Saturday, December 13, 2014

Report From RIOC President Charlene Indelicato - Roosevelt Island Winter Weather Preparations, Public Safety Holiday Tips, Public Purpose Funds, Good Shepherd Plaza Revitalization, Happy & Healthy Holiday Wishes

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato sends the following report to the community.
As we are nearing the end of the year, this will be our last community update until 2015. To all of the members of our community: We here at RIOC wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful new year. In addition, I would like to thank everyone who came out to celebrate the annual lighting of the Blackwell Plaza tree and our contributors for helping make this event a great time for all. Many thanks to Fuji East, Bike New York, Main Street Sweets, Gristedes, Starbucks, The Hudson Companies & Urban American for contributing, and to the Girl Scouts and Cornell Tech for volunteering at the celebration!

Winter Weather Preparations

RIOC’s Grounds and Facilities departments are hard at work preparing the Island for the upcoming winter season. While Roosevelt Island has escaped heavy snowfall so far, it’s vital to be prepared to clear the roads and walkways when a storm hits. In order to ensure snow is cleared as quickly and efficiently as possible, RIOC will be issuing “No Parking” advisories requiring drivers to remove their cars from Main St. and the East and West roadways when severe weather is expected. During this time, we will attempt to make free parking available in designated locations, including inside the Motorgate Garage. Free parking inside Motorgate would be limited to 24 hours from the time of entry. If a car is left in the Garage in excess of the time limit, the driver would be responsible for any fees for the additional time. Your compliance with the advisory helps us keep the roads as safe as possible for drivers and pedestrians, and we thank you for your cooperation.

In addition, areas that have been subject to recurring icy conditions in the past may be barricaded and closed to foot traffic during heavy snowfall. Residents are still urged to use caution while traveling by foot, car or bicycle, and to watch out for problem areas. As always, we ask that you contact us by calling 212-832-4540 to report any areas that need further attention so that we may address any safety issues as soon as possible.

PSD Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays are coming up for many of us, which often means gift shopping, decorating, and traveling to visit friends and family. The Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department offers these tips to stay safe during the often hectic season:
  • Safe Shopping – Minimize the amount of money, credit cards and valuables you carry and carry your keys on your person separate from your identification. Be particularly aware of your purse/wallet in crowded situations, such as rush-hour trains and buses.
  • When dining out, place your purse in your lap. The back of a chair is an easy target for thieves. Also, never carry a wallet in a rear pocket; use a front trouser or an inside coat pocket.
  • Be Street Smart – Be aware of your surroundings. Use well-populated and well-lit streets, and avoid overloading yourself with packages.
  • Auto Safety Tips – Park in well-lit areas, keep doors and windows locked, and take any valuables with you. Keep any packages stowed in the trunk while shopping. Note: If you plan on doing more shopping after placing packages in the vehicle trunk, consider moving the vehicle to another parking spot. Never leave a GPS system or mount visible – put both inside a glove box or other compartment.
  • Safety at Home – To prevent electrical fires, check holiday lights for frayed wires or empty sockets. Turn off lights when going to bed or leaving home. Keep your tree away from heating sources, and make sure to keep live trees watered.
Public Purpose Funds

Every year, RIOC awards a set amount of Public Purpose Funds to non-profit organizations whose programs benefit Roosevelt Island residents. These funds are provided for the educational, artistic, environmental, and cultural enrichment of the community, with an aim to deliver services to those who need them most. A notification will be issued to the public via our RIOC Advisories alert system with instructions on how to apply for funding. This information will also be posted on our website soon at All Roosevelt Island not-for-profit groups that are looking for additional funding are encouraged to apply.

Good Shepherd Plaza Revitalization

As you may have noticed while walking near the Good Shepherd Community Center (543 Main St.), new planters and benches have arrived at the site. These improvements are part of a larger effort undertaken by RIOC in cooperation with the Roosevelt Island community to beautify and improve the Good Shepherd Plaza. After a comprehensive public input process, upgrades to the Plaza’s landscaping and amenities were settled on and are now being executed. We would like to extend our thanks to the community for their valuable input during this process and are looking forward to the next phase of this project.


Frank Farance said...

Motorgate Arcade Lighting: Yet Another Excuse From RIOC/Indelicato, $530 Temporary Fix Available.

We heard it was Con Ed that RIOC was waiting for, but the Con Ed guys were working on the streetlights near the Firehouse (East side of Main Street), not the Motorgate Arcade. According to the Con Ed guys (over the past two weeks), the Arcade lights (side walk lighting on East side of Main Street by Post Office and parking) are part of Motorgate. Now we hear from Indelicato that they have to work on this with Manhattan Park (RIOC and MP jointly own Motorgate).

I wish Ms. Indelicato was more upfront all along with the community in conveying this wasn't a Con Ed problem, but a RIOC problem.

Furthermore, I don't understand why RIOC is incapable of addressing this problem. Had this occurred in the Eastwood Arcade or the Westview Arcade, you can be certain that the supers/staff would have had something temporary working right away.

Did you know that NYC has a Local Law 51 (of 2010) on shed lighting, and this kind of lighting has already been prescribed? (See "".) Sounds like RIOC isn't aware that this kind of lighting problem has been solved, standardized, and regulated City-wide.

That would be a good start and, of course, there is a product at Home Depot (50ft string of 5 lights) for $53 that solves that problem. With Motorgate approximately 500 feet long, 10 of those strings for a total of $530 would have the arcade lit.

Of course, any building super would have had this idea and implemented it within a day or two. For RIOC, it's been about a month or two, they are still looking to blame it on someone else rather than just getting the job done.

Reminds me for the Lighthouse foot bridges and many other projects in abeyance at RIOC.

Photo 1: Unlit Motorgate arcade
Photo 2: Temporary lighting product from Home Depot costing $53
Photo 3: Motorgate unlit at bridge level

Frank Farance

Gina said...

The so called revitalization make the once open spacious space into cluttered plaza with badly design furniture, like a tacky showroom for outdoor furnitures and hideous concrete planters the size of deep Japanese soaking tub.

- If it is even necessary to add so many benches of different design, shape, material cluttering the once airy open space?

- Who make the final decision in this so called revitalization and at what cost?

- Vicki Fienmel seems to be playing a major role in this project, is she even a qualified landscape/public plaza designer?

- Does RIOC receive professional input from landscape/public space designer or merely expertise from self proclaimed designer Vicki Fienmel?

- Rivercross folks certainly go out of their way to ensure that only the more expensive looking granite block without back rest are placed in front of their building as they do not want undesirable people to sit outside facing their building for extended time. - why chunky granite material are used for the benches in front of Rivercross, are they recycled from FDR Four Freedoms park? They probably cost a lot more than the regular wooden benches.

- The Chapel of the Good Shepherd is an historic landmark built in 1888, and NONE of the concrete planters and chunky granite benches complement or blended in with the historic architectural aesthetic. In fact they overshadow the delicate corners in a very tacky and chunky way.

- Why RIOC not using standardize design and material (with backrest, without backrest, etc) for benches ALL OVER the island; similar to Central Park

- Can RIOC provide detailed accountancy for this whole landscape project and to prove there are no wastage of fund

Gina said...

note on the planters from the old days, low profile, classy and not overshadowing the plaza. Would you not be upset if someone place 3-5 oversized Japanese soaking tub in front of your 100 years old home on every corner??

YetAnotherRIer said...

"Why RIOC not using standardize design and material (with backrest, without backrest, etc) for benches ALL OVER the island; similar to Central Park"

Woah. Roosevelt Island is not a park and I sure don't want a unified look all over. Every building should have its own flair, for example.

CheshireKitty said...

There are benches with backrests in the tree-shaded area toward the river. Maybe the designers assumed people would tend to prefer a shady area for extended rest, which is why the simpler, backless benches were placed in the open, un-shaded areas of the plaza. When I use the plaza, I always gravitate to the area with the trees. Maybe that's just me - but I'd rather not sit exposed to the sun for extended lengths of time.

As far as the planters are concerned, I think we should wait and see what greenery will be planted in them. So far the revitalization of the tree area is great. I think the redesign has succeeded spectacularly with the wonderful paths and additional benches! If the new planter are larger, that may well be a good thing - as larger shrubs or maybe even trees could be planted in larger planters. Can we please wait until the project is complete to critique the effect? So far I have no problems with it.

Yes - the backless benches are obviously "modern" in contrast to the GSC - but so are the buildings that surround GSC on all four sides. All the new developments on RI are "modern" - if we went with a "traditional" look all the time, wouldn't that be tacky in light of the new modern buildings? So they didn't want wooden park benches for some of the seating - so what? The backless benches maybe are austere - but maybe that's not such a bad thing. We are getting additional seating with these benches - so far I do not see the additions as cluttering up the space. I think the planters will add a lot - so we should wait until the trees/shrubs are in place - and then decide if we like the effect.

wadawin said...

I love the work being done to the plaza surrounding the Good Shepherd Community Center. The beautiful garden area created on the west side of the plaza has already made its presence felt. As you walk around the plaza you can see the beginnings of an overall look that ties together once vacant areas devoid of any references to the surrounding buildings into a vibrant, flowing, environment. The choice of materials for the polished sitting slabs and the large scale stone planters are in juxtaposition to the architecture of the existing Church building. When the planters are potted the entire plaza area will be an inviting environment for Island residents and visitors to gather in and enjoy. And, how great is be able to sit around our aging bell without climbing all over it! Thanks to Vickie Fienmel for doing a beautiful job. David Enock

Westviewer said...

It's good that the buildings are all different, but the street furniture should be consistent. I don't understand the thinking behind the backless stone slabs that clash with the church. The slatted wooden benches are a nice, simple design that would have been more appropriate. I suspect that the choice of the stone slabs has to do with the cost of

maintenance (which will be much less if

Frank Farance said...

Gina: Agreed, the Gaudy Plaza is now a jumble of incoherent styles. Said one resident "this is the worst urban design I've seen". Before you pick apart the result, look at the process:

Island House has about 2/3 of the frontage of the plaza, but neither Island House Tenants Association nor the managing agent were consulted. Just like the resurfacing of the plaza: Rivercross managing agent was contacted, so they got new while slates in front of their building, but Island House was not (so we have the old while slates in front of Trellis).

Like many things on the Island, Rivercross gets the special attention: all the fancy granite benches are on their side. From the WIRE article, it sounds like an the committee was significantly from Rivercross.

Meanwhile, we have five sets of really big planters, in styles that are inconsistent with the church, the plaza, the granite benches, the other benches, the "bell", and the buildings. And those planters block key walking paths (like in the east side) so the funnel and crowd pedestrians towards choke points; and the planters in the rear block areas where people would congregate after church on on summer days.

The granite benches on the south side of the church, effectively, cut off one lane of the plaza.

So a wide open space (which there aren't too many like this, and only one on Roosevelt Island), has been narrowed and crapped up with ugly furniture whose gaudy aesthetic seems to be "it's granite, so it *must* be fancy".

Meanwhile, the benches seem to be all scattered around the garden ... it's like someone said: How Many Benches Can We Cram In?

Overall, they gave little thought to how kids would play. I've heard from several people that, considering the committee was older without kids, there was a distinct focus to make the area less suitable for kids play.

I guess Gaudy Plaza looks nice if you see it as improving the value of your Rivercross apartment. :-)

wadawin said...

Gina, Frank, You guys really ought to keep your disapproval of the current landscaping design that is underway on topic. Criticize the design all you want but geeze, stop expressing resentment of Rivercross or its residents with snide remarks. It's more sour grapes than informative and says more about the messengers than the message.

Frank Farance said...

wadawin: The process is part of the fault, Rivercross (via 4 of 6 members) seems to have much more sway. I'll cite more examples.

wadawin said...

No need to cite more examples. There was no "fault" in the "process". A majority of the plaza area impacts Rivercross.

Frank Farance said...

Ole YIELD-Y: fixing a safety hazard at helix intersection costs only $250, but RIOC refuses to spend the money. Videos show RIOC bus drivers blowing through the stop sign.

PSD Director Jack McManus explains that RIOC's grinding machine broken in the middle of scraping away the YIELD letters in two lanes (leaving YIELD-Y). But this intersection is a safety hazard because drivers go through the intersection believing that it is Yield for northbound traffic (as RIOC Red Bus drivers actually do). And if the Q102 is picking up passengers, the Stop Sign is not visible to motorists, so the see the YIELD letters and go ahead.

Yet another accident waiting to happen: it has been three weeks and RIOC has done nothing. If the grinder broke, you couldn't paint black (or paint white) over it ... or rent a machine? Here are a couple videos of the Red Buses blowing through the intersection:

RIOC, if your machine broke, with PSD Deputy Director Marmara's purported "Partners At DOT", you couldn't find a grinder to borrow or rent? I spent less than 10 minutes searching (second phone call), and found a grinder you can rent for $250/day at Boston Road Equipment in the Bronx.

If this were a business, you can bet the owner/boss would quickly spend the $250 because they see all the potential tort liability litigation (that costs waaaay more than $250). But not RIOC. RIOC lets lots of safety hazards continue, they just have bad executive management and they don't know how to manage risk. So yet another person will need to die before RIOC takes action.

Other small towns and governments would have a quick response, too. The RIOC Board doesn't care, except when their Rivercross windfall cash-outs are at stake, that's the only time we saw real quick proactive response from the RIOC Board.

Frank Farance

wadawin said...

Backless concrete benches are in place all over the world. Concrete is no more no less hot or cold than other materials. People evidently find them appealing to sit on, weather permitting. Just think of them as modern sculptural elements for sitting.

RooseveltIslander said...

The Good Shepherd Plaza is a Public, not private, space maintained and paid for by RIOC. Why should the interests of those living in Rivercross have greater priority than any other member of the Roosevelt Island community?

Why should proximity of Rivercross to the Public Plaza make any difference?

wadawin said...

I agree, the interests of Rivercross residents do not take precedent over any other Island residents. My comment about the plaza landscaping mostly affecting Rivercross was in response to Frank's comment about the disparity in the make up of the design committee for the project. The fact that there are more Rivercross residents on the design committee than all others does not lessen the quality of the design and execution of the project. Nor does it suggest a bias towards a "design for Rivercross residents". Rather, based on what we see so far, the plaza design is thoughtful and considerate and, an area that is for the entire Island population to enjoy.

CheshireKitty said...

That is true - it is seating that is also similar to an architectural/sculptural element. I again had a chance to look at the arrangements of the small and large planters and actually like the planters - they are quite sculptural and somehow inexplicably seem "hopeful" maybe their shape seems more "open" to the sky.

The one critique I would make, or question I would have, is the placement of the benches at the S side of the church away from the church building's recessed areas or bays within which park benches used to be (I think). The recessed areas would seem to be "naturals" for seating. I'm wondering what was the rationale for having the long benches - nice as they are - offset from the building instead of placed within the niches? Obviously, there would have been less seating if benches to fit the bays or niches had been selected - the long benches do not fit in the bays but do give us more seating.

Maybe that was the rationale: To give the community more seating, the long benches were purchased.

wadawin said...

Cheshiecat—Seem like reasonable questions—Vickie Fienmel would probably be able to address them. D.

Frank Farance said...

wadawin: The problem with Rivercross residents dominating "Gaudy Plaza" redesign is that it doesn't incorporate others' interests. Island House has 2/3 the frontage, which Rivercross has 1/3 the frontage. I'm not saying that the voting should be proportional, I'm pointing out that one building had an outsize say in the design, and that outsize say produced and outsize benefit for their building.

Compare the two "nooks" in the images below. Rivercross nook got lots of improvement, while the Island House nook was left bare, still with the same old benches (just like white slates in front of Trellis, whereas Rivercross got new slates).

That Island House nook was play area for kids and I've heard that the Rivercross people wanted to design the revised plaza to be less "kid friendly", i.e., the kids (who are main users of the plaza) were not considered by the largely older Rivercross tenancy, the kids were perceived as "noise" to be minimized.

And why wasn't Island House's tenants association or managing agent consulted?

As I've said: a better explanation is that Rivercross improved their side of the plaza to improve the value of their million dollar windfall apartments. (More in this in future comments.)

wadawin said...

There is a beautifully landscaped garden and sitting area east of the playground (for the young 'uns) that benefits primarily Island House. It hardly "doesn't incorporate others' interests. It is of clear benefit to Island House buildings. The balance of Rivercross frontage rather than being 1/3 is more like 1/2 on the southern side of the plaza. I can't answer why as you say, Island House's tenants association or managing agent were not consulted on the project--though there are some who say that Island house was asked to participate. As for the hearsay that the Rivercross people wanted to design the revised plaza to be less "kid friendly", that the kids were perceived as "noise" to be minimized, that may well be. The plaza is a heavily trafficked residential area so that may not be so bad an idea. In addition, there are many areas already set aside for kids of all ages on the Island. Lastly, the plaza landscape design is exciting in it's daring and creative use of modern forms and materials. Lastly, people can oppose the "process" people can oppose the design, but In the Fall, when the trees and decorative grasses are potted, we will all finally have a beautiful plaza here on Roosevelt Island.

CheshireKitty said...

There is always the question of balancing the need for quiet vs. the wish for kids to be noisy and blow off steam.

I grew up on an urban block in Midwood, Brooklyn - where there was always noise from kids, cars, and so forth. It didn't bother me - but I know that others preferred a somewhat quieter environment. It wasn't always older people, either. Occasionally a college student on the block might want to read a book on their stoop, or an adult with our without kids might want to leaf through a magazine. Sometimes us kids would get yelled at - even by adults with kids. Maybe it was partially a "class" difference: The more upwardly mobile well-off families probably didn't want kids roaming the block and playing, or would have preferred that they troop off to the playground and play there. None of this deterred us from our activities though - the street, the driveways, the front and back yards, were our playground,

Actually, there should be an expansion of recreational options for kids on RI, such as a skate park for skateboarders. Although there are several playgrounds around with play equipment - with the burgeoning population of the island, maybe consideration should be given for more parks or playgrounds for kids. Obviously, because of the somewhat cramped space on RI - with only one street - and the buildings back to back along Main St, there isn't much "left-over" space. Obviously, you can't play stickball on Main St. Of course, why would you want to - since there's a ball field available right on Main St @ Capobianco Park. And sadly, with kids plugged into devices more and more, you don't see many kids playing in the street as you once would, even if there are playgrounds or ball fields available literally downstairs from their apartments. The games on the devices are so much more exciting.

In IH, some residents complain about ball-playing or skateboarding in the courtyard. But the courtyard has a play area, in addition to a seating area. Maybe the thought is adolescents or young adults shouldn't play ball in the courtyard because of the noise they generate, but it is OK for younger kids to play in the playground area (although they too can be noisy).

What might be nice is if some play equipment were added to the playground to the W of the seating area with the trees - the IH nook - and more seating. It is possible RY did not wish to participate in the redesign and that's why the benches are still the same old benches - even the planter in that nook is an old planter. However, I don't see the RC nook as "incredible" or that much "superior" to the IH nook. It does have some new "furniture" but really - it's pretty standard. What is nice is the groupings of the large planters in the plaza, the redesigned area to the W of the church with the paths and benches, and even the stone benches since we do get additional seating with them and maybe they do add a "classical" austerely beautiful element to the plaza.

Also - to echo what David has said, and what I've said before, we may want to wait and see what the effect will be of the grasses/shrubs in the planters and that will only be possible in the Spring, before we give our final thumbs up/down on the redesign.

Bella Nicey said...

RIOC continues to have yet another safety hazard a life was lost and still the negligence continues. It took RIOC two years to repair the footbridges at Lighthouse Park also four months with an open trench next to AVAC (across from 40 River Road), and curbs ditches waiting 4-5 months for a load of concrete. This motorgate turnaround project is now three months old, WHY? It seems like RIOC has no management of their projects, they get started and then abandoned. Is the engineering department overseeing any of these projects?

CheshireKitty said...

I think RIOC works on a number of projects simultaneously - resulting in many projects making no progress for long periods of time given the finite manpower resources of RIOC - rather than prioritizing projects and working on them sequentially.

RIOC is therefore starting many projects and then just suspending work on some of them as manpower is called to work on other projects. If it was possible for RIOC to give us a (rational) status report on the projects, I am sure you will find most dragging on for many months if not years, the Motorgate escalator "project" being the most extreme example of abandonment. They start repairing something but then seemingly disappear - obviously a normal business or property owner would never do this, given that they would be loath to lose customers if a renovation or repair dragged on for too long. Plus, doesn't abandoning repair projects for months with open ditches etc violate some law that projects must be finished asap so they will not continue to pose a safety hazard? Imagine if the innumerable utility projects we see on City streets were just - abandoned - for months at a time. It is not going to happen - the work has to be wrapped up as quickly as possible. Somehow, the same ethos of accomplishing tasks on a timely basis is not in effect at RIOC.