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Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Kind Of Parks Would You Like To See On Roosevelt Island?

Blackwell House Park Lawn

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.

  1. How do you use the parks on Roosevelt Island?
  2. What do you like about the parks on Roosevelt Island?
  3. 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.

To recap:

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).

Click On Image For Larger Size View

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....
More on re-imagining Blackwell House Park from this earlier post.

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.


Anonymous said...

Which aspect of the Southtown development necessitates moving the existing tot lot ?


There are 3 additional buildings planned for the Riverwalk Southtown development on the Queens side of the Island. One of these buildings will be located where the tot lot is currently.

Given the current real estate market it is doubtful that construction on these buildings will start anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Good, We don't need any more Buildings on this small Island.

We have lost lots of open space over the last 4-5 years.

We, also cannot handle any more people here.

We have major Transportation problems with the Tramway up and the F train running.

Enough is Enough- The Island's face has been ruined forever- stop the Insanity of even thinking of building one more Building.

Anonymous said...

If the transportation problem is fixable I think RI has enough capacity to get a few more residents. There is plenty of green space and recreational areas to balance the residential buildings. We just need some more commerce to the island.

Lish $ said...

As Southpoint residents, my husband and I are concerned about the proposals for Blackwell Park. I especially enjoy the tall trees that block the view of the power plant, and the tot park and basketball courts which bring different members of the community together. My husband plays basketball at the courts. At times we sit behind the Blackwell home and just enjoy the trees and serenity. We are disappointed that this site has been chosen for a possible historic tram center when there is so much space in Southpoint that could be utilized. Or, why not put the tram close to the current visitor's center?

There is little we can do to stop the building of new residencies where the land has already been sold, but I hope that planners are responsible enough to keep island sustainability interests in mind (as far as commercial space, population and transportation needs, etc), and that our park preservation - the trees, game fields, and existing structures - be somewhere in the forefront.

Marissa N said...

We are a family of three and live in southtown (and love it). Once our baby becomes mobile we plan on using the parks more frequently. We love the parks to walk through and for aesthetics. I think that there is a nice balance of buildings and open space and that RI can accommodate more residents ONLY if the transportation problem is fixed and sustainability interests are kept in mind like Lish suggested.
In general, we desire a park that minimizes cement and maximizes trees and green spaces. I love the idea of a tram themed park, or re-purposing the tram as part of the playground, I think it will make it very unique and attractive. But not as a place for a historic tram center.
One thing that I have been concerned about is the anti-progress (anti-southtown/octagon residents) sentiment that is shared and expressed loudly by many of the original residents of RI. Progress is a good thing, residents bring commerce and that is beneficial for everyone! Main street needs a face lift desperately, while it makes RI unique, it is unattractive and lets face it, most things in life are about aesthetics. These progressive changes to RI only enhance its allure.

Anonymous said...

the Old Timers here need to remember they did not move to a private island, nor do they get to pick what happens to the rest of the island. Try to realize you live in NYC and there are thousands of people that look for a more beautiful place to live everday...we have found one and really you should be proud instead of choosing to bicker and complain about "how bad Southtown is, and the people that live there" sounds like you might envy the new apartments and the green space yourself. Why don't you just say that, or better yet, save up some money and move into one of the units yourself. I guess it is easier to complain and live in subsidized housing and not have a Con Ed bill.

grow up and please stop the complaining and make a postive move in your life!

Denise Shull said...

There are two types of parks that would be most welcome to me -
1) a skateboarding park (how about behind Gristedes) so that all of the kids have a safe place to practice their craft.
2) a public dog agility course. It is egregious that the NYPD uses a fully formed agility course and that land is closed off to local dogs. Even if it were to be open on one afternoon per weekend, it would be an improvement. This would also solve some of the complaints over dogs.
3) and the one thing I would change is to employ the exact same dog restrictions as employed across NYC in Central and all other city parks.  

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