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Friday, July 17, 2009

Things To Do This Weekend In New York City & Roosevelt Island- Philharmonic in Park, Bruce Cruise, City Of Water Day & Nations Beat Brazil Dance


You Tube Video of Nation's Beat at Farm Aid

Looking for fun or interesting things to do on Roosevelt Island or in some other part of New York City this weekend? Here are some ideas:

Later tonight, The New York Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing on Central Park's Great Lawn starting at 8 PM followed by fireworks. You can't beat that unless you would rather be Rockin The River and cruising New York City's waterfront with:
Bruce in the USA:
Tribute to Bruce Springsteen
Friday, July 17th @ 8 pm
Bruce in the USA is much more than just another Bruce Springsteen tribute. This high-energy musical experience is a note-perfect and visually accurate recreation of a Bruce Springsteen show led by Matt Ryan's jaw-dropping portrayal of the Boss.
On Saturday, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) Presents City of Water Day at Governors Island:
A FREE day of entertainment, education & adventure for the whole family celebrating the potential of our waterfront!

On July 18th thousands from the Tri-State region will float, ferry, paddle, row, splash, canoe, and kayak their way to beautiful Governors Island for the 2nd Annual City of Water Day Festival.

From the upper Hudson to Raritan Bay, we are a City of Water—yet too many of us are cut off from this tremendous resource. Help us revitalize the waterfront with a festival for the entire family.
Roosevelt Live will also be presenting Dance Live Brazil: Nation's Beat, on Roosevelt Island's Riverwalk Commons starting at 4 PM:
At the heart of Nation Beat's Legends of the Preacher lies a totally original 21st century fusion between thunderous Brazilian maracatu drumming and New Orleans second line rhythms, Appalachian-inspired bluegrass music, funk, rock, and country-blues. Their explosive live show -- which is frequently known to burst into crowd-wide Carnaval-style drumming and singing -- is attracting music fans from a wide demographic: bluegrass and country music fans, Brazilian music lovers, outdoor festival-goers, and pretty much anyone who loves to dance and loves great music.
On Sunday, the Spare Times For Children suggests a visit the the Children's Museum of Manhattan for:
AMUSEMENT PARK SCIENCE’ (Friday through Sunday, and Tuesday through Thursday) Most children probably don’t contemplate Newton’s laws of motion while riding a roller coaster — experience them, yes, but not reflect on them. While this new exhibition at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan captures some of the fun of carnival rides, it also highlights the physics that make them possible....
The Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movie Series continues on Sunday evening with the showing of 50 First Dates at Firefighters Field.

Also on Roosevelt Island this weekend, in addition to the Dance Live Brazil featuring Nations Beat from Roosevelt Live on Saturday, the Farmers Market is open as usual as is Gallery RIVAA, the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association which is exhibiting the show titled Holocaust - Never Forget, Never Again.

Another suggestion - RIOC has produced a great self guided tour map (PDF File) of Roosevelt Island for any visitor or resident looking to stroll the Island and learn something more about it. There will also be Light Jazz performed outside of The Trellis restaurant on Friday and Saturday evening, weather permitting.

The MTA is reporting no Roosevelt Island F Train subway advisories this weekend and neither is RIOC with Tram advisories.

Check out some other ideas on what to do in New York City this weekend from the NY Times Urban Eye and Spare Times, Free NYC, NY Post Weekend Calendar and Newyorkology.

Have a good weekend everybody!

Roosevelt Island Octagon Residents Petition Building Management To Provide Window Screens - The Building Is Not Green Without Them

Image of Window Screen From Find Replacement Windows

Residents of Roosevelt Island "Green" Octagon Building are circulating a petition to have the building management provide window screens for their apartments. Below is the Petition:
We the residents of The Octagon at 888 Main Street, New York, NY 10044 demand that the owners of the building install window screens on ALL residents' apartment windows. The fact that there are no screens on the windows of this building is unacceptable to the residents of the building and we demand that the building owners and management take immediate action to remedy the situation.

As a so-called "green" building, this property is no such thing. Residents are forced to use air conditioning units instead of opening their windows because without window screens, within moments of opening the windows, the apartments fill with an extraordinary number of insects and bugs. Using the air conditioning units when the most appropriate alternative would be to open a window wastes energy and increases the monthly expenses of the tenants.

Residents should not be expected to deal with or accept the insect and bug problem caused by the lack of window screens. Insects and bugs are more than just a nuisance, they are a health hazard to both humans and pets. In addition to potentially dangerous allergic reactions caused by insect bites, insects and bugs carry diseases that can be transmitted to both humans and pets.

We feel that the present state of screenless windows at The Octagon voids the building's other energy efficient features and therefore the continued promotion of The Octagon as a "green" building to be deceptive in nature.

We, the residents of The Octagon demand and expect the property owners and building management to address and correct this situation by installing window screens on all residents' apartment windows within a reasonable timetable.
Click here if you are an Octagon resident and wish to sign the petition.

I don't understand how a very expensive, so-called luxury rental building fails to provide window screens to their tenants. I was very unhappy to learn when I moved into my building in Southtown that screens were not provided either. Manhattan Park provides screens to their tenants as do most luxury rental Manhattan buildings and so should the Octagon and Riverwalk buildings.

Good Luck with the Petition, Octagoners!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Roosevelt Island Elected Residents To The RIOC Board Of Directors Smith & Shinozaki Nominated By Governor - Await Confirmaton By State Senate

RIOC President Steve Shane reports:

I am advised by the Governor's Appointments Office that both Margie Smith and Mike Shinozaki have been duly nominated by the Governor and their nominations forwarded to the State Senate for confirmation. No word on when the Senate may act.

Update On Parking Spots Removed In Front Of PS/IS 217 - Bombastic RIRA President and Bunker Mentality RIOC President Square Off

Image of Bull Moose Fighting from Alaska in Pictures

Yesterday, RIRA President Frank Farance sent a message to RIOC President Steve Shane objecting to the removal of 12 Main Street parking spaces in front of PS/IS 217 and the lack of communication between RIOC and the Roosevelt Island community prior to this action taking place as well as several other issues. After gathering the facts on the situation, Mr. Shane replied. Both messages are here.

Below is Mr. Farance's reply to Mr. Shane. Mr. Farance excerpts portions of Mr. Shane's response, in blue, and then responds in red.
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.

To Steve Shane:

For some reason, you like to frame this as strawman argument ("RIOC is the enemy of the residents") and then you get to knock it down. Again, I state: I don't believe RIOC is the enemy and we are working towards the benefit of the Island and its residents. Having said that, RIOC still does a terrible job communicating with the residents and stakeholders (as demonstrated here), RIOC still fails spectacularly with its operations and engineering, and RIOC's management is poor. Hopefully, you can see the distinction between dismissing the RIOC organization vs. criticism of RIOC's actions.

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.

Bluntly, that's a bunch baloney. These spots have been parking spots for a very long time. I have photos going back to 2004 that demonstrate it so. I believe Geof Kerr did parking surveys in 2003 and 2004 (as reported in the WIRE) where the parking arrangement was the same.

And assuming your story were true, today you have "no stopping" (not just "no parking"), which means drop-off/pick-up would have always been illegal at PS/IS 217 (not true) and, likewise according to you logic, drop-offs would be illegal for the rest of schools in Manhattan (not the case).

Besides, if you really believed your story was true (I don't think you actually believe your own words), then your supposed logic ("missing no parking signs -- was always intended for no parking") would have arisen in RIOC's input to the Columbia study and Columbia would have excluded them (and noted them) in their presentation. But the Columbia study included those parking spots in their presentation of available street parking, i.e., I think you're just making up this supposed story of "missing signs".

In summary, your facts are incorrect and your story is self-contradicted.

... 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.

If Public Safety were doing a more effective job, the officer would be in the intersection directing traffic, which might have the preventive effect of increasing "public safety" and the flow of traffic. But your strategy (you'd rather a pound of cure than an ounce of prevention) just waits for the damage to happen and then hopes the Public Safety officer catches the offending driver. You defend the idea that the officer, at no additional cost, should be less effective than more effective. That's a bad strategy, and that's bad management -- really.

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 I pointed out, $3600 per parent per year in Motorgate revenues is much better than $0 for a 2-minute drop-off (i.e., *stopping*, not parking). Although I don't actually believe you've concocted such a scheme, Yes your new "no stopping" strategy increases Motorgate revenues and overshadows the relatively small meter revenue.

... 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 don't discourage experimentation. As any engineer will tell you, some solutions don't require experimentation at all: an engineering model (or mathematics in this case) can tell you the experiment fails ... you don't need to actually build it to know it doesn't work. That's the kind of insight your Director of Engineering can give you. And if he can't give you that kind of insight, then he's (certifiably) not a good engineer and he's wasting (our) money on useless experiments.

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.

Let's just recap: on one hand you eliminate a significant amount of street parking having significant impact on the community (**thousands** of residents) with no notice or review from the residents, the school, the parents, or other stakeholders, etc., and on the other hand you're upset that you didn't get to preview my E-mail before I sent it. Did I get that right?

And just to narrow the point here, yesterday Rosina Abramson held a Tea Party at Blackwell House on some early steps regarding the development of a master plan for a new Blackwell Park. Last month, she asked for agenda time at a RIRA Town Hall meeting, she involved the community, and there will be more steps this year: community involvement, getting feedback, all stakeholders (including RIOC) being informed -- an inclusive consensus-building approach on something that affects thousands of residents. Now compare that to your bunker mentality. See, it's not RIOC per se, it's the strategies and actions that executives (like yourself) choose.

Now that we've all acknowledged that the loss of parking is a bad idea, what is the timeframe in which you will be returning the parking spots back to metered parking?

Frank Farance
RIRA President

Bed Bugs Reported On Roosevelt Isand - Echhhhh Disgusting

Image of Bedbug From NY Times

The July 8-9 Roosevelt Island Daily Safety Incident Reports advise of the following:
Investigation - Reporter stated to PSD he was having problem with bed bugs. Reporter stated management was unable to assist. Reporter was referred to 311.
Very few things are as disgusting and creepy as bed bugs. They lurk in your furniture or bed and come out to feed on your blood at night. I inquired of Public Safety Director Guerra for more information as to which Roosevelt Island building was reported to have bed bugs but have not received a response as of yet. It is important to know which building the bed bugs have been reported in because once they are in one apartment they can easily get into adjacent ones. Residents of this particular building should be made aware so that they can take action.

The NY Times reported this week:
AFTER virtually disappearing for decades, bed bugs have made a comeback throughout the nation, with particularly bad infestations in densely populated apartment buildings....

... Small and nocturnal, the insects are hard to spot. They love to hide in mattresses and box springs, of course, but they also burrow in woodwork, night tables, picture frames, cushions and even behind outlet and light-switch covers. They come out only to feed on sleeping humans...

... Bedding, clothes, stuffed animals, backpacks and anything else you can fit into the clothes dryer can be decontaminated by 20 minutes on the high setting. Carry the items to the dryer in a cloth laundry bag that you can throw into the machine. If you use a plastic bag, discard it immediately; bed bugs or eggs might be lurking.

For items that can’t go in the dryer, consider packing them in plastic bins or bags and storing them for a year to make sure any hidden insects die.

For furniture and other large items, you may want to consider a professional fumigation service that will decontaminate the items away from your home and return them within a week or so. This can easily add $1,000 to your bed bug bill. But for antiques, heirlooms and other hard-to-replace items, it may well be worth the cost.

To learn how others rid themselves of bed bugs, the NY Times Wellness Column sought comments from their readers. Among the many comments were:
We had them in an apartment in Queens. We spent 6 months and five thousand dollars getting rid of them. Then we moved. 70 percent of our stuff is still in storage - if they are still in our possessions, they will eventually starve and die. I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone. The psychological effects of such an infestation are lasting.
Techletter has 10 recommendations to apartment managers on how to get rid of bed bugs.
... 2. Be proactive. As soon as the first bed bug problem is reported and verified, assume that there are more and act aggressively. We can't emphasize this point enough: bed bug control can become extremely expensive once bed bugs become widespread. (It is not unheard-of for a property to spend $50,000 to finally "eliminate" a widespread bed bug infestation in a medium-sized apartment complex.)

3. Whenever a new bed bug infestation is identified, the apartments on either side next door, and above and below need to be inspected for bed bugs. A new infestation may be overflow from a severe infestation in a nearby apartment with a resident who does not want to report their infestation for some reason....
Ignoring them, as the person who made the complaint to Public Safety reports his building management did, should not be an option. Again, this is disgusting. I am glad to be finished with this post so I can stop scratching!

UPDATE 6 PM - RIOC Public Safety Director Keith Guerra advises that the above bed bug reporting incident was for 560 Main Street - Roosevelt Landings / Eastwood.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Green Parrot Found Wondering Around Roosevelt Island


Are you the owner of a Roosevelt Island Green Parrot? If so, it may be missing, but don't worry because it was found and is in the safe possession of RIOC. RIOC President Steve Shane sends the following message:
We are in possession of a green parrot found by itself outside. Please have its rightful owner call RIOC's office to claim it.
Just contact RIOC and show some proof that you are the true owner and it will be promptly returned to you.

Image of Parrots in picture were taken last summer on the west promenade and not necessarily that of today's strolling parrot.

UPDATE - 5:20 PM - This just in. Photos of missing green parrot that was found at 556 Main Street. Both images of Green Parrot provided by RIOC.



UPDATE - 7/21 - RIOC President Steve Shane reports:
No word from the parrot's owner.

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.
UPDATE HERE.

Gifted & Talented Program To Open At Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 This Fall For 17 Kindergarten Students

Image of PS/IS 217 From Geocities

Last week, I inquired regarding the status of Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 proposed Gifted & Talented Program from City Council Member Jessica Lappin's office. Mr. John Moore of Ms. Lappin's staff looked into the matter and replied today:
We’ve gotten it confirmed that the DOE is going to be opening a G&T program for kindergarteners on the Island next fall. I’ve attached a release. Thanks for following up on this issue and let me know if you have any other questions.
Below is the July 15 press release from City Council Member Jessica Lappin's office:
Gifted and Talented Program Coming to Roosevelt Island

The Department of Education has confirmed that they are moving forward with plans to open a gifted and talented program for kindergarteners on Roosevelt Island next fall at PS/IS 217. The opening of the program was contingent upon sufficient interest in the program. Now, the school’s principal has been told to plan to open a class for 17 kindergarten students.

“This is great news for families on Roosevelt Island,” Council Member Jessica Lappin said. “PS/IS 217 is an ideal location for a gifted and talented program. It expands educational opportunities and capacity, and I’m very pleased that the DOE worked with me to open this program.”

“We are extremely excited to begin a Gifted and Talented program at PS/IS 217. The addition of the G&T class will enhance the diverse programs we have at PS/IS 217 to continue serving students will all learning styles and needs,” Principal Mandana Beckman said.

“All the Island parents who advocated for a G&T at PS 217 over the years should pat themselves on the back today. By organizing and working with Council Member Jessica Lappin we have a great new option for families who live on the Island. We hope that kids from District 2 or District 30 will soon be coming here to participate in this exciting new program,” Island parent Cressida Connolly said. Connolly was one of a group of parents who began advocating for a G&T program on Roosevelt Island years ago.

Students who scored in the 90th percentile or better on the city’s gifted and talented test were eligible to apply for the program on the Island. The program will launch with a kindergarten class next fall and grow by a grade each year after that.
That's very good news.

For more information on PS/IS 217, the NYC Department of Education Parents, Teachers and Students survey on the learning environment at Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 is available here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Green Roof Sought For New Manhattan Side Roosevelt Island Tram Station By Elected Officials

Image of Manhattan Side Roosevelt Island Tram Station From RIOC

It appears that some of Roosevelt Island's neighbors across the river on the East Side of Manhattan may not be all that thrilled with the latest design for the new Roosevelt Island Tram Station on 2nd Avenue and 60th Street.

Image of Manhattan Side Roosevelt Island Tram Station From RIOC

Eight elected officials representing Manhattan sent a letter to RIOC President Steve Shane urging RIOC to include a "Green Roof" in the final design for the Tram Station.The elected officials are Congresswomen Maloney, Assembly Member Kellner, State Senator Serrano, City Council Member Lappin, Borough President Stringer, State Senator Kruegger, Assembly Member Bing and City Council Member Garodnik. They write:
We are writing to encourage the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) to take advantage of a key opportunity to provide leadership in improving New York’s environment by installing energy efficient roofing on the renovated Roosevelt Island Tramway stations. With the overhaul of the Tramway, RIOC is afforded a chance to become a leader in New York’s environmental sustainability efforts by incorporating affordable and cutting-edge green features into the design and construction of its renovated tram stations...

... By choosing a green roof, RIOC would be setting an example for developers across the city and nationwide, helping to raise crucial awareness of an innovative building technique with multiple environmental benefits. There would be significant positive impacts on the quality of life of area residents, commuters, workers, and visitors. And during this challenging time, the adoption of green roofing would contribute to the growth of a nascent industry, helping to create green jobs here in New York City. We also believe that a forward-thinking design for both stations would go a long way in continuing to build on the good relationship between Roosevelt Islanders and their neighbors on the East Side. And finally, it would uphold the tradition of Roosevelt Island as a laboratory for better and more sustainable living. We strongly encourage RIOC to take advantage of this opportunity....
The full letter is below or click on Green Tram link.
Green Tram


Image of Proposed Green Siding For Roosevelt Island Side Tram Station

I asked Mr. Shane for a comment on the matter and he replied:
I am replying to them collectively. Rather than have this discussion in the media, I suggest you contact "them". We have considered the issue of "green" design and have arrived at our present proposal. I have proposed a meeting with the elected officials to allow professionals to explain to them how the design process has worked and why we are where we are. Since we are on a tight time line, I have requested their availability by the end of July. As you know, we have made the designs as they evolved available for comment from the public as well as professionals, both on the Island and off.
Mr. Shane is correct that the evolving designs for the Tram Stations have been available for comment since May.

I would rather see the Green Roof Garden proposed for the Motorgate Garage by the Columbia University Transportation Group than a Green Roof on the Tram Station.


Running and Jogging On Roosevelt Island - One of The Best Waterfront Routes In New York City


Roosevelt Island Running Route Image From USATF

Blogger Runemployed has an excellent post on running the approximately 4 mile loop around Roosevelt Island. An excerpt:
Roosevelt Island is that two mile long sliver of land, only 800 feet at its widest, that many of us have seen only while riding in a cab down the FDR Drive in Manhattan or while crossing the Queensboro Bridge. But with flat, paved paths running nearly the entire perimeter of the island, cool breezes off the river and almost no traffic, Roosevelt Island is a fantastic place to explore as a runner....
And:
... Finding good waterfront running in New York is a great way to escape the insanity of the city – and Roosevelt Island offers some of the best running on the East River with unbeatable views of Midtown East. Once you’ve completed the run, check out this film by Thomas Edison from 1903 and see if you can spot some of the buildings you just ran by. There are more landmarks and other interesting things to see in the interior of the island along Main Street, so if you have the time, stick around to explore. Visit the Roosevelt Island Historical Society for more information.
Read the whole post here.
More here on Roosevelt Island running.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Employee Moves From Subsidized Roosevelt Island Apartment To Manhattan-There Are Worse Commutes Than Roosevelt Island But...

Image of 475 Main Street Entrance

The NY Times reports on the hunt for a new Manhattan apartment by former Roosevelt Island residents living in Southtown's 475 Main Street which is used as subsidized housing for employees of Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. From NY Times The Hunt column:
WHEN he began a job in New York three years ago, moving here from a one-bedroom rental in Washington, Andrea Farina didn’t need to think about where to live. His employer, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, provided subsidized housing.

His housing, however, came with a three-year limit, which Dr. Farina hit last winter.

He paid around $1,250 a month for a large studio at 475 Main Street, on Roosevelt Island,...

... I liked it very much, but I never liked it when somebody would come visit and you have to share a room, ...
Mr. Farina said about his stay on Roosevelt Island:
I know there are worse commutes in the world,” he said, “but I hated to see my apartment and not be able to get there” easily. He often found himself rushing to the tram, missing it anyway.
They eventually found an apartment on East 62nd Street.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Amalgamated Bank To Open Full Service Roosevelt Island Branch On July 20

Image of NY National Bank soon to be Amalgamated Bank from RI 360

RIOC President Steve Shane forwards the press release below announcing that Amalgamated Bank will be assuming NY National Bank's lease for 619 Main Street and opening up a branch office at that location starting July 20.
New York National Bank and Amalgamated Bank Jointly Announce Arrangement to Continue Branch Banking on Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island, New York – July 13, 2009 – New York National Bank (NYNB) and Amalgamated Bank (Amalgamated) have announced an agreement involving NYNB’s branch at 619 Main Street on Roosevelt Island.

Under the arrangement, Amalgamated will assume NYNB’s lease of its Roosevelt Island space and open a new full service branch at the Main Street location on July 20. NYNB announced in February that it was closing its Roosevelt Island branch on June 5, 2009. To facilitate the smooth transition with Amalgamated, NYNB will keep the branch open until July 17.

“Closing our Roosevelt Island Branch was an unavoidable and difficult business decision,” said James J. Landy, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYNB. Since announcing the closure, we have worked with Amalgamated Bank to ensure that a full service branch will continue to serve the community. We are proud of our history of service to our customers and to the people of Roosevelt Island.”

Amalgamated Bank has always served working families through its branch network and has actively supporting the Roosevelt Island community. For example, Amalgamated Bank organized a Halloween Gala for hundreds of children, tweens and their parents at the Roosevelt Island School (PS/IS 217). The Bank also sponsored the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony that is held in front of the Blackwell House and the Roosevelt Island Health Fair that is held in May each year.

“During these events, we talked with many residents and developed an appreciation for their need to have a convenient bank on Roosevelt Island,” said Derrick D. Cephas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Amalgamated Bank. “We’re known as the Bank that works hard for working people. Now, we have an opportunity to serve our new neighbors by providing our array of affordable banking products and services.”

As a convenience for existing NYNB customers and all residents of Roosevelt Island, Amalgamated will take new account applications at the 619 Main Street branch before the planned July 20th opening date. Consumers and businesses can meet with the Amalgamated’s representatives at the branch on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through July 16. Any accounts opened in this manner will be held at Amalgamated’s Long Island City branch until its new Main Street branch opens for business.

Accounts of current NYNB customers on Roosevelt Island, who choose to continue banking with NYNB, will be automatically transferred to the NYNB’s East Harlem Branch as previously announced. Or, they can continue to bank at other New York National Bank branches in the Bronx and Manhattan or any branch of its sister bank, Hudson Valley Bank....
There has been a constant turnover of Bank Branches on Roosevelt Island for many years. As I recall, there was a Manufactures Hanover, Chemical and Chase Bank all of whom chose to leave the same Roosevelt Island location prior to the latest decision by NY National. Hope Amalgamated can do better.

UPDATE 2:45 PM - Assembly Member Micah Kellner has more on Amalgamated Bank opening a branch on Roosevelt Island.
... As a member of the Assembly’s Committee on Banks, I worked with Committee Chair Darryl Towns to ask the State Banking Department to designate Roosevelt Island a BDD. I am thrilled to announce that on July 6, the NYS Banking Department agreed to the designation. This means that public funds will be deposited in the new Amalgamated Branch, providing the security it needs to serve as a reliable long-term bank for Roosevelt Islanders. Island residents can take comfort in having a local bank that will be around for many years to come.

What Was The Staten Island Ferry Doing On The East River Passing Roosevelt Island and East Side of Manhattan?


One of the pleasures of living on Roosevelt Island is the chance to see all kinds of boats traveling up and down the East River in the West Channel between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island. We often see barge, tug, tour, motor and sail boats of all sizes, Coast Guard, NYPD, FDNY Boats as well as speed boats, kayaks and jet skis.

Barge and Tug Passing Under Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island Tram

What we don't usually see but I did see on Saturday afternoon while walking on Roosevelt Island's West Waterfront Promenade was the Staten Island Ferry making it's way north on the East River passing Roosevelt Island.

I wondered what could be the reason for this? Was the Staten Island Ferry lost, did it make a wrong turn in NY Harbor or was it just trying to escape Staten Island and explore other parts of New York City?

The Staten Island Ferry also appeared to have a Coast Guard boat as an escort.

Apparently, I was not the only one wondering about this since there were several Twitter Tweets asking the same question.
Can someone explain to me why the Staten Island Ferry went apparently all the way up, and then back down, the east river today?
The answer to what the Staten Island Ferry was doing on the East River Saturday afternoon comes from SI Live. On Saturday, the Staten Island Ferry"
... carried about 3,400 guests on the Marine and Aviation Anchor Club's 35th Boat Ride for God's Exceptional Children. ...

...The party people included those with muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and autism, plus nursing home residents who rarely take in the cityscape offered by a Staten Island Ferry ride. Many of the participants live in community residences or group homes....

... As in previous years, the 2009 ride included a salute from the city Fire Department's Marine 9. But yesterday's sail deviated from the cruise's usual route. This trip took passengers up the East River to Execution Rocks Lighthouse in the Long Island Sound instead of to the George Washington Bridge....
That's the answer. A good cause and I am happy to learn that the Ferry was not trying to escape from Staten Island.

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