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Friday, March 16, 2018

Gallery RIVAA Celebrates 17 Year Anniversary Of Bringing Art To The Roosevelt Island Community - Vernissage XV11 Exhibits Long Time Members, New Artists And Remembers Those No Longer With Us

Gallery RIVAA hosted an opening reception

on Saturday, March 3, for its new exhibition, Vernissage XV11, celebrating the 17th year anniversary of bringing art to the Roosevelt Island community and showcasing the talents

of many Roosevelt Island artists

over the years beginning in March 2002.

Gallery RIVAA's Tad Sudol welcomed guests to the reception and noted recent problems with water leaks and heating system that forced the Gallery to close during this past winter. Mr Sudol thanked Rivercross Management, RIOC, Hudson Related and the community for their help in re-opening Gallery RIVAA.

RIVAA's Esther Cohen remembered several members of the Gallery RIVAA community who passed away.recently - Gerald Starlight,  Christopher Amellio and Anna Nistor, wife of artist Dan Nistor.

Mr Sudol invited the community to look around at the work of over 30 artists on display

and thanked  everyone for their continued support keeping the Gallery open. Mr Sudol noted a big upcoming task to come in installing a heating/air conditioning system for the space.

RIOC approved Gallery RIVAA spending previously allocated Public Purpose Funds to fix their heating and air conditioning system although the funds allocated are not sufficient to complete the necessary work.

Gallery RIVAA welcomes new artists to exhibit. I spoke with first time Gallery RIVAA artist Thomas Heyer who recently moved to Roosevelt Island and loves living here.

The work of Christopher Amellio, who grew up on Roosevelt Island, was showcased at the Gallery RIVAA Vernissage XV11 exhibit. Take a look at Mr. Amellio's self portrait with his dog.

Mr Amellio passed away and was remembered by his brother

and family.

Roosevelt Island musician Gerald Starlight (performing here at 2016 Cherry Blossom Festival) was remembered by a friend too.

Stop by Gallery RIVVA, check out the art, buy what you like, chat with your neighbors and meet some new friends.

Gallery RIVAA is open:
Wednesdays and Fridays 6 – 9 pm
Saturdays and Sundays 11 – 5 pm

Telephone (212) 308–6630

For more information please send emails to
The Vernissage XV11 exhibition runs thru April 15.

Also, Hidden Talents, Gallery RIVAA's annual Black History Month exhibition is showing at the Octagon Gallery (888 Main Street) thru March 25.

Good News, Roosevelt Island F Train Service To And From Manhattan This Weekend, R Train Service For Roosevelt Island This Weekend Too - MTA Announces Genius Challenge Award Winners To Transform NY Subway System

According to the MTA, there will be Roosevelt Island F Train service

to and from Manhattan this weekend.

Also, R Train service to and from Manhattan this weekend too says the MTA:
TRACK MAINTENANCE R Trains skip 5 Av/59 St, Lexington Av/59 St and Queens Plaza in both directions

Weekend , Saturday and Sunday, Mar 17 - 18

R trains run in both directions between 57 St-7 Av and 21 St-Queensbridge , making stops at Lexington Av/63 St and Roosevelt Island, resuming normal service at 36 St, Queens.
The MTA announced Genius awards for new subway ideas.

Take a look.

Sponsored Post - Check Out Roosevelt Island Gristedes March 16 - March 22 Weekly Sales, Specials, Bonus Reward Items - Free Delivery With $75 Or More Purchase

The Roosevelt Island Gristedes Supermarket

invites you to check out their:
  • Groceries, 
  • Organic & Gourmet, Gluten/Soy/GMO Free
  • Snacks
  • Meat, 
  • Fresh Produce, 
  • Seafood, 
  • Frozen, 
  • Deli &;
  • Fresh Bakery
  • & Bonus Rewards 
Offerings for March 16 - March 22

Don't forget the 10% Roosevelt Island Seniors Discount on Tuesday and Wednesday and Sign Up for the Gristedes Diamond Loyalty Rewards Program.

More Gristedes Supermarket information available at their web site, Facebook Page and Twitter feed.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Brooklyn Grange Installs Passive Green Roof & Solar Panel Array On Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Campus Tata Innovation Center

Brooklyn Grange:

... farms rooftops, builds green spaces, and promotes sustainable living and local ecology through food, education, and events. We believe that social enterprise is a powerful driver of positive change, and that businesses should be a nourishing part of their community.
Last Tuesday, Brooklyn Grange installed a passive green roof on the Tata Innovation Center (formerly known as the Bridge at Cornell Tech) on the Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech campus.

I asked:
The Tata Innvoation Center is:
and has some fantastic rooftop views too.
More info on the Tata Innovation Center,

Brooklyn Grange

and everything you want to know about Green Roofs from a Roosevelt Island tour of NYC Parks Department Randall's Island facility Green Roof

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Good News, But Fingers Still Crossed - Agreement In "Principle" For Roosevelt Island Westview Affordable Privatization Plan To Exit Mitchell Lama Program Says RIOC President - Terms Not Disclosed Yet And Status Of Retail Lease Renewal Unknown

As reported almost one year ago on March 28, 2017:

Six months after approving an affordability plan to exit the NY State Mitchell Lama housing program, residents of Roosevelt Island's Westview building are worried that no final agreement has been reached between the Westview building owner/sponsor (North Town Phase 111 Associates LP) and various NY State government agencies, including the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), NY State Homes & Community Renewal (HCR) and the Empire State Development Corp.

As of last week, there was no word about the status of Westview privatization.

A possible obstacle - the expiration in April 2018 of Westview retail space lease to RIOC which is subleased to Hudson Related as part of the Main Street Retail Master Lease.

Would the Westview building ownership renew the retail lease space to RIOC or,would  Westview ownership recover the space for themselves and to what extent does the retail lease negotiation impact the privatization negotiations?

In response to my question last Friday about the Westview Privatization status, a spokesperson for Roosevelt Island's NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright replied:
Assembly Member Seawright continues to work with State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) and the Westview Taskforce. A meeting is being held in the district office today with Westview Task Force leadership and HCR officials to discuss the status of negotiations.
I asked RIOC President Susan Rosenthal and HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas:
... As far a the Roosevelt Island community knows, nothing more has happened regarding Westview Privatization since this March 2017 story describing stalled negotiations.

The Westview residents have no idea what is going on.

My understanding is that the latest element in Westview privatization is the upcoming expiration in April 2018 of the Westview ownership retail space to RIOC which is subleased to Hudson Related as part of the Roosevelt Island Main Street Master Retail Lease.

What impact, if any, does the Westview ownership retail lease renewal negotiation with RIOC have on the Westview Building privatization?

What is the current status of Westview privatization?...
Ms.Rosenthal replied on yesterday:
I know you reached out to HCR and are anxious to know the terms of the proposed deal.  As soon as we share the terms with the board members,  we will share them with you.  The good news: we reached a deal in principle and we are moving forward!
I asked David Kramer of Main Street Retail Master Leaseholder Hudson Related about the Westview retail space lease renewal:
... My understanding is that the lease has not been renewed yet.

If Westview retail lease with RIOC is not renewed, what impact will that have on the Master Retail Lease with Hudson Related which includes the Westview stores?

Also, what impact will that have on Roosevelt Island retail leasing efforts and those current Westview retailers that have lease terms past April 2018?

What is the annual rental revenue from Westview retail tenants and how much revenue does RIOC receive under the Master Lease from Westview retail tenants?...

Mr. Kramer answered:
I think there are 2 substantive issues if the retail sublease is not extended.

First, it's a big hit to RIOC. They earn most of the revenue from the Westview stores (we earn a percentage of the upside over time).  I'm not sure why anyone would want RIOC to have less recurring, annual money.

Second, I think there's a logic to the Master Lease having a greater point of view to help the island. Whether it's paying for the new way finding system, or holiday lights, we've tried to help all the retailers.

We've made plenty of non-economic choices, whether it's signing a lease with NYPL or working to keep RIVAA in their space that are good for the island but don't maximize profits.

Our JV pays them ground rent from the retail revenue plus profit participation ... it comes out to approx. 83% of net proceeds. So I don’t understand why the RIOC Board wouldn’t fight to retain that revenue source.
Westview building owner David Hirshorn declined to comment on the Westview privatization status or the retail lease renewal at this time.

The Westview Task Force sent this notice out last evening to residents:
Friends, Neighbors, Westview Tenants,

We are pleased to report that we met with HCR officials and representatives of our elected officials this past Friday.

We were informed that, after prolonged negotiations, the agencies (HCR, RIOC) and Owner are now on the same page regarding all terms related to the WV Affordability Plan. Details are expected to be formalized and released soon.

We will keep everyone informed as we learn more.

Thank you for your continued support.

Westview Taskforce Inc.
Below is an excerpt from a November 3, 2017 email from the Westview Task Force to HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas supporting the return of Westview retail space to the Westview Building ownership (click text image for larger sized print).

Today, RIOC announced that the Real Estate Advisory Committee will meet April 3 in Executive Session (closed to the public) to discuss Westview as well as an apparent settlement of Rivercross ground lease arbitration. 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 Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 5:30 P.M. at the RIOC Administrative Office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.


1. Chair’s Motion for Executive Session to Discuss:

a. Rivercross Arbitration Settlement

b. Southtown 8 & 9 Environmental Assessment and Zoning Overrides

c. Westview Ground Lease Negotiations

2. Any Other Committee Business That May be Brought Before the Committee.
My understanding is that if the Westview retail space lease to RIOC is not renewed, the current retail tenants will have to renegotiate their agreements with Westview owner.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Cornell Tech PhD Student Teaches Roosevelt Island Seniors Web Literacy Skills During 8 Week Course - Opportunity To Learn Things Quite Out Of The Ordinary Says An Appreciative RI Senior

Roosevelt Island Seniors recently completed an 8 week Web Literacy Course taught by Cornell Tech PhD Student Vibhore Vardhan held at the Carter Burden Roosevelt Island Senior Center.

Image From Cornell Tech

According to a Cornell Tech spokesperson:
... This past week the course held its final meeting to celebrate all the progress the senior students made throughout the course. The course didn’t just cover basic computer skills like Microsoft Word or typing, seniors learned skills such as advanced search techniques, creating web pages, privacy and online safety. The seniors were incredibly engaged -- often classes ran past the scheduled end time because they wanted to continue exploring the course topics! Cornell Tech looks forward to more engagement with the senior center.
Image From Cornell Tech

Jay Jacobson was one of the Roosevelt Island seniors taking the class. Mr. Jacobson reports:
... about the Web Literacies course. It's been one of those serendipitous happenstances between the Island and Cornell Tech that reminds me of the reason for the interest of older folks in retiring to towns where educational institutions are located. The informal connections that residents get to have with activities at or around the institution provide opportunities to do or to learn things that are quite out of the ordinary.

Our young instructor, Vibhore Vardan, first met a bunch of seniors in November of last year. While it was not clear at that session what we would be doing in a program entitled "Web Literacies", it was clear that those of us at that first session had computer skills ranging from adequate to absolute rookies. When the twice weekly meetings got under way in December, instructor Vibhore quickly helped us rookies by explaining, "This is a computer, and this is how you turn it on." I, for one, felt very empowered. And I decided that this was a program with which I wanted to continue.

While apprehensive at first at teaching a class of people who might qualify chronologically as his grandparents, Vibhore (who asked us to call him by his first name) showed us the elements of internet access. He helped us understand that a "browser" was not someone hanging out in a library trying to get a date with the librarian; that a "program" was something we could learn to use to get to do the things that we wanted to do on the computer; and that a "website" was something other than a place where Spiderman had frolicked.

Our group settled in at about eighteen consistent attendees. Vibhore began to learn some pedagogical techniques. He asked us --courteously and deferentially-- if we would make it a point to get to the instruction sessions on time. He accepted (but soon overcame) questions that we asked that were interesting to us but that were inconsistent with the syllabus that Vibhore had created. He started each session off with a review of the prior session. He gave us homework. He showed us techniques for finding information efficiently by making search engines work for us. We learned about protecting ourselves as we wandered about the internet, and the difference between secure and insecure sites.

And as the weeks passed, our one hour sessions began to expand. We couldn't cover all that we wanted to in 60 minutes. Nobody left. More questions were asked. Ten, then twenty, then thirty (!) minutes were being added to each session.

As we ended, we realized what a very effective teacher Vibhore had become. He is patient. He is knowledgeable. He recognizes that the terms that persons fluent in computer knowledge use are not useful to a bunch of senior neophytes. He invites questions and comments.

Each of Carter Burden, the Senior Association, and Vibhore has done a splendid job in giving a bunch of RI seniors the chance to learn a little more about 21st century communication technology. And to recognize that savior to people who have enjoyed writing, the magic of "spell-check".
Roosevelt Island resident Sandra Guy took the class as well. Ms. Guy adds:
I enjoyed the format of this course because each student was able to work at their own pace.

Our instructor, PhD student Vibhore Vardhan, was very helpful, knowledgeable and approachable.

Before taking the course I already had some computer skills but the classes increased my knowledge on search, social media and online.

I believe the Web literacy course should be an integral part of the Senior Center activity calendar.
During the January 25 Roosevelt Island Construction & Community Task Force Meeting, Cornell Tech Assistant Director of Community and Government Relations Jane Swanson was asked by Task Force member Christine Delfico if Roosevelt Islanders over 55 could sit in on Cornell Tech classes for free as some other NYC area schools allow.

Ms Swanson replied it was difficult to do that for graduate level computer engineering courses but she is willing to explore having discussions or conversations on a variety of topics (What is Artificial Intelligence) with the community by "post docs" and PHD students.

Great idea to have these types of learning opportunity conversations with the Cornell Tech faculty and students with Roosevelt Island residents.

Hope it happens!!!