Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Update On RIOC Directors Effectively Monitoring RIOC Staff & Roosevelt Island Blackwell Park Dog Run - Is It Flaying A Dead Horse?

Image of 2002 Southtown Site From Main Street WIRE Southtown Chronology

RIOC President Steve Shane and Planning & Intergovernmental Affairs VP Rosina Abramson disagreed with last Thursday's post concerning the finding of no contractual obligation in Southtown Development Agreement required the placement of a Dog Run in Blackwell Park which they previously insisted existed to RIOC Board Directors during November's Real Estate Committee meeting (See RIOC Webcast at approx 1 hour 18 minute mark). The point of my post was more about the effective monitoring of RIOC staff by the RIOC Board members present at the Real Estate Committee meeting than the Dog Run itself. I wrote:
... This incident is a small but telling example of the importance of having Roosevelt Island residents on the RIOC Board who are knowledgeable and caring enough to effectively monitor the actions and decisions of RIOC staff as it pertains to the quality of life here on Roosevelt Island. In the past, the RIOC Board would probably have accepted Ms Abramson's statement regarding the dog run as fact and moved on to another matter. THOSE DAYS HAVE CHANGED!...
The next day Mr. Shane emailed:
In fact, while Mr. Leitner opined that there was no obligation for the dog run in the Southtown Development Agreement, as confirmed by the Southtown Developer, Mr. Kraut, then and now a RIOC Board member, offered the statement from his memory that the dog run was put in at the instance of the then Northtown residents, by and through RIOC, as the Northtown residents didn't want those future Southtown dogs running around and messing up the Island. So, the Developer agreed to do so in the spot now occupied by the dog run. With the advent of the new buildings, at some future date, the dog run will be relocated to a mutually agreeable location with Riverwalk and RIOC. No sinister plot by RIOC or grand victory for the self-styled oppressed residents. It is to be noted that many NYC parks do have dog runs, as canine owners are viewed as citizens also.
Later that day Ms Abramson emailed:
Obviously you missed the point. Come in and I will show you the documentation that indicated the Blackwell park location for the dog run. The Blackwell park location for the dog run became a moot issue when RIOC persuaded the developer to build it elsewhere. Also, there was never a contention that RIOC had an obligation to rebuild the tot lot, so what was your point? It's always been clearly the developer's obligation and we never contended otherwise.

I think it would be helpful to you to come in and review the background so you have some context for what you write.
I replied to Ms. Abramson:
Thank you for expressing your view on subject. I am always happy to correct any mistakes, errors or omissions that appear on the Roosevelt Islander blog.

However, in regard to your comment concerning this post about the Dog Run at Blackwell Park, I did not miss your point, obvious or otherwise.

As you know, during the November RIOC Real Estate Committee meeting you clearly and adamantly insisted that under the Southtown Development Agreement, RIOC was under a legal obligation to allow a dog run to be built in Blackwell Park. Had the RIOC Directors present at this meeting not insisted that RIOC General Counsel Ken Leitner examine the Agreement to confirm your statement the understanding would have persisted that the Riverwalk Developer had the contractual right to install a dog run in Blackwell Park. We now know that is not the case. Whatever documentation you reference, other than the Southtown Development Agreement is clearly not controlling.

Your point regarding this being a moot issue because RIOC had already persuaded the Riverwalk developer to put the dog run elsewhere is confusing. When did this occur - if before the November Real Estate Committee meeting why did you insist that RIOC had the legal obligation to build the dog run at Blackwell Park? If after the November meeting why did RIOC have to persuade the Riverwalk developer not to do build the dog run at Blackwell Park when the developer had no such right to begin with? What am I missing here?

As to my mention of the tot lot, it was only included in the post because Mr. Leitner mentioned it in his discussion. No other point was intended or made.

As always, I am happy to include yours and any other member of RIOC's staff perspective in any material published on Roosevelt Islander blog so that the full context of a story is presented. I always endeavor to be fair though at times I may fall short. When that is pointed out to me I will make any correction.
Ms. Abramson replied:
The dog run was agreed by developer not to be in Blackwell park long before Nov. meeting at my insistence, which is why it was moot and not pursued with legal. That it's legality was subsequently raised with legal had no consequence as it wasn't going there anyway. Come in and I'll show you documentation.

The fact that I didn't comment further at the ops meeting is because it has been moot for a long time and I didn't think any more time spent on a non event would be profitable. There's lots of stuff I didn't comment on including whether the sky was falling. Only Orwell would draw implications from that.
I replied to Mr. Shane's message:
Thank you for your thoughts on this matter.

My main point in this post was not whether or not a Southtown Dog Run is a good or bad idea. The main point was that RIOC's VP of Planning and Intergovernmental Affairs provided incorrect information to RIOC Board members on this subject during the November Real Estate Committee meeting but that in this case was challenged by resident RIOC Board members to demonstrate the validity of her statement and it was subsequently determined to be inaccurate by RIOC General Counsel Lietner.

As you know, Rosina adamantly insisted at this meeting that a Blackwell Park dog run was a part of the Southtown Development Agreement and you agreed with her as well. ( See RIOC webcast of meeting at approx 1 hour 18 minute mark forward) that RIOC was obligated to put a Dog Run in Blackwell Park. In the past, the RIOC Board would have accepted Rosina's statement, and your agreement with that statement as true, and moved on to another matter. That did not happen this time and was the point of the post - not the adviseablilty of a Southtown Dog run.

Also, in subsequent email messages between Rosina and myself following the publication of this post, in which you were copied, Rosina explains that she persuaded the Riverwalk Developers not to place a dog run in Blackwell Park long before the November Real Estate Committee meeting. But if that was the case why did she state to the RIOC Board Directors during that meeting that RIOC was obligated to put a dog run in Blackwell Park? Further, why did she think she needed to persuade the Developer to forgo building a dog run in Blackwell Park that the Developer had no right to build in the first place as stated by Mr. Leitner?

In regard to the Dog run, your statement that the dog run is for the benefit of Northtown residents is incomplete at best since you and Rosina both indicated at the Real Estate Meeting that it is a marketing gimmick for the Riverwalk Developer so that he may attract more dog owners to his buildings and Roosevelt Island.

I was not imputing any "sinister plot by RIOC" just reporting what happened and approving of the RIOC Directors actions in this matter.
Finally, Mr. Shane gets the last word - maybe:
Having dogs was and is a marketing matter for Riverwalk. The dog run was originally pushed by the other Island residents. See David Kraut's recollection.Now having been promised a dog run in the marketing materials, the Riverwalk folks of course view it as their prerogative.
I was relying on the map produced by Rosina showing the dog run location. Let us not continue to flay this horse, now dead. The purpose of the community planning exercise is not to impose anyone's will, but to reach consensus. Delighted that the issue, now raised, has been satisfactorily resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Surely, it matters not a whit to RIOC where the dog run is located, so long as the most residents are served and the least disturbed.
Thank you to all who, ever vigilant, kept this matter from further importance.


Anonymous said...

Can the Riverwalk developpers install more dog runs if they wish without RIOC's prior approval ?

And Northtown,which already have one ?

Did RIOC approve these waivers of the original "no pets" rules ?

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your Blog-site Roosevelt Islander, but sometimes you can really stir the muck - bordering being a pain in the Ahh .... neck.


What about this post did you find a pain in the ...?

Also to the first commenter, there is no and has never been a RIOC policy against pets. They are individual building policies implemented by their leases.

RIOC's permission is necessary if anything is placed on their land including the dog run.

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