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Friday, January 7, 2011

No Blizzard Today But Early Morning Snowflakes Look Pretty On Roosevelt Island -Oh, Let It Snow!


Even thought today's snowfall was much less than some worried about or others hoped for, Roosevelt Island resident Francine Lange was able to take this nice photo of Roosevelt Island being snowed upon earlier this morning. According to Ms. Lange:
Déjà vu all over again: The beginning of the first snowfall of 2011 (and the second one since December 26, 2010).
I love heavy snowstorms but my perspective changed a little bit during the Christmas blizzard when I was staying with family out of town in a private house and had to shovel snow off of the sidewalk and driverway. Did not like that very much which is why I am an apartment dweller. Anyway, enjoy Diana Krall's version of Let It Snow



and for a change of pace, here's Twisted Sister's rendition of Let It Snow.

RIRA Rep Defends Southtown From RIRA Housing Committee Report Alleging Affluent Exclusiveness & Gives Walking Tour Of Northtown - RIRA Common Council Responds To Report By Censoring Future Distribution Of Information

Image Of RIRA Southtown Resident Aaron Hamburger Defending Southtown

The Public Safety Committee Report presented to the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) January 2011 Common Council Meeting was not the only controversial submission that resulted in a majority of RIRA Council members approving a Resolution censoring future reports for distribution to the Roosevelt Island community. The Housing Committee submitted a report which elicited a fierce, yet humorous, defense and response from Southtown Common Council Delegate Aaron Hamburger. Fortunately, we have a video of Mr. Hamburger's response provided by Roosevelt Island resident Trevre Andrews as well as the text of the remarks below.


You Tube Video Of January RIRA Meeting

RESPONSE TO RIRA’S HOUSING COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE 1/5/11 COMMON COUNCIL MEETING

In an outrageous attack on Southtown residents, the Housing Committee report charged that:
“We now have the phenomenon of a nearly complete lack of contact between the populations of Southtown and Northtown, leading to community conflict and the tarnishing of its reputation as an inclusive, caring place to live. Day and night, the million- dollar apartments of Southtown telegraph the message to the people of Northtown: We have money, you don’t; we do not need to know you much less lay eyes on you; ....... Southtown is where the money is; that’s why Southtown residents never set foot in Northtown and definitely do not care to interact in any way with Northtown residents”.
I first pointed out that if Southtown folks want no contact with Northtown people, why is over 21% of the Common Council composed of representatives from Southtown? Then I addressed the issue of Southtown residents not venturing into Northtown. Basically, few of us go to Northtown because there’s little there to attract us. Yes, many go to the Farmer Market, but that’s only once a week. My walk to Gristedes on Wednesday morning (1/ 5/11), illustrates the real problem. Leaving Southtown, the first thing I saw in Northtown was the Thrift Store. A terrible introduction to Main St. The front display window showed a disorganized and haphazard collection of items. The window was covered with pieces of tape and bits of paper and was probably the dirtiest window in all of Roosevelt Island. Then, if you go in to make a donation, they refuse to give you a receipt (the only thrift store I know doing this). So, many of us are now donating off-island to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Across the street is a chiropractor, who hasn’t been in business for about a year. Hidden in the basement of Rivercross are two excellent doctors and a fine dental practice. Many of us use these doctors, but that doesn’t get us very far into Northtown.

Continuing my walk, I next pass the Public Library. This library has a fair collection of reference books, children’s books, DVD’s and periodicals, but their general book collection is very limited. About 20% of the book shelves are empty. Usually, if you want a book, it has to be ordered from another library and that takes anywhere from one week to a month to arrive on Roosevelt Island. Oh, there’s no bathroom. Actually, there is a bathroom, but it’s kept locked for use by the staff only! Across the street is a nail salon, but we have a nail place in Southtown. Then, it’s the Trellis, which a number of us patronize especially on live music nights. Next is a dry cleaner, but again we have a good dry cleaner in Southtown.

Now I’m passing the Senior Center, where I have to maneuver around a large group of Northtown seniors waiting to get on the Shoppers Bus which will take them off-island to shop. This is while I’m going to Gristedes to spend my money on-island (and where I get a 10% senior discount on Tuesday and Wednesday and free delivery if I want). Is there something wrong with this picture?

Across the street is the deli, but we have a better deli in Southtown. Oh, I’ve already passed the closed fish store and soon pass the closed flower shop where many of us used to get our flowers. Then another nail place. Does Roosevelt Island really need 3 nail salons? In the final stretch of Main St, there’s the closed liquor store which a number of us routinely patronized, then China 1 where a number of us order take-out, and a new bank. The old bank closed forcing most of us to open accounts and get credit cards elsewhere - I transferred to Chase. Now nicely established at Chase, it’s not worth the hassle to come back to Roosevelt Island.

Finally, before I enter Gristedes, I go to the post office. This is the most customer- friendly, helpful branch post office I’ve ever encountered. So, I end my walk with a happy experience. On to buying my groceries at Gristedes.

To repeat, Southtown people don’t venture very often to Northtown because there is little there to attract them. We badly need more and better stores.

There’s a positive ending to the story of the Housing Committee report. After a bit of discussion, the RIRA Common Council voted to reject the report and asked the Housing Committee to rewrite and resubmit the report to the next Common Council meeting on 2/2/ 11.

Aaron Hamburger, Chair – RIRA’s Island Services Committee
Below is the RIRA Housing Committee Report submitted for the January 2011 RIRA meeting.This is the type of report that the majority of members of the RIRA Common Council do not want you to see in the future. For the record, this report was not preliminary, or mere work product waiting further refinement but was intended to be the official report of the RIRA Housing Committee to the full RIRA Common Council.

From the RIRA Housing Committee Report to the January 2011 Common Council Meeting.
Our Committee met to consider the three questions on the Agenda:

1. Section 8 tenants in Eastwood that eventually exceed the Section 8 income guidelines are not then automatically transferred to the LAP Program; this violates the exit agreement whereby all of the tenants of Eastwood were to be protected upon exit from Mitchell Lama.

2. Southtown is not in compliance with the guidelines set forth in the General Development Plan, as it was not developed inclusively and does not provide low-income or affordable housing, a vital component of the General Development Plan, which is still in effect. Unfortunately, the lack of affordable housing at Southtown and the sense that Southtown is an enclave has exacerbated social tension and resentment on RI. Whereas RI was previously an oasis where the socioeconomic mix provided opportunities for building bridges and friendships across the ethnic, economic, social spectrum, we now have the phenomenon of a nearly complete lack of contact between the populations of Southtown and Northtown, leading to community conflict and the tarnishing of its reputation as an inclusive, caring place to live. The divisions of NYC, which were previously absent on RI, have now arrived on RI. Day and night, the million-dollar apartments of Southtown telegraph the message to the people of Northtown: We have money, you don’t; we do not need to know you much less lay eyes on you; Northtown residents don’t count because they can’t afford million-dollar apartments; Southtown is where the money is; that’s why Southtown residents never set foot in Northtown and definitely do not care to interact in any way with Northtown residents. Buildings 7, 8, 9 should be developed as truly affordable Rent Stabilized housing open to tenants with fixed incomes, moderate incomes, and those receiving Section 8 subsidies– this would help rebalance the socioeconomic mix on RI.

3. The RIRA Housing Committee would be happy to assist and support efforts in any of the complexes on RI; however, we can only assist at the request of the building associations. If a building or complex does not have a building committee or association, the Housing Committee has no-one with whom to coordinate efforts within a particular building. Landlord intimidation may be a factor preventing tenants from organizing building committees in some buildings.

The attendees had a thorough discussion about the lingering issue of the Section 8 tenants of Eastwood, who, because of economic circumstances such as families doubling up due to rampant unemployment, children becoming adults, managing to get jobs but still not being in the position to move out because of high rents, or Section 8 tenants slowly getting pay increases through the years so that eventually their income may exceed the Section 8 guidelines, and many more possible situations whereby a household may no longer qualify for the Section 8 subsidy, these families are suddenly exposed to the excessive
market rate rents being charged by Urban American, and because of this unjust economic circumstance, are usually then forced to face the harm of having to give up their apartments. This represents an unfair displacement since the other tenants that were in place at the time the building exited Mitchell-Lama in 2005, those that did not qualify for Section 8 subsidies are permanently protected from excessive market rate rents by having been placed in the LAP Program. Yet all Eastwood tenants at the time of exit from Mitchell Lama were promised they would be forever protected from market rate rents. The Committee agreed there is unfairness with the above scenario – the loophole whereby the landlord can prey on Section 8 tenants that may wind up even slightly exceeding the Section 8 income guidelines
by suddenly imposing excessive rents on those tenants -- and considered how the situation can be corrected.

First, we must find out how many Section 8 tenants are vulnerable to displacement as outlined above. We agreed that many Section 8 tenants, those on fixed incomes for example retirees or disabled, would likely not exceed the income guidelines, but that many other Section 8 tenants, those whose children have grown up and gone to work but cannot afford to leave home, or other families that may have taken in a grown child or relative that may be down on their luck but eventually may earn some income, may be affected. It is possible that this data may be available from the DHCR so that we could have an idea of the size of the problem. If in the end it turns out that the number of households in danger of displacement is in the range of 300-400, then the issue is a major problem with the risk of displacement affecting hundreds of residents. We would like to have this data before proceeding with next steps such as having meetings with RIOC, Urban American, elected representatives, etc., to plead that the
exit agreement and the agreement worked out with the tenants and the new owner upon exit could be amended to extend LAP protection to Section 8 tenants that may eventually exceed the Section 8 income guidelines. We need to find a way to keep people in their homes especially in these times of high unemployment and high rents.

We recognize that the Tenants Association of Eastwood/Roosevelt Landings is currently fighting the landlord over electrical sub metering, that is, electrical sub metering the way the landlord wishes to carry it out –making electrical bills a lucrative source of income as well as providing another way to evict tenants that may be unable to pay grossly inflated electrical bills, by considering the non-payment of inflated electrical bills as equivalent to the non-payment of rent, and extending to the landlord the power to evict tenants even if the tenant can afford to pay the rent but cannot afford the unjustly inflated electrical bill. As the Tenants Association is currently focused on this problem which threatens the future of all Eastwood tenants, the issue of Section 8 tenants exceeding income guidelines and not being transferred into the LAP Program, may not be immediately addressed. Also, the above possible steps can only be carried out under the auspices of, and as an effort by, the Eastwood tenants and their organization. We discussed that it is vital for Section 8 tenants of Eastwood to become active and involved in the Tenants Association. If requested by the Tenants Association the Housing Committee is happy to lend support and help with these issues.
Preventing embarrassment to RIRA and controversy is not a good reason to restrict information made available to the Roosevelt Island community by their own elected representatives. Does Roosevelt Island need our own unique version of Wikileaks?

UPDATE 1/10 - Click here for the two RIRA resolutions and for spreadsheet showing how RIRA Common Council Delegates Voted.

Roosevelt Island Youth Program 2011 Basketball Season Starts Next Week - Register, Evaluations, Form Teams Then Play Some Hoops - Clinics For Kids Too, Volunteers Needed


From the Roosevelt Island Youth Program:
Roosevelt Island Youth Program Inc.
Basketball Leagues
and Clinics 2011 
The Roosevelt Island Youth Program Basketball Season start's January 13th, for High School players and Friday, January 14th, for our 11-14 Division teams. We will evaluate and form teams and then away we go with a 10 game schedule and playoffs, the schedule will be posted on this site next week. On Saturday January 15th, we have Coach Tommy back for the 15th year to teach the basics for boy's and girl's ages 6 and 7 from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm  and for the 8 to 10 year old's, 11:30 to 2 pm. We also need volunteers so if your interested, please call the Youth Center at 212-935-3645 or the Beacon at 212-527-2505.
UPDATE 11:45 PM - Click here for Basketball Program Registration Form.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Censorship Rears It's Ugly Head At The Roosevelt Island Residents Association January Meeting And Wins - For Now

 Image of January 2011 RIRA Meeting From Trevre Andrews

As a result of this post in which I published Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Committee Reports provided to me by RIRA President Mathew Katz (which I have done many times before without any objections), the RIRA Common Council approved a resolution last night to restrict the distribution of committee material to the media and others unless approved by a 2/3 vote of that committee. I will have more on this later and am awaiting receipt of the resolution from RIRA so I can have the exact wording of it and then post on blog. I believe the vote was 17 to 12 in favor of censorship. (UPDATE 1/10 - CLICK here for the two RIRA resolutions and spreadsheet of how each RIRA member present voted)

In the meantime, here are some thoughts about the meeting from a relatively new resident of Roosevelt Island, Trevre Andrews, who was attending his first RIRA Monthly Common Council. From Mr. Andrews:

Last night after getting off work I stopped by the Sports dome for the monthly RIRA meeting.  I have lived on the island for a year and this was the first RIRA meeting I have attended.  After a slow start the meeting focused mostly on committee reports and why/when/how they should or shouldn’t be provided to the island residents.  There seemed to be a lot of confusion about the purpose of the committees, their reports, and their availability.  This culminated in a resolution to try and define and limit information generated by RIRA and its committees which was adopted by the RIRA council.  

I have yet to see the text of the resolution, I just heard it described verbally and for that matter there is little electronic documentation available anywhere on RIRA except small pieces on various websites none of which are RIRA websites.  Supposedly, as reported in this meeting, a website is being created to fix this and make all/most RIRA documents electronically available.

Based on what I saw last night I don’t think many rooseveltians would take RIRA very seriously, but there is always hope for the future. I dare you to join us next month and see what I mean. 
Mr. Andrews also provides this video of the censorship motion's introduction at the RIRA meeting.


You Tube Video Of RIRA Censorship Motion

Concerning this situation, a reader of the objectionable post commented:
I can see the above poster's point. The real issue is that Rick was given this information by the RIRA President. If it was not intended to be made public, Matt Katz should have never given it to Rick. As the President, he should be more careful of what information is made public and he was irresponsible not to provide the full report of the actual meeting that took place.

That being said, if someone gives information to Rick, and then they realize they shouldn't have and ask him to remove it, he should have the courtesy to do so. If he doesn't, he runs the risk of them not sharing information with him in the future.
To which I responded:
This has nothing to do with courtesy. Once information is given to me that is not off the record or told in confidence and is posted - it is news and will not be taken down because it is embarrassing to some or inconvenient to have been made public.

The information was lawfully obtained, was not defamatory towards anyone and was an issue of public concern to the Roosevelt Island community.

As a result of this post, the RIRA Common Council voted last night to restrict the distribution of committee material to the media and others unless approved by a 2/3 vote of that committee. I will have more on this later and am awaiting receipt of the resolution from RIRA so I can have the exact wording of it and then post on blog.
Stay tuned for more.

UPDATE 4:20 PM - I neglected to mention that approval of a second resolution was sought to impose some form of sanction against any RIRA member who disclosed information not previously approved for distribution. Fortunately, that resolution was defeated.

New Roosevelt Island Red Bus Stop At Tram Station And Route To Be Implemented January 18


Just received the following Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) advisory:
Please be advised, effective January 18th, RIOC will implement two Red Bus stops near the Tram station: one on the East side of the Tram, opposite Firefighter’s Field, the other across the street from the Roosevelt Island Historical Society kiosk. The bus stops will also be serviced by the Q102 and will have bus shelters.

For a map of the new bus stops and routes, please visit
http://rioc.com/pdf/SouthtownBusRoute.pdf
The new bus stop on the East Side of the Tram Station is currently used by Tram worker to park their cars pictured below



and here is the new bus stop adjacent to the Visitors Center Kiosk


 More information on the new Red Bus Route and Bus Stops from this previous post.

Black Billowing Smoke Belching From Big Allis Ravenwood Generating Plant Across East River From Roosevelt Island


Anyone else notice the huge amount of smoke spewing out of the Big Allis Ravenswood Power Plant across the East River from Roosevelt Island in Long Island City earlier this morning?  Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy did, sent in the picture above and asks:
What is this blast of pollution coming from the power plant.? It only lasted a minute but it was impressive.
More pictures from Ms. Berdy of the belching Ravenswood Keyspan Power Plant here.

In 2009, Roosevelt Island 360 wrote a post expressing concern over potential health problems associated by being close to Big Allis:
... For many in Queens it is believed to be the source of their asthma problems and hence the reason many in LOC refer to the area as Asthma Alley. If Roosevelt Island did not have the breezes associated with the river those issues might be ours as well. To my knowledge there has not been any kind of c omprehensive study of island residents or our kids in years, if at all....
The Harbor and Hudson Class Blog reported of Big Allis:
... At the time, of the installation, Big Allis was the worlds largest power generator.  It uses oil and natural gas.  Currently the site produces about 20% of NYCs energy needs.  Ravenswood was owned by Con Ed from the time it was built until 1999, when due to deregulation, Con Ed was forced to sell its in-city generating capacity. KeySpan bought the site for $600 million US dollars and later merged with National Grid.  In 2008, New York State Public Service Commission forced National Grid to sell the site which landed it in the hands of a Canadian company called TransCanada Corp for $2.9 billion US dollars.  Not surprisingly, the Site is located right on the east river in Queens across the street for a large public housing project known as the Queensbridge houses....
According to TransCanada, the owner of the Big Allis Ravenswood Generating Plant:
Ravenswood Generating Station (Ravenswood), located in Queens, NY, is a 2,480 megawatt (MW) power plant that consists of multiple units employing steam turbine, combined cycle and combustion turbine technology.

The plant uses advanced technology and controls to minimize impact on the air and water. To reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, Units 10, 20 and 30 have all been retrofitted with Close Coupled Over Air Fired systems. Unit 40 controls aimed at reducing the unit’s environmental impact include a dry low NOx combustion system, selective catalytic reduction and a multi-cell air cooled condenser. The 2004 Combined Cycle Journal Award for Power Plant Efficiency and Environmentally Friendly Design was awarded to Unit 40 in recognition of these environmental controls.
Ravenswood has the capacity to serve approximately 21 per cent of New York City’s peak load.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Roosevelt Island 360 Blogger Says Goodbye To The Blogosphere - Thanks For Your Contribution


It's a sad time for the Roosevelt Island blogosphere.  Roosevelt Island 360 has decided to shut down his blog and will no longer be posting his unique and interesting take on what's happening here on Roosevelt Island. His knowledge and reporting on the F Train, Red Bus, subway escalators, and many other subjects as well as his 360 degree videos contributed greatly to our community.

I particularly enjoyed the friendly and respectful competition we had in our small Roosevelt Island piece of the blogosphere. His voice will be missed but like Flat Stan

Image Of Flat Stan From Roosevelt Island 360

you never know when he may pop up again. If possible, I hope Roosevelt Island 360 returns one day.

Roosevelt Island 360 says Goodbye to his readers here.

Do It Yourself Roosevelt Island Advice On Heating Your Frigid Manhattan Park Apartment

 Image of Manhattan Park In Winter

Updating this post on heating problems at Roosevelt Island's Manhattan Park buildings, a Manhattan Park reader offers some do-it-yourself suggestions to other residents:
It just so happens that we had our heaters at 10 river road checked out last week.  Previously they had been blowing luke warm air at best and would never cycle, now they are warm and cycle on and off in response to the thermostat.  The attached photo notes the heat pump information including it's manufacture date of 2003, which is fairly recent.  That doesn't mean it's efficient and I wasn't able to look up the efficiency rating from the info on the unit.

Going through this process I did notice the heat pumps were not installed carefully and I could actually feel cold air pouring in around the unit.  I solved this with some duct tape.  I illustrated these fixes with the attached photos.  You could also ask maintenance to do this.  Since I did this our bill has dropped about 10-50 per month.

Our electric bill for a west facing 2 bedroom 2 bath is about 250-350 in the winter, about 200 of that is for heat.  I turn it off or down during most weekdays.  I do find the cost of heating this place a little excessive, but it isn't enough to raise a fuss with management.






Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Monthly Meeting Tomorrow January 5 At Sportspark - Come Learn What Is Happening On Roosevelt Island & Read RIRA Committee Reports, You Won't Be Bored

Image of December 2010 RIRA Meeting

The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) will be holding it's January 2011 Monthly meeting Wednesday night starting at 8 PM. The monthly meeting will take place at Sportspark (250 Main Street, next to the tram station and tennis bubble) and not at the Good Shepherd Community Center. As always, prior to the start of each meeting there is a public session in which any resident can come and address the Common Council Delegates on any issue of concern.

Below is the Agenda for the January 2011 RIRA meeting, which includes the creation of the Public Purpose Funds Committee, as well as Public Safety, Communications, Housing and Island Services Committee Reports. Rather than me highlighting selected items from these reports, I recommend you read through all of the reports. They are very interesting and in some cases quite controversial in the context of how Roosevelt Island works.

Rira January Agenda


RIRA PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETING DECEMBER 13, 2010

Attendees:
Peter Digilio Joyce Mincheff Matthew Katz Howard Polivy Romano Reid Ellen Polivy
Minutes taken by: Erin Feely-Nahem

Following introductions the committee reviewed the Mission Statement that was adopted by the Public Safety Committee last year and presented to the Common Council. Members’ present agreed that the Mission Statement still seemed to fit the committee’s mission. Chair will send the Mission statement out to all committee members via email for review and comments.

Mission Statement:

To provide support to the Public Safety Department in an effort to assure that community needs are being met. To act as a liaison between the community and the Public Safety department, and to be available as an ombudsman to facilitate resolution as needed.

Committee reviewed and discussed the goals that had been adopted by Public Safety Committee last year. Listed are the goals and the discussion that followed.

1)    Wheelchair accessibility to the Public Safety office and the Cultural center’s elevator. Committee determined goal was accomplished.

2)    Traffic Enforcement: Committee members’ express concern at the dangerous areas of crossing ie: bottom of the ramp. Members recommend that Officer posted in front of 2 River Road conduct traffic, not just stand in front of car. The possibility of a 3 Way Stop sign was raised. Members’ complained that Access a ride and the RIOC buses ignore the traffic signage, and are not ticketed when they do not yield to pedestrians, or go through stop signs without coming to a complete stop. Committee members’ felt that the practice of waving the traffic through the stop signs in front of the school, even when there are no children in the crossing, encouraged drivers to disregard the Stop signs at other times. The Committee agreed to discuss these concerns with Chief Guerra.

3)    Youth Tribunal: Chair explained to members the prior discussions with Chief Guerra on this topic. Discussion about the use of Community Service for youthful offenders, at the Island’s hospitals, in certain cases instead of arrest, was visited. The Committee will revisit this topic this term and will discuss with Chief Guerra.

4)    Parking Priorities: Committee discussed the fair and universal enforcement of existing parking rules. A member addressed favoritism being given to individuals, (seen around South Town) who had an expired Placards from the NYPD 2008, as well as placards from the MTA Police, Board of Education, Japanese Restaurant menus on the dash board etc. All of the above were seen parked illegally in metered areas, all without being given tickets. It was also mentioned that individuals with Wheelchair placards are still required to pay to park in metered spots and should be ticketed, like any other vehicle, if they haven’t. Members’ agreed that individuals should be reminded of the specific areas designated for long term parking, and Island business owners should be encouraged to utilize the courtesy rate offered at Motorgate. Those business owners who choose not to utilize this option should be ticketed, as residents are, when they park longer then allowed. Mentioned again was Kai’s black corvette, which now displays a wheelchair medallion hanging from the mirror. Members noted that there is an increasing amount of illegal parking happening around the Tram area, the Tennis Courts and around South Town. Committee will request that cars are uniformly ticketed, without exception when meeting with Chief Guerra. Photographs will be taken if issue is not resolved.

5)    Traffic Design: Committee members still question the logic and safety of the traffic signage design. Howard Polivy will f/u with RIOC to discuss if a consultant was hired this past year to review this problem and if so, if they completed an assessment which is currently being utilized. If the consultant was not hired, or was not from DOT, or a reputable agency, the Committee will explore obtaining an assessment of the Island’s traffic signage design by DOT. A letter will be drafted then submitted to the Common Council for review, then sent to CB8’s Roosevelt Island Committee requesting assistance in obtaining the assessment.

6)    Opening of Sports Park for Teens: There was discussion about the continuing need for a place where the older youth can congregate and not be a quality of life issue. The idea was raised that Sports Park could be utilized as a community center as well as a place for the Teens. One member was afraid that this would not work because the teens on the Island now were just “bad”. A suggestion voiced was that the City, and State funding designated for the Youth Center could be utilized, if the majority of the residents feel that the Youth Center is not meeting the needs of the Residents. If the community feels that the Youth Center should oversee this project, then it was suggested that a new Executive Director be hired, and the Youth Center change the hours they are open. It was decided to discuss this idea with other Common Council Committees, such as the Social, Educational and Cultural, the Services Committee, or possibly see if a work group could be formed. It was decided that when we decide to move ahead that Donna Masly, from RIOC should be contacted. This idea will also be discussed with Chief Guerra as a solution to the quality of life issue, as the place where the needs of this population can be met. A suggestion to complete a survey and send it out to ascertain resident’s satisfaction with the Youth Center’s services was discussed, although no member has agreed to draft it to date. An audit of the utilization of the Youth Center services was suggested which Howard Polivy, RIOC Board Member stated that he would request from Steve Kaufman.

7)    Motorgate crime: Members discussed whether the crime had decreased or escalated over the past year. Several members felt that it was still problematic, especially in the lower area where the disable park was reported as being increasingly problematic. Discussion around Public Safety patrols, cameras, new lighting, etc were covered. It was determined that the Committee will discuss with Chief Guerra whether the crime rate had increased or decreased and request and review any data available.

NEW BUSINESS:

Vertical Patrols in WIRE buildings”
There was concern expressed by members that the Vertical Patrols, conducted by Public Safety, were not happening on a regular basis and if they were, were not effective. This complaint led to a discussion of youth hanging out in hallways, and concern that when tenants reported this problem to Public Safety their identity was being divulged to the individuals they were complaining about. This concern will be explored with Chief Guerra.

Public Safety Incident report documentation:
There was concern voiced that incident reports, completed by Public safety were not being properly documented. Complaints made by phone were not always being recorded either. Member felt that sometimes a copy of the complaint was unable to be found, and the name and badge number of the officer who took the complaint were not provided when requested. This concern will be brought up in a meeting with Chief Guerra.

Transparency:
Committee member felt that to assist with this problem there should be a Roster of the Officers on duty, hanging up in the Public Safety for each shift. This issue will be discussed with Chief Guerra, and suggestions made.

Community Police Officer:
Members expressed dissatisfaction with the job Police Officer (UPDATE 1/5 from Roosevelt Islander Blog - the officer's name has been redacted) from the 114th Precinct was doing on Roosevelt Island. There were complaints that he was abusing his power, was bias since his days as a Public Safety Officer, and more recently had been reported by residents to be stopping and frisking individuals unnecessarily. Many committee members felt that it was time for a change and wanted to request that we be sent “fresh blood” from the precinct. There was disagreement on how to go about this, which the committee members still need to determine. One member suggested that we speak to Keith first, to see if he could request a change, another felt we should go to the Sergeant at the 114th responsible for Community Affairs and ask for his reassignment, and others felt that the Common Council should be involved, to reflect transparency and community support, suggesting that a resolution is drafted, submitted to the Common Council for approval, then brought to the attention of CB8. The committee still needs to come to an agreement on how to proceed.

Issues on Main Street:
Committee was informed by a member that there has been an increase in the number of Resident’s cars being vandalized on Main Street, although residents are not contacting Public Safety, instead calling the police.

Complaints were heard about the tickets being given out to take out delivery cars.

Committee members voiced their concerns that Public Safety Officers often do not see infractions of the law, although they are standing right there. ie: cars running Stop signs, cars refusing to Yield to pedestrians, etc.

Civilian Complaint Review Board:
This is still an issue of concern to this committee. Discussion of the recent bill that Micah Kellner introduced was discussed. The development of a State Review Board, as proposed by Assembly member Kellner has not been adopted yet. Being able to hold Public Safety accountable for their actions is still an issue this committee is concerned with. The committee will continue to research and determine if a Civilian Complaint Review Board can be created on Roosevelt Island for this purpose.

R.I. Cert Team recruitment:
Howard Polivy spoke to the committee requesting support of the RI Cert Team’s recruitment efforts. Committee members offered their support.
Click here for more


Communications Committee Report

Meeting Date: December 12, 2010 Chairs: Ava Dawson & Vini Fortuna In attendance: Ava Dawson, Vini Fortuna, Joe Terranella, Matt Katz, Sherie Helstien, John Paul, Frank Farance, Rick O’Connor, Mihaela Preradovic and Ahmed Darwish

“The RIRA Column”
●    Currently, the column written by Matt Katz is able to be published solely in the WIRE, under the title “The RIRA Column” at the discretion of the editor. The Roosevelt Islander Blog no longer has rights to publish this content.
●    It has been proposed by Matt Katz that his column could be published on the official RIRA website (see below), and then published both in the WIRE and on the Roosevelt Islander, at a specifically agreed upon time.
●    In a discussion between co-chair Ava Dawson and Dick Lutz on December 29, 2010, Mr. Lutz reiterated that he will not permit the Roosevelt Islander blog to publish the RIRA column in full. It was proposed that RIRA could archive the RIRA columns in full on its website for public access after a period of time has passed after initial publication. This resolution will be explored in the coming weeks.
●    It has been proposed by John Paul that the Communications Committee could publish their own column of RIRA activity both in the WIRE and on the Roosevelt Islander, in addition to the official RIRA website. This was discussed with Dick Lutz at the meeting described above, who agreed to consider submissions of Press Releases from the Communications Committee for publication, and agrees that these submissions could also be published on the Roosevelt Islander Blog.

New Domain: riraonline.com
●    riraonline.com will be the domain address for the new official website of RIRA. ●    The cost for the domain is $10 per year. ●    Frank Farance will continue to support and host the old RIRA minutes website (rira-
council.org) and the documents contained on that site. He will provide a link on rira- council.org to riraonline.com, directing visitors to the official RIRA website. Access to the archive documents will be made available to the Communications Committee to host on the new website in the future.
New Website
●    We are working on a new website that will be up and functional as soon as the Communications Committee has permission to publish (see resolution below).
●    RIRA archive documents will be available on the website (agendas, committee reports, minutes, etc).
●    A link to Roosevelt Island's See Click Fix will be integrated into the new website. ●    We will be using Google Apps to manage and serve the website. The cost is free.
Calendar
●    A calendar of community and RIRA events will be available on the website using Google Calendar technology and integrating the calendar from the Roosevelt Islander Blog.
●    Will will create a calendar@riraonline.com email that the community can send events to be added to the calendar (should be low volume). The volunteers will receive those emails and be responsible to update the calendar.
●    Barbara Allen have volunteered to maintain the calendar and Frank Farance volunteered to do some programming if necessary. Vini will help at the beginning to get things set up.

Facebook and Twitter
●    We are working on a Facebook and Twitter that will be up and functional as soon as the Communications Committee has permission to publish (see resolution below).
●    Ava Dawson and Barbara Allen have volunteered to maintain the Facebook; John Paul has volunteered to Tweet.
Emails

●    E-mail groups have been established for committees. E-mails sent to these addresses will send an e-mail to all members of the committee whose e-mail address has been added to the list. For additions/changes, please contact the communications committee.
○ communications@riraonline.com ○ govtrelations@riraonline.com ○ housing@riraonline.com ○ islandservices@riraonline.com
○ planning@riraonline.com ○ publicsafety@riraonline.com ○ sce@riraonline.com
●    The communications committee will be developing a “Best Practices” document to refer to when e-mailing within RIRA. This will be sent to the President in early January.
●    If we have volunteers and interest, the committee could set up training on how to handle emails more efficiently.
●    We will keep the “reflector” rira-council@rira-council.org for one-way communication from the officers, and possibly committee chairs, to the council.
●    We agree that user-managed mailing lists should be employed so that each committee can manage their own lists (more visibility and more features). To add this service we need to upgrade the Google Apps account, which would cost $50 per year.

Google Docs
●    Google Documents will be used for attendance keeping. ●    Google Documents can be used for agendas, minutes and reports, and is specially
useful for collaborative or shared documents (like the calendar)

Resolutions
1. Whereas we the Communications Committee have been given the right to publish a newsletter and a calendar by the Constitution and Bylaws of RIRA, be it resolved that the Communications Committee requests authorization by the Common Council to publish a website, Facebook, Twitter and informational column to be published in external sources regarding RIRA activities and community events to better foster communication with the Island community.
2. Whereas we the Communications Committee will maintain a website and require web tools, be it resolved that the Communications Committee requests funds in the amount of $60 per year to cover the cost of the domain name and web tools necessary for hosting and functionality, in an effort to create tools that will foster communication with the Island community.
Respectfully submitted, Ava Dawson & Vini Fortuna
Co-Chairs

January 2011: RIRA Housing Committee Report By Helen Chirivas

The Committee met on 12/6/10 and the attendees included Lorraine Williams, Lisa Knox, Russell Fields, Matthew Katz, Sal Morabito, and Committee Chairwoman Helen Chirivas.

Our Committee met to consider the three questions on the Agenda:

1. Section 8 tenants in Eastwood that eventually exceed the Section 8 income guidelines are not then automatically transferred to the LAP Program; this violates the exit agreement whereby all of the tenants of Eastwood were to be protected upon exit from Mitchell Lama.

2. Southtown is not in compliance with the guidelines set forth in the General Development Plan, as it was not developed inclusively and does not provide low-income or affordable housing, a vital component of the General Development Plan, which is still in effect. Unfortunately, the lack of affordable housing at Southtown and the sense that Southtown is an enclave has exacerbated social tension and resentment on RI. Whereas RI was previously an oasis where the socioeconomic mix provided opportunities for building bridges and friendships across the ethnic, economic, social spectrum, we now have the phenomenon of a nearly complete lack of contact between the populations of Southtown and Northtown, leading to community conflict and the tarnishing of its reputation as an inclusive, caring place to live. The divisions of NYC, which were previously absent on RI, have now arrived on RI. Day and night, the million-dollar apartments of Southtown telegraph the message to the people of Northtown: We have money, you don’t; we do not need to know you much less lay eyes on you; Northtown residents don’t count because they can’t afford million-dollar apartments; Southtown is where the money is; that’s why Southtown residents never set foot in Northtown and definitely do not care to interact in any way with Northtown residents. Buildings 7, 8, 9 should be developed as truly affordable Rent Stabilized housing open to tenants with fixed incomes, moderate incomes, and those receiving Section 8 subsidies– this would help rebalance the socioeconomic mix on RI.

3. The RIRA Housing Committee would be happy to assist and support efforts in any of the complexes on RI; however, we can only assist at the request of the building associations. If a building or complex does not have a building committee or association, the Housing Committee has no-one with whom to coordinate efforts within a particular building. Landlord intimidation may be a factor preventing tenants from organizing building committees in some buildings.

The attendees had a thorough discussion about the lingering issue of the Section 8 tenants of Eastwood, who, because of economic circumstances such as families doubling up due to rampant unemployment, children becoming adults, managing to get jobs but still not being in the position to move out because of high rents, or Section 8 tenants slowly getting pay increases through the years so that eventually their income may exceed the Section 8 guidelines, and many more possible situations whereby a household may no longer qualify for the Section 8 subsidy, these families are suddenly exposed to the excessive
market rate rents being charged by Urban American, and because of this unjust economic circumstance, are usually then forced to face the harm of having to give up their apartments. This represents an unfair displacement since the other tenants that were in place at the time the building exited Mitchell-Lama in 2005, those that did not qualify for Section 8 subsidies are permanently protected from excessive market rate rents by having been placed in the LAP Program. Yet all Eastwood tenants at the time of exit from Mitchell Lama were promised they would be forever protected from market rate rents. The Committee agreed there is unfairness with the above scenario – the loophole whereby the landlord can prey on Section 8 tenants that may wind up even slightly exceeding the Section 8 income guidelines
by suddenly imposing excessive rents on those tenants -- and considered how the situation can be corrected.

First, we must find out how many Section 8 tenants are vulnerable to displacement as outlined above. We agreed that many Section 8 tenants, those on fixed incomes for example retirees or disabled, would likely not exceed the income guidelines, but that many other Section 8 tenants, those whose children have grown up and gone to work but cannot afford to leave home, or other families that may have taken in a grown child or relative that may be down on their luck but eventually may earn some income, may be affected. It is possible that this data may be available from the DHCR so that we could have an idea of the size of the problem. If in the end it turns out that the number of households in danger of displacement is in the range of 300-400, then the issue is a major problem with the risk of displacement affecting hundreds of residents. We would like to have this data before proceeding with next steps such as having meetings with RIOC, Urban American, elected representatives, etc., to plead that the
exit agreement and the agreement worked out with the tenants and the new owner upon exit could be amended to extend LAP protection to Section 8 tenants that may eventually exceed the Section 8 income guidelines. We need to find a way to keep people in their homes especially in these times of high unemployment and high rents.

We recognize that the Tenants Association of Eastwood/Roosevelt Landings is currently fighting the landlord over electrical sub metering, that is, electrical sub metering the way the landlord wishes to carry it out –making electrical bills a lucrative source of income as well as providing another way to evict tenants that may be unable to pay grossly inflated electrical bills, by considering the non-payment of inflated electrical bills as equivalent to the non-payment of rent, and extending to the landlord the power to evict tenants even if the tenant can afford to pay the rent but cannot afford the unjustly inflated electrical bill. As the Tenants Association is currently focused on this problem which threatens the future of all Eastwood tenants, the issue of Section 8 tenants exceeding income guidelines and not being transferred into the LAP Program, may not be immediately addressed. Also, the above possible steps can only be carried out under the auspices of, and as an effort by, the Eastwood tenants and their organization. We discussed that it is vital for Section 8 tenants of Eastwood to become active and involved in the Tenants Association. If requested by the Tenants Association the Housing Committee is happy to lend support and help with these issues.

We discussed the problem of Southtown not providing affordable housing. Related has said the hospital housing is affordable housing. This claim is ludicrous not only because hospital housing not open to the general public, but even within the hospital community itself, this housing is only made available to certain exclusive employee categories such as doctors, nurses, post-docs etc. These segments of the hospital community, with the exception of post-docs, do not earn low or moderate incomes. The hospital buildings cannot be described as affordable housing and do not satisfy the requirement to provide publicly accessible affordable housing. Related would go a long way toward correcting this imbalance by constructing buildings 7, 8, and 9 and insuring that these buildings are Rent Stabilized and open to Section 8 tenants as well. It appears that Related would like to “protect” its investment – the enclave of Southtown -- by conveniently “forgetting” to build the moderate income buildings – RIOC and the State Government should hold Related’s feet to the fire and force them to build these buildings. State Government must act in the interest of all of the people of the State of New York, not just the high-income people.

We discussed the problem of Manhattan Park not having a Tenants Association so that there is no counter-weight to oppose landlord actions that harm tenants such as inflating the price of the sub metered electricity. Manhattan Park tenants must first organize themselves and form a Tenants Association. The Housing Committee would then be happy to assist a Manhattan Park Tenants Association once it is organized.

RIRA ISLAND SERVICES COMMITTEE (ISC) REPORT TO THE COMMON COUNCIL MEETING 1/5/11

The ISC did not meet in December. Its first meeting will be in mid-January, sometime after the 1/5/11 Common Council meeting.

However, thereʼs been some developments on Red Bus issues which are of interest to ISC & RIRA. In a meeting on 12/22/10 with Fernando Martinez, RIOC Vice-President – Operations, Matt Katz, RIRA President, Frank France, Chair RIRAʼs Planning Committee, and Aaron Hamburger, Chair RIRAʼs Island Services Committee, we reached agreement on the following:

o RIOC will implement a Red Bus stop for the Tram on the left side (Queens side) of the Tram entrance. The stop will be on the south side of the road. Expected date for implementation will be January 15 or within two weeks thereafter.
The Red Bus going south from the Riverwalk complex will turn left at the fountain, stop at the new Tram stop to discharge and pick-up passengers, continue east and south, go around Sportspark and then head north to the subway stop.

o In the next week or so, RIOC will “experiment” with a 20 minute Red Bus schedule for non-rush hour operations starting at the Octagon. For example, the Red Bus will leave the Octagon at 11 am, 11:20 am and 11:40 am. Arrival at the Tram stop will be on or before 11:20 am, 11:40 am, and 12 noon. The bus will leave for the Octagon at 11:20 am, 11:40 am, and 12 noon. We will operate with this schedule for the Red Bus for 3 - 4 weeks to determine if this approach will lead to a predictable and consistent operating schedule for the Red Bus in non-rush hour periods.

o Whenever possible and especially during inclement weather, the Red Bus will stop at the protected area at the subway. If there are other buses coming behind the first Red Bus, then the bus will have to stop further north on the road.

Aaron Hamburger, Chair - ISC

Baby It's Cold Outside But Heating Lamps Now Installed at Roosevelt Island Tram Stations Will Make Your Wait A Bit More Comfortable

Commenting on earlier post regarding rider complaints with the new Roosevelt Island Tram, reader Trevre suggested:

... I agree it is cold in the tram station, how about some heating lamps, they are inexpensive, effective, and would solve much of the cold problem...
During a December 22 meeting between Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President Of Operations Fernando Martinez and members of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Island Services Committee, Mr. Martinez promised that ambient heating would soon be installed at the Tram Stations.

Trevre shows us that the heaters are now installed at the Tram stations.

Image of Roosevelt Island Tram Station Heater From Trevre Andrews

and it will not be quite so cold outside waiting at the Tram Stations this winter.


You Tube Video Of Norah Jones/Willie Nelson Baby It's Cold Outside

Monday, January 3, 2011

Got Roosevelt Island Bed Bugs? Exterminator Parked Nearby


Uh- Oh - walking past the Blackwell turnaround earlier today, I spotted this Exterminator's Car with the appealing

 GOT BED BUGS

rear end signage parked across from the Rivercross and Riverwalk buildings. Previous posts have reported on bed bug problems at Rivercross
 ... A larger discussion took place about the matter of bed bugs reported as being/having been a problem in at least six apartments in the building. It was noted that the bugs are quite mobile, using people as a convenient carrier, as well as finding paths between apartments through holes in the building structure....
 and Roosevelt Landings/Eastwood but have no confirmed reports from other Roosevelt Island buildings.


The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) has even formed a Bed Bug Committee. More on Roosevelt Island bed bugs here.


You Tube Video Of How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs

Have you stopped scratching yet?

Interested In Serving on Roosevelt Island's NYC Community Planning Board 8? If So, Applications Available - Here's How To Apply To Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's Office

Image of New York City Community Planning Board 8 Logo

Received the following information from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC).
 The Manhattan Borough President's office is currently accepting applications to join your local Community Board (CB). Serving on a Community Board is a great opportunity to shape your neighborhood, improve service delivery, and be at the forefront of community based planning.

More information about CB's and a copy of the 2011 application can be found here (http://www.mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=64). New applications are due by January 14th, 2010.

Prior to applying, it is recommended that you attend an information session to learn more about the process and applying. The next one is taking place on Thursday, January 6th, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m., 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Kristen Ellis at Borough President Scott Stringer's office at 212-669-7877 or kellis@manhattanbp.org
Roosevelt Island is represented by Community Planning Board 8. What does a Community Planning Board do? According to Community PlanningBoard 8:
Community Board 8 reviews and makes recommendations on applications for:
  • Zoning Text Amendments

  • Building variances and special permits

  • Liquor licenses

  • Sidewalk cafes

  • Street Fairs

  • Changes to landmarked buildings or buildings in historic districts


  • The Community Board also monitors traffic and transportation issues, capital projects in the parks, economic development, public safety issues and the concerns of seniors and youth. The Community Board and the Board office work closely with city, state and federal elected officials; community groups; and other city agencies on these issues. In addition to the work described above, every Community Board plays a role in the Citywide budget process. Each year, the board submits a "District Statement of Needs." Every Fall, the Budget Committee holds a public hearing to determine our priorities for the City's Capital and Expense Budgets. You are encouraged to attend! The District Statement of Needs is available online here and the Budget Priorities are available in the Board 8 Office.
    Community Planning Board 8 has a Roosevelt Island committee.
    The Roosevelt Island Committee addresses issues facing Roosevelt Island such as the protective seawall on the island and land lease that is held by New York State. This committee meets on an as needed basis

    What Happened To The Roosevelt Island Fruit Stand By The Subway?

    Image of Missing Roosevelt Island Fruit Stand

    What's missing from this picture of the area between the Roosevelt Island subway station entrance and the Duane Reade? A reader asks:
    Does anyone know what happened to the fruit stand near the subway entrance/exit? Was it the owner's decision to close it down or RIOC's, or Southtown management? I miss having a bit of real New York City on the island.
    Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez explains:
    The permit for the fruit stand expired today.  The vendor is planning on returning in March 2011. 
    The answer from Mr. Martinez was received on Friday, December 31 which was the expiration date for the fruit seller's permit. Hopefully, we will see the Fruit Stand return in March.

    Image of Roosevelt Island Fruit Stand

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