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Thursday, April 18, 2019

You're Invited To Roosevelt Island Historical Society Cherry Blossom Tour Saturday April 20 - Last Chance To See Beautiful RI Cherry Blossoms

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society(RIHS) invites you to their 2019 Cherry Blossom Tour. According to RIHS:

C H E R R Y B L O S S O M T O U R 2 0 1 9


S A T U R D A Y , A P R I L 2 0 T H | 1 1 : 0 0 A. M.

Please join President of RIHS, Judith Berdy, on a walking tour of the colorful and unique assortment of Cherry Blossom

Trees in bloom throughout the Island.

No Reservations Required.

Suggested Donation:

$15 – Adults, $10 – Seniors


Meet at RIHS Visitor Center Kiosk in Tram Plaza, Roosevelt Island.

For general inquiries please email RooseveltIslandHistory@gmail.com

Here's a brief virtual tour of Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossoms from April 16-17. (Click on the full screen icon at bottom right of video for  better view).



RIHS had nothing to do with last Saturday's Cherry Blossom Festival transportation mess.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Real Estate Developer David Kramer Describes Journey From LA Skid Row Affordable Housing Developer To NYC And Roosevelt Island Related Companies Partnership- Riverwalk Building 8 With 341 Unit Affordable Housing Under Construction Now

An interesting interview in The Real Deal with Hudson Companies David Kramer, who in partnership with Related Companies, is the developer of Roosevelt Island's Southtown Riverwalk buildings complex as well as the Main Street Retail Master Leaseholder. Mr. Kramer describes his start in the real estate business building affordable housing in LA's Skid Row to developing in NYC including Roosevelt Island.


According to The Real Deal:
How did you hook up with Related on Riverwalk?

It was an arranged marriage. We didn’t know each other; we hadn’t worked with each other before. And when we started, we weren’t quite sure how it would work. It’s been a 20-year relationship that expanded to us taking over all the retail on Roosevelt Island together.

Did you know it was going to be a 20-year project when you started?

No. We almost sent in a resignation letter. I mean it didn’t seem as sexy to be designated to work with Roosevelt Island [in the 1990s]. I drafted a letter saying, “No thanks, love and kisses, Hudson.” But I was chatting with some colleagues, and they said that seems like too good of an opportunity to turn up. So I put the letter away. But getting there … we didn’t start construction until December 2001...
Click here for entire The Real Deal interview with Mr Kramer.

Hudson Related is currently in construction on Riverwalk 8,


a 341 unit fully affordable housing building. As reported last November:
... 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.

BUILDING 8 GROUND LEASE TERMS
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....
and here's video



of Mr. Kramer with his Related colleagues discussing the affordable housing plan with RIOC Real Estate Advisory Committee during November 7, 2018 meeting.

During the November 7 meeting, Mr. Kramer said he would love to give Roosevelt Island residents a preference  for the affordable units but the NYC Housing Preservation Department, which is providing project financing said the preference is for entire Community Board 8 and not limited to Roosevelt Island residents.

More on the Roosevelt Island Riverwalk 8 Affordable Housing Building at this prior post.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

RIOC And RIRA Respond To Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival Transportation Mess - Events Of This Scale Will Be Subject Of Future Discussions And Roosevelt Island No Longer Best Kept Secret In NYC Says RIOC President



It's impossible to walk down Roosevelt Island's Main Street without hearing residents talk about the transportation mess that occurred at last Saturday's Cherry Blossom Festival.



There are so many stories of Roosevelt Island residents and visitors safety put in danger by the enormous crowds overwhelming our local transportation infrastructure. Just one example from a resident described:
What a mess. The attendees were put in great danger. The accountability goes to the organizers and RIOC. There were not enough food vendors, the water was shut off, public transportation was insufficient and at some point almost impossible to get off the island. The subway station was so crowded that no one could go in or out of the station. That was really VERY DANGEROUS. Neighbors reported close to an hour wait to get out of the station. Where was public safety?, why was NYPD not contacted to help with crowd control?

Organizing an event of this magnitude requires many hours of work, carefully crafted contingency plans and lots of logistic organization.
An outraged visitor added:
In response to my inquiry last Sunday, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Susan Rosenthal stated:
We are in the midst of debriefings and will have a lot to say in the near term. But, there were no “transportation problems”, ... — there were about 3 times as many folks as last year. NYPD and RIOC made decisions based upon safety concerns. No one was hurt and no one got arrested.
A RIOC spokesperson provided a more detailed statement this evening:
On Saturday, April 13th, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) presented their annual Cherry Blossom Festival, partnering with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) and FDR Four Freedoms State Park. While the event was highly successful, with great weather, fabulous entertainment, Japanese culture, and of course the beautiful cherry blossom trees, the island experienced overcrowding in its transportation hubs, at the Tramway, Subway, and Ferry. In addition, the Roosevelt Island Bridge had an influx of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, causing intermittent delays and, at times, complete shutdowns to vehicular access were necessary as a safety precaution.

Historically, the typical crowd size for this event has been approximately 2,000 – 3,000 people, until 2018 when approximately 10,000 guests attended. As a result of this increase, RIOC anticipated an even larger crowd size in 2019 and, focusing its attention on safety, re-evaluated the event layout, travel restrictions, staffing, and security plan preceding this year’s event.

The RIOC Public Safety Department (PSD) partnered with the New York Police Department (NYPD) and NYCEM to provide additional on-island support. In addition, PSD was in contact with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to ensure there were no interruptions in subway service to Roosevelt Island. There were roughly 60 dedicated security personnel, which were comprised of RIOC Public Safety, NYPD officers, and outside security officers, on hand at the Festival. The NYPD provided an additional 16 officers, a lieutenant, and a sergeant who were on standby in case they were needed to manage the larger crowds.

This year the Cherry Blossom Festival had a record number of approximately 30,000 people attend. The Festival activities took place between 11 AM – 5 PM, however crowds continued to arrive on Roosevelt Island late in the day, reaching peak capacity between 4 – 4:30 PM. After closely monitoring the overcrowding at the Tram and subway, the following occurred:
  • The NYPD shut down the escalators at the Roosevelt Island subway stop at approximately 4:20 PM, allowing access in and out of the station from both directions.
  • At 4:45 PM the MTA stopped incoming trains to Roosevelt Island. RIOC also stopped Tram service from Manhattan so that both Tram cabins could be utilized to more quickly reduce crowd size on the island.
  • Bridge traffic onto the island was halted as a safety precaution.
  • Additional service (R Train) was added to the F line subway at Roosevelt Island.
  • MTA resumed incoming service at the Roosevelt Island subway at 4:54 PM.
  • At 6:15 PM, PSD reported trains were operating in both directions to the island and the Roosevelt Island Bridge was open to regular vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
  • Regular Tram service resumed at 7:05 PM.
Overall, there were no incidents or injuries reported at the Festival. “Future Cherry Blossom Festivals, and other potential events of this scale, will be the subject of upcoming discussions among RIOC, its Board members, and RIRA now that greater NYC has discovered our island.” stated Susan Rosenthal, President/CEO of RIOC. “Roosevelt Island may no longer be the best kept secret in the city.” Rosenthal added.
Yesterday, I asked the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Cherry Blossom Festival Committee:
Can you please address issue of the disruptions in lives of Roosevelt Island residents caused by the overwhelming number of visitors to the Cherry Blossom Festival including the long delays getting to and from Roosevelt Island on the Tram, Ferry, subway and RI Bridge?

Also going forward, based on your experience, do you believe Roosevelt Island has infrastructure to handle events that will attract large number of visitors and do you plan on doing Cherry Blossom Festival next year?
The RIRA Cherry Blossom Festival Committee replied today:
The Cherry Blossom Festival on April 13, 2019 was a most memorable day for the following reasons:
  1. The fantastic performances: everything from the Japanese Cultural Fair at Gallery RIVAA to the Tea Ceremonies at South Point Park, to the performances at Four Freedoms Park. The visitors were dazzled by the performers and we received endless positive feedback. The Cherry Blossom Festival Committee is very grateful to the neighbors, musicians, dancers and supporters who shared their talents.
  2. For the first time in our nine-year history, the Committee was able to raise enough funds from local merchants, building managements and off-island organizations to pay the world-class musicians and dancers for their performances.
  3. Members of the Committee are very thankful for the vast support and coordination among the local groups: the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, FDR Four Freedoms Park, Gallery RIVAA, the Roosevelt Island Japanese Association, the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance, The Noguchi Museum, the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, the Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network, Amalgamated Bank, Bozzuto Management Company, Bread & Butter Deli, Cornell Tech, Fuji East, Gristedes, Hornblower, Hudson and The Related Companies, Island House Tenants Corp., Island Wine & Spirits, The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, Manhattan Park, Resobox, Starbucks, Urban American, Wengerd Farms, Westview Preservation Partners and Wholesome Factory Market. Thank you as well to the financial sponsors and donors who gave in-kind items.
  4. Our neighbor, the renowned Noguchi Museum, participated in our Cherry Blossom Festival for the first time!
  5. The exuberant attendance exceeded all expectations. It’s safe to say no one anticipated the overwhelming number of the many thousands of people visiting. Whether visitors headed south to participate in our programmed events, or simply strolled north of the tram and subway to view the necklace of cherry blossom trees around Roosevelt Island, everyone delighted in this annual glorious spring display.
  6. Let’s also give credit to all the employees of all the island establishments and the Cherry Blossom Festival volunteers who, in the face of an overwhelming number of visitors, maintained a calm and orderly atmosphere.
The scope of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association is the creation, production, staffing, promotion and maintenance of the cultural integrity of the Cherry Blossom Festival’s programming. One of the quintessential elements of the traditional Japanese cherry blossom celebration is to witness to the actual popping of the cherry blossoms while picnicking under the trees. We give our residents and visitors alike that rare opportunity and that special experience, not often found outside Japan, as they picnic under the cherry blossom trees around the island. This is what makes our festival most authentic. Every year is a learning experience; as the Cherry Blossom Festival continues, we will incorporate what was learned this year, and in the previous years, into our plans.

As for the issues related to transportation, to the best of our knowledge, RIOC was in regular communication with the MTA prior to the Festival regarding continuous service of the F train.

The status of our infrastructure and transportation shortcomings, which is something that Roosevelt Island residents know all too well, has again been called to the attention of our elected officials. Many of them spoke to our festival audiences and witnessed different aspects of these challenges. Let us hope this first-hand experience, plus the widespread news coverage, may serve as the basis to address and fix the shortfalls in our infrastructure and transportation.
Here's the RIRA Cherry Blossom Festival Committee welcoming crowd at FDR Four Freedoms Park and describing the origins of the Festival.



It's true that the Cherry Blossom performances at Four Freedoms Park were great



but a serious conversation must be had as to whether such events drawing huge crowds are worth the serious disruptions to the daily lives of Roosevelt Island residents.

Let's hope planning for the June 1-2 Figment NYC Public Participatory Art Project at Lighthouse Park is better planned and lessons learned from the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Here's more scenes from the Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Transportation mess.

Roosevelt Island Youth Center 9 Week Spring Soccer Season At Firefighters Field & Sportspark Gym Starts Saturday April 29 - Boys And Girls 9 To !8, Residents And Non Residents Encouraged To Register By April 22 Deadline Says RIOC

The Roosevelt Island Youth Center Spring Soccer Season begins Saturday April 19. Registration is now open


According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Registration is now open for Roosevelt Island's nine-week Spring youth soccer program, sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Youth Center.

The program is open to both residents and non-residents of Roosevelt Island. Boys and girls ages 5-18 are encouraged to sign-up by the April 22nd deadline.

The free program will run every Saturday from April 27th through June 29th. The program will take place at two locations: ages 9-18 will play at Firefighter’s Field between 9 AM – 12:30 PM and Ages 5-8 will play inside the Sportspark gymnasium between 1:30 PM – 5 PM. A detailed schedule will be released after the close of registration.

The program will provide varied workshop sessions of skills, drills, and scrimmages. Please note that space is limited. Registration is first come, first serve.

Click here to sign-up by Monday, April 22nd.

For any questions, please call 212-832-4559.
Don't know why the 5-8 year olds have to play soccer indoors at Sportspark Gym instead of outside at Firefighters Field or why the older kids have to be off the field by 12:30. Hopefully, it's not because the field is being permitted to Zog or other similar outside groups.


Will find out. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Saturday Morning Bizarre Drama At The Roosevelt Island Good Shepherd Bus Stop, Apparent Snatching Of Woman Into Black Van Was Fake, Resident Praises RI Public Safety Department For Quick Action

Long time Roosevelt Island resident Nina Lublin reports:

I will say this about our Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department (PSD) -- on Saturday, April 13, they quickly rose to the occasion regarding a bizarre incident by the Good Shepherd Chapel


around 10 am. Please read carefully:

With the Farmers Market in high gear, early Cherry Blossom Festival arrivals out on Main Street, & the usual Saturday morning activity, only a small handful of folks saw a black van pull up to the bus stop by the Good Shepherd Chapel, saw two folks jump out from the van to grab a young woman kicking, screaming and resisting being pulled into the van, which then drove south on Main Street.

A few quick thinking RI folks ran to the PSD office while a few others looked for folks near
Nisi & the Chapel who saw what happened. The one PSD officer who was detailed to the Farmers Market & Crosswalk & closest to what was happening, was among the last to pick up on what was occurring.

In the 60 seconds it took the PSD folks to come out from the office, it was determined that the "grab" was part of a video or movie being recorded by some guy with a small video camera near the church -- WITHOUT any RIOC permit or even notifying PSO that they were even doing this.

The van was pulled over by PSD on its way back from their U-turn at the flagpole & held in front of the PSD office, with it's occupants laughing, the young woman inside saying "I'm OK, really", and with the Sargent in charge, whose name I cannot remember, lecturing the "film maker" about RIOC permits, PSD notifications, and responding to his claim that "we told the people in the bus stop what we were doing", as if that made it OK.

The mom of the two small children (about 4- & 6-yrs old) and a few others were a little traumatized after being too close to what was happening. We all did our best to calm them down.

This could have been a very different event with a different outcome... We are lucky to live somewhere that when we do see something, we do say something -- and quickly.

Bravo to the PSD for doing their jobs -- especially this time.

Sponsored Post - You're Invited To Weill Cornell Medicine & NY Presbyterian Free Spring 2019 Health & Wellness Seminars - Tuesday April 16 Love Your Heart & April 30 Pre-Diabetes Care

You're invited to the Weill Cornell Medicine & NY-Presbyterian Free Health & Wellness Free Spring 2019 Seminar Series.

Tuesday, April 16 at 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Love Your Heart: Understanding and Preventing Heart Disease

Presented by:

Nivee P. Amin, MD
Maria Karas, MD
Luke Kim, MD


Tuesday, April 30 at 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Pre-Diabetes & Diabetes Care: Meals, Monitoring, Medication & More

Presented by:

Felicia Mendelsohn Curanaj, MD
Jane Jeffrie Seley, DNP
Rachel Stahl, RD


Time 6:30–8:00 pm

Place - All seminars held at Uris Auditorium Meyer Research and Education Building Weill Cornell Medicine

1300 York Avenue (at 69th St.)

All seminars are FREE and open to the public. Seating is available for 250 people on a first- come, first-served basis.

American Sign Language interpretive services will be provided at all seminars.

If you require a disability-related accommodation please call 212-821-0888 and leave a message.

Watch the video below to learn more about Weill Cornell Medicine's public outreach programs



including the Health & Wellness Seminars and STEM Education.