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Monday, June 24, 2019

RIOC Artist Call To Create Roosevelt Island Memorial For Legendary 19th Century Muckraking Journalist Nelly Bly Who Exposed Horrors Of Blackwell Island Insane Asylum - Initiative Of Governor Cuomo To Bring Attention To Contributions Made By Woman To NY State History

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) is calling for artist proposals to create a Memorial to 19th century muckraking journalist Nelly Bly. According to RIOC


Will be placed near site of former Blackwell Island Insane Asylum

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) has issued a formal Call for Artists to create a memorial for Nellie Bly, the ground-breaking journalist who exposed the horrors of the Blackwell Island Insane Asylum in 1887 her on Roosevelt Island. The proposed memorial is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ongoing initiative to bring attention to the many contributions that women have made to New York State’s history.

While working as an investigative reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World in 1887, Ms. Bly went undercover as a patient at the infamous insane asylum for ten grueling days. Upon her release, she went on to publish a harrowing account of her experiences in the book titled Ten Days in a Mad-House. The work not only made Ms. Bly famous, but also led to reforms at other mental health facilities throughout the United States. She went on to have an impressive career as a journalist, where she covered important historic events such as the women’s suffrage movement in the early twentieth century and the Eastern Front during World War I.

“Nellie Bly’s life serves as an inspiration that transcends history,” said Susan Rosenthal, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. “Her commitment to reform, whether in the workplace, in healthcare, or as an important voice in the suffrage movement serve as an example to the women of today. Since her impressive career began here, I believe Roosevelt Island is the ideal place for a memorial that honors her achievements.”

The Call for Artists is open from now until July 12, 2019. Anyone who would like full details about participating in this project should visit
RIOC adds:

Although RIOC is open to other locations, it is intended that the proposed piece will be in the vicinity of the Octagon Building, which sits on the foundation of the former Blackwell Insane Asylum (Attachment A). The prospective areas for the art piece are the following:
  • Octagon Park- located on West Road of the island. The current park provides passive recreation activities for picnic and barbecues and a great view of New York City Skyline.
  • Lighthouse Park- located on the northern most tip of the island, the 3.78-acre park will be expanded early next year to include additional passive and active recreation opportunities for the public.

The due date for Roosevelt Island Nelly Bly Memorial proposals is July 12. More info below

Learn more about the legendary

Nelly Bly.

It's Getting Hot Outside - RIOC Announces New Roosevelt Island Sportspark Pool Summer Hours, Lap And Family Use Lanes Available - Swim Classes For All Ages And Skills Too

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) announced new Sportspark Pool Summer Hours

 Image From RIOC

According to RIOC:
Sportspark Summer Pool Hours:

Due to the increase in pool use during the summer months, Monday Morning Open Swim (7 – 11 AM) will be changed to adults only, 18+. This will allow for enough lap lanes to remain open during our Aquatic Aerobics class. We will continue our Aquatic Aerobics class on Sundays and Mondays only during the summer months, eliminating Thursdays. This policy will go into effect on Monday, July 1st and remain in effect until Labor Day.

All Ages Open Swim:

- 7 AM – 11 AM: Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri

- 7:30 PM – 9 PM: Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri

- 12 PM – 3 PM: Sat & Sun

18 + Adults Only Open Swim:

- 7 AM – 11 AM: Mondays

- 7:30 PM – 9 PM: Tuesdays

- 4 PM – 7 PM: Sat & Sun

For more information about Sportspark’s pool hours, please visit
RIOC adds:
... Open Swim

Trying to escape the brutal summer or freezing winter? Come down to Sportspark and swim! Our recently refurbished, ADA accessible, pool is available for lap-swimming seven days a week. The pool sits amid stadium seating, giving the vital adult swimmer an ambiance of competition for their laps, or energetic kids added grandeur to their play. Lifeguards are on duty to ensure everyone is playing safely. Kickboards and other supplies for specific swim exercises are available poolside. Locker rooms with showers are available for men and women. Locks are not available but are required. Swim Caps are also sold for $5 and are required for entrance.

Lap lanes are to be used exclusively for swimming laps. Individuals who are not swimming laps should not enter or cross the lap lanes. There will always be a family lane available for relaxed swimming and lounging around. Swim lessons may only be provided by RIOC’s personal. RIOC’s coaches and others who are authorized are allowed to provide swim lessons. Swim lessons may not be provided by members or their guests who are not employed by the pool management company. Management and Authorized personals management reserves the right to refuse entry or to deny pool privileges to anyone at its sole discretion...
... Use of Facilities Generally

Entry Procedures

All members seeking to use the Sportspark facility must abide by the following entry procedures:

Each member must properly check in at the admission desk every time he or she enters the facility. Membership cards/keytags/numbers may be used only by the individuals to whom they were issued. Membership cards/keytags/numbers may not be transferred to non-members.

To properly check in, a member must provide membership information subject to verification by pool staff.

No child under the age of 18 may enter the Sportspark facility unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or other suitable individual age 18 or older.

Visitors attending to use the facility during Open Swim for additional activities besides the program at hand (Swim Meets, Swim Try-Outs, Interpretive Dancing, E.T.C) are not permitted and require a permit in order to book the space and time.


Permits are required from any group/organization or individuals in order to use the facility. We will not allow a group/organization or individual to utilize the facility during our scheduled public hours in order to ensure the public’s safety and satisfactory. Please contact the permit department.


$5 drop-in per session

$10 for a family (per five members)

$150 Six month membership (Allows unlimited access during Open Swim as long as the membership is active.)

$250 Six month family membership (Allows unlimited access for the family during open swim as long as the membership is active.)

Jeff Escobar, Conway Ekpo & David Kapell Join Roosevelt Island Board Of Directors - Manhattan Park Lease Amendment, MTA's Use Of Strecker Lab, Public Purpose Funds, Annual Report Among Agenda Items For June 25 RIOC Board Meeting

As reported June 18, 3 new members have been appointed to long vacant seats on the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors.

Image Of May RIOC Board Meeting

RIOC issued this June 20 press release announcing the appointments:
Governor Cuomo Appoints Three Members to RIOC Board

The New York State Senate has confirmed Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s appointments of David Kapell, Conway Ekpo and Jeffrey Escobar to fill three vacancies on the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s (RIOC) Board of Directors.

“I am delighted that Governor Cuomo has named three highly qualified candidates to our board,” said Susan Rosenthal, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. “I enjoyed working with Mr. Escobar when he was the president of the Roosevelt Island Resident’s Association (RIRA) and I look forward to working with Mr. Kapell and Mr. Ekpo in serving the interests of our residents and stakeholders.”

David E. Kapell

Mr. Kapell has recently served as a board member of the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA). He previously served the Village of Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island, NY for twenty-seven years in the positions of Community Development Director, Village Trustee, Planning Board Chairman and Mayor from 1994 until his retirement in 2007. He holds a master’s degree in Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Conway Ekpo

Mr. Ekpo is in-house counsel at Morgan Stanley where he is an Executive Director covering Morgan Stanley’s international Wealth Management business. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Rutgers School of Law, where he teaches a course on New York civil procedure. Mr. Ekpo earned his B.S. in architectural engineering at the University of Kansas and his J.D. at Rutgers School of Law where he was Managing Editor of the Rutgers Law Review.

Jeffrey Escobar

Mr. Escobar, a former president of RIRA, is a Senior Counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright, US LLP where he advises project owners, real estate companies, and joint ventures throughout the Americas on their deployment of capital on the most complex and large-scale projects. Mr. Escobar earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and in Spanish from the University of Washington and his J.D. from the New England School of Law.

About RIOC

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) was created in 1984 by the State of New York as a public benefit corporation with a mission to plan, design, develop, operate, and maintain Roosevelt Island. With a focus on innovative and environmentally friendly solutions, RIOC is committed to providing services that enhance the island's residential community. RIOC manages the two-mile long island's roads, parks, buildings, a sports facility, and public transportation, including the iconic aerial tramway. Additionally, RIOC operates a Public Safety Department that helps maintain a safe and secure environment for residents, employees, business owners, and visitors.
Mr Escobar is well known to the community as the former Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President, However, neither Mr. Kapell nor Mr. Ekpo are known to the community. According to a very reliable source, our elected officials were not involved in the RIOC Board Directors appointment process, at least as regarding Mr. Ekpo and Mr. Kapell.

None of the 3 new RIOC Board members participated in the 2017 RIRA sponsored RIOC Board Nominee elections.

It's not known at this time if the new RIOC Board Directors will attend tomorrow's meeting of the full RIOC Board. Among the items on the Agenda for the June 25 RIOC Board Meeting are:
  • Manhattan Park Lease Amendment
  • MTA Sublease Amendment For Use of Strecker Lab and 
  • Approval of 2019 Fiscal Year Annual Report
  • Authorization Of 2019-20 Public Purpose Funds among other items
RIOC is supposed to have Board Materials for Agenda Items publicly available on its web page prior to Board Meetings but as of today, the materials are not available for June 25 meeting.

You're invited to  attend and ask questions during the opening Public Session before the start of the meeting. Sign up to speak here.

Below is the full Agenda for June 25 RIOC Board Meeting:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a Board of Directors meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cultural Center Theater, 548 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York 10044.

The Open Meetings Law of the State of New York requires that all public bodies conduct meetings, convened for the purpose of officially conducting public business, in a manner open to attendance by the general public to observe and listen.




5:30 P.M.1

I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call
III. Approval of Minutes
1. May 9, 2019 Board Meeting (Board Action Required)
IV. Old Business
V. New Business
1. Authorization of Seventh Amendment to Manhattan Park Lease (Board Action Required)

2. Authorization of First Amendment to Sublease with the New York City Transit Authority
for Use of Strecker Lab (Board Action Required)

3. Presentation of RIOC's Audited Financial Statements for Fiscal Year Ending March 31,

4. Approval of Annual Report for Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2019 (Board Action

5. Approval of Report on Procurement Contracts for Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2019
(Board Action Required)

6. Approval of Report on Investments for Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2019 (Board Action

7. Approval of Property Report for Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2019 (Board Action

8. Authorization of Expenditure of the Public Purpose Funds for Fiscal Year 2019-20 (Board
Action Required)

9. Authorization to Enter into Contract for Octagon Comfort Station & Site Work (Board
Action Required – Materials to Follow)

10. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Apple Restoration & Waterproofing, Inc. for
Blackwell House Exterior Repairs Project (Board Action Required)

11. President’s Report

12. Committee Reports
a. Audit Committee
b. Governance Committee
c. Operations Advisory Committee
d. Real Estate Development Advisory Committee

13. Public Safety Report

VI. Adjournment
1 The RIOC Board Meeting will commence following a public comment period. The public comment period is not part of the meeting.
UPDATE 4 PM - Former RIRA President Matt Katz writes:
I have read the listing of new hires for the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC). I am glad to see that all three live (or at lest have domiciles) on Roosevelt Island. Jeff Escobar has been involved with the critical issues of this community for many years and has proved his value to this residential community time and again. I don't know Mr. Ekpo or Mr Kappel and have to wonder what credentials they carry, what familiarity they have with ongoing issues, and who put forward their names. I do know that, over the last seven years, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) has mounted four elections (referenda? plebiscites?) to fill those long-vacant seats and that none of this community's choices have been included. Having been one of many Islanders who have worked for decades to bring some semblance of democracy, and through the ballot box, to the administration of this State-operated Island, I am disappointed that, yet again, our efforts bore no fruit and we are saddled with a fait accompli. We deserve better.

Matthew M. Katz

RIRA President and CEO 2000, 2002, 2006, 2010
Roosevelt Island's NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright responded to Mr. Katz with the following:
Dear Matthew,

Thank you for your email dated June 19 regarding the new RIOC members nominated by the Governor. I am much relieved that the new appointees will fill long vacant positions, facilitating the conduct of important Roosevelt Island related business. Nevertheless, I too am disappointed that thoughtful recommendations previously submitted did not yield the results we hoped for. The process is deficient, in my view, and raises unanswered questions separate and apart from the qualifications or positions of the new appointees. I retain, of course, an enduring commitment to work with them to promote the very best interests of Roosevelt Island residents.

It seems to me that consideration should be given to a screening or search process that incorporates or involves community input in a more formal way. I am speaking with colleagues about instituting a requirement or statute that establishes the rubric for such a process. Although the RIOC appointments are currently the sole province of the Executive, the voices of the people of Roosevelt Island must not be ignored. I intend to explore introducing legislation that will ensure a more responsive and transparent process for the nomination, consideration and selection of RIOC board members.

Again, I much appreciate your interest and your views. Thanks for writing.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

You're Invited To Meet Your Friendly Roosevelt Island Neighborhood Scientists, Weill Cornell Medicine Postdoc Pub Talk At Nisi Restaurant Monday June 24 - Topic, The Fast and the Furious: Talks About Sperm Migration And Social Dominance

The Postdoctoral Association of Weill Cornell Medicine is hosting their third neighborhood Pub Talk event at Roosevelt Island's Nisi Kitchen (559 Main Street) Monday June 24..

You're invited to attend.

According to the Weill Cornell Medicine Postdocs:
Come meet your friendly neighborhood scientists! Two researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine will discuss what they are doing in the lab to advance the scientific frontier in sperm migration and social dominance research. June 24, 2019 - 7:30 PM at Nisi Kitchen (549 Main Street, Roosevelt Island).

Up first, Katherine Lopez will present "Top Mouse: The Development of Social Dominance". Social dominance is an essential component of social behavior across a multitude of species, from insects to primates. The emergence of a dominant individual can be linked to genetics; however, this behavior develops even in genetically identical individuals in controlled laboratory settings. So, what makes an individual dominant? Is it nature (innate) or nurture (learnt)? Are all socially dominant individuals alike (e.g., are all dominant individuals aggressive/bullies?). These are a few of the questions that will be discussed.

Next, Melanie Balbach will present “Survival of the fittest: A sperm's journey to fertilization”. The sperm overcomes a number of barriers on its way from ejaculation to an oocyte. Melanie will discuss how the physiology of the sperm adapts to overcome these barriers on it’s journey to fertilization, as well as how the uterus and the oocyte provide assistance to help the sperm reach its destination. Her research into how the sperm fuels it’s engine to reach the oocyte can be used to develop male contraceptives and treat reproductive diseases.

We hope to see you there!

RSVP Here (not required for entry)
Here's video from a previous Pub Talk on Schizophrenia and Borderline Personality Disorders.

Friday, June 21, 2019

MTA May Consider Adding Second Entrance/Exit To Roosevelt Island F Train Subway Station - This Weekend F Trains To And From Manhattan, Both Tram Cabins Working And Ferry Service Too, That's 9 In A Row

Good news, for the ninth week in a row, Roosevelt Island residents will have weekend F Trains running to and from Manhattan, both Tram Cabins operating and East River Astoria Route Ferry service.

Here's the new NYC Ferry 2019 Ferry Summer Schedule. 

More good news. During June 13 Roosevelt Island Town Hall Meeting organized by Council Member Ben Kallos, MTA representative Markus Book reported that there are no planned Roosevelt Island F Train weekend disruptions until August 16 weekend.

Mr Book took questions on a variety of Roosevelt Island subway and bus issues including morning rush hours overcrowding and promised to look into suggested solutions to relieve overcrowding. Mr Book added that the MTA might consider adding a second entrance/exit at the north side of the Roosevelt Island F Train station to better handle large crowd situations (see 10 minute 20 second mark of video below)

though he advised that:
... nothing in the works yet...
Asked about the best way to receive info about service disruptions, escalator and elevator outages Mr. Book suggested following the MTA twitter feed or MyMTA app.

Also,  the MTA is undergoing a redesign of the Queens Bus Network but Mr Book had no info on how that might effect Roosevelt Island residents using the Q102.

Here's video of Town Hall discussion with MTA's Mr. Book.

Sponsored Post - Check Out Roosevelt Island Gristedes June 21 To June 27 Product Offerings, Specials & Sales Items - Free Delivery With $75 Or More Order

The Roosevelt Island Gristedes Supermarket

invites you to check out their June 21 - June 27 Product Offerings, Specials & Sales items.

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

More Gristedes Supermarket information

available at their

 web site, Facebook Page and Twitter feed