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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Roosevelt Island Cafe @Cornell Tech Earns Grade A From NYC Health Department, Cafe Closed For Thanksgiving Weekend, New Winter Hours And Meet The New GM

Reported October 23 the surprising news that the Roosevelt Island Cafe @ Cornell Tech

received a NYC Health Department Restaurant Inspection C Grade.

Fortunately, the C Grade did not last long.

 On November 1, new Cafe @Cornell Tech General Manager Chris Lewis reported achieving an A Grade from the NYC Health Department. According to Mr. Lewis:
The NYC Department of Health inspected The Café yesterday and I am very pleased to announce that it earned an “A” grade.

We would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding while our team implemented corrective actions to receive this grade. .... The framed “C” was removed by the inspector yesterday and the “A” is slated to be posted this Monday upon its arrival. The only grade acceptable to Constellation and the Cornell Tech community is an “A,” and I ensure you that we will continuously maintain best practices for food service moving forward.

As the new General Manager for Constellation Culinary @ Cornell Tech I look forward to providing the best food service and to working with all of you. Please feel free to contact me or stop by The Café to discuss all things food.

That's good news. The Cafe has become a favorite spot for many Roosevelt Island residents and visitors since it opened last year.

The Cafe @Cornell Tech will be closed Thanksgiving Day, November 22 thru Sunday November 25 and reopen for regular schedule Monday November 26.

The Cafe will be closed for Winter Break from December  22 - January 2 2019.

Below is upcoming schedule of operation for the Cafe @Cornell Tech

During the October 25 meeting of Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Community Construction Task Force, Cornell Tech Director of Facilities Operations Dan Cooke spoke about garbage pick up, recycling, sustainability and the Cafe operations.

Also, the new GM of Cafe @Cornell Tech Chris Lewis talked about upcoming plans for the Cafe.

More info about the Cafe @ Cornell Tech, operated by the Constellation Culinary Group, available at their web site including daily menus.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park Announces Winning Entrants Of Sketch 4 Freedom Contest - Serene Space, Kahn's Agora And Unnamed Are Top 3 Sketches

Roosevelt Island's Four Freedoms Park reports on the winning entrants of their Sketching Contest. According to Four Freedoms Park Conservancy:

Four Freedoms Park Conservancy is thrilled to announce the winners of our second annual sketching contest, Sketch 4 Freedom, which invited artists of all skills to visit FDR Four Freedoms State Park and create artwork inspired by the of theme celebrating public space. Participants were encouraged to explore the meaning of public space and the various ways people use public space to enrich their lives.
and Tweets:

More info here.

October 1 - March 31, Four Freedoms Park is open daily, 9am to 5pm; closed Tuesdays. The Park is closed on December 25.

Hey Susan - RIOC President Susan Rosenthal Answers Questions From Roosevelt Island Residents On Affordable Housing, Red Bus Schedule, Octagon Tennis Court Rules, Library Playground, Visitors Center, Negative Curmudgeon Bloggers & More - Send In Your Questions Too

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) has started a new communication feature for residents, - Ask Hey Susan - in which RIOC President Susan Rosenthal

will answer questions you ask her.

Here's the second installment of Ask Hey Susan.
HEY SUSAN! A bi-weekly column of questions to and answers from RIOC President and CEO Susan Rosenthal


I recently learned that you don't live on Roosevelt Island. Do you think that your investment in the community is at all compromised if you don't reside within it, or do you think that this is not the case? It baffles me that the President of the RIOC would be allowed to live off the Island. Thank you for explaining why this shouldn't matter.

SUSAN: Thanks for your question. I don’t think it matters that I live off Island. I believe that in any job, one is as invested as one wants to be. As President, I learn about Roosevelt Island by spending the time and effort to investigate, with my own eyes and ears, the community’s hopes, desires, and complaints.

My door is always open, and residents come in constantly, with A picture containing person, man Description generated with very high confidence or without appointments, to meet with our executive team and me.

I regularly attend events - it helps that I live minutes away - where I take the opportunity to observe and engage with Island residents. (Wasn’t the Halloween Extravaganza fun? And, I thought our Veterans Celebration was both moving and respectful).

The healthy and harmonious functioning of Roosevelt Island is what I’ve chosen to devote my waking hours to; I don’t need to sleep here to orchestrate RIOC Operations and make sure that essential services are provided - snow removal, the Red Buses and the Tram, garbage pick-up, landscaping, road repair, public safety, the Sportspark, maintenance of playgrounds and fields, the Youth Center and its sports programs, in addition to a list of renovations, remediations, and new projects.

One of the amazing things I’ve learned in the past few years is that so many RIOC employees LOVE the Island and take pride in how beautiful it is. That makes my job a lot easier!

Finally, our elected officials don’t live here while representing Roosevelt Island, but they come here and communicate with me and our residents often. We’ve worked together and will continue to work together to serve our Island.

So, I guess, that if a President cares about the Island, learns about it, spends time here with its residents and wants to do a good job (and has the skills to do so), I don’t think he/she has to live here.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Developer Hudson Related To Build 341 Unit Affordable Housing Building On Roosevelt Island, Will RI Residents Be Given Preference For Units? RIOC Board Meeting Tomorrow To Approve Ground Lease

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) is holding a special meeting of the Board of Directors tomorrow. According to RIOC:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a Special Meeting of the Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. at the Manhattan Park Theater Club at 8 River Road, Roosevelt Island, New York.


1. Authorization to Enter Into a Ground Lease for Southtown for Building #8 in Accordance with the Fifth Amendment to the Development Agreement (Board Action Required – Materials to Follow)
Hudson Related is the developer of Southtown a/k/a Riverwalk building 8

According to this excerpt from November 15, 2018 Memo by RIOC General Counsel Jacqueline Flug:
... Under the proposed Building 8 Ground Lease, a 21-story building comprised of approximately 240,000 square feet of floor area and 341 rental units, will be constructed. Building 8 will be financed under the Department of Housing Preservation and Development of the City of New York and the New York City Housing Development Corporation’s M2 Mixed Middle Income Program. RIOC seeks to preserve affordable housing, consistent with its mission and statutory purpose.

Under the Building 8 Ground Lease (i) 3% of the 341 units will be reserved as Homeless Units, (ii) 3% of the units will be reserved for very low-income families with household incomes of 40% of AMI, (iii) 14% of the units will be reserved for families with household incomes of 50% of AMI, (iv) 10% of the units will be reserved for families with household incomes of 80% of AMI, (v) 20% of the units will be reserved for families with household incomes of 100% of AMI, and (vi) 50% of the units will be reserved for families with household incomes of 130% of AMI. This breakdown provides an even greater degree of affordability than was set forth in the Fifth Amendment.

To the extent permitted under the financing programs, current Roosevelt Island residents will be given preference in any affordable housing lottery with respect to Building 8....
During the November 7 RIOC Real Estate Advisory Committee meeting, Hudson Related's David Kramer described plans for the Riverwalk 8 Roosevelt Island affordable housing building including potential for Roosevelt Island residents to obtain preferences for apartment in the buidling . Here's the discussion.

The most recent Ask Susan feature from RIOC President Susan Rosenthal includes a question from a resident about Roosevelt Island affordable housing, or the lack thereof.

I was very happy to see the email below from RIOC and hope that you will be able to assist me. I have a daughter who is bipolar and schizophrenic and as a divorced mother with six years to retirement, I am the only caregiver financially and otherwise as my daughter cannot work.

After residing on Roosevelt Island for six years in a one-bedroom at Manhattan Park Apartments, I now find that I am in uurgent need of an affordable apartment on the island or I will have no choice but to leave when my lease expires in May 2019.

I did not understand that the rent for a one-bedroom apartment would move drastically from the US $2,000 range to the current amount of US $2,732. Based on the fact that last year’s lease agreement increased my rent by US $266, I am afraid that I will not be able to continue living on Roosevelt Island beyond May 2019.

Susan, I really hope you will be able to inform me of any affordable two-bedroom apartment which is available on the island. Looking forward to your reply and guidance. Thank you in advance.

SUSAN: Thank you for your question and please accept my admiration of your dedication to your daughter.

As the governing agency for the Island, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation negotiates lease agreements with the various building owners and developers that include provisions for affordable housing based on federally-accepted income guidelines based on the Area Median Income (AMI) of the New York City region. These income guidelines are calculated annually, vary by family size and therefore subject to change on a yearly basis. I encourage you to contact several of the Island building managers to inquire about the availability of any designated affordable units in their developments.

Also, note that Hudson-Related is close to beginning construction on a new housing complex in Southtown that will wholly consist of affordable units based on the AMI. However, it is not expected to open until the summer of 2020.
Does anyone know the total number of Roosevelt Island affordable housing units in each building complex? How many affordable housing units in Southtown, Manhattan Park, Octagon, Wire buildings etc?

UPDATE 11/21 - RIOC Board of Directors

approved the ground lease for Riverwalk Building 8 last evening. The 3 resident Board members voted in favor of the ground lease and 2 NY State officials abstained. Acting RIOC Board Chair Alex Valella abstained because his agency approved a subsidy for the project. Also, the other NY State representative (don't have her name) abstained, saying that she did not have sufficient information to cast a vote.

Prior to the vote, the RIOC Board entered into Executive Session to discuss unresolved terms of the Ground Lease Agreement. The public, including Hudson Related representatives, were asked to leave the meeting room and were not allowed to observe issues being discussed by the RIOC Board. We waited in the adjoining foyer.

After approximately 30 minutes the Hudson Related representatives were called back into the room. After another 20 minutes, the Hudson Related representatives returned to the foyer, not looking very happy.

Shortly thereafter, we were all called back into the meeting room and the RIOC Board resumed it's public meeting.

Prior to the vote, RIOC General Counsel Jaci Flug announced that an additional provision would be  added to Ground Lease Agreement resolution. Hudson Related would build a Comfort Station at Firefighters Field and make modifications to the field at a cost not to exceed $1 Million.

Also, prior to the vote, RIOC Board member Michael Shinozaki asked Hudson Related's David Kramer to respond to questions about the project including the mix and configuration of the 341 apartment units. Mr Kramer's colleague from Related Companies reported that:
... 25% of units are studios, 15% are 3 Bedrooms and the balance are 1-2 bedrooms....
(Will have more specific info on unit configuration soon).

Here's the discussion,

followed by the Board vote.

 RIOC Board Director Michael Shinozaki joined the other 2 resident Board Members voting in favor of the Ground Lease but noted prior to his vote:
... you haven't left us with much of a choice..
During the RIOC Board Public Session, prior to the start of the Board meeting, Roosevelt Island resident Frank Farance asked the Board to defer voting on the Ground Lease Agreement until the plan on apartment layout is in compliance with the Roosevelt Island General Development Plan.

Stay tuned for more info on Riverwalk Building 8 Affordable Housing Plan.

You're Invited To Roosevelt Island Senior Center And Disabled Association (RIDA) Thanksgiving Dinner Thursday November 22 - Volunteers Needed To Help Serve, Clean Up and Deliver Meals To Homebound

The Carter Burden Roosevelt Island Senior Center together with the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) are hosting their annual Thanksgiving Dinner Thursday, November 22 from 1-3 PM (546 Main Street).

According to RIDA President Wendy Hersh:
RIDA's annual Thanksgiving dinner for those individuals with disabilities  and seniors living on Roosevelt Island that have no where to go will be on Thursday from 1-3pm at the Senior center. We will be collaborating with Carter Burden Senior Center. Please let people who are interested in coming to our Thanksgiving Dinner know to sign up with Yulissa at the Senior Center in advance so we have an approximate head count

We could use volunteers
2016 RIDA Thanksgiving Dinner Volunteers

to help serve or clean up too.

Yulisa Santana of the Carter Burden Roosevelt Island Senior Center adds:
The senior center is looking for volunteers to help deliver the Holiday meals to our homebound seniors Wednesday, November 21, 2018 from 12- 1:30 p.m. If you would like to volunteer, please let me know.
Contact Ms.Santana here.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Roosevelt Island Goldwater Hospital Resident Returns To Site Of Demolished Hospital Now Cornell Tech Campus - Shares Memories Of Life In Open Doors Video, Var's Goldwater Experience

The Open Doors program at Roosevelt Island's Coler Hospital:

... supports the creativity and leadership of people who have been harmed by street violence and live in a long-term care facility. Through storytelling, poetry, hip-hop and more, OPEN DOORS members inspire action for safer, more just communities...

An example of the creativity inspired by the Open Doors program is this:
Video by OPEN DOORS member Andres "Jay" Molina, chronicling fellow OPEN DOORS member LeVar "Var" Lawrence's memories of Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island.

Also, a profile of Open Doors Filmmaker Andres "Jay" Molina:

Take a look at November 2013 final day
of Goldwater Hospital and July 2013 video of patients expressing their fears and concerns of Goldwater being shut down.