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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park Low Income Residents Speak Up For Affordable Housing At Town Hall Meeting - "Who's Going To Help Us, Who's Going To Stand Up For Us" They Ask Local Elected Officials

2-4 River Road is the affordable housing component of the Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park buildings complex with many elderly and low income residents.

During the June 28 Roosevelt Island Town Hall meeting with elected officials (full video of Town Hall here), Manhattan Park 2-4 River Road residents expressed frustration at being ignored by the Manhattan Park building management and local politicians.

After a discussion about Westview building privatization and affordability plan, a 2-4 River Road Manhattan Park resident grabbed the attention of those attending the Town Hall by saying:
 ... we are affordable housing also and they haven't told us if they are going to renew the contract with HUD which will keep us affordable. Also they discriminate against us all the time. They have submetering, they are profiting off the submetering and it seems like no one will help us....

.... Our voices are not being heard, maybe because we are labeled as just low income tenants so they don't care about us. But we're working class people too that also live on Roosevelt Island for decades and it is not fair that we constantly get ignored on Roosevelt Island. We matter too. Our children matter too. Our families matter too.
About the Manhattan Park Management it was said:
 ... They do not recognize us as part of their complex....

... They don't even call us Manhattan Park. They won't let us form a tenants association.

Last week they had a tenants appreciation barbecue and they didn't even invite us. I put up a sign in the Hallway/lobby telling everyone to come and they ripped the signs down and finally decided to invite us to the Tenant Appreciation Barbecue the day before and that's only because I made the tenants of Northtown Phase 2 aware that there was a Tenants Appreciation Day..

Who's going to help us? Who's going to stand up for us?....

Following the Town Hall meeting, Roosevelt Island elected officials offered to provide assistance to the 2-4 River Road Manhattan Park residents.

Last week, I asked 2-4 River Road Tenant Leader Association Board Member Eneaqua Lewis:
Is there any update and did the elected officials get back to you on these issues? Kallos, Serrano, Seawright?
Ms Lewis replied:
The only elected official that contacted me was from Senator Serrano’s office. They have been very helpful. Also democratic leaders from the Four Freedoms Democratic club contacted me, Ben Wetzler and Lauren Trapanotto. Ben is helping me start a complaint against MP management.

MP tried to shut us down because they said they didn’t consider us a “Real TA”. We provided them with paperwork proving we were members of the National Association of HUD Tenants. They then permitted us to have the community room for July 17. MP hasn’t confirmed whether they will show up to answer our questions.

Several tenants on our board have been harassed by MP, including but not limited to having our renewal leases denied or put on hold. At the Town Hall meeting a tenant of MP told me that MP routinely tries to deny giving a lease to anyone who participated in TA’s. As far as I know MP doesn’t have a TA besides 2-4 TA.
According to 76 Assembly District Democratic Party District Leader Ben Wetzler:
This is an extremely frustrating instance of harassment. The management company is clearly in the wrong, and by targeting a new tenants' association they are trying to strip residents of their right to address safety and affordability questions in the future. But the worst part is the tenants at 2 and 4 River Road are having to deal with all the stress of this at home while trying to navigate the bureaucracy without much help. I've been trying to put them in touch with an attorney in case they need to go to court over any of the lease issues and I understand Senator Serrano's office got involved as soon as he heard about what was happening, but there really needs to be a more straightforward way to handle these and a place they can go for support.
In response to my inquiry a Manhattan Park Spokesperson said:
Submetering Update: “As we’ve stated in the past, Manhattan Park purchases electricity from Con Edison at a bulk reduced rate that we pass through to the residents of 2-4 River Road, without any additional charges. Electricity prices are set by the utility provider and rates fluctuate, but the fact is that we are in complete compliance with all Public Service Commission regulations. Furthermore, residents in the affordable units receive a flat monthly utility allowance set annually by HUD based on consumption of the prior year, which often exceeds their energy consumption.”

Tenant Association Concerns: “Manhattan Park management has recognized a tenant association for 2-4 River Road and has provided the opportunity for a public meeting to take place in common space on the property.”

Tenant Appreciation Day: “All Manhattan Park residents, including those at 2-4 River Road, were invited to the Tenant Appreciation Day and in fact many residents from the property in question attended the event. Notices were posted in every building throughout the complex with significant notice.”
Will update when more info available.

Double Feature Roosevelt Island Outdoor Movies At Southpoint Park This Weekend, Star Wars; The Last Jedi On Friday And The Fifth Element On Saturday - Beautiful River Views Plus Burgers, Hot Dogs & Beer At Cornell Tech Cafe Outdoor Patio Too

The third and fourth in the series of 2018 Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movies at Southpoint Park

Image Of June 22 Outdoor Movie Showing of Wonder Woman at Southpoint Park

takes place this weekend, with the showing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Friday, July 20

and The Fifth Element, Saturday July 21.

According to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson:
Are you ready for more movies under the stars?

The next two installments of the free Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movie Series are showing this Friday and Saturday evenings - Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Fifth Element – at Southpoint Park on a 40-foot-wide super-HD screen.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the 2017 American epic space fantasy film, and the eighth installment of the Star Wars franchise. The Fifth Element is a 1997 science-fiction action film that stars Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Milla Jovovich.

At Friday’s screening, the Roosevelt Island Operation Corporation (RIOC) welcomes Verizon, who’ll be donating trivia contest and raffle prizes, as well as providing information to residents about their customer offers on Roosevelt Island. Verizon will return with more prizes and giveaways at the summer’s final two film screenings on August 3 and 17.

All movie festivities begin at 7 p.m.; the movies air at sundown. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early and bring their own lawn chairs and blankets; pets are welcome.

Also prior to this Friday’s film, RIOC will screen the FDR Four Freedoms State Park documentary Face Your Freedoms. Produced by Four Freedoms, in association with Studio in a School and the Bloomberg Arts & Culture Internship Program, the documentary is an intergenerational piece about civic engagement.

For all the moviegoers who need to stay cool, the Sweetface Snoballs mobile truck will be selling flavor ices at both screenings.

For those who might come hungry, The Café at Cornell Tech - the eatery on the graduate school campus just north of Southpoint Park, at 2 West Loop Road - will remain open until 8 p.m. Friday and offer grill specials of hamburgers, hot dogs and other classic favorites. An outdoor bar will serve beer and other non-alcoholic beverages. All complete meal purchasers will receive a free bag of popcorn.

The remaining two movies in the summer series are:
  • Friday, August 3: Black Panther; (rain date August 10)
  • Friday, August 17: A Wrinkle in Time; (rain date August 24)
Movie series visitors to the Island are encouraged to take the Roosevelt Island Tram, the NYC Ferry Astoria line, or the F-train to Roosevelt Island, and then walk to Southpoint Park. Motorists can access the Island from the intersection of Vernon Avenue and 36th Street in Astoria, travel across the Roosevelt Island Bridge, park at the Motorgate garage and take a free Red Bus to Southpoint Park.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Updates On Roosevelt Island Tramway Plaza, Southtown Building 8, Cat Sanctuary & Mental Health Awareness Initiatives On Agenda For Thursday, July 19 Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Committee Meeting - You're Invited To Attend

The Manhattan Community Board 8

Image From CB8M

Roosevelt Island Committee will meet tomorrow, July 19. Committee Chair Lynn Strong-Shinozaki invites all Roosevelt Island residents to attend and shares the meeting agenda below:
Roosevelt Island Committee
Thursday, July 19, 2018 - 6:30PM
Good Shepard Community Center
543 Main Street,
Roosevelt Island, NY
Auditorium (Upstairs)


1. Update on Tramway Plaza

2. Update on Southtown Building 8

3. Update on WFF Cat Sanctuary

4. Update on Mental Health Awareness Initiatives

Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, Chair

Roosevelt Island Westview Ground Lease Extension On RIOC Real Estate Committee Meeting Agenda Today - When Will Agreement Be Reached On Exit From Mitchell Lama And Privatization?

During the June 28 Roosevelt Island Town Hall meeting with elected officials (full video of Town Hall here), Roosevelt Island Westview residents were hoping to receive some answers about

the status of the building's exit from Mitchell Lama program

and privatization efforts including extension of building's ground lease from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC)

as Westview building owner David Hirschorn and RIOC President Susan Rosenthal conferred

in the back of the room at Good Shepherd Community Center.

No answers were given during the Town Hall meeting other than all necessary parties were working diligently to reach an agreement. Westview residents left the meeting very frustrated with the lack of answers.

We may soon have some answers. Later today, the RIOC Real Estate Advisory Committee is meeting to discuss extension of the Westview building ground lease.

However, the meeting is in Executive Session, closed to the public.

According to RIOC:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. at the RIOC Administrative Office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.


Chair’s Motion for Executive Session to Discuss the Westview Ground Lease Negotiations

Any Other Committee Business That May be Brought Before the Committee.
Both RIOC and the Westview Building owner declined to comment on status of negotiations. The Westview Task Force, representing building residents, issued this statement yesterday:
From what we know, significant progress has been recently made between New York State agencies and Westview Owners in connection with the revised Westview Affordability Plan. We anticipate receiving a copy of the Plan for review and remain hopeful that our ground lease will be extended and mortgage refinanced before the end of July.
Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE- 7:35 PM - Following the Executive Session, I spotted RIOC President Susan Rosenthal on Main Street. I asked what happened at the meeting. Ms Rosenthal replied:
Board meeting has been scheduled for Monday...
Translation, a Westview agreement has been reached and will be voted on at Board meeting on Monday.

More details on the Agreement coming soon.

UPDATE 7/19 - RIOC Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson reports:
Based on the decisions made at the REDAC meeting last night, a meeting of the full RIOC Board of Directors has been called for Monday at 5:30 p.m. Among the items on the agenda include a vote on the Westview Ground Lease amendment.
Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright adds:
I commend Westview's residents for their patience and perseverance as this process is carried out. We look forward to a productive meeting of RIOC's Board of Directors on Monday. My office stands ready and able to assist residents during this transition.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Over 100 GoogleServe Volunteers Together with Citizens Committee For NYC, RI Garden Club & iDig2Learn Spruce Up, Restore and Beautify NYC HHC Coler Hospital Roosevelt Island Campus

On June 20, volunteers from Google joined with Roosevelt Island's iDig2Learn, the Roosevelt Island Garden Club, Citizens Committee for NYC and many other volunteers to help beautify the NYC Health & Hospitals Corp Coler Hospital campus.

Roosevelt Island resident and iDig2Learn Founder Christina Delfico reports:
As iDig2Learn celebrates its sixth year, founder Christina Delfico submits its latest community win.

Recently, iDig2Learn had the chance to organize something really big, think Google big, think major New York City hospital, big.

It was like a giant green snowball, starting with a casual conversation in the garden, building up exponentially, pulling in more and more local talent. Listening and dreaming until we became an unstoppable force.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New York City including the northern tip of Roosevelt Island and the hospital. This was the same year I had met the local public school, their PTA, and the youth center to see if there would be interest in my new initiative, the iDig2Learn educational science garden program. Little did I know, six years later, I would get a chance to help undo some of the storm’s damage and work side by side the caring people of NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler and extend the good work of neighborhood green garden groups.

I am so grateful to so many different neighbors who helped out including Dawn Price, Janine Schaefer, Maria Starkova, Judy Berdy, Vaughn Anglesey, the Roosevelt Island Garden Club (RICG) and Green Roosevelt Island Neighbors (GRIN) and for the corporate support for iDig2Learn from Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC) and Google. It is as if CCNYC had a magic green wand matching us up with huge corporate friends to make our neighborhood dreams come true.

“Over 100 Googlers joined us and dedicated their time and energy to sprucing up the grounds of NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler here on Roosevelt Island,”

Photo credit: Olya Turcihin

said Peter H. Kostmayer, CEO of Citizens Committee for New York City. “We are so grateful to Google for their participation in our Love Your City volunteer program, which supports impactful projects led by regular New Yorkers through additional funding and volunteer power provided by dedicated corporate citizens. Special thanks to our Neighborhood Grants recipient and local community improvement steward iDig2Learn, an intergenerational volunteer group whose remarkable projects include creating an urban food forest to address food insecurity as well as developing Roosevelt Island’s first and only monarch butterfly corridor.”

It was a great day. There was this wave of over hundred and thirty Google volunteers, or Googlers,

Photo credit: Olya Turcihin

as they referred to themselves, who arrived for garden work wearing Google T-shirts, smiles and can-do attitudes. They came in two shifts, with about seventy Googlers arriving in the morning and then another large group in the afternoon.

The vision was clear, build off the existing beauty of the seven grand Magnolia trees within Coler’s green space, repair or remove what was broken, add a fresh coat of paint and plant hundreds of flowers.

Photo Credit Olya Turcihin

Some Googlers would sand benches then stain the wood and paint the metal legs, others would assemble piece-by-piece raised beds that had arrived in boxes and were built to be wheelchair accessible, still more would dig out large swaths of grassy areas to create meadows of pollinator-friendly wildflowers to attract butterflies.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Young & Very Talented Roosevelt Island Piano Students Perform "Music Is All Inclusive" Concert With Chamber Orchestra - Presented By RIRA & RIDA, Dedicated To Memory Of Former Main Street Wire Editor Dick Lutz

Following the May 19 memorial celebration in honor of former Main Street Wire editor Dick Lutz,  Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Children, Youth & Education (CY&E) Committee Chair Adib Mansour organized a Chamber Music concert performed by Roosevelt Island young people dedicated to Mr. Lutz.

Below is video of the concert courtesy of John Dougherty

and Mr. Mansour reports:

After the passing of my mother, I am back in New York contemplating on the success of RIRA’s Children, Youth & Education Committee’s “Music is All Inclusive” concert last May. The concert was in collaboration with Roosevelt Island Disabled Association's Wendy Hersh and Musicute’s piano instructor Ms. Shuang.

Of course, the heroes of the concert were the young Roosevelt Island piano students: Bijan Navab (13 yrs old), Lou-Ann Sire (12 yrs old), Nina Xining Wang (12 yrs old), Tung Le (12 yrs old), Isra Ghrib (10 yrs old), Amelia Ghrib (9 yrs old), Hemi Te Amo (9 yrs old), James Wilson Bailey (8 years old), and Penelope Louise (5 yrs old).

The idea I had behind the concert was to elevate the expectations of our youth and let them know that with their hard work and their steadfast determination they can achieve their dreams. In this case, one of their dreams was to play with an actual professional Chamber Orchestra. The other thought was to get them to understand that all the residents of the island are equal. The message that I incorporated in my communications with the students and on the program was: “I do not have a disability, I have a gift”.

Lots of heartfelt “thank you” to everyone that helped while I was away. The community came together to coordinate the concert which was dedicated to Dick Lutz and was preceded by his memorial. The concert was set in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd which added a beautiful resonating sound and a dramatic feel.

It was not easy to coordinate the project while attending to my mom’s health from Lebanon. But the support from the community and RIRA/RIDA members was invaluable in making it a resonating success.

I am proud to be part of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, and this beautiful community.
Watch the Chamber Music concert - some very talented Roosevelt Island young people.