Friday, August 27, 2010

New RIOC President Leslie Torres First Message To The Community - Good Beginning For Roosevelt Island

Image of New RIOC President/CEO Leslie Torres

I met with new Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Leslie Torres last Thursday afternoon at the Starbucks in Southtown. We had a very informative 90 minute conversation talking about the past, present and future of Roosevelt Island.

Ms. Torres explained that her time to date as RIOC President has been spent learning about Roosevelt Island issues by meeting with RIOC staff, residents and other stakeholders. She said that no personnel changes among Senior Staff are anticipated and that her view of the RIOC President/CEO position is to implement policy set by the RIOC Board.

My initial impression of Ms. Torres is that she is very smart, personable and genuinely interested in the concerns of Roosevelt Island residents. She emphasized a commitment to openness, transparency and a desire to engage with the community in a productive dialogue. I was also impressed with Ms. Torres desire to utilize the collective wisdom and experience of community members for the betterment of Roosevelt Island.

Ms. Torres mentioned that she would like to make RIOC Board Meetings more easily accessible to the Roosevelt Island community. She suggested the possibility of conducting RIOC Board Meetings at various alternating locations on the Island. In addition to the current Good Shepherd Community Center, other possible RIOC Board meeting sites include the Octagon, Manhattan Park Community Center and in Riverwalk Building party rooms.

I suggested to her that RIOC Staff and Board Members set up a booth at the Saturday Farmers Market and take turns meeting and talking with residents who stop by. Former RIOC Director Mark Ponton originally proposed that idea several years ago.

Ms. Torres had had a good beginning on Roosevelt Island. Every resident I spoke with who has met with Ms. Torres had said it was a positive experience and are hopeful it will continue.

Below is Ms. Torres first RIOC President's column. Welcome to Roosevelt Island.
What a whirlwind my first several weeks at RIOC have been. There is so much going on. My thanks to Steven Chironis for his efforts as Acting President and the rest of the staff in keeping everything on track during the transition. And thanks to all Roosevelt Islanders for your kind welcome.

Major Projects Underway:

Tram Opening – We have been informed by the contractor that the re-opening schedule has been delayed by an additional 10 days. The north lane is scheduled to open on October 5th, and the south lane on October 16th. The stations design has been finalized and approved by the RIOC Board at its special meeting on August 4. The majority of construction work for the stations will be performed after the opening of the Tram. Construction work will be, to the best of our ability, coordinated with non-peak Tram schedules, minimizing travel disruptions.

Retail Master Lease – The Request for Proposals is nearing completion and is expected to be released before the end of this month.

FDR Memorial – Phase I construction is on schedule, and construction of phase IIA has started ahead of expectations. The first major granite delivery is expected to begin in mid-September.

Southpoint Open Space (Green Rooms Wild Gardens) – The initial opening of paths only are expected in the fall. After fall plantings, full opening is expected in Spring 2011.

Other Projects in Progress:

AVAC – The fa├žade work has been completed. Installation of new compacters is in progress.

Octagon Soccer Field – The new lighting, excavation and grading have been completed. The fields should be opened for regular use by the end of this month.

Island Security Camera System – Phase I (installation of cameras from Motorgate to 504 Main Street) is to be completed by the end of this month. Phase II (from 504 to Southpoint Park) discussions are in progress.

Motorgate Roof Waterproofing & Stairwells – The project is about 50% finished with estimated completion at the end of November.

Motorgate LED Lighting – Design and engineering are in progress for the re-lighting of Motorgate with more energy conserving fixtures.

Helix (Bridge Ramp) Engineering Investigation – As previously reported, the preliminary report from LiRo Engineering shows that the helix surface does not have serious structural damage. We are anticipating a full report shortly.

Approved Projects to be started this Fall:

Good Shepherd Plaza – Restoration of the Plaza and alleviation of drainage problems, expected to start Oct 3rd.

Good Shepherd HVAC – Full system replacement.

Projects in Design & in RFP Stages:

Good Shepherd Roof Replacement.

Blackwell House Interior Renovation and Disabled Accessible Ramp.

Recent Community Events:

Outdoor Summer Movies – Our successful series featuring movies filmed on Roosevelt Island concluded this week with the August 21’st showing of Nighthawks.

Expanded Sportspark Activities – Please see the RIOC website for expanded pool, ping-pong and basketball hours.

Bike–Sharing Demonstration August 24 – A bike sharing installation was tested by residents on Tuesday, August 24. The free demonstration, allowing bikes to be picked up and returned at solar powered stations, was sponsored by B-cycle, a company specializing in Bike Sharing installations in cities and campuses.

Soccer Night August 26, 7 P.M. – The community celebration re-opening the newly refurbished soccer field at Octagon Park, included free clinics provided by the “Red Bulls”, a major league soccer team.

Some Upcoming Events

Fall for the Arts – Annual Arts, Food and Fun Festival will be celebrated October 2nd, in Blackwell Park and Rivercross Open Space.

Hispanic Heritage Month – Will be celebrated on Sept. 18th at 2 pm on Meditation Steps. The Willie Viallegas Entre Amigos Band will perform Latin music and provide a history of its development.

From the RIOC Archives - On October 25th at Sportspark, a panel discussion co-sponsored with the Roosevelt Island Historical Society will be held, exploring some of the materials from the RIOC Archives.

A version of the RIOC President's column also appears in the August 28, 2010 Main Street WIRE.