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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Report From RIRA Planning Committee - Long Term Impact Of Cornell Tech On Roosevelt Island Facilities, Air Quality Monitoring, Bike/Pedestrian Signage, Southpoint Park Initiative, Water Quality And Meeting With RIOC President

Below is Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Planning  Committee report

Image From RIRA

to the June 1 Common Council meeting submitted by Committee Chair Dennis Lawson:
RIRA – PLANNING COMMITTEE Summary Meeting Minutes Notes, May 25, 2016

... The Committee had six items on its agenda: 1) Update on long term impact of Cornell Tech on RI facilities; 2) Update on follow‐up to Air quality monitoring initiative; 3) Update on RIOC immediate/future plans for bike/pedestrians signage; 4) Follow‐up to Southpoint Park planning meeting of 28 April; 5) Water quality on the Island; 6) Any other business.

1) Update on long term impact of Cornell Tech on RI facilities

The RIRA Planning committee Chair met with Andrew Winters, Senior Director of Capital Projects, Cornell Tech, and Jane Swanson, Assistant Director of Government & Community Relations, Cornell Tech on 19 May 2016 at Cornell Tech offices. He outlined that the RIRA Planning committee is trying to assess how Cornell Tech might affect existing RI facilities, including vehicle traffic and parking, sport facilities, biking routes, children playground.

Andrew Winters confirmed that Cornell had conceived their project on the island with a view to become an integral part of the RI community, rather than establishing a separate self‐contained campus. Accordingly, he stated that there should be 1600 students and staff at Cornell Tech by 2018. 50% of these are expected to reside on RI. Most Cornell Tech students however will be one‐year students in their 20s, including 40% foreigners sponsored by their tech companies to complete a masters’ degree. There will be 500 studio type residences for students and 16 apartments for faculty members on campus. Therefore, there will be only few families and children on campus and no pressure on RI existing playgrounds.

They will have a fitness room on campus and outside gym equipment for Cornell Tech affiliates also available to the RI community. They expect to have access to Sportspark and would be ready to contribute to the renovation of the structure, while avoiding to put too much pressure on the current residents use of facility. Their discussions on this matter are on‐going with RIOC.

They will have 40 parking spots underground for Cornell staff and students. There will be another 86 RIOC‐managed paying public parking spots along the road around the campus. They limited their own parking facilities on purpose to dissuade their affiliates to drive to RI. On the contrary, they will favor and encourage public transportation, including biking. They are a primary sponsor of the upcoming ferry service and committed $500,000 a year for 5 years from 2017 for that purpose. Lastly, given their schedule, students will commute at different times of the day not necessarily at rush hours.

2) Update on follow‐up to Air quality monitoring initiative

The RIRA Planning committee Chair updated the committee on his discussions with Cornell on this matter. He outlined the status of the RIRA‐led AQM initiative to Andrew Winters and Jane Swanson and difficulty to find funding to implement it. He congratulated Cornell for the manner in which they handle air quality at the construction site. He informed Cornell representatives of RIRA interest in possibly retaining Cornell existing AQM system once the construction is concluded to monitor air quality on the southern end of the island where pollution is more likely as a result of the Queensborough bridge traffic and FDR. Without committing, Andrew Winters stated that Cornell would certainly be amicable to considering the request by RI community to retain their AQM system post‐2018. He also indicated that the system requires daily expert management. The RIRA Planning committee Chair expressed appreciation for the Cornell’s consideration and suggested some arrangements might be found between RIRA and RIOC for third party support to manage the AQM system, as RIOC is interest in environment protection.

3) Update on RIOC immediate/future plans for bike/pedestrian signage

The RIRA Planning committee Chair informed the committee that he met Susan Rosenthal, RIOC Acting CEO & President on 2 May 2016 and presented her a series of issues on the planning committee agenda (see annex 1). The RIOC President approved the suggestion that marking and signs on the promenades for bike/pedestrian traffic safety would improve safety and could be implemented immediately. The RIRA Planning committee Chair, RIOC President and RIOC Transportation General Manager Cyril Opperman had a subsequent field visit on the West promenade. The RIOC President promised that bike/pedestrian lanes, yield markings, and slow down signs would be put in place as soon as possible. The Planning committee Chair informed the committee that he would attend a meeting with RIOC on 27 May 2016 to discuss bike lane markings on the promenades.

With regard to longer term bike paths development on the island, the RIOC President confirmed that an overall island bike plan had already been designed with Bike New York and would be implemented once construction on the island would be completed by 2018.

Taking note of the lack of information available to bikers on the island, the committee agreed that Frank Farance would draft a Tips for Bikers on RI for review by the committee.

4) Follow‐up to Southpoint Park planning Community Advisory meeting of 28 April 2016;

The Planning committee Chair updated the committee on the outcome of RIOC‐led 28 April 2016 on Southpoint Park planning initiative meeting. The Fitzgerald & Haliday Inc (FHI) a well‐established landscaping design company has been hired by RIOC to redesign Southpoint Park and hospital ruins, as per RI residents’ views. An iterative process of design is led by FHI through interactive and outreach meetings/events with RI residents on 14 and 26 May and 11 June, on‐line survey and public Community Advisory meetings. The Advisory Community committee composed of RI associations serves as liaison with the community. The process should be completed and a project designed by January 2017. During the 28 April meeting a very wide range of ideas were raised. The RIRA Planning committee discussed the consultation process and decided to dedicate specific time during its next meeting to narrow down the number of proposals that could be proposed by RIRA to the Community Advisory committee.

5) Water quality on the Island

Some concerns have been raised by RI residents about the quality of tap water and threat of lead in the plumbing. Concerns were also expressed about potential terrorist threats on water sources. The committee recommended agreed that residents concerned by the quality of their tap water should use rapid individual water quality tests easily available. The Planning committee Chair will reach out to DEP to request a broader assessment of the RI water.

6) Any other business

The committee agreed to discuss parking‐related issues (metered parking duration and location, reserved parking spots, resident vs non‐residents use of public parking spots, etc...), as well as the new ramp for bikes to be connected to the helix by RIOC and rearrangement of the existing helix RI exit circulation rearrangements.
And annex to RIRA Planning Committee Report:
David Lawson, RIRA Planning Committee Chair meeting with Susan Rosenthal, Acting RIOC President & CEO Summary notes – 2 May 2016

The RIRA Chair of the Planning committee, David Lawson, met with Susan Rosenthal, Acting RIOC President &CEO, on 2 May 2016 and discussed the following:

1) Governance/communication
The RIRA Planning committee Chair and the RIOC President agreed that RIOC and RIRA had only to benefit from each other and should entertain a constructive dialogue. The RIOC President’s agenda is solely designed to make the island a better place for its residents.

They agreed that the RIOC website could be more interactive to allow residents to provide feedback and ideas.

The RIOC President proposed to the RIRA Planning Committee Chair to meet monthly to discuss RIOC plans and for RIRA to provide advice, share concerns and constructive recommendations/ideas.

They agreed that such on‐going dialogue should only be constructive and problem solving.

2) RIOC’s agenda

The RIOC President informed the RIRA Planning committee Chair of the immediate priorities on her agenda for the island:
  • Patchwork on the helix
  • Tram fixing
  • Motorgate repair
  • Sportspark, roof, pool and boiler fixing
  • Ferry MoU
  • Bike helix ramp/signs
  • Seawall benchmarks
  • Island small parks management
  • Repairs at the cultural center
  • Kiosks at tram and subway stations
 3) RIRA Planning committee agenda

The RIRA Planning committee Chair presented the issues for consideration by RIOC
  • The RIOC President approved the suggestion that markings and signs on the promenades for bike/pedestrian traffic would enhance safety and could be implemented immediately;
  • The RIOC President confirmed that an island emergency plan existed and approved the idea that it be shared with residents;
  • The RIOC President and RIRA Planning committee Chair agreed that Cornell was acting very respectfully with regard to the community and expressed appreciation for Cornell’s management of community relations. They also agreed that Cornell could be involved in future developments on the island as an active contributor the community. With regard to environment protection, the RIOC President confirmed that she was ensuring that the new ferry service would not increase pollution levels. She agreed to the RIRA Planning committee Chair’s suggestion to request Cornell to maintain their air quality monitoring system in place to monitor air quality on the Southern part of the island even after the site construction is completed.
  • The RIOC President confirmed that she would check on compatibility between the recycling program and existing AVAC system.
  • The RIRA Planning committee Chair informed the RIOC President that some concerns had been expressed about the water quality on the island, and that further reflection would needed within the committee before he could get back to her with more details.
  • With regard to long term planning and protection of the green areas on the island, the RIRA Planning committee Chair congratulated the RIOC President for the initiative on South Point park and enquired about potential plans for the /lighthouse Park. The RIOC President explained that no planning could take place until NY City Hall had shared their plans for the NY City managed‐Coler Hospital.
The Acting RIOC President & CEO confirmed that she would get back to the RIRA Planning committee Chair on the issues discussed.
Here is the June 1 RIRA Common Council discussion of the RIRA Planning Committee Report.