Thursday, March 23, 2017
Disability Rights Advocates File Lawsuit Claiming Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park Denies Freedom Of Access To People With Disabilities
Last May, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park, designed by architect Louis Kahn, was inaccessible to the disabled community and according to the NY Times:
... the city is withholding a permanent certificate of occupancy and hundreds of thousands of dollars in financing until the matter is resolved....
On March 16, the Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) filed a lawsuit claiming that the FDR Four Freedoms Park, a:De Blasio says Louis Kahn's "ha-ha" renders the FDR memorial — of all places — inaccessible to the disabled. https://t.co/JCWZ9YH1I5— David W. Dunlap (@DavidWDunlap) May 9, 2016
... Site dedicated to freedom denies freedom of access to people with disabilities...
According to the DRA complaint, the lawsuit seeks:#NYC #FourFreedomsPark honors polio survivor & wheelchair user #FDR yet wheelchair users can't access the whole park https://t.co/OLKHES4l7v— DRA (@dralegal) March 16, 2017
... to rectify the systemic, discriminatory exclusion of persons with mobility disabilities from full and equal access to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park (“FDR Memorial”), New York City’s recently built monument commemorating our 32nd President....DRA reports:
In 2012, New York City welcomed the opening of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. Yet FDR, the President it commemorates who used a wheelchair for mobility, would have struggled to take in its dramatic beauty, as the monument begins and ends with steps.A link to the copy of the complaint is available at bottom of DRA post.
Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a non-profit legal center, filed a class action lawsuit today in federal court on behalf of individuals with mobility disabilities alleging that the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy are blatantly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plaintiffs, including the Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled (BCID) and several New York City residents who use wheelchairs, allege they are unable to access the Memorial in violation of long established law.
Plaintiff Edith Prentiss at the Four Freedoms Park. Photo by Joe Rappaport.
Accessibility barriers pervade the FDR Memorial in its entirety, including a large flight of stairs leading up to the entrance of the Monument. While paths exist around the base of the memorial, they circumvent the bulk of the monument and are comprised of uneven stones that make travel difficult for manual or power chair users. After traveling an unreasonably long distance down a side route, a chair user must begin an arduous back-tracking ascent up a path made of gravel to appreciate the vistas in the same way a non-wheelchair user can do.
At the opposite end of the FDR Memorial is a sunken terrace that provides an uninterrupted view of the East River, known in architecture as a ha-ha wall. Yet steps block wheelchair users from reaching that point. Plaintiffs also cite an inaccessible gift shop and non-ADA compliant restrooms.
Plaintiff Edith Prentiss, who uses a wheelchair due to her mobility disability, has visited the Memorial many times but has never been able to explore the terrace. “I’ve heard that those who run the park say that we can just enjoy the view afforded by the sunken terrace from elsewhere,” she said. “I find that offensive in the ‘back of the bus’ sort of way. I feel like they’ve prioritized their own aesthetics over our right to visit the Memorial, and are now waving away our concerns by saying: ‘What you got is good enough anyway.’ It’s not.”
Phil Beder, also a Plaintiff who uses a wheelchair says, “I am an FDR buff. He’s my hero. It’s patently ironic that a Memorial built in honor of him is rife with barriers for wheelchair users. Frankly, it makes me both mad and sad.”
“In a park dedicated to freedom, the choice to deny freedom of access to people with disabilities is just plain wrong,” said Joseph G. Rappaport, BCID’s Executive Director. “Denying the right of people with disabilities from enjoying the park fully isn’t in keeping with FDR’s life and legacy.”
“The Memorial was built very recently, decades after the ADA, and New York State should know better. We can’t figure out what they were thinking, but to leave it as is would give unfettered license to continue building important public spaces with no regard for the civil rights of persons with disabilities,” said Michelle Caiola, Litigation Director at DRA.
The suit seeks injunctive relief towards remedying all elements of inaccessibility allowing visitors with mobility impairments to visit the Memorial on equal terms with everyone else. A copy of the Complaint is available below.
Google maps shows us the sunken terrace steps in the FDR Park's Memorial's Room that the lawsuit alleges is inaccessible to the disabled
and the full view of FDR Four Freedoms Park.
According to DRA attorney Jelena Kolic, attempts to communicate with the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy to discuss disabled persons accessibility at the FDR Park were not returned resulting in the lawsuit.
I asked the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy for comment on the lawsuit. A spokesperson replied:
We have not had the opportunity to fully review the class action suit. Four Freedoms Park is – and always has been – committed to accessibility for people with disabilities. We take accessibility issues very seriously and strive to meet the needs of all of our visitors.According to a May 10, 2016 NY Times article:
FDR Four Freedoms Park takes accessibility issues very seriously, and we welcome dialogue about how we can meet the needs of the many visitors we receive each year.
... Sally Minard, the president and chief executive of the conservancy, said the use of ramps had been thoroughly explored. But it would present its own drawbacks.Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy commenting on a previous post noted:
Railings would have to be installed along the ramps and behind benches that are now sheer slabs of Mount Airy granite, set off against monumental blocks of the same whitish-gray stone. This would compromise the Kahn design, which the conservancy tried to follow as faithfully as possible.
“The consequences of doing it — for everyone’s experience — seemed to outweigh the value,” Ms. Minard said. “The decision was not seen as a problem because we believed then, as we do now, that the park more than meets the requirements for accessibility for those with a disability, and that the memorial as a whole is A.D.A. compliant.”...
For many years, we told the FDR park designers. In those days the architect from Mitchell-Gurgula, Ms. Minard and Mr. Vanden Heuvel ignored the community concern over disabled access.The Roosevelt Island Disabled Association and FDR Hope Memorial Committee are leading an effort to install a sculpture depicting FDR in a wheelchair at Southpoint Park,
close to the entrance of the FDR Four Freedoms Park.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Roosevelt Island Infrastructure Projects On Agenda For March 23 RIOC Board Of Directors Meeting - Overhauling Tram Carriage & Brakes, Renovating Tramway Station Platforms, Helix Ramp Rehab, Sportspark Heating System & More
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors will meet tomorrow evening, March 23 at the Cultural Center (548 Main Street).
Prior to the start of the RIOC Board meeting, there will be a public comment period. Sign up here to speak at the meeting.
Among the items on the Agenda are several Roosevelt Island infrastructure projects. Below is the Agenda:
AMENDED AGENDAAccording to this March 21 RIOC memo:
MARCH 23, 2017 MEETING OF
THE ROOSEVELT ISLAND OPERATING CORPORATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
THE CULTURAL CENTER THEATER, 548 MAIN STREET,
ROOSEVELT ISLAND, NEW YORK
I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call
III. Approval of Minutes
1. February 16, 2017 Board Meeting (Board Action Required)
IV. Old Business
V. New Business
1. Authorization to Amend the Contract with Nelson & Pope Engineers & Surveyors for Design and Construction Services in Connection with Permanent Heating System for Sportspark (Board Action Required)
2. Authorization to Amend the Contract with Gandhi Engineering, Inc. for the Engineering Design Services in Connection with the Roosevelt Island Helix Ramp Rehabilitation Project (Board Action Required)
3. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Specialty Construction Systems Inc. for Renovations of the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway Station Platforms (Board Action Required)
4. Authorization to Enter into Contract with SEIU, Local 32BJ (Board Action Required)
5. Authorization to Amend the Contract with Devo and Associates, LLC for the Purchase, Installation and Maintenance of Multi-Space Parking Pay Stations (Board Action Required)
6. Ratification of Amendment of Contract with Leitner-Poma of America O&M, Inc. for Overhauls To Aerial Tramway Carriage and Brakes (Board Action Required)
7. President’s Report
8. Committee Reports
a. Audit Committee
b. Governance Committee
c. Operations Advisory Committee
d. Real Estate Development Advisory Committee
9. Public Safety Report
 The RIOC Board Meeting will commence following a public comment period. The public comment period is not part of the meeting.
... In conducting the anticipated overhauls of the Tram’s Carriage and Brakes, Leitner-Poma determined that additional work was needed to ensure the safe operation of the Tram. Specifically, the Tram’ Grips were tested and overhauled; the Tram’s Hangers were serviced; and the Tram’s Cabin suspension rods were inspected, tested, and retensioned (“Additional Work”).and March 17 RIOC Memo:
The total cost of replacing the Tram’s Cabin floors; the overhauls of the Tram’s Carriage and Brakes; and the Additional Work is $500,814.09.
As the aforementioned work was necessary to maintain the safe and efficient operation of the Tram, we recommend the ratification of the expenditure in the amount of $500,814.09.
The Roosevelt Island Helix Ramps repairs project was initiated as part of the 2014 Capital Projects Budget. The work was designed by Gandhi Consulting Engineers and Architects. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in bidding the project in 2014. Over the next two years, the Helix continued to deteriorate. The original contract did not include the flat plaza area in between the ramp, bridge and garage exit. On February 17, 2017 pieces of the spalled concrete roadway underside fell on to the East Promenade walkway. Gandhi was called in to investigate the damage but they informed us that the most damaged area was not included in their original scope of work. The existing condition of the Helix ramp and plaza area poses a risk to safety of the public. Additional investigations need to be performed to assess the condition of the entire ramp including the flat plaza area and underside and determine how to repair it. This additional scope of work should then be added to the drawings and sent out to bid as soon as possible....And March 21 RIOC Memo:
The Roosevelt Island Tram Station Platform Repairs project consists of two locations, one on Roosevelt Island located at 300 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NY, 10044 and one located on the Manhattan side at 254 E 60th Street, New York, NY, 10022. The tramway station on the Manhattan Side is a two story structure with platforms at the upper level. The tramway station on the Roosevelt Island side is a single story structure with a partial basement. The platforms on both stations are cracked, deteriorating and in need of repair and replacement. As part of the ongoing Tram Modernization Project, RIOC recommends demolishing the existing platforms and waterproofing system and replacing them with new topping slabs and waterproofing membranes. The scope of work also includes repairing cracked and spalled concrete at both platforms....
SPONSORED POST - You're Invited To Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island Town Hall Community Update 7-8:30 PM Wednesday March 29, Learn What's Going On And Ask Your Questions
Join us for the Cornell Tech Town Hall! Wednesday, March 29th, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm Manhattan Park Theatre Club, 8 River Road
The Chabad of Roosevelt Island share scenes from their March 12 Persian Palace Purim Celebration.
More Persian Palace pictures here and information about Chabad Of Roosevelt Island available at their web site.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
10 Roosevelt Island Residents Honored As Women Of Distinction For Community Service By NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright - Congratulations & Well Deserved
Ten Roosevelt Island women were among a group of 21 honored by NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright as Women of Distinction
at a ceremony held last Thursday, March 16.
According to this press release from Assembly Member Seawright:
On the evening of Thursday, March 16 2017, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright’s Third Annual Women of Distinction Awards to commemorate Women’s History Month was held at the Regina Peruggi Room at Marymount Manhattan College.Here's Ms Seawright's remarks celebrating Women's History Month with her 3rd Annual Women of Distinction Awards
Seawright honored twenty-one women who have demonstrated hard work, commitment, and dedication to making our community a better place. Award recipients included Michele Birnbaum, Eva Bosbach, Judy Buck, Mary Coleman, Maureen Fairlie, Linda Heimer, Sherie Helstien, Wendy L. Hersh, Jean Kim, Dara Lamb, Jacqueline Ludorf, Valerie S. Mason, Dr. Marilyn Mehr, Sonia Ossorio, Barbara Parker, Liz Patrick, Joyce Short, Louella Streitz, Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, Dr. Betty Walker, and Dr. Elaine M. Walsh.
This year holds monumental significance as the 100 year anniversary of the Suffrage Movement, which Seawright spoke to as a turning point in American History. “We have to stop thinking of history as a closed book, a story with an end, because as women, our story is not nearly over. There are exciting new chapters still to be written,” Seawright said.
Hunter College students opened the ceremony: Nailya Khalizova played a piece from “Chopin’s Prelude,” and Sara Tabio read “Spanglish in America,” her original response to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me.” Following the performances, Marymount Manhattan College President Dr. Kerry Walk welcomed the audience.
In closing Seawright said, “Celebrating Women’s History Month is not just about honoring women who came before us, it is about reminding ourselves of the heroines who inspired us by using their courage, their spirit, and their accomplishments as motivation to keep fighting for our rights. Congratulations, Women of Distinction, you are an inspiration to our community, our city, and our great State of New York!”
and the presentation of awards.
The Roosevelt Island Women Of Distinction are:
and Louella Streitz
Biographies of the Women of Distinction honorees are included in booklet below.
Click on lower right hand Full Screen Icon for better reading of booklet.
Congratulations to our Roosevelt Island Women of Distinction. Well deserved!!!!
Roosevelt Island Center Of Community Development Co-Ed Babe Ruth Little League Baseball Season Starts End Of March - Register Now
Adib Mansour reports:
Last year the Roosevelt Island Center of Community Development (RICCD) had a fantastic baseball season in partnership with the Babe Ruth Little League with over 100 island kids, 5 to 13 years of age. Watch parents and children express their excitement last season:
This year promises to be even better. RICCD coaches and coordinators are ready to go for another great season of co-ed baseball on Roosevelt. Cost is 55 dollars, but full scholarships are readily available. Cost will not hinder children from joining our league.
RICCD 2017 Baseball Season includes:
Register your child now for RICCD’s Babe Ruth Little League which starts end of March:
- 10-Game season
- Little League Playoffs
- Opening Day Parade where kids get to show off their new uniforms to the neighborhood as we launch the new season.
- All Star Game
- Strategic coaching staff that helps children progress from Tee-ball, to coach pitch, to kid pitch games based on the different age group.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Long Time Roosevelt Island Resident Carl Weisbrod Nominated To MTA Board By Mayor de Blasio Today - There's A RIOC Board Seat Open Too, Are You Interested Mr. Weisbrod?
Long time Roosevelt Island resident and former Chairman of the NYC Planning Commission Carl Weisbrod was nominated to the MTA Board of Directors today by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
According to the Twitterverse:
News! Mayor de Blasio nominates @CarlWeisbrod to sit on MTA board https://t.co/kqIBZ1cvz3 pic.twitter.com/mpHnziMpeH— HR&A Advisors, Inc. (@hraadvisors) March 20, 2017
More on the nomination of Mr. Weisbrod to the MTA Board, which requires appointment by Governor Cuomo and approval by the NY State Senate, from AM New York and New York Daily News.Statement from de Blasio on his new MTA board pick, Carl Weisbrod, fmr chair of NYC Planning Commission & Dir. of the Dept. of City Planning pic.twitter.com/hxbq0Bu2bH— Vincent Barone (@vinbarone) March 20, 2017
You know, there's an empty Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors seat available. Are you interested Mr. Weisbrod?
Mr Weisbrod has not previously been involved in Roosevelt Island issues to my knowledge other than asking about opening of wine shop.
Tucker The Injured Mute Swan Recovering And Enjoying First Day Of Spring Visiting Roosevelt Island With A Friend
Wildlife Freedom Foundation President Rossana Ceruzzi shares photos and reports on injured, but recovering, Tucker the Mute Swan enjoying first day of Spring visiting Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park with a friend. According to Ms. Ceruzzi:
The NY State Department of Environmental Conservation has more on Mute Swans.
What a great welcome to Spring!!
A couple of juvenile Mute Swans visiting Roosevelt Island on the first day of Spring.
They LOVE Roosevelt Island
and are enjoying the beautiful day
at Southpoint park.