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Friday, January 29, 2010

Roosevelt Island On The Web Links

Roosevelt Island on the Web Links as appearing in the January 30 2010 Main Street WIRE.

Roosevelt Islander - Child Hurt By Swing At Tot Lot
Roosevelt Islander - Artificial Turf For Octagon Field
Roosevelt Islander - What Happened To Grog Wine Shop
RIOC - Temporary Roosevelt Island Ferry Service Survey
RIOC - String Of Burglaries Solved
Roosevelt Island G&T Blog - Foreign Language Survey
Toastmaster International - Jim Luce and Orphans International Worldwide
NY Times - Profiles Roosevelt Island Resident Roy Eaton
Roosevelt Island Toastmasters - Membership Information
RIOC - 2009 RI Public Safety Statistics
Queens Gazette - 40th Anniversary of Roosevelt Island
Time Out NY - Before Roosevelt island Tram - Zip Line
Times Union - RIOC Board Nominees Still In Limbo
TV Squad - 24 CTU HQ On Roosevelt Island
Fox News Radio - The Ruins Of Roosevelt Island
I Roll NY - Roosevelt Island Is Skater Island
Sitter City - RI Baby Sitter Wanted
Skydiving In Stilettos - Spooky Roosevelt Island Run
Atlas In Obscura - Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital
Rick & Rickey - New Residents Discover Farmers Market
You Tube - Spencer Waits For Southpoint Gate To Open
You Tube - Spencer Explores Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital
You Tube - We Are IS 217 Song -

Welfare Island Photo Exhibit Celebrating 40 Year Anniversary Of Roosevelt Island Extended To February 14

Octagon Tower Image By Suzanne Vlamis ©

Advised by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society that:
Please note the exhibition of 32 photographs of the abandoned buildings of Welfare Island (the former name of Roosevelt island) has been extended to Saturday, February 14 at The Octagon Gallery, 888 Main Street, New York, NY. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
More information available from NY Times Spare Times:
ROOSEVELT ISLAND PHOTOGRAPHS, on view through Feb. 14. The display, “Welfare Island: A Spirit of Place Past,” features photographs taken by Suzanne Vlamis from 1969 to 1971, before large-scale development of the island; the exhibition is in celebration of the lease agreement made more than 40 years ago by New York City and New York State to develop Welfare Island, as it was known then, into a residential community...
and from earlier post Roosevelt Island Then (Welfare Island) and Now (2010).

I went to the opening, thought the exhibit was well done and would recommend it if you have any interest in seeing what Roosevelt Island was like as Welfare Island.

Traffic Disruptions In The Cards For Manhattan's Upper East Side During Roosevelt Island Tram Modernizaton Work Starting March 1


The shutdown of the Roosevelt Island Tram for it's scheduled 6 month Modernization Program starting March 1, 2010 will not only bring transportation headaches for those of us living on Roosevelt Island but will also inconvenience, to say the least, anyone who lives, works or travels near Second Avenue and 60th street in Manhattan. Earlier this month, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC) together with POMA, the project's contractor, presented their construction plans to Community Board 8.

RIOC and POMA reported that due to work on the Manhattan Tram Station

Aerial View Of Manhattan Tram Station

and two Tram Towers,

Roosevelt Island Tram Tower

there will be periodic closings of the Queensboro Bridge Upper Level

Image Of Queensboro Bridge Upper Level

and surrounding streets including 2nd Avenue and 60th Street.

Manhattan Tram Station at 2nd Avenue 60th Street

I inquired of RIOC President Steve Shane:
The presentation made before the Community Planning Board indicates closings of Queensboro Bridge Upper Level, and surrounding streets but does not indicate for what period of time they will be closed - Hours, Days, Weeks, Months etc. Does RIOC and Poma have any projections as to how long these areas will be closed and if so, what are they?
Mr Shane replies:
The final determinations of DOT as to when street closings, Queensboro Bridge ramp closings, etc. await issuance of final approvals and permits. Will advise when they are available. Applications are pending.
Mr. Shane's January 25 report to Roosevelt Island (Item 2) community added:
Tram: A. On schedule for shutdown March 1 (30 Days!!!) and reopening by September 1, 2010. The plans for crane usage, street closings (including the upper ramp of the Queensboro Bridge), permitted times, traffic control and safety precautions, all as submitted to the Departments of Buildings and Traffic have been reviewed and permits will issue at the time of shutdown.
Blogger East River Greenway reports on how this will impact the area around York Avenue:
... The RIOC plans to use Sycamore Park and parts of the old heliport ramp that now connects the East River Greenway to York Avenue and Sutton Place at 60th Street for crane storage, staging, and operation. During construction, access to the Greenway via the ramp will be restricted. The RIOC will detour cyclists to use the existing 63rd Street pedestrian bridge during the times that ramp access is restricted...
Below is the planned construction schedule for Roosevelt Island Modernization Program,


the contractors,
and Powerpoint Presentations made by RIOC and POMA to Community Board 8.

Tram Presentation Manhattan Station

TramCPB8Presentation

Community Board 8 has archived the Roosevelt Island Tram Modernization Program Powerpoint Presentations. All of the images are from the presentation to the Community Board.

UPDATE 2/28 - The construction plan schedule for the Tram Modernization has been altered slightly. Initially, RIOC and POMA planned working on the Tram Towers on the Roosevelt Island side first, which they say will be easier, in order to gain some experience prior to working on the more difficult Manhattan side towers. That has changed because RIOC was informed by NYC that the Department of Transportation is scheduled to start working May 15 in the same 59th street area on a water tunnel project. POMA will now work on the Manhattan side Towers first so that there is no conflict with DOT's projected May 15 water tunnel start date

Roosevelt Island Tram Shut Down This Morning For Mechanical Difficulties - Hopefully Fixed In 6 - 8 Hours

Roosevelt Island Tram Shutdown This Morning

Received the following notice from RIOC just before 10 A.M:
Tram is shut down due to mechanical difficulties until further notice.
I inquired of RIOC President Steve Shane of the problem and he replied:
Mechanical failure. Problem being fixed. Hope is for 6-8 hour suspension. More info later.
Tram Being Repaired

UPDATE 1:25 PM - RIOC is now reporting:
Please be advised the Tram is back in service.

RIRA President On Roosevelt Island Red Bus Routing, Tram Shutdown Transportation Problems, Next 10 Years, Robots For Kids & Adult Softball


You Tube Video of 2007 Manhattan Lego Robotics Championships

Roosevelt Island Residents Association President (RIRA) Frank Farance sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
1. Routing of Buses and Main Street in Southtown area. As reported in the prior WIRE, RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez discussed the potential rerouting at the previous RIRA meeting. This is a complex problem and RIRA's Planning Committee (Matt Katz, Chair) and Island Services Committee (Aaron Hamburger, Chair) are investigating the problems and potential solutions. More on this soon.

2. Transportation Problems with Tram Shutdown. Matt Katz, RIRA's Planning Committee Chair, has sent a letter to the MTA complaining about their ignoring our problems. I am following up with my own letter that addresses technical problems with the MTA's analysis. We are considering everything from coordinating action with other communities along the F line to filing an Article 78 on the MTA. We are concerned that once the tram shuts down, the congestion at the Roosevelt Island will be so severe that F trains will be delayed, which clogs the whole F line — not merely a delay for Roosevelt Island residents. We are working with the elected officials (Lappin, Kellner, Serrano, Stringer, Maloney) to add pressure to the MTA to resolve these concerns.

3. The Next 10 Years? The WIRE's editor Dick Lutz asks for our ideas. Transportation infrastructure and adequate RIOC financing are the Island's main concerns. Without transportation infrastructure, housing is less attractive; meanwhile RIOC's finances are overly dependent on new Southtown construction. So using the creative technique "instead trying to make it better, how do you make it worse?", I think leveling the Goldwater Hospital and building 5000 units of housing will really make things worse. Or will it? If we think about transforming Roosevelt Island to a transportation hub — a Hoboken of the East River — then we might be eligible to receive billions of transportation dollars to improve our transportation infrastructure because Roosevelt Island transportation would now provide a regional benefit, not merely a local benefit. For example, the 53 Street and 60 Street lines could be hollowed out into subway stations and connected as a transfer point; ferry service would be much more attractive with higher numbers of passengers; and an underground moving walkway, for the length of the Island, would shuttle the new passengers (just like O'Hare airport). In summary, to address our weaknesses (transportation, long-term RIOC finances), we market ourselves as a transportation hub (which betters our weaknesses). OK, this isn't a 10-year plan, but a 20-40 year plan.

4. Robots for Kids 6-13 Years Old. Last year, we had a great team of children who learned about and built robots (based upon Lego Mindstorms NXT), and they competed well in a City-wide competition. With the help of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program and the PS/IS 217 Beacon Program, we are continuing again this year with a longer/larger program. Brian Dorfmann and I are the mentors/coaches. The cost is free. We meet once a week 6:30 - 8PM at RIYP's second floor at 506 Main Street. We might expand to two days a week. Both boys and girls enjoy this, they enjoy socializing with children different than their own age, and it is a rewarding experience in many ways and at many levels. Pizza is served for kids.

5. Adult Softball. We are trying again this year to have a league. I spoken with the Riverwalk Bar and Grill about having a kick-off meeting in February. I'll have more details in my next column.

6. Upcoming RIRA meetings. The next Common Council meetings are February 3 and March 3 at 8PM in the church lower floor. Former RIRA President Steve Marcus is chairing the Public Purpose Grant committee, which is reviewing the seven applications received from RIOC. The meetings are open to the public; come to the February 3 RIRA meeting to hear Steve's status report. The next RIRA Town Hall meeting (for reviewing the RIOC Board agenda) is February 10 at 8PM in the church upper floor. These town meetings are very informative — come listen and ask your own questions.
The RIRA President's message is also published as the RIRA column in the 1/30/10 Main Street WIRE.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Report From RIOC's President - Nominees Confirmed, Tram Outage Soon, Ferry/Red Bus Options, Leash Law Enforcement & Promised Gristedes Improvements


RIOC President Steve Shane sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents including:
  • the confirmation of RIOC Board Nominees and new RIOC Chairperson,
  • February 18 Town Hall Meeting,
  • 30 Days To Tram Shutdown and start of Tram Modernization,
  • Transportation alternatives during Tram Shutdown including temporary Ferry (from Oil dock) and Red Bus Shuttle, (Octagon Developer May Subsidize temporary Ferry From their own dock)
  • Southpoint Park/FDR Memorial,
  • Various infrastructure projects including Roosevelt Island Bridge Helix Ramp and artificial surface for Octagon Playing Field,
  • Public Purpose Fund process proceeding ,
  • RIOC 2010 -11 Budget,
  • Blackwell Park,
  • Enforcement of Pet Leash Laws
  • Credit Card Usage at Motorgate
  • Public Safety radar gun speed enforcement and
  • Promised Improvements at Gristedes Supermarket
January 25, 2010

1. Board of Directors: Next meeting on February 18 at 4:30 PM, town hall style meeting to follow. The NY Senate has confirmed the nominations of Margie Smith, Dr. Grimm and Mike Shinozaki. With these confirmations, the tenures of H. Patrick Stewart and Charlee Miller are concluded. We thank the outgoing Directors for their service and welcome the new to the Board. As elsewhere previously reported, Commissioner VanAmerongen resigned as of January 15, so the Executive Deputy of DHCR, Brian Lawlor, a career executive at DHCR and well known to me, as the acting Commissioner of Housing, will be the Chair of RIOC until further notice.

2. Tram: A. On schedule for shutdown March 1 (30 Days!!!) and reopening by September 1, 2010. The plans for crane usage, street closings (including the upper ramp of the Queensboro Bridge), permitted times, traffic control and safety precautions, all as submitted to the Departments of Buildings and Traffic have been reviewed and permits will issue at the time of shutdown.
B. Shuttle bus service to Queens Plaza during morning rush hour is scheduled, starting at 7:30 AM, operating every half hour, departing from the Gristedes loop on the half hour. There will be a pickup loop around Southtown.
C. Exploration of possible ferry service during the morning rush hour continues. Our survey of Tram riders over the last week indicates both price resistance and geographical awkwardness with the half-hourly 7-10 AM 35th Street docking and a bus up 1st Avenue to 57th Street and back down 2nd Avenue. We are not in a position to alter the proposed route. The business plan requires a $4,000 per day expense to be underwritten by RIOC, offset by fare box collections. Therefore, daily breakeven is at 1333 passengers per day at $3 per ride. Our survey results (out of the average Tram ridership of 1100-1200 during 7AM-10AM rush hours, we got approximately 750 responses, about 60% of weekly ridership weighting for daily usage. Of those responding, about 50% would use the ferry if available and of those 75% would be willing to pay an extra $3 (without transfer to the Metrocard system-unfortunately, the MTA will not recognize the ferry as a participant in the Metrocard system and this negative is the most common recurring comment from the survey). So, applying the response percentages to the entire user population (1150 x 50% x 75% x $3, a highly suspect assumption) would leave RIOC, for the anticipated Tram outage of 130 week days, with an approximate $350,000 subsidy. The Board will have to consider whether this expense is warranted. Meanwhile, the Octagon Developer is talking about underwriting the service from the existing dock at the Octagon. Stay tuned.

3. Southpoint-FDR Memorial: Legal work on NYC Funding and Development agreements continues with the FERI attorneys carrying the load. Construction will start in the Spring, after execution of final documents by the City, RIOC and the Developer. State Parks has rescheduled the meeting to determine methodology for future maintenance for January 29. A $2 million endowment was received by State Parks. The Governor’s Budget contains the re-appropriation of $4 Million of State funds.
Projects: A. The contract for engineering study of the status of the helix leading to the Island from the Bridge is let and work underway. B. Octagon Soccer Field resurfacing: Approved by the Board on January 14th, contract execution and commencement of work are imminent.
C. AVAC, Sportspark, fiber optic cabling, Good Shepherd HVAC, Octagon sewer, street lighting, tot lot improvements, etc. all keep engineering very busy.

4. Public Purpose Fund: Seven (7) applications for the 2010/11 cycle were submitted. Completed applications were delivered to RIRA for review and recommendation to the Board in time for consideration at the March meeting.

5. Budget: The proposed 2010/11 Budget has been published and posted on RIOC’s web site for public review and comment before formal presentation to the Board for adoption, as it may be amended, at the March meeting. RIRA and other interested parties are welcome to review, comment and raise questions as part of the process. We have tried to set forth the detail of the assumptions that are part of the exercise and have made the projections for 15 years, subject to the inevitable infirmities of far off estimates. Both operating and capital budgets have been set forth.

6. Blackwell Park: Community participation in the planning process is seemingly on track. Complaints about dog walkers not properly cleaning up after their pets have been made. There will be increased enforcement of the leash laws, including the obvious clean up responsibility to everyone’s neighbors.

7. Credit cards use at Motorgate: As soon as the mechanics of establishing a local bank account and entering into a credit card processing agreement are accomplished, transient parkers will be able to use credit cards to pay the parking charges at Motorgate. Estimated to be 2-3 weeks or mid February.

8. Gristedes: We met on site with John Catsimatidis, the owner, and his staff to discuss operations of the store. An open letter to Island residents is published in this edition of the WIRE. If they come through with their promises, should be a benefit for everyone.

9. Public Safety: With the certification for radar use and the acquisition of hand held units, PSD will be more rigorously enforcing the speed limits on the Island. The first week was conducted with warnings. Special attention is being given to shift changes at the hospitals. Starting the week of January 25, summons will be issued. With greater public awareness, the streets should be safer. Pleased to report PSD’s participation in apprehension of a perpetrator allegedly responsible for a rash of thefts in Motorgate. According to NYPD, Roosevelt Island crime statistics show a drop of 18% in reported crimes. I believe kudos are in order for PSD. Similarly with respect to the efforts put into improving community relations.
This message was also published as the RIOC column in the 1/30/10 Main Street WIRE.

Where Did The Good Bread Come From At Last Week's Roosevelt Island Farmers Market? - Answer Pain D'Avignon

Image of Pain D'Avignon Bread From Daily News

A reader asks:
I wanted to know if you had any information on where the RI Marlins got the bread that they were selling last weekend at the farmers market, it was really good quality and affordable, I wish they were out there every week.
It turns out that the bread was donated by a Roosevelt Island resident who own a bakery and has previously tried to open one on Roosevelt Island but was rebuffed. The Roosevelt Island Marlins provide some details:
The bread was donated from the dad of two swimmers.
He is co-owner of the Pain d'Avignon, and lives on island.
before he was interested to open one bakery on RI, but.... RIOC...they rather have all stores empty, than...
It was affordable because he donated it.
Quality is really good - he sells same bread at Zabar's, Grand central...
From time to time we will ask him to donate, and to support Marlins this way.

Last Saturday it was Marlin's swimmers support for Haiti:)
UPDATE - 12:18 PM - Received the following comment from RIOC President Steve Shane:
"but.... RIOC...they rather have all stores empty, than..."

Really. Do you pay no attention or is it just easy for you to twit? Is that a serious comment or knowing what you do or should know about the hurdles of the PAAA, even as amended by the recent reform act, would you care to restate? No one would prefer to fill all the commercial spaces than RIOC. How sophomoric of you to suggest otherwise.
I replied:
The comment "but.... RIOC...they rather have all stores empty, than..." was not mine but made by the representative of the RI Marlins. I merely published it in post but it certainly represents the thinking of many residents of Roosevelt Island. I have written a great deal in the past about the problems of the Public Authorities Act on Roosevelt Islander Blog and did not think it was necessary to repeat that in this post because it was primarily about the 'bread". Anyone could easily click on the "Retail" label at the bottom to read more about Roosevelt Island's retail store issues if they wish and learn about the Public Authorities Act.

Also, whether or not the Public Authorities Act impeded RIOC from renting out the long time vacant Main Street retail stores in the past is certainly a debatable issue. We know that you take that position but others, also knowledgeable on subject, have a different view and have expressed the opinion that RIOC could have rented out these stores nothwithstanding the provisions of the Public Authorities Act.

But that is in the past. Hopefully RIOC will follow through on the Master Leaseholder plan and RIOC will be out of the Real Estate Retail Management business or, if not, the amended Public Authorities Act will remove any impediments you see in renting out the space.

By the way - I wasn't twitting but was blogging. Twitting is easy, blogging not.
Mr. Shane responds:
Thank you for the explanation.
The "twit" reference was not to the colloquially popular form of
communication, but rather to the act itself. See:

–verb (used with object) 1. to taunt, tease, ridicule, etc., with
reference to anything embarrassing; gibe at.
2. to reproach or upbraid.

–noun 3. an act of twitting.
4. a derisive reproach; taunt; gibe.

Unicycle Tour To Roosevelt Island Update - And Some Tricks Too



You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Unicycle Tricks

An update to yesterday's post on Roosevelt Island Unicycle Tour. Starting from Brooklyn, the Unicyclist's rode the 5 miles to the Roosevelt Island Bridge. From there, according to Unicycle NYC Tour Bridge bloggers:
...There was a large construction site set up at Roosevelt Island bridge. To the right of the entrance was a radar controlled 'your speed it' sign. Time trials soon began. Kyle Petersen had the fastest time at 11MPH - pretty impressive on a 20"! We crossed the bridge and took the circular ramp down onto the island. We pedaled along Main Street to the subway station where I my sculpture sits. I asked the attendant if we could take our picture in front of the sculpture, but he wouldn't let us into the station. I wasn't able get a hold of his supervisor, so we took the picture on the outside of the station looking in through the glass. There we met a friendly gentleman who was impressed Keith was familiar with The King Charles Troupe. We headed over to the east channel to take some better pictures of the Roosevelt Island bridge and to perform some tricks for kids who had cut school...
Below is the route they took from Williamsburg through Greenpoint and Long Island City to Roosevelt Island. Click on map image for enlarged view.


I've done this route several times, but on foot, not unicycle.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Nighttime Entertainment Comes To Roosevelt Island - Wii Bowling, Trivia, Karaoke and Ladies Night At Riverwalk Bar & Grill - WOW!

Click On Riverwalk Bar & Grill Image To Enlarge

More night life comes to Roosevelt Island. The good folks over at Roosevelt Island's Riverwalk Bar & Grill have come up with a series of Weekly events including Monday Night Wii Bowling, Tuesday Night Trivia, Wednesday Night Karaoke and Ladies Night on Thursday.

A fun and nice crowd showed up for Monday Night Wii Bowling

Last night was Trivia Night hosted by Trivia Tryst. Roosevelt Island's first Trivia Night was won by the dynamic Crazy 8's team celebrating below.

Crazy 8's Celebrating Their Roosevelt Island Trivia Win

Crazy 8's happens to be composed of two Roosevelt Island bloggers, Urban Newlyweds and Evina Scott. Why not give them a look?

Tonight at 8 PM is Karaoke - Can it get any better than this?

UPDATE 4:40 PM - A happy Roosevelt Island Trivia Player adds:
... I also saw that you covered Riverwalk's trivia last night. We were there (the Guild of Calamitous Intent), but fell from 2nd place to 9th. Eek. We're definitely going to be back next week, though. It was a blast!..

Male Attempted To Entice PS/IS 217 Students Into Car Reports Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department - Tell Your Kids To Be Careful!

Image of Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 Front Door From Tim Melideo Photography

Students and parents of Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 should be aware of the following report received today from the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department.
1/26/10-7:00 AM to 1/27/10-7:00 AM

Investigation-Two youth reported an adult male followed youths the went to his vehicle and gestured youth to enter vehicle. Youths went to school and made the report. PSD responded and conducted a search with negative results. PSD to monitor the area. NYPD to be notified.
Remember that last December there was a report of an unknown male taking pictures of kids in front of the school. If you or your child sees something strange, report it to Public Safety.

UPDATE 2 PM - Correction, the students were from Roosevelt Island's Child School and not PS/IS 217. Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Keith Guerra adds:
On Tuesday, 1/26/10, at approximately 9:12AM, 2 male youths (both age 13), were crossing the street at 566 Main St when they were approached by a black male who was driving an old Green Chevy 2 door muscle car that had a rusty bumper. He stopped his vehicle in the crosswalk and asked the youths if they were from that school (referring to the Child Legacy School). Youths advised male that they were, and they continued on to school. The black male then got out of his car in front of 579 Main St. and followed about 7 steps behind youths as they entered to school door.

[The male was black, bald headed, heavyset and wearing all black clothing.]

The male went back to his car gesturing for the youths to get in the car. Youths went into the school and notified the Athletic Director, Victor Perruclot, who contacted Public Safety. The reporter stated that he would also notify NYPD. Youth Officer Williams, Sgt Azular, and SPO's Lindsey and Williams all responded. A search of the Island was conducted for the male and/or the vehicle with negative results.

On 1/27/10, Sgt. Rivera assigned SPO Cohen to the 580 crosswalk in case the male came back, but there was no sign of him or the vehicle reported at this time. Y.O. Williams was also sent to the school to do a follow up on the incident. Nothing further at this time.

Unicycle Trip From Brooklyn to Roosevelt Island


You Tube Video of Unicycle on 145th Street Bridge

If you are on Roosevelt Island this morning don't be surprised if you see a contingent of people riding Unicycles on Roosevelt Island. According to Unicycle NYC Bridge Tour blog:
Our next ride will be Wednesday morning January 27. We will be crossing the Roosevelt Island Bridge to complete our East River section of the tour. The roundtrip ride from Brooklyn will be 10+ miles....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Elected Nominees To The Roosevelt Island Board Of Directors Approved By NY State Senate - They Are Now Members Of RIOC Board

Image of Breaking News From Media Bistro

BREAKING NEWS - THIS JUST IN!!!!!! ( I really like saying that).

The New York State Senate this afternoon confirmed the nominations of Margie Smith, Michael Shinozaki and Doctor Katherine Grimm to the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors. I Received this message from NY State Senator Jose Serrano's office:
... the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation's (RIOC) board of director nominations have been considered and approved by the New York State Senate.
As you know, the nominations first passed through the Corporations Committee Chaired by Senator Bill Perkins on January 20th, 2010. Today, the nominations were considered and approved by the Senate's Finance Committee Chaired by Senator Carl Kruger.

Being only a few weeks into the 2010 Legislative Season, it is difficult to have items pass through the various committee's let a lone make it to the floor of the Senate.

Thanks to the efforts of Senator Serrano to break the senate nomination log jam regarding these appointments, these RIOC Board Nominations were some of a very small number of nominations that were considered and approved by the Senate's Finance Committee, and then sent to the Senate floor the same day for a vote.

This means that the RIOC Board of Directors can now operate with the members who were appointed this past summer.
These members include:‪
-Katherine Grimm
-Michael Shinozaki
-Margaret Smith‬
Congratulations to the new board members.
Senator Serrano and I look forward to working with you in the coming months...
Upon learning of her appointment, Ms. Smith writes:
I’m extremely happy that the Senate has approved our nominations. I believe that the RIOC Board, as it is now constituted, will be much more responsive to the needs of the community. What we need now is to be sure that everyone’s voice is heard. I’m anxious to get started working on an outreach program that will provide a quick, simple way for the Board members to get feedback from the community.
Congratulations to the new elected and confirmed Roosevelt Island Board of Directors. More on this later.

UPDATE 1/27 - Assembly Member Micah Kellner adds:
I am proud to congratulate Margie Smith and Michael Shinozaki on their long-awaited confirmation by the State Senate to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Board of Directors, as well as Dr. Kathie Grimm on the confirmation of her re-nomination.
Margie, Michael, and Kathie are three of Roosevelt Island’s most talented and dedicated community leaders, and they will be key contributors to a Board that has steadily grown more representative of the island it serves.
I have been a consistent advocate for democratizing the RIOC Board, and these confirmations mark another important step forward in that process. I sponsor a bill (A.3953/S.1394) with Senator Jose Serrano, which would reconstitute the RIOC Board so that it is elected rather than appointed. And in 2008, I secured funds for ballot machines so that the Roosevelt Island Residents Association could run their balloting. In that historic election islanders chose Dr. Grimm, along with five other nominees, to represent them on the Board. Margie and Michael were elected last May, in another successful ballot with excellent turnout.
The island’s voters have chosen supremely qualified individuals with a proven commitment to serving their community. It goes to show that democracy really does work: when people are given the opportunity to participate in the governing of their own communities, they take their civic responsibility seriously. RIOC is better off for it, and so are the residents of Roosevelt Island.
Unfortunately, the Governor has not always respected the will of Roosevelt Island’s voters, as when he failed to officially nominate two of the winners of the 2008 election. I wrote to the Governor at that time urging the confirmation of all six nominees and I continue to press him to do the right thing. (You can find my May, 2008 letter in the Publications section of this blog.) Islanders deserve nothing less than full democratization of the RIOC Board.

$4 Million Dollars In Federal Stimulus Funds For Roosevelt Island - Not For Infrastructure Improvements But Rental Subsidies To Manhattan Park



I was looking through the Recovery.gov web site looking to see if any Roosevelt Island infrastructure projects have received Federal Stimulus/Recovery funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

There were no infrastructure project awards for Roosevelt Island. However, Roosevelt Island Associates (Manhattan Park) was awarded more than $4 Million in Federal Stimulus Money for what is described as rental assistance payments through HUD. Under the category of Projects and Jobs Information, the Award Summary states:

Jobs Created 58.00 and
No new jobs created; retention of administrative management and maintenance staff
I inquired of Congresswomen Maloney's office if she had any comment on this matter and was told by a member of her office that she was aware of this award for Section 8 Housing Vouchers, voted for it but did not apply for it. When I asked whether this was the most appropriate use of spending Federal Stimulus Funds on Roosevelt Island her staff member asked me if I had anything against Section 8 housing. I responded that I did not but thought there were plenty of infrastructure improvements that could be made here on Roosevelt Island which could create some new jobs.

I asked RIOC President Steve Shane to comment and he replied:
No comment on Federal Government's characterization of money for Manhattan Park. I don't know what it's for.

No other stimulus money received for RI as far as I know.
More information on how the Stimulus funds are being used is available from NY State, NYC City and from Pro Publica, an independent watch dog group following the money trail.

When Is Roosevelt Island At It's Most Beautiful Asks A New Resident?

Image of Roosevelt Island Cherry Tree From RIHS

When is Roosevelt Island at its most beautiful? That's a question asked by a new resident so she can show off Roosevelt Island to her dad.
I have only been living on Roosevelt Island since September, but I did visit once last spring when the Magnolia trees were in bloom. Now, my dad wants to take a trip to the city, but he wants to come when Roosevelt Island will be at its most beautiful. (Thinking about spring plans on a rainy day like this is kinda fun.) Would you happen to know the best time to see the flowers in bloom? I saw that last April you posted about the Magnolia walk, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.
Any thoughts?

Image of Roosevelt Island Magnolia Tree from RIHS

Update - 2:45 PM - Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy tells us when the Roosevelt Island blossoms bloom:
Magnolia First 2 weeks in April
Cherry Last week in April and first week in May

Monday, January 25, 2010

Roosevelt Island's NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin Now Chairs Council's Aging Committee

Image From Jessica Lappin

Received this message from Council Member Jessica Lappin who represents Roosevelt Island as well as portions of Manhattan's East Side in the New York City Council:
Today, I was elected by my colleagues to chair the City Council’s Aging Committee. I am honored and excited to have this opportunity to work directly with the fastest-growing population in New York City.

Over the next 25 years, the number of New Yorkers over the age of 65 is expected to increase by nearly 50%. Planning for that change is an exciting challenge and it presents us with great opportunities to redefine how we serve our seniors.

Today’s older New Yorkers are a dynamic and vibrant group. We want them to stay that way and to remain healthy and here in the five boroughs. That means finding ways to connect them to their communities and making our communities more accessible and livable.
As Chair of the Aging Committee, I will work to make this a more age-friendly city by promoting innovations in health care, housing, and transportation. I will focus on keeping people healthy, in their homes, and moving around the city with ease. We must also find ways to engage older New Yorkers who want to offer their expertise as volunteers, work part-time, or start second careers.

In the short term, we are facing some very troubling challenges. Nearly 20% of New York's elderly live in poverty – double the national average. Even in tough times, we have to protect vital senior services and provide for those who are most vulnerable. We have an obligation to care for those most at risk.

Our city’s seniors built the city up in the postwar boom and stuck with it during its darkest periods. They have given so much to sustain New York and I’m eager to find ways that the city can give back to them and help sustain them now and in the future. I look forward to working with advocates, the Administration, and all New Yorkers to that end.
UPDATE - 3:55 PM - Regarding Roosevelt Island Seniors, Ms. Lappin says:
Roosevelt Island’s seniors should know that I’ll be fighting for them and the services they depend on. I’ve been doing that since I was first elected and now I have a better platform to keep on fighting. I’ll be working for better, easier-to-use transportation and making sure our housing stays affordable so seniors can stay in our city. These are needs throughout the city, but nowhere more so than on Roosevelt Island.
As to other NYC Council assignments, John Moore of Ms. Lappin's office reports:
She won’t be chairing the landmarks subcommittee anymore – that duty has been passed on to Council Member Lander. However, in addition to chairing the Aging Committee, Jessica will also serve on the Education; Transportation; Land Use; and Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup relations Committees as well as the subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises.
UPDATE - 11:15 PM - Blogger Queens Crapper lists 2010 NYC Council Committee assignments for entire Council.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Roosevelt Island AVAC Garbage System Out Of Service For Some Building On Friday And Saturday - Something Was Stuck But Fixed Now

Image Of Building Garbage Chute Connected To Roosevelt Island AVAC System

Some Roosevelt Island residents, including me, had problems getting rid of their garbage on Friday and Saturday due to all of the garbage chutes in their buildings being closed. I inquired of RIOC President Steve Shane and VP of Operations Fernando Martinez:
The garbage chutes on each floor in my building have been shut down since last Friday and am told that it is because of a problem with the Roosevelt Island AVAC garbage system. Something is stuck.

Can you provide any additional details as to what the problem is and when it is expected to be fixed.
Image of Roosevelt Island AVAC from Roosevelt Island 360

Both Mr. Shane and Mr. Martinez responded quickly that they would look into the situation. Several minutes later Mr. Martinez replied:
Apparently, there is garbage stuck in the pipe line. The AVAC crew is working on it right now and should have it up and running by today. All of the buildings on the East side of RI are affected: Eastwood and South Town Buildings.

I will let you know as soon as it is back in operation
At 9:46 PM, Mr. Shane forwarded the following:
Subject: blockage in the east side AVAC pipe & Southtown

East side AVAC system has been cleared, problem has been resolved all buildings may resume normal usage at this time.
Good job by RIOC in promptly resolving this problem.

The New Yorker explains how Roosevelt Island AVAC system works:
The Avac is New York’s only pneumatic garbage-collection system. Designed in the late nineteen-sixties to service Roosevelt Island’s housing developments, the system runs under all the island’s high-rises. When people throw their garbage down the trash chutes, it piles up for several hours, until a trapdoor opens, sucking the waste into a big underground pipe. Then a complex system of air valves propels the garbage through the pipe at speeds of up to sixty miles per hour. When the trash resurfaces at the Avac center, a squat building at the northern tip of the island, it is dumped into two silo-shaped cyclones, where it is spun like cotton candy and then whooshed down chutes into huge containers...

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