Monday, May 16, 2022

Celebrate The Life Of Roosevelt Island A Living Library Think Park & Garden Founder Bonnie Ora Sherk Wednesday May 18 At The Garden

The founder of the Roosevelt Island A Living Library Think Park & Garden Bonnie Sherk passed away in August 2021. Ms Sherk's friends and colleagues invite you to:

Celebrate the Life of Bonnie Ora Sherk Wednesday, May 18th, 5:30 PM at Roosevelt Island’s A Living Library Think Park & Garden (in the rear of the garden)

Last November, Roosevelt Island resident Matt Katz reported the sad new of Ms Sherk's death. According to Mr Katz:

Our friend and long-time colleague involved with the beautification of Roosevelt Island, Bonnie Ora Sherk,   

passed away in August at her home in San Francisco. While not a Roosevelt Island resident, Bonnie had a second home in Manhattan and came to us over twenty years ago on a $50,000 Ford Foundation grant. 

Bonnie was a landscape architect with credentials in San Francisco and around the world. Her early focus here was Southpoint Park which was slated for major renovations, and Bonnie's schematics for that task were printed in The Main Street WIRE March 20, 2004 issue at the time. They included plans for a boathouse and launching site for kayaks regrettably never built. The Trust for Public Land conducted its own planning at the time, which would have included a make-over of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital Ruin. RIOC rejected these innovative ideas and produced our current, modest Southpoint Park. 

Bonnie was the founder and director of Life Frames, Inc. the sponsor of A Living Library (ALL) whose mission was, "to transform derelict environments with systemically integrated hands-on learning for all ages resulting in ecological, place-based branch Living Library & Think Parks in diverse parts of the world." Her work has been displayed at the P.S. 1 gallery in Queens as well as at the Biennale in Milan, Italy.   

Bonnie never received the municipal financial support in New York City that supported her projects in San Francisco, but took advantage of the RIOC Public Purpose Fund to continue creating projects, built with the sweat equity from all sectors of our population. She turned her attention to the PS/IS 217 schoolyard where both children and adults labored to haul the soil and manure necessary to transform the area under the hallway windows into a vegetable and flower garden.  

She planted an orchard of fruit trees on the west promenade school property, tragically destroyed during major school renovations. There are still two pin oaks, planted by the school kids, across Main Street from the school entrance. 

Currently, A Living Library is represented by the garden  

located between our new library building and Blackwell Park, now under renovation. The park, under the leadership of ALL Director China Bushell, is maintained with the support of many residents, old and young, and you may have joined the Trick or Treaters at that wonderfully (gruesomely?) decorated crypt over Halloween.

Those of us who worked with Bonnie over the years miss her terribly. We know how much she loved Roosevelt Island and Roosevelt Islanders. A memorial is tentatively planned for next May, Bonnie's birthday with a plaque to be placed on one of the garden's benches and a tree planted in her name. What could be more appropriate?

Here's a 2014 interview with Bonnie Ora Sherk describing her A Living Library life long project. 

EcoArt Space has more on Bonnie Ora Sherk. 

Contact Roosevelt Island Living Library Think Park & Garden manager China Bushell for more information.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Comfy Hammock And Cool East River Breeze Make For A Relaxing Roosevelt Island Sunday Afternoon Today For Human And Pooch

A comfortable hammock

and cool East River breeze make for a relaxing Sunday afternoon today on the

lawn next to Meditation Steps.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Roosevelt Island Living Library Think Park & Garden Second Annual Plant Sale Saturday May 14 Next To The Public Library

The Roosevelt Island Living Library Think Park & Garden is hosting it's:

Second Annual Plant Sale

Steroid Free Plants

Saturday, May 14th 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM 504 Main Street, alongside the RI Public Library

Flowers, and more Flowers, Vegetables and Herbs

All Proceeds Support A Living Library Think Park & Gardens

$2.50 - $3.50

***** Hanging Flower Baskets may be available at a higher price **** Propagated Plants may be ready for sale at additional costs 

Living Library Think Park & Garden Manager China Bushell described some of their activities last May and June.

Eileen Fisher Free Renew, Reuse And Rewear Women's Clothing Giveaway At Roosevelt Island Carter Burden Senior Center Saturday May 14

The Carter Burden Roosevelt Island Senior Center (546 Main Street) is hosting a Renew, Reuse and Rewear Clothing Giveaway of Eileen Fisher women's clothing on Saturday May 14. According to the Senior Center: 

Join us tomorrow, May 14, from 10:00-12:00pm for the Eileen Fisher clothes giveaway. Five items per person and unlimited after 12, while supplies last. This event is open to the community.

RIOC Announces Recipients Of 2022 Public Purpose Fund Grants Today - $150 Thousand Awarded To 13 Roosevelt Island Non Profit Organizations Selected By NYC Community Trust

As reported March 7, 2022:

Over the years, there have been some complaints by specific groups about the RIRA PPF committee recommendations and some modification of RIRA recommendations by the RIOC Board but for the most part RIRA has done a good job as acknowledged by RIOC.

But, the RIOC PPF process has changed starting this year. 

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors approved delegating the administration of Public Purpose Fund (PPF) Grants to the NYC Community Trust (NYCT)  during the October 28, 2021 RIOC Board of Directors meeting (Video of discussion here)...

RIOC announced today the Roosevelt Island organizations selected and funds awarded in 2022 Public Purpose funds. According to RIOC:

The Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Fund (the Fund) has announced $150,000 in grants to 13 nonprofits working to benefit Roosevelt Island residents and enhance their quality of life. 

Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) was created in 1984 by the State of New York to plan, design, develop, and maintain Roosevelt Island. RIOC asked The New York Community Trust (The Trust) to administer its public purpose grants this year and created the Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Fund in The Trust.

“We are proud to assist these dedicated nonprofits in their service to the Island,” said RIOC President and CEO Shelton Haynes. “The New York Community Trust’s expertise improved the grantmaking process this year and will help the grantees strengthen their operations for the future.”

The grants support a range of projects aiming to make life on Roosevelt Island more enjoyable and equitable: from enrichment classes for older adults and improving services for people with disabilities to supporting the island’s visitor center and putting on orchestral concerts. 

The Fund previously provided a grant of $50,000 to Community Resource Exchange, one of the city’s most distinguished nonprofit consultant agencies, to provide a series of free nonprofit management workshops to grantees and other Roosevelt Island nonprofits. The workshops for nonprofit volunteers and leaders will share information about best practices in nonprofit management, governance, and fundraising.

The Trust aimed to simplify the application and reporting processes for nonprofits, while ensuring grants support important programs and services for Roosevelt Island residents–including educational opportunity, cultural enrichment, improved health, and a better environment.  

The grant application process began in February, and closed on March 14. 

The Trust convened an independent, five-person advisory committee made up of members of the Roosevelt Island community to review applications and make grant recommendations. The committee members live or work on the island; have nonprofit and/or public service experience; and reflect race, age, and gender diversity. Members were anonymous during the review period to keep the process fair and confidential. Their names and affiliations are:

  • Carlos Chavez, manager, Roosevelt Island Library
  • Katherine Teets Grimm, MD, pediatrician, Roosevelt Island Pediatrics, Mt. Sinai
  • Jennifer Ifil-Ryan, global director of experience at Nike; former director of education at The High Line
  • Sharon Pope-Marshall, executive director of CIVITAS; Community Board 8 member
  • Carl Weisbrod, senior advisor at HR&A Advisors; former chairman of the New York City Planning Commission

In April, the committee met to discuss each application and to collectively make decisions about grantees and grant amounts. They prioritized organizations with a history of commitment and a proven track record of serving Roosevelt Island; that filled a critical gap in services to historically under-resourced communities (such as low-income populations, communities of color, older adults, and people with disabilities); that clearly articulated project outcomes and activities; and that aimed for long-term engagement with beneficiaries.

The grant recipients are: 

The Carter Burden Network: $5,000 to provide culturally responsive services to Korean-speaking Roosevelt Island residents. 

 iDig2Learn: $12,000 to support a food and compost initiative, educational outreach, and a tree survey. 

 Island Kids: $20,000 to provide need-based scholarships to 18-20 children and families for the Island Kids Summer Camp.

 Leonardo Suarez Paz's PIAZZOLLA 100: $1,000 for general operating support.

 Main Street Theatre and Dance Alliance: $20,000 to provide 40 need-based scholarships and work-study placements, and 15 internships.

 PTA PS/IS 217: $12,000 to provide movement classes from the National Dance Institute for 160 school children ages 3 to 6.

 Roosevelt Island Concerts: $10,000 to hold a chamber music and orchestral series on Roosevelt Island. 

 Roosevelt Island Disabled Association: $20,000 to provide food pantry, field trip, and transportation services to people with disabilities on Roosevelt Island.

 Roosevelt Island Historical Society: $5,000 to support the Roosevelt Island visitor center and outreach activities. 

 Roosevelt Island Living Library / Life Frames: $16,000 to provide gardening, nutritional, and wellness classes on Roosevelt Island, prioritizing older adults and people with disabilities.

 Roosevelt Island Senior Association: $12,000 to provide weekend and evening classes for older adults.

 Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association: $16,000 for the “Open Arms” community partnership and exhibition series.

 Wildlife Freedom Foundation: $1,000 for general operating support.

UPDATE 5/14 - Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Vice President and Public Purpose Funds (PPF) committee member Erin Feely-Nahem responds to RIOC's announcement of the NYC Community Trust 2022 Public Purpose Funds  grants. 

Image of 2020 RIRA PPF Committee
According to Ms Feely-Nahem:

For all the complaining by two applicants who thought RIRA was unfair in the funding they provided to them, the numbers look very similar, except without community pressure and a RIOC Board member’s displeasure, they got less then RIRA determined they should have. The most outrageous thing is the treatment of WFF, who cares for the numerous stray cats Island wide, and the ones that people from other boroughs and RI owners who move on often dump in Motorgate or in the garden. Not to mention the calls their founder takes, 24/7 when injured animals are found by residents or Public Safety officers. Where else in “Manhattan” do you see duckling following their mother, or possums? This organization and the assistance they offer RIOC is crucial on the Island. Who is going to feed the stray cats at South Point, Octagon, or near the garden? Who is going to rescue the thrown away pets left too often when residents move on? Who is going to bring animals injured by collisions with buildings, cars or dogs off their leases, a recent attack near the Octagon which cost over a thousand dollars in the ER, and days in the hospital for the wounds to drain and heal?  

The people chosen for the resident review obviously know nothing about how important and essential WFF is to our community, and to the preservation of wildlife here, which we treasure on our small Island habitat in the middle of a concrete jungle.

I sent the following message to the NYC Community Trust today:

I am preparing a follow up article on the announcement yesterday of Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Fund grants to local RI  non profit organizations.

In the interest of transparency and openness, what was the rationale for NYC Community Trust awarding grants to each of the organizations and the amounts allocated for each? In the past, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association would submit a public memo detailing the reasons organizations were selected and amounts allocated.

Will New York City Community Trust do the same for the 2022 Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Fund grants?

For instance, why was the Wildlife Freedom Foundation awarded $1thousand, Roosevelt Island Historical Society awarded $5 Thousand and Carter Burden Roosevelt Island Senior Center awarded $5 thousand - amounts much less than other organizations.

Please let me know if the NYC Community Trust will comment on this issue of importance to the Roosevelt Island community.

Will update when more information becomes available. 

UPDATE 5/16 - NYC Community Trust Communications Director Marty Lipp answers:

The New York Community Trust appointed an advisory board of community members to lead the grantmaking process this year and to review the applications using the criteria laid out in the request for proposals. They reviewed and discussed the proposals and reached a consensus on the final grant recommendations. The Trust believes it is unnecessary to make additional comments on the decision-making process.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Video Snippet Shows Frightened Fritos Delivery Person Handcuffed And Detained By Roosevelt Island Public Safety Officers Last Saturday At Bread & Butter Deli In A Dispute That Began Over Parking Spot - What Really Happened?

A Roosevelt Island Tipster reported last Saturday evening May 7:

Have you heard anything about an encounter this morning, between our PSOs and someone making a delivery to the Deli, that included the PSOs handcuffing the delivery person because they were “illegally parked” — or more likely couldn’t find a “legal” parking spot?

Another Tipster provided this brief video clip showing a portion of the interaction between a Frito Lay truck delivery person and 3 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department (PSD) Officers that took place at the Bread & Butter Deli Saturday morning approximately 10:15.

The May 7 RIOC Public Safety Report describes the incident as follows: 

05/07/22 – 0950 – 579 Main Street – Disorderly Conduct – PSD responded – Summonsed issued.

On Sunday morning May 8, I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) PSD Chief Kevin Brown:

A resident informed me of an alleged incident at the Bread & Butter Deli of PSD officers roughing up and handcuffing a delivery person. Is that true? Also, the incident started because the delivery person was illegally parked. Is that true? Does RIOC have any comment on this important issue of community concern?

I also asked Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Rossana Ceruzzi and Public Safety Committee Chair Erin Feely-Nahem if they knew anything about this incident. Both Ms Ceruzzi and Ms Feeley-Nahem have an extensive record of monitoring and investigating allegations of improper behavior by the Roosevelt Island PSD while maintaining an open dialogue and good relationship with the PSD leadership. Neither had heard of the incident but promised to immediately look into it and contact PSD Chief Brown. {Correction and update, Ms Feely-Nahem was aware of the incident at this time, Ms Ceruzzi was not}

I followed up on Monday with a second email to Chief Brown:

I’m following up on yesterday’s email below about the PSD incident with female delivery driver at the Bread/Butter Deli. 

I want to be accurate in reporting what happened and give PSD’s side of the story. 

Will Rioc respond with a statement on the incident?
Later on Monday I saw Chief Brown on Main Street. He told me a response to my questions would be coming from RIOC later that day.
On Monday evening, RIOC sent out an email advisory saying:
Subject: Parking Incident

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) takes all public safety incidents of this nature very seriously and we will conduct a thorough investigation into this matter. A preliminary review of the incident has been conducted, however we will continue to review all allegations/complaints, along with any additional video footage.

I followed up asking Chief Brown:
Was there any arrest, summons or ticket issued to the driver in this incident?
There was no reply.

Yesterday, May 11, based upon my understanding of the incident at that time, I asked Chief Brown:
I am preparing an article to be published today about the incident at the Deli on Saturday Morning between the Frito Lay Delivery person and PSD Officers.

In the interests of accuracy and timely informing the Roosevelt Island community of an important issue of concern, I am sending you my understanding of what happened. If it is incorrect or needs clarification please let me know.

My understanding of the Bread & Butter Deli incident Saturday morning at about 10 AM is as follows.

The female Delivery Driver initially parked her vehicle on Main Street next to the barrier in front of the Deli. A PSD Officer told her to move the vehicle to 560 breezeway which she did.

The Delivery Driver entered the Deli and was making her delivery.

Shortly thereafter, at least 3 PSD Officers entered the Deli and instructed the Delivery Driver to move her Truck out of the 560 Breezeway to somewhere else.

She asked the Officers to let her finish the deli delivery before moving the Truck. The PSD Officers refused to allow her to finish the deli delivery and told her to immediately move the Truck. The delivery driver did not immediately exit the deli to move her truck.

The incident then escalated to what is shown in the video. 3 PSD Officers roughly handcuffing the delivery Driver and shoving and pressing her against the Deli refrigerator.

At least 4 other PSD Officers were nearby outside the deli entrance.

The Delivery Driver was taken to PSD offices in handcuffs and placed in a holding cell for approximately 40 minutes before being released.

The Delivery Driver was issued a summons for disorderly conduct. Were there any other charges? Was there an arrest?

The Deli owners believe RIOC PSD is discriminating against them in not allowing their Delivery Drivers to park nearby while at the same time allowing delivery drivers for other stores the courtesy of parking nearby.

Does RIOC dispute this account of what happened?

Also, did a PSD Officer threaten to use a Taser on the delivery person if she did not comply?

In the interest of accuracy and informing the Roosevelt Island community of what happened, will RIOC comment on the circumstances of this incident.

Thank you.
No answer but later that day I saw Chief Brown who told me there were errors in my understanding of the incident. He added that he would like to comment but was waiting for approval by RIOC President Shelton Haynes. 

Still no reply as of this evening.

More information has come to light in the last 24 hours. Based upon knowledgeable sources, this is what appears to have happened.

The Frito Lay truck (This picture is not from May 7 Incident)

delivery person is relatively new working on Roosevelt Island. On Tuesday, May 3, she parked the delivery truck by the portable metal barrier on Main Street in front of the Bread & Butter Deli.
A Public Safety Officer told the driver she could not park in that area and instructed her to park in the 576 Breezeway (also known as 560 Breezeway) which she did.

Upon returning to Roosevelt Island on Saturday morning May 7, she parked the delivery truck in the 576 Breezeway where she had previously been told by Public Safety Officers to park. It was raining as she completed unloading her deliveries from the truck. A Public Safety Officer approached her and told her to move the truck from the 576 Breezeway. She asked to be allowed to bring her deliveries across the street to the Bread & Butter Deli before moving the truck. What happened next is unclear but she did not move the truck.

As she entered the deli with her deliveries, the 3 PSD Officers followed her inside and called for back up from other Officers. The confrontation shown in the video soon began.

According to a statement today from RIRA Public Safety Committee Chairs Erin Feely-Nahem and Shirley Coley:

The Roosevelt Island Residents Association Public Safety Committee (RIRA PSC) is carrying out independent, detailed inquiries into an apparent case of Public Safety Department (PSD) harassment and abuse, under the direction of recently promoted Lt. Barry Hazelwood and a team led by Officer Brian Ortiz against a part-time delivery worker, Tonnek Greene, who was doing her job under the difficult and stressful circumstances of Main Street traffic congestion and limited parking, for the Bread and Butter deli, during rainy conditions. 

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), which is the “civic” authority over the PSD, issued a brief, anodyne statement that also pledges “to conduct a thorough investigation,” evidently after a “preliminary review” conducted internally, that was not made public. PSD Chief Kevin Brown has also committed to an investigation in discussions with RIRA PSC leaders. We welcome this and expect transparency, objectivity, and justice. 

Nevertheless, RIRA PSC has no intention of deferring to the RIOC or PSD investigations as we responsibly carry out our independent inquiries and interviews in the interests of Roosevelt Island residents, workers, and visitors, but hope we can reach amicable solutions together. 

We are convinced that the facts revealed so far, including limited video footage, and witness accounts that were brought to our attention, and will be documented, as well as simple common sense, strongly indicate that this young Black woman was harassed, then manhandled while doing her job delivering food commodities to a prominent Island business. The PSD detained in a cell this humiliated and traumatized worker, who says that over the course of the day’s events had urinated on herself. 

The escalation demonstrated by the Officers was not what Roosevelt Islanders expect from Community Policing, and we believe the concrete circumstances resulted in an unacceptable crossing over the line into law enforcement abuse and violence. In no way can this be justified as “anti-crime.” This was anti-worker harassment, and subsequently Ms. Greene has been issued a criminal court summons for “disorderly conduct” and a traffic court violation VTL 1102, charging her with failure to comply with the lawful order of a Peace Officer, all because she parked in the breezeway spot that she had been directed to park in during her prior delivery to Roosevelt Island by Public Safety Officers, and during this last delivery, when asked to move the truck she was unable to do so at that moment as the delivery and product had already been removed from the truck and were on the ground, and could have been stolen if she left them unattended. 

We believe that the escalation of this incident could have been avoided. A parking violation, which is not endangering other motorists, doesn’t warrant this extreme reaction. Abusive actions and unjustified violence must have consequences!

Stay tuned. Will update when more information become available. 

It would be very helpful if RIOC would publicly comment on their version of the event. 

UPDATE 9:25 PM - RIRA Public Safety Committee member Frank Farance has a different perspective on the deli incident. According to Mr Farance:

I've heard about an incident last Saturday involving a Frito Lay truck driver and Public Safety Officers, including a 12-second video that appears to show three Public Safety Officers, surrounding the driver in the back aisle of Bread and Butter Deli, you can hear the driver say "I am a woman" and "You can't lock me up for this", and PSD officers saying "Stop! Stop! I'm telling you to stop!".  It appears they are facilitating an arrest with handcuffs.

The incident involved the parking of the delivery truck and PSD's request to move the truck to a different spot in the 560 breezeway.  The driver did not comply, PSD arrested the driver, and she was let go later.  My understanding is that the whole event lasted about 40-60 minutes from start to finish.

I disagree with the reporting from the RIRA Public Safety Committee Co-Chairs Erin Feely-Nahem and Shirley Coley, and I'm disappointed in the discussion that occurred at Wednesday's (May 11) RIRA Common Council meeting, as there seemed to be a group-think and an unwillingness to understand logically what did and might have happened.  The statement issued by the RIRA PSC Co-Chairs is early for the kind of confidence expressed in their reporting when there is still much to be understood.

I am interested in a fair, unbiased, informed, and complete (to the extent practicable) understanding of what happened, and to make appropriate recommendations.

One area of long-time concern is a split within the RIRA Public Safety Committee on direction.  Surely, most everyone can agree there were problems with residents and visitors being gratuitously arrested, many with excessive force, when Keith Guerra was PSD Chief.  The concerns were participated in the Anthony Jones incident in 2013.  Mr. Jones's mother came to me to ask for help, as her son was handcuffed to a gurney at the hospital.  I broke the news to the community, and I asserted that the PSD officers engaged in unlawful use of deadly force.  Also, I helped other residents get their convictions undone or cases dismissed as I did frame-by-frame video analysis and compared it with the police reports - debunking the charges.  RIRA PSC members (including myself) had been tracking many of the issues with PSD during the years PSD Chief Guerra led the force.  The RIRA PSC, as led by Erin Feely-Nahem, was very effective in getting Guerra fired and a new Chief, Jack McManus, to shepherd in a new type of "community policing" that was welcome and effective and, largely, continues to this day.  RIRA PSC meets monthly and engages with the PSD leadership, and it's been a very effective and productive effort - with consistent community participation and now with Co-Chairs leading the RIRA PSC effort.

There areas where RIRA PSC and I differ, and this can be seen in how we approach this incident.  Back in 2013, there was much concern over the Rights of the Individual, and we fought for that.  However, there were other incidents later that summer and fall - a near riot on July 4, and late night noise outside the Deli, which disturbed my neighbors in Island House, and neighbors across the street in Eastwood.  There seem to be a hesitation for PSD to address the noise (or riot) problem as surely it would involve either summons or arrest.  As I pointed out in video that summer/fall, PSD officers were ignoring the noisemakers, yet standing right next to them.  Then, we discovered that RIOC and Hudson Related (via Main Street Retail Master Lease) were collaborating to allow complaints against the Deli as RIOC and HR were negotiating a new lease for the Deli, i.e., PSD was allowing disruptive noise so that RIOC and HR would be in a better negotiating position over the Deli lease - I reported this in the WIRE newspaper.  These wrong judgements and conflicts of interest ignore the Rights of Society, e.g., allow Island House and Eastwood residents to sleep without noise.  The RIRA PSC focused only upon Rights of the Individual and I (and others) said we should strike a balance between the Rights of the Individual vs. the Rights of Society - that is our culture in the US.

The RIRA PSC Co-Chairs only look at this one side.  There is an important other side.

As a brief background, I graduated from NYPD's Police Academy.  As community leaders, NYPD finds it important to educate us because, sometimes, it's really important to understand several sides of an incident, including law enforcement, and that can be most beneficial for the community.

Also, I am trained by NYPD in traffic control and I've worked many events, including Roosevelt Island.  In my experience, there have been cases where motorists are non-compliant and I ask an officer to intervene.  The officer's response, typically, is "You should immediately comply or I'm going to arrest you" - some officers add colorful language for emphasis.

I mention the traffic control because a key point in traffic control is: there's a possibility of injuring and killing people, it is very fast-paced, and safety is the number one priority.  Both motorist safety and (especially) pedestrian safety are important.  In general, IF you (as traffic control) permit it, THEN you are responsible for the consequences.  Here's a relevant example: double parking a delivery truck in front of the Deli is dangerous because it is close to the 560 Breezeway and crosswalk, there are blind areas for traffic, e.g., a bus cutting over two lanes to the left (with oncoming traffic) and going through the crosswalk on the wrong side of the road.  Thus, double parking in front of the Deli is discouraged for traffic safety (pedestrian and motorist) whereas double-parking a truck across of Wholesome Foods is less of a problem.  It is NOT that PSD likes Wholesome Foods and dislikes the Deli, it's that they are two different traffic management problems with the Deli having more safety issues.

As a community, we also care about our residents in the crosswalks, the ongoing complaints about motorists, an almost tragic accident with a car and child by the school, and so on.  Thus, if you see PSD's main concern about safety is addressing this complex traffic management problem (i.e., what us residents want them to do), then it might be easier to see PSD's focus.  Or said differently, if - GOD FORBID - a child were injured and killed because of a delivery truck's unsafe placement, we'd all be screaming about PSD's poor judgement.

In other words, we care about the Rights of Society, along with the Rights of the Individual.

Also, this is NOT about a parking ticket gone wrong, this is about a safety issue that, according to reporting, PSD was trying to address.

Here the delivery driver was not complying with PSD's instructions to address the safety issue, i.e., they wanted her in a different spot.  As an individual, I can't imagine not complying with law enforcement's directive concerning me and my vehicle - I'd image that non-compliance would garner me an arrest, a criminal complaint, a DMV moving violation, and having my car towed.  According to the RIRA PSC Co-Chairs' report, the delivery driver said she parked in one spot earlier in the week, but now that PSD wants her in a different spot, and she feels that she doesn't need to comply with that.  On Saturdays there are 600 vehicles per hour at the 10-11 AM time, i.e., a vehicle every 6 seconds, and there is a farmer's market with lots of pedestrians moving in and out of the Main Street roadway.  The delivery driver has very faulty thinking with that kind of reasoning: it was good a couple days ago, so it must also be good today (wrong!).  The truck driver asked PSD if she could stay as she was almost done, but PSD officers denied that request - and I'm sure PSD officers would have watched her delivery stock so it didn't get stolen while she was repositioning the truck.  Sure, her request might be reasonable from her perspective, but not the PSD officers as they have a bigger problem.  As I said: if you permit the safety hazard, then you own the results.

I believe the RIRA PSC Co-Chair report is misguided on the arrest itself.  It is my belief, based upon the traffic conditions, the video, and reporting from PSD, that the determination to arrest the driver occurred outside, possibly while the driver walking away.  Now with the order to arrest her, I believe the video is showing the officers facilitating arrest.  As I learned from the NYPD Police Academy, 2-3 officers facilitating the arrest is safer than one officer facilitating the arrest.  And once the situation started to escalate, the officers called for back-up - again, normal safety operations.

I also point out that this was not an individual driver (some cranky motorist), but a commercial operation where the driver is part of a fleet.  I cannot imagine that the organization (Frito Lay) or its parent (PepsiCo) believe that it is okay for their drivers to ignore the direction of law enforcement.  In fact, I'm guessing that any operation like this (via corporation management or insurance) would want these kinds of drivers NOT operating a truck - it's unsafe and inappropriate behavior on behalf of a corporation.  It is likely the driver was trained: if you don't follow the direction of law enforcement, it is an immediate termination or reassignment.

There are still many unknowns.  We need confirmation that the determination to arrest occurred outside, and we need to understand what de-escalation techniques (if any) were employed.

In summary, IF you see that a possible outcome of the dangerous placement of a vehicle might mean injury or death to a child, and your reaction to that would be outrage, condemnation, and investigation, THEN your appropriate response is to be supportive of PSD using appropriate judgement, motorist/pedestrian direction, and enforcement to make sure hazardous conditions are mitigated.  This is a focus on the Rights of Society, but also balanced with the Rights of the Individual.

UPDATE 5/13 - If you have any information on this incident, please contact Roosevelt Islander Online and RIRA Public Safety Committee Co-Chair Erin Feely-Nahem.

UPDATE 7:40 PM - The May 11 RIRA Common Council meeting discussed the incident. Here's what happened.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

2 Workers Inspecting Roosevelt Island Building Facade Rescued By FDNY Firefighters After Scaffolding Platform Collapses Leaving Them Dangling Above Main Street Today

Earlier today, workers inspecting the building facade at 475 Main Street on Roosevelt Island were rescued by FDNY firefighters

Image From Erin Feeley-Nahem

after the worker's suspended scaffolding platform partially collapsed 

leaving them dangling from the 5th floor above Main Street.

Image From Erin Feeley-Nahem

According to FDNY Battalion 45 Chief Gallagher:

... one worker was hanging on a safety rope off the scaffolding, one worker on a safety rope was still on the scaffolding... 

Units put up their ladder... Rescue company arrived on scene. they train a lot on this kind of stuff. They went to the roof. They lowered a rope. They secured the workers.

The workers were safely taken into apartment 5F on the fifth floor. They were not injured. 

Units did a great job. This is what they trained to do and they operated perfectly....

Chief Gallagher added that the NYC Buildings Department will investigate how this happened. 

ABC Channel 7 reporter Michelle Charleworth asked the firefighters who rescued the dangling workers what happened:

Roosevelt Island resident Kaja Meade shares video of the incident too.

The Riverwalk Roosevelt Island 475 Main St building is used for Memorial Sloan Kettering staff housing.

UPDATE 8:40 PM - Later in the afternoon, workers were back inspecting the facade of next door building at 465 Main Street. 

Not known if these were the same workers rescued earlier by FDNY.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Weill Cornell Medicine And Roosevelt Island Public Safety Dep't Host "Learn How To Recognize And Reverse An Opioid Overdose" Demonstration Thursday May 19 At Good Shepherd - Get A Free Naloxone Kit To Save Lives Too

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp:

In this 2 hour lecture-demonstration hosted by Weill Cornell Medicine and the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department (PSD), you will learn how to recognize and reverse an opioid overdose.

What you learn in this workshop could save the lives of those around you.

Date: Thursday, May 19, 2022 

Time: 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM 

                                 Location: Good Shepherd Chapel  

Sign up today.

Monday, May 9, 2022

RIOC Installs New Roosevelt Island Slow Down Traffic Speed Cushion On East Loop Road Next To Cornell Tech Campus In Bicycle Lane, Not In Car Lane - Why?

Last January a Roosevelt Island resident asked:

... do you have any updates on the speed bumps.? A few days ago I was walking on the sidewalk near 540 next to the pet store. Someone sped out of the Side of the building and almost hit me. Today just about 30 minutes ago a older man walking across the street near the elementary school was almost hit. When he confronted the driver and asked him to be careful the driver got out of the car and yelled at the elderly man. This issue needs to be corrected. Speed bumps and give tickets. I have seen public safety give numerous tickets for illegal u turns but never saw them stop people speeding or running through stop signs.

Last March, another resident tweeted:

At least one speed cushion was in place on the East Loop Road near the Cornell Tech campus today. However, for some reason the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) placed the speed cushion in the bicycle lane, apparently to slow down speeding bikes,

 and not in the car lane to slow down cars.

Here's the March 15 Roosevelt Island Residents Association Public Safety Committee meeting discussion about speed cushions with RIOC Public Safety Department Chief Kevin Brown.

UDPATE 5/10 - RIOC Tweets:

Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park Residents Object To "Absurdly Expensive Electricity Bill" - Building Management Says Past Bills Were For Cost Of Electricity Delivery Only, Did Not Include Actual Usage, Current Bill Makes Up For The 5 Month Billing Delay

A Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park building complex resident reported recently: 

Manhattan Park tenants; have you received an absurdly expensive electricity bill this month, and have you agreed to pay for it? I'm tired of this sh*t.

I asked Manhattan Park management:

I have heard from several Manhattan Park residents very upset over what they describe as very high electricity bills recently received from Manhattan Park. 

According to these residents, Manhattan Park failed to send electricity bills for several months last year and are now billing for those months. Is that true? 

Some Manhattan Park residents question the accuracy of their electric bills as well. Are there other reasons for the recent high electric bills for Manhattan Park residents that are different from tenants in the rest of NYC? 

Also, residents have asked if the Holiday Lights in the Park area are included in the residents electric bill?

 A Manhattan Park management spokesperson answered:

The situation regarding the electricity billing for residents at Manhattan Park was the result of a delay in receiving invoices from the energy service company (ESCO) that provides electricity supply. The ESCO was recently contracted by ownership to provide less expensive electricity to the residents than would otherwise be charged by Con Edison. Con Edison continues to deliver the electricity to the residents.

The delay in receiving invoices resulted in the residents being undercharged for their electricity usage for the months of July – November 2021 as they were only charged for the cost of delivery and not for the actual supply of electricity. The revised billing reflects charges for actual usage so the residents are only being charged for the electricity that was actually being consumed by the residents in their individual units. To help alleviate any financial burdens or inconveniences for the residents, we negotiated a 10% discount for such electricity charges during those five months. In addition to the discount, we have offered residents payment plans so that these charges can be paid over the course of one year. It should be noted that the electricity billings at Manhattan Park only include actual costs for the supply and delivery of electricity and do not include any markup or profit. The ESCO has resolved their invoicing issues so we do not anticipate any further delays.

Manhattan Park management sent this April 25 letter to residents explaining their electricity bills

Dear Resident:

We are writing to you about your electricity bills at Manhattan Park. As you may be aware, the electricity bills that you receive each month are comprised of two separate charges: (1) the cost for the delivery of electricity; and (2) the cost of the electricity itself, or supply. Con Edison of New York (“Con Ed”) has always supplied and delivered the electricity to the residents of Manhattan Park.

In an effort to seek ways to reduce electricity costs, Management engaged with energy consultant Integrated Energy Partners Inc. to see if there were other energy companies that could supply electricity on a more cost-effective basis than Con Ed. After reviewing supply proposals with the consultant over several months, Management entered into a new agreement in June of 2021 with ENGIE Power & Gas LLC (“ENGIE”), an energy-service company approved by the NYS Public Service Commission, to supply electricity to Manhattan Park. Con Ed, however, remained as the company physically delivering the electricity to the site. Both ENGIE and Con Ed were to provide separate bills to Management for their respective services, ENGIE for electricity supply and Con Ed for electricity delivery. In turn, Quadlogic Controls Corporation (“Quadlogic”), the independent third-party submetering consultant, would utilize these bills to calculate the charges to bill the residents only for their portion of electricity usage.

Unfortunately, due to an administrative error at the start of the ENGIE agreement that was further magnified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the first five months of ENGIE’s electricity invoices for the supply portion of the charges (covering the period of July-November 2021) were not received by Management. As a result, all electricity bills for the months of July-November only included the delivery charges applicable to electric usage but did not include charges for the actual electricity itself. Notwithstanding the delayed billing, these amounts are due and owing under your lease and will need to be paid by the residents. Your apartment’s outstanding electricity supply charges for the five-month period in question will be shown as a separate line-item in your next billing statement from Quadlogic.

We recognize that this could create a financial burden on residents, so we have formulated a plan to assist. Please note the following:

  1. Management was able to negotiate a 10% reduction from ENGIE for the outstanding charges. This discount will in turn be passed onto the tenants in full as part of the retroactive billing. To reiterate, residents will only be charged for the electricity that was supplied and used (but not yet billed for) during this five-month period.
  2. Management is willing to offer all residents a payment plan of up to 12 months (depending on the remaining term of your lease) to repay the outstanding amounts. If your household needs additional time to re-pay the outstanding ENGIE supply charges, please contact the management office at (212) 759-8660 at your earliest convenience to discuss the possibility of a longer repayment period tailored to your household’s financial circumstances.

We apologize for this inconvenience and would like to reassure you that we have taken steps to make sure that billing issues like this will not happen again. Please feel free to reach out to the management office if you have any other questions or concerns regarding this matter. 


GRC Management LLC 

On behalf of Roosevelt Island Associates 

The Manhattan Park spokesperson adds:

The Holiday Lights in the park area are not included in the residents electric bill.

CBS New York reports on huge increases in Con Ed electricity bills for NYC residents.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Roosevelt Island Celebrates I Love My Park Day This Morning At FDR Four Freedoms Park - Volunteers Assembled Colorful Adirondack Chairs To Be Placed On Great Lawn And Were Joined By Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, NY State Parks Commissioner, Park & Trails NY And Woolrich Outdoors Foundation

On a cold and rainy May 7 Saturday morning,  Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney,

Four Freedoms Park Conservancy CEO Howard Axel, NY State Parks Department Commissioner Erik Kulleseid,

Woolrich Outdoors Foundation representative Allesandro Villa and Parks & Trails NY Director of Development Linden Horvath joined with a group volunteers at FDR Four Freedoms Park to celebrate I Love My Park Day by 

assembling 50 Adirondack Chairs 

to be placed on the park's Great Lawn for visitors to enjoy thru May and maybe longer.

According to Parks & Trails NY:

I Love My Park Day, held the first Saturday in May, attracts thousands of volunteers from across the state to participate in cleanup, improvement, and beautification events at New York State parks, historic sites and public lands. Join us to celebrate New York's park system and prepare our public lands for spring by cleaning up park lands and beaches, planting trees and gardens, restoring trail and wildlife habitat, removing invasive species, and working on various site improvement projects

Friday, May 6, 2022

NYC Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch Unveils Brand New Bike Lane Sweeper And Plow To Be Deployed Beggining In July For All Protected Bike Lanes - Take A Look

During a May 3 press briefing, newly named NYC Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch unveiled for the first time a brand new bike lane sweeper and plow.

Take a look.

Roosevelt Island does not have any protected bike lanes so equipment will not be used here.

Ms Tisch did address the status of the Big Reuse Long Island City Compost Facility that serves Roosevelt Island, Western Queens and parts of Brooklyn and is in danger of being closed. her response here.

Are You Looking For A Job Close To Your Roosevelt Island Home? Coler Hospital Subway Sandwich And Gift Shops Looking For Staff

Roosevelt Island resident and Coler Hospital Auxiliary volunteer Judy Berdy reports:

A person is needed to work in the recently opened Coler Subway Sandwich and Gift shops that sells coffee and snacks. The shops needs staffing with persons familiar with restaurant/ sandwich work. 

Stop by Coler, 900 Main Street, weekdays 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or call 914 924 9024.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Roosevelt Island, Queens And Brooklyn Food Scrap Composters Will Continue To Be Served By Big Reuse Says NYC Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch - "I Am 100% Committed To Taking Care Of Big Reuse" She Adds

Green Roosevelt Island Neighbors (GRIN) founder and Haki Compost Collective volunteer Anthony Longo is concerned about the continued viability of the Roosevelt Island Food scrap drop off site located every Saturday next to the Farmers Market behind the Good Shepherd Church.

Mr Longo reports:
Roosevelt Island’s organic matter gets turned into compost by the NYC Compost project hosted by BIG Reuse at their site in LIC Under the Queensboro bridge. The facilities have been under threat of being replaced by vehicles from the Parks department. What can be done to ensure that this site can continue to operate on the spot they built? And if they must be relocated what progress has been made in finding them a new site?

During a press briefing yesterday, I asked newly named NYC Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch about efforts to expand the curbside composting program and the status of the Big Reuse Long Island City Compost Facility that serves Roosevelt Island, Western Queens and parts of Brooklyn. According to Ms Tisch:

... We have an alternate site for Big Reuse in Greenpoint. We are not going to let the community that has been served by that location go unserved.

 NYC Sanitation Assistant Commissioner Of Public Affairs Josh Goodman reported:

They have the site in Long Island City now and we have space in Greenpoint where if they lose the Long Island City site they can come to Greenpoint. so this is all sort of in flux but Big Reuse will be taken care of one way or another.

Ms Tisch added:

I am 100% percent committed to taking care of Big Reuse.

As previously reported, come along on a virtual tour of the Big Reuse Long Island City Compost facility taken in May 2021. 

More on the dispute between Big Reuse and NYC Parks Department for the site beneath Queensboro Bridge here.

Here's the entire press briefing by Ms Tisch to NYC ethnic and community media.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Islamic Society Of Roosevelt Island Celebrates Eid al-Fitr "Festival Of Breaking Fast" May 2 At PS/IS 217 - President Biden Celebrates Eid al-Fitr Too, At The White House

One of the great things about Roosevelt Island is the diversity of nationalities, cultures and religions of residents living in our community. 

The Islamic Society of Roosevelt Island (ISRI) shares these photos and reports:

Here are some pictures of ISRI's celebration of Eid Al-Fitr at PS217 on 5/2/22.

As you may know, Eid Al-Fitr is a Holy day in the Islamic LUNAR Calendar, which marks the end of the Holy month of RAMADAN! Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. 

Ramadan begins 10 to 12 days earlier each year. This is because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar Hijri calendar with months that are 29 to 30 days long. Because the lunar year is shorter than the solar year by 11 days, this means that Ramadan will also be observed twice in the year 2030 – first on January 6 and then again on December 27 – depending on the sighting of the moon. The next time Ramadan will start after April 2 will be about 33 years from now, or the year 2055.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month is spent by Muslims fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. According to Islam, the Holly Quran was sent down to the lowest heaven during this month, thus being prepared for gradual revelation by angel Jibreel (Gabriel) to Muhammad (the LAST Prophet to MANKIND). Therefore, Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be open for the entire month and the gates of Hell (Jahannam) would be closed. The first three days of the next month, Shawwal, are spent in celebration and are observed as the "Festival of Breaking Fast" or Eid al-Fitr. 

President Joe Biden and Mrs Biden celebrated Eid al-Fitr in the White House too.