Friday, March 11, 2011

Report From RIOC President Leslie Torres - Commercial Revitalization, Engineering Projects For Motorgate, AVAC, Blackwell House & Southpoint Park But No Comment On RIOC's Performance Last Sunday

Image of Motorgate Garaage and AVAC Facility From LTV Squad

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Lesie Torres sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
Roosevelt Island is a unique neighborhood not just because of its great location, amazing views, vast park land, and use of an aerial tram for mass transit, but also because of its unique structure of being a State entity in the middle of New York City’s five boroughs.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (or RIOC), was created to develop, manage and maintain the Island for its residents, businesses and visitors.  We at RIOC work every day to make sure the Island is clean and safe, that the roadways, parks, and sports facilities are well-maintained, and that people can travel easily around and to and from the island.

We also work to ensure that residents have the amenities they need to comfortably live on beautiful Roosevelt Island.  To that end, I have been working for the past few months on commercial revitalization plan to bring in new businesses to the island.  We are now in the final phases of discussion with the firm selected to help us attract new businesses, and I hope to be able to provide you with more information about our plans in the near future.

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about what the RIOC Engineering Department, led by the very capable Alex Snedkov, is responsible for, and give you an update on their projects.

Alex and his Project Management and Maintenance team are responsible for maintenance and repairs of roadways island wide, street lighting, storm drainage, all installations in the parks and sport fields, and upkeep of the building systems in RIOC owned facilities. It’s a lot of work for a small staff to manage, but they have been working hard and doing a great job.

In addition to the ongoing maintenance work, the Engineering Department is also responsible for capital improvement projects on the Island.  At the moment, they are working on:

1.       Restoration of the Good Shepherd Chapel:  The Engineering Department is currently finishing upgrade of the HVAC system (which will provide heating, cooling and ventilation of the chapel), and the restoration of the lower level floor.  The installation of the Fire Alarm and overall painting are being planned and should start by the summer of 2011. The exterior improvements of the chapel include the plaza restoration project, starting this Spring, and the chapel roof replacement and exterior wall repairs, which will follow. If you are interested in more information about the Plaza restoration project, RIOC is hosting a community meeting on March 24, at 7pm in the community room of the Chapel to discuss all of the Good Shepherd Chapel projects.

2.       Motorgate Garage:  The Engineering Department has been working on structural restoration and water proofing, storm drainage replacement, and an upgrade of the stairs, including the replacement of doors and painting. Over the next few months they will start the electrical upgrade project which will include the replacement of all interior lighting at Motorgate.

3.       AVAC Building:  As you know, Roosevelt Island has one of the few AVAC systems in the country, and the great upshot of using vacuum tubes to remove residential garbage from buildings is that we greatly reduce the number of huge, dirty sanitation trucks rumbling down our quiet streets to remove waste (some still come by to remove commercial and street waste).  The Engineering Department is charged with major repairs of the AVAC system, and is now in the process of replacing the second of two compactors so that the system continues to work efficiently.

4.       Blackwell House:  As you may know, Blackwell House is one of 6 landmarks on the Island (if you’re looking for information about the other five or other interesting things to see, check out our self-guided tour map at   Thanks in part to a grant from New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the 215-year-old building’s interior  will be renovated. The building’s renovation is now being designed under the supervision of the Engineering Department. Construction will begin later this year.

5.       Southpoint Park:  The 17-acre park, slated for opening in mid-summer, will add to our already vast amount of park land.  The Engineering Department is managing this construction and will be responsible for the park upkeep after the park opens.

I can’t wait for the reopening of Blackwell House and the opening of Southpoint Park.  Both places are going to provide us with even better space to host events and celebrations for residents, like the Grandparents Day and Black History Month events we held in February.  Both of these events were well attended – with Grandparents Day drawing over 150 local community members and the Black History Month party attracting 100 residents  - and greatly enjoyed.  You can see pictures on our Facebook page at RIOCNY (and please “Like” us to stay connected).  Coming up, don’t miss our Spring Egg Hunt and Health and Fitness Day.  We’ll have more information about these and other events posted on our Facebook page and website.

Until next time,

Leslie Torres
Ms. Torres and RIOC still have not commented publicly on RIOC's handling of events and Roosevelt Island emergency protocols following Sunday's incident.

A version of the RIOC President's column also appears on RIOC's web site and the March 12, 2011 Main Street WIRE.  


Anonymous said...

SouthPoint Park's opening has been pushed to mid-summer, with no explanation as why the delay from the original spring opening that was announced months ago?

SML said...

Once again, nothing about the empty storefronts. No surprise there.

Anonymous said...

To SML (4:45PM poster above): To be fair, Ms. Torres does mention the "commercial revitalization plan" in the 3rd paragraph, a reference to the Main Street storefronts.

Anonymous said...

Projects are always delayed by the contractors - SEE ROOSEVELT ISLAND BRIDGE. At least the new President is keeping us updated. Some of you are never satisfied.

SML said...

Ah yes, my oversight. Thank you, 4:55p.m. Some detail would be nice, though. I hope that the new stores will not cater only to the low end. When the first residents moved in, we had a lovely branch of Bigelow's pharmacy. The population was too small to support the store and when it closed the pharmacy piece of it went to Gristede's. Our population is larger now, and I am sure that, judging by the numbers of people exiting the subway carrying shopping bags from Whole Foods, Citarella and other high-end food vendors, that we could support a small store offering higher end food than is now offered by any of our existing businesses.

Anonymous said...

To SML --
"...the LOW END" ? What is wrong with you ? What an awful thing to write.

Old-timers and newcomers alike have been waiting forever for RIOC and DHCR to get moving on revitalizing the heart of Main Street, which has always served ALL members of this community -- the folks who live here, the folks who work here and the folks who visit.

That we are still waiting for a bakery / ice cream shop, pizza place, a few more specialty stores etc is a sad commentary on RIOC, its board, the other developers on the Island, DHCR and the governor.

That Ms. Torres cannot get the job done is just the same old story, different day.

But for you to write something so derogatory about a "low end" shows a lack of understanding of who lives here, who shops here and who contributes to the well being of the Island.

GJV said...

In the 2/25/2011 report, Ms. Torres clearly states "We will manage to make final investments and open up Southpoint Park in the spring". Two weeks later (in the 3/11/2011 report), she casually slips in the phrase "slated for opening in mid-summer" in reference to Southpoint Park. It would have been appropriate for Ms. Torres to explain the delay, not just simply restate a new projected time frame. Delays are understandable; not keeping RI residents adequately informed is a disservice to the community.

Anonymous said...

And just because you happen to live here you are entitled to know every single detail about what's going on, right? Not sure it works that way.

GJV said...

To 4:03PM poster above: I happen to care about access to Southpoint Park. I'm certain that if the tram were scheduled to re-open in spring, and RIOC just slipped in a quick statement that the tram would be re-opening mid-summer with absolutely no explanation, the entire community would be in an uproar. I don't think I'm asking for much when wanting some detail as to why the schedule for Southpoint Park slipped by 5+ months when just two weeks ago RIOC stated that the park would be re-opening in spring. I don't want every single detail; rather, a sentence or two on the reason(s) for the delay would have sufficed.

SML said...

People seem to forget that Roosevelt Island was planned as MIXED-income community. I wouldn't want all the stores to cater to the high end either; this isn't Madison Avenue. Why is it so terrible to acknowledge that there is a range of income levels and tastes on the island, but in recent years, only one segment has been served? Oh, yes. There is the Japanese restaurant -- and I am grateful.

Anonymous said...

As for the park, or any other project, the contractors always take longer to finish their jobs. It's how they stay in business. They don't even have to charge more for the job - they just need to keep the workers working. It's not RIOC's fault. It happens everywhere. It's just that here, people complain !!!