Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) representative to RIOC's Blackwell House Park Taskforce Committee Lynn Strong-Shinozaki is seeking feedback from Roosevelt Island residents on how you currently use and enjoy our existing parks and what you would like to see changed. Ms. Strong-Shinozaki writes:
…people are so passionate about the parks I really want a chance to understand what is important to whom.
Here are my questions….I would like to know if people live on the island and for how long…if they are male or female and if the have any children.
As a RIRA rep. for the Blackwell House Park Taskforce Committee I would like to ask all people who use Island parks to help us by answering the following 3 questions.
- How do you use the parks on Roosevelt Island?
- What do you like about the parks on Roosevelt Island?
- What one thing would you change?
I am really looking for how people value/use what we have now…and what they would like to see if they could participate in the design of new parks on the Island I would like to use this as an opportunity to get people’s ideas for the whole island not just Blackwell park.
It would be a great help if you could use the comments section of this post, or just send me an email which I will forward to Ms. Strong-Shinozaki, to answer these questions.Rosina Abramson, RIOC's VP of Planning & Governmental Affairs provides some additional background on the proposed plan to remake Blackwell House Park:
... Recall, the process was started because we must relocate the tot lot, which South Town developers underwriting the costs; parents are unhappy with the playground on the northern end, there's a desire to salvage iconic tram pieces and use them as public art and/or educational play, a ramp is to be installed to Blackwell House, triggering re-landscaping, retail consultants suggest that Blackwell Park be used more strategically as a portal to "North Town" encouraging South Town residents to go shopping on Main St, the 504 playground is unsightly, etc.More on re-imagining Blackwell House Park from this earlier post.
1) We had an initial outreach to community organizations via a broad invitation to community leaders to meet our landscape architects and to elicit community feedback as to preferred improvements to Blackwell Park, in light of the tot lot being relocated because of the South Town development, complaints about the "off the shelf" playground on the north edge and a strong interest in repurposing iconic parts of our tram, for both public art and play/education purposes. 7/09 "Tea Party".
2) We asked community organizations to identify potential members to a working taskforce. RIRA asked for two representatives, to which we agreed.
3) We invited community leaders on a field trip to 2 relevant parks/playgrounds designed by our landscape team and debriefed afterwards.
4) Our playground consultants held focus sessions with youths of the community's youth group. (report attached)
5) Meetings are being set up between playground consultants and representatives of educational and childcare organizations on the Island.
6) We had our first task force meeting in early October. The rough sketches (copy attached) presented for discussion purposes only, were summaries of community input from the July meeting - including a desire for greater visual and actual access to the river, greater integration with Main St. and Blackwell House, a way for parents to monitor children's play without "hovering", introduction of public art, a transition between the historicity of Blackwell House and modern play concepts, universal disability access including for disabled children at play. Discussion ensued. An example of good park/playground design - Washington St. Park in Tribeca - suggested by a task force member, had coincidentally been designed by our lead landscape architect - Lee Weintraub. We agreed to meet 2 more times, each time with new conceptual drawings reflecting discussions most recent discussions. The task force's final proposed master plan will be presented to the full community for discussion in December.
7) There have been extensive independent discussions between task force members and Lee Weintraub, on an "as desired" basis in the interim.
8) Computer scanned conceptual sketches have been transmitted to any community member requesting same. (see attached copy referred to above).
9) As requested by task force members - a walk through of Blackwell Park with the architectual team has been scheduled for Sat. morning, Oct. 24. The invitation has been expanded to include non-task force member who have raised some questions....
RIRA President Frank Farance commented on the Blackwell House Master Plan in his 10/9/09 message (item 6) as follows:
Blackwell Park Master Plan. Rosina Abramson, RIOC Vice President of Planning and Inter-Governmental Affairs says we don't need to know the budget to determine the kind of master plan for the park (this only makes sense to Abramson and no one else on the committee). The Blackwell Park master plan committee will meet for approximately three times (two meetings to go) before announcing the plan to the community in the first week of December. RIRA has two liaisons on the committee. We have requested drawings and sketches to share with the community. RIOC has chosen to impede RIRA and community review by distributing only paper copies of document. So far, it's poorly managed, little information is shared, significant community concerns have been rejected, and, apparently, the process is designed to have little input from the community. Disaster predicted for December.