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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Roosevelt Island Food Vans, Finances, Motorgate Parking, Access To Information Among Items Discussed During RIOC Board Public Session Last Night - Child School Director Reports On Student's Gun Threat This Week

The Public Session that is held before the start of every Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Of Directors meeting was very interesting last night. Here's what happened.

Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) President Judy Berdy thanked RIOC and it's engineering department for restoring and opening to the public once again most of Good Shepherd Plaza and urging that the Good Shepherd Roof be replaced with a slate roof.


You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 1)

Nonno's Focacceria and Riverwalk Bar & Grill owner Alphonse DiCioccio then expressed objections to mobile food vendors, such as the recent Luke's Lobster and the Domino's Pizza car at the Farmers Market, being allowed to sell food on Roosevelt Island asserting that it was unfair to existing store owners who pay rent. This issue will be addressed at the next Real Estate Committee meeting to be held in a few weeks.


You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 2)

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance followed and asked these question concerning RIOC's finances which he has written about at these previous posts.


You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 3)

Mr. Farance's written text follows:
December 14, 2011

Good Evening Mr. Chairman, Board Members, Madam President, and Staff

I am very concerned about RIOC's finances.  At present it appears that RIOC owes approximately one billion dollars in debt and liability.  Board Member Mr. Polivy, as Audit Committee Chair, has stated that RIOC does not plan on paying this down, and Mr. Polivy rationalizes why this debt/liability should not be on RIOC audited financials.

This really doesn't seem right.  There will be 20 billion dollars owed in 2068.  However, this can affect current residents now because of uncertainty about RIOC's paying back the money owed.

I've asked several questions, I will ask them again.

(1) When your Board Chairman and CEO signs a document on behalf of the Corporation that enshrines certain amounts owed as debt/liability, a defined interest rate, a schedule of payback priorities, and a method of payment, how does that signing transaction NOT show up on your audited financials?

(2) What policies does the board have for choosing which debts and liabilities show up (or not) on audited financials?

(3) What other RIOC debts and liabilities are not listed in RIOC's audited financials?

(4) Mr. Polivy states "When deducting all capital expenditures there are no expected excess funds to be shared through to 2068".  Based upon the that statement, it is fair to say that, although the RAA1988 identified several priorities in revenue allocation and a UDC Account for depositing these revenues, it is the RIOC Board's position that it has no intent to pay back this debt/liability, right?

(5) Mr. Polivy states "RIOC's annual budget and financial statements properly restrict themselves to its own direct receipts, expenses, assets, and liabilities", but this RIOC debt/liability and revenue allocation, were signed by RIOC's Board Chairman and CEO.  Under which financial documents would we expect to find this RIOC debt/liability if not its audited financials?

(6) Mr. Polivy states "So, bottom line, there’s no big groundswell of debt piling up ready to swallow up the Island".  I've cited the provisions that point to the continued growth with interest.  Considering that the RIOC Board does not intend to make payments towards these debts/liabilities through 2068, yet there is a well-defined interest rate on the unpaid debt/liabilities, I ask: Can you point to a provision in the document that stops the accrual of interest on the debt/liability?  (Without citing that provision, the debt will be piling up, i.e., about $20 billion by 2068.)

(7) Can you state, in writing, that Roosevelt Island residents (now and in the future) will never be responsible for paying directly/indirectly on this debt/liability?  If RIOC can assure us this will never affect us (in higher ground leases, rents, transfer fees, profit sharing, flip taxes, PILOT/tax payments, assessments, etc.), then it should stay so.  I'm guessing that RIOC cannot assert that we will never have to pay for this debt/liability.
RIOC Chair Darryl Towns responded to Mr. Farance that RIOC CFO Steve Chironis will look over the questions and get back to Mr. Farance with answers. Later in the RIOC Board Meeting during the Audit Committee Report, RIOC Director Howard Polivy also indicated that Mr. Farance's questions would be answered.

RIRA President Matt Katz spoke about the saving of the Roosevelt Island Post Office, RIRA sponsored RIOC Board of Directors Nominee elections and improving communications between the RIOC Board members and the community.


You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part4)

Roosevelt Island resident Trevre Andrews spoke about the Motorgate Garage, Motorcycle Parking, Public Access To RIOC Information, Mobile Food Vans and appreciation for good things RIOC does.


You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 5)

Mr. Andrews provided these notes of his remarks:
I would like RIOC to seriously consider the following comments about their operations:

I am advocating for a more open information policy.  While I believe RIOC has made strides is providing data I believe more could be done including:

-The regular release of red bus and tram ridership data
-the regular release of detailed psd data

While I don't fully understand the interaction of RIOC and the motorgate operators it seems RIOC has some leverage of its operations.  The following problems exist at motorgate:

-restriping of the garage is controversial and does not improve the facility
-pricing of the garage is not optimizing the usage of space at motorgate, particularly motorcycle and short term parking.
-there are significant amounts of underutilized curb space at the island which could be used by motorcycles with little effort.

Many residents are concerned with the impact the Hudson lease will have on the farmers market and the ability of food carts to operate on the island.  We are also unhappy with the pace at which storefronts are being filled.  The agreed upon schedule was embarrassing and RIOC should apply pressure to speed up the schedule.

The recent handling of the food cart visiting the island was unacceptable.

There are still bicycle signs up indicating no overnight parking.

The implementation of the smart parking has been to slow and to expensive with little benefit.

What is the status of compensation for the tram construction delays?
Also, Brice Peyre from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's office spoke about the Roosevelt Island Post Office being saved from closing though I do not have video of that.

During the RIOC Board Meeting, RIOC Director and Child School Executive Director Sal Ferrara described some of the events that occurred last Tuesday involving the massive NYPD and Public Safety Department response to the possibility that a Child School student possessed a gun and threatened to use it.


You Tube Video Of RIOC/Child School Director Responding to Gun Threat Incident

Following the RIOC Board meeting, Mr. Ferarra explicitly denied that the student had a gun while on Roosevelt Island before his arrest by NYPD.

The December RIOC Board meeting itself was mostly taken up with approving the 2012 -13 Budget, contracts  for gasoline and oil, a RIOC Mission Statement, dates for future Board Meetings, Z Brick purchase allocations and a resolution facilitating 1/2 million dollar Federal Government Funding to the FDR Four Freedoms Park.

A web cast of the RIOC Board meeting will be available within a few days after the meeting.

You can sign up to speak at the next RIOC Board Meeting Public Session here.

18 comments :

YetAnotherRIer said...

Of course the owner of the Riverwalk Grill would not appreciate competition that can put out better product for less money. How about improving the food and service so that a food truck would not be able to steal significant business from him? Last I checked, we do have a free market in this country and it thrives on competition.

Tram_Rider said...

A reliable source told me that two adults saw the student on the street and that the student had a gun.

Of course, Ferrera said there was no gun, so as not to alarm the residents.

Perhaps some of the students admitted under Ferrera's leadership have serious behavioral and social issues, in addition to learning issues. In his eagerness to achieve full enrollment, Ferrera may have lowered the bar.

theohiostate said...

I can agree with you, but the Food Vendor's should also pay some kind of rent or permit fee.  They shouldn't get to sell here for free.  If that happens, our local businesses - the few that we have - will close, and we will have nothing.

roozevelt said...

Whether the student actually had a gun or not, our PSD is an unarmed force.  That's the bigger issue here.  They should be armed to better protect us from people (like this student) who may actually be looking to seriously hurt or kill someone here on the Island.

concerned said...

I totally agree with roozevelt. This is a major issue. Not only does psd need protection, as this is nyc afterall, but we need it too.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Of course they pay for a permit. Plus they pay indirectly through taxes that are incurred by using a truck. Plus, selling from a truck offers you a lot less opportunities to make up business through additional services.

RooseveltIslander said...

The Big Issue is did the student have a gun prior to his arrest and if he did why is that not being made public?

There are conflicting stories whether the student had a gun. Child School denies student had a gun, RIOC refuses to comment and there have been several reports of the student being seen with a gun.

I have contacted 114  precinct and am hoping NYPD will settle the matter.

Public Safety could make available info they have from security video cameras on Main Street or elsewhere that might provide the answer to whether the student had a gun on Roosevelt Island or not.

RooseveltIslander said...

The Mobile Food vans should be allowed on Roosevelt Island under the same circumstances and permits that exist in any other NYC neighborhood.

The more food choices Roosevelt Island residents have the better. If residents decide to spend their money at food vans rather than existing restaurants, the answer is for the restaurants to improve their offerings, not work to ban the mobile food vendors.

Frank Farance said...

On one hand Mr. DiCioccio invites competition (with Trellis and China
1), and on the other hand he shuns it (with mobile food vendors).  From
the perspective of the residents, we're eating food, whether it's
sit-down, take-out, or stand-up, and we want the best food and best
prices.  Having competition with mobile food vendors is a Good Thing. 
Simply, I want the same rules on Roosevlet Island that I would have
across the bridge in Astoria or Long Island City.



I've heard there is an old 1950's DOT regulation "vendor, hawker or
huckster shall park a vehicle at a metered parking space" to offer
"merchandise for sale from the vehicle".  Maybe that exempts roving
Mister Softee, Good Humor, and chrome lunch trucks because they don't park, they merely
stop/stand.



While RIOC might not have the authority to stop mobile food vendors from
doing what they do, RIOC might be able to provide a limited number of
spaces ("6 Hour Parking, Licensed Mobile Food Vendors ONLY", i.e., a
non-metered spot), which would help control the location and
(indirectly) the number of trucks.



The NY Times article "Outlaws Make Better Lunches" captures both sides of Mr. DiCioccio's argument: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/15/opinion/15zachbrooks.html

danitam said...

I'm afraid that I have to agree with you. It is a very different school than it was even two years ago - and the the bar has been lowered to the point that I for one will not send my child there next year. The elementary seems most unaffected for now, but from upper elementary on - what can I say? There are 340 students which must a hundred more than just recently. There are so many - the grades have literally doubled in size - that I haven't seen them all. But I've seen plenty. The flood of new students is a mix of EBD (emotionally and behaviorally disturbed not explained by some neurological reason - so you can surmise) and an unfortunate combination of mild MR and very streetwise. I have been profoundly alarmed by the behaviors that are passing for normal - this was not a school for kids who are trouble, or casually anti-social behavior which the school does now. And the academics - which was the one shining quality of this school - that it offered a real curriculum - has been trashed. Even the non-remedial classes are remedial. The academics is in the toilet.

I thought very highly of Ferrera earlier but the scales have fallen from my eyes. The only reason for this is for the tuition. No other reason for taking so many, turning ex closets and music rooms into classes so they can squeeze together, like sardines. And all the talk about an IB program is absurd given the functioning of the students who are now definitely the majority. I guess he's trying to walk the talk.

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