulting With RIRA, Public Purpose Funding, More Trees & Other RI Issues Of Concern

RIOC President Steve Shane sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents. Mr. Shane updates us on Main Street Retail Consultant's report, Consultation with RIRA, possibility of temporary ferry service during tram outage, RIOC Board Nominees, FDR Memorial, Green Rooms/Wild Gardens, Tram Overhaul, various other constructoin projects, Public Purpose Funding, addition of more trees and other issues of concern to Roosevelt Island.
October 22, 2009

1. Main Street Retail: The final consultants' report was presented on September 22. Much to think about in approaching the leasing of vacant stores, upgrading the appearance of occupied stores, and consolidating, relocating, and otherwise accommodating the various non-profit users of space, all with an eye on the essential service functions. The final report is posted online on the RIOC website.

2. Coordination with RIRA: A long list of matters of common interest is being discussed, so that everyone's input will be available: parking, Red Bus scheduling, Good Shepherd Plaza, landscaping, public-purpose criteria, budgeting, and more.

3. Ferry: Exploring temporary service at the existing pier at the Meditation Steps while the Tram is out next year. Subject to engineering clearance, approvals from the Coast Guard, and whether there is sufficient ridership interest based on surveys for a service to 32nd Street and maybe on down to Wall Street during rush hours, with a business plan that RIOC would have to subsidize to some level (to be determined, subject to Board approval, but guesstimated to be approximately $100,000 for 6 months), if, if, if... Will keep everyone posted. To be noted is the City's lack of enthusiasm in proceeding with the proposed ferry service at The Octagon. See report in the October 10 WIRE.

4. Board of Directors: The nominations of Margie Smith and Mike Shinozaki and the re-nomination of Dr. Grimm to the Board have been made by the Governor, but are still pending confirmation by the State Senate. Next Board meeting is scheduled for November 5 at 9:30 a.m. At this writing, the agenda is very light, but we're planning to have a meeting anyway for reports.

5. Southpoint:

(A) Green Rooms/Wild Gardens: The contractor continues rough grading, paths, and stone walls; phase 2 to complete the park, including finish grading, capping, utilities, fencing, and planting, to follow as protocols for permitting with City are finalized.

(B) FDR Memorial: RIOC is working with the State and City Parks Departments on integration of funding and oversight mechanics for the $4 million State appropriation, the $4.5 million from the City, and at least $8 million from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, as necessary for phase 1. Legal work on finalizing development relationship is ongoing. State Parks has approved an operating and maintenance budget and is in receipt of a $2 million endowment to fund the expenses. November 4 meeting with Commissioner Ash and her staff scheduled to discuss allocation of responsibility for implementing the plan and the mechanics of RIOC reimbursement for incurred expenses.

3. Tram Overhaul: Still on schedule for shutdown March 1 and reopening at the end of August 2010. See renderings of the proposed stations on our website. Regular monthly progress meetings continue with architects, engineers, POMA, expediters, City and State agencies, etc.

4. Projects: Work is ongoing on many projects, and others are being completed. New Public Safety space is done and PSD has moved in. Punch list work is under way. Motorgate lighting experiments continue; resurfacing and waterproofing work has been contracted for, but awaits finalization of asbestos abatement plan, which will likely result in postponing until spring because of winter conditions affecting the concrete. AVAC fencing completed and enclosure work under way. The swimming pool at Sportspark is closed for repairs, although refilled, to be reopened by end of October or early in November. Rehabilitation of the gym (bleachers, flooring, and padding) and installation of a fire-safety system also under way. Sidewalk and pavers repairs accomplished, with restoration of grass area in Blackwell Park West. RIOC is studying solar panels for the rooftop of Motorgate with the New York Power Authority. Octagon sewer connection restoration from the water tunnel to begin, allowing reopening of the comfort station. Octagon field back in operation with natural surface, pending final conclusions about artificial surfaces. Planning for new Blackwell Park included a community bus ride to visit other parks to get a sense of the possible.

5. Southtown: Buildings 5 and 6 are being occupied. Landscaping installed at the Tram turnaround fountain. Sidewalk completed with final work being done at southern end.

6. Fall for Arts: Annual celebration was held October 10. Reports (I was out of the country) are that it was a booming success.

7. Public Purpose Fund: RIOC has completed auditing the seven awardees from the 2009 award cycle so that the information will be available as the selection process gets under way in November. RIRA will again be asked to give recommendations so that the ultimate funding will be included in the RIOC budget for 2010/11. Discussion of the procedures will take place at the Operations Committee meeting on October 21 and if changes are called for, will be on the November 5 RIOC Board agenda.

8. Blackwell Park: Community planning is ongoing, with several divergent views presented. That's why there are group meetings to involve as many stakeholders as possible.

9. Trees: Through the efforts of our Parks & Recreation Director Mike Smith and our CFO Steve Chironis, RIOC has taken advantage of the New York State Nursery and Landscaping program. A total of 86 trees (Colorado spruce, Okame cherry, Kwanza cherry, Yoshino cherry and a few Callery pear) will be received. The first delivery of the Colorado Spruces arrived on Wednesday, and they have now been planted around the water-tunnel fence area. The advice of the Garden Club and the Tree Board is much appreciated. Come take a look.

10. Red Buses: With an accelerated delivery schedule, two new hybrid buses will be delivered and be integrated into the fleet by early November.
This message was also published as the RIOC column in the 10/24/09 Main Street WIRE.