Saturday, February 16, 2008

News Links

NYC Council President Quinn calls for comprehensive 5 borough, year round ferry transportation system (Streetsblog) I hope that Roosevelt Island is included in the 5 borough ferry service advocated by Quinn!
NY Waterway owner says Ferry service can only survive with developer or city subsidies. (NY Post).
Where can I find lightweight draperies that will block out the sun. (NY Times)
Reaganites for Barack Obama? (Slate)
Obama's message is just too depressing (Althouse Blog)
Naming Rights for GM Tower. (NY Times)
"Smart clothes" harness body movement to generate power. (BBC News)
Cruising with Family on Disney Ship (CNN Travel)
Columbia student newspaper reporter pans Roosevelt Island - "Modern apartment complexes, reminiscent of some ex-Soviet, Eastern European wasteland, stretch northward from the Tram" (Columbia Spectator)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Italy Concerned for Island Bus System, but Roosevelt Island - That's Amore

Our Italian correspondent has some thoughts on the Roosevelt Island bus situation:

the accident happened recently to the white bus led me to some considerations about the safety of the Bus system on Roosevelt Island.
This morning, like every other morning, about half a dozen of people were standing forward of that line. Same applies on the way back home: every night people is packed everywhere, including forward of the yellow line.

It's clear to everyone that the Bus service is not reliable, but is it at least safe?
What is the maximum allowed occupancy of these Buses? Is RIOC willing to enforce and respect State laws?



Despite the bus, R.I. is still the best place in NYC
Hey Italy, did you know that one of your fellow Italians had this to say about good mozzarella:
I think your Board of Italians, and your Italian collaborator, should return to Italy because they evidently forgot what good mozzarella tastes like when on Pizza. Try N. 28 on Carmine and Bleecker... real Italians go there.

It's Deja Vu All Over Again - No Roosevelt Island F Train to Manhattan This Weekend

Image from New York Times article on access to 59th St. Bridge from Roosevelt Island

As the great philosopher Yogi Berra once said, "it's deja vu all over again." We knew that last week's restoration of full weekend F train subway service to Roosevelt Island would not continue for long but I had hoped it would it would last for more than one weekend. But alas, it was not to be. For the next 2 weekends there will be no F train subway service from Roosevel Island to Manhattan because, according to the MTA:
We are making electrical improvements to ensure that trains continue to operate safely along the F line.
How do these service interuptions change Roosevelt Island F train Subway service? Again, from the MTA:
Trains skip 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av-63 St, and 57 St.
For service to these stations, take the F to 47-50 Sts and transfer to a Queens-bound F.
For service from these stations, take a Queens-bound F to Roosevelt Av and transfer to a Manhattan-bound F.
RIOC President Shane forwards this message from the Roosevelt Island Tram operators in response to a resident's request for increased weekend Tram service when Roosevelt Island F train subway service is out.
We as usual will be on demand. This means we will switch into rush hour schedule according to the number of passengers in need for transportation. For the last three years since MTA started with the tracks reconstruction works, the tram implemented this response with excellent results.
Isn't it time to at least look into the possibility of some sort of stairway or elevator from Roosevelt Island to the 59th Street Bridge? As the reader of this post on the pedestrian bridge component to the Roosevelt Island Tower of Death project at Southpoint wrote:
It's too bad the elevator to the Queensborough Bridge was taken down. Maybe it could be reconstructed. That would be perfect, at least when it's not too cold.
The NY Times reports that the Department of Transportation :
raised doubts about a passageway that would have to be nearly 135 feet high.

“It’s not feasible,” she said. “They’d have to remove a lane of traffic to put in an elevator.”

With an average of about 180,000 vehicle crossings a day, the Queensboro is one of the city’s busiest bridges, and according to Ms. Sarlin, eliminating a lane for an elevator would hamper traffic. A stairway could not be installed because people with disabilities could not use it, she added, noting that such a change would also cause security problems. Further, she said, since the facade of the bridge has landmark status, altering it would present a problem.
According to Streetsblog:
There used to be electric trolleys going over the Queensboro bridge and there was a stop at Roosevelt Island halfway across the bridge. People would then walk across to a building (see above photo of the Roosevelt Island elevator building) that had a number of elevators. These elevators were so big that they could fit the trucks and automobiles that supplied the island.
and rebuts DOT's landmark, security and traffic objections.

Here is a presentation made by Roosevelt Island Residents Association representatives to Community Planning Board 8 seeking support to:
to physically connect Roosevelt Island to the Queensboro Bridge pedestrian and bike path
In April 2007, the Board unanimously approved a resolution to conduct a feasibility study on subject. Don't know if the study has ever been attempted.

Roosevelt Island 360 has some ideas on a pedestrian bridge similar to the Wards Island foot bridge.

I hope we don't have to resort to Queensboro bridge base jumping like this. Wow!

For those who are concerned that our senior citizen population might not be able to travel this way, here is Jean-Pierre, an 85 year old French man who shows us, his family and village how to do it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

News Links

Flat Stan Takes the Roosevelt Island Tram. (Roosevelt Island 360)
Gary Hart on Barack Obama, Politics as Transcendance. (Huffington Post)
Rush Limbaugh talks. (Time Magazine)
Ask about urban parenting (NY Times)
Winter Getaways. (CNN)
Deepening your relationship with Chocolate. (Wall Street Journal)
Why are thousands of Bats dying in New York. (Breitbart)

2nd Most Romantic Spot in NYC is the The Roosevelt Island Tram - Give Your Monkey a Great Big Valentine's Day Kiss

Tram Image by Rich Panse from world.nycsubway

Did you know that the Roosevelt Island Tram is the second most romantic spot in New York City according to the concierge at the Sofitel New York as reported by Travel Lady? Here are 5 of their top ten Most Romantic Spots in New York City.
Who better than a luxury French hotel to serve as the experts on romance for Valentine's Day? For this reason, the Sofitel New York enlisted its French concierge to get his seal of approval for the Ten Most Romantic Places in New York:
  1. The Poet's Walk at Central Park – Experience Central Park hand in hand along this idyllic tree-lined stretch of benches and broad walkway.

  2. The Roosevelt Island Tram – Couples soar high above the East River.

  3. Lincoln Center – When the lights go out, enjoy a kiss before the curtain rises and the magical sounds of the New York Philharmonic fill the air.

  4. Rockefeller Center – Ice skate across the world's most famous rink arm in arm with your valentine.

  5. Brooklyn Botanic Gardens – The "harmonious asymmetry" of the city's only Japanese Hill and Pond Garden has the perfect feel for that special romantic moment.
Where are you going with your Monkey for Valentine's Day?

Hat tip for the kissing monkey video goes to Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine. He showed the monkey kissing video during a presentation he gave on market psychology and its role in the current real estate downturn at last January's excellent and thought provoking 2008 Inman Real Estate Connect NYC Conference .

Happy Valentine's Day B - Love, Me!

You Tube Video of Jim Croce's I'll Have to Say I Love You in s Song

Here are the lyrics from the Jim Croce official web site.

I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song

Well, I know its kind of late
I hope I didnt wake you
But what I got to say cant wait
I know youd understand
cause every time I tried to tell you
The words just came out wrong
So Ill have to say I love you in a song

Yeah, I know its kind of strange
But every time Im near you
I just run out of things to say
I know youd understand
cause every time I tried to tell you
The words just came out wrong
So Ill have to say I love you in a song

cause every time the time was right
All the words just came out wrong
So Ill have to say I love you in a song

Yeah, I know its kind of late
I hope I didnt wake you
But theres something that I just got to say
I know youd understand
cause every time I tried to tell you
The words just came out wrong
So Ill have to say I love you in a song

Hurry up. They may still be taking reservations for Valentine's Day at Croce's Restaurant and Jazz Bar in San Diego.

The Gears that Power the Roosevelt Island Tram

Cool photo of Roosevelt Island Tram gear works. I've noticed on several occasions recently young children staring intently at these Roosevelt Island Tram station gears as they power the Tram on it's journey over the East River. Sometimes the kids even persuade their parents to wait for the next tram so they can watch the moving gears during it's trip to and from Manhattan.

Sometimes the gears fail to move. Here is Popular Mechanics description of the mechanical system failure that caused the April 18-19 2006 failure of the Roosevelt Island Tram.
MECHANICAL SYSTEM: The main drive unit (A) failed when a malfunction in the AC/DC power converter caused three 800-amp fuses to blow. The spring-activated emergency brake on the rim of the main-drive bull wheel (B) prevented the haul rope from moving the cars along the track ropes. The backup diesel hydrostatic drive (C) stalled when it could not release the brake or reach running speed. Ultimately, it was a rescue drive (D) powering a separate haul rope on independent bull wheels that made it possible to retrieve the passengers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

News Links

Better Apple 3G IPhones on the Way. (Forbes)
Louis Kahn Fine Art Exhibition. (Art Daily)
12 year old Roosevelt Island Girl Missing. (NY Post)
New 2nd Avenue Deli Review - Pastrami and Matzo Ball Soup (NY Times)
Happy Birthday Charles Darwin, Dover still not Over. (Wired)

Local Elected Officials Urge Appointment of Roosevelt Island Six

Image of Roosevelt Island 6 from Roosevelt Island 360 via Main Street WIRE

Below is letter sent to Governor Spitzer by Roosevelt Island elected officials supporting the nomination and appointment of the 6 winning candidates in the recently completed election for nomination to the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors.

Unfortunately, the letter in inaccurate in one very important aspect of this election. Although it is true that more Roosevelt Islanders voted in the RIOC Directors election than in the Presidential Primary or the 2006 elections, the number of votes cast was not 1718 as stated in the third paragraph of the letter. Rather, 1718 is the number of total individual ballots cast by Roosevelt Island residents. Since each resident could vote for up to 6 of the 10 candidates on the ballot the total number of votes would be several times more than the number of ballots cast. Also, remember that United States citizenship was not a requirement to vote in this election, only Roosevelt Island residency though it is not known how this impacted the total number of voters. The Main Street Wire breaks down the total number of ballots and votes cast in the RIOC Directors election here and for comparison purposes here is the breakdown for the votes cast on Roosevelt Island for the 2006 NY State and Federal elections.

Here is the letter to the Governor.

Dear Governor Spitzer:

We are writing to you as the local elected officials who represent the residents of Roosevelt Island. As you know, Roosevelt Island is governed by the Roosevelt Island Operation Corporation (RIOC), a public benefit corporation whose board members are appointed by you as Governor. For many years now, Roosevelt Islanders have sought a greater role and a more democratic voice in determining the future direction and operation of their island home.

In response to the islanders’ calls for better representation on the RIOC Board of Directors and in the affairs of running the island, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) held an Island-wide referendum on February 5, 2008 to reccomend residents’ choices for filling the six vacant or expired Board seats.

Turnout for this historic vote was unprecedented. More people voted for the RIOC Board than for the Presidential primary or in the 2006 elections. Altogether, 1,718 votes were cast.

The top six candidates were Kathie Grimm, Jonathan Kalkin, Frank Farance, Erin Feely-
Nahem, Fay Christian, and Howard Polivy. These individuals truly represent the diverse nature of Roosevelt Island and include a pediatrician, lawyer/entrepreneur, systems analyst, social worker (who runs a women’s shelter), teacher, and an actuary. Together they represent hundreds of years of Island residency and activism.

We applaud the results of this recommendation vote as a stunning example of civic activism and democracy in action, and we hope that you share in that sentiment. We hope that your Appointments Committee will soon be providing vetting materials to the Island’s preferred RIOC Board of Directors candidates.

We are very supportive of the process undetaken by our constituents and we request that you appoint the six winning candidates to the RIOC Board of Directors so, as set out by statute, they may be confirmed by the State Senate as swifty as possible.

Very truly yours,

Micah Z. Kellner Carolyn B. Maloney Jose M. Serrano Jessica S. Lappin
Assembly Member Member of Congress State Senator Council Member

NYC Comptroller Thompson Letter to Assemblymember Kellner Concerning Issues Facing Eastwood Tenants

Eastwood Image from NYC-Architecture

This earlier post described criticism of investments made by the NYC and State Comptrollers of City and State public employee retirement funds in private equity groups that purchase former Mitchell-Lama developments, such as that of Roosevelt Island's Eastwood building by Urban America, eventually making them unaffordable to those same workers who are residents of these apartment buildings. According to article in City Limits:
Affordable housing advocates are asking city Comptroller William Thompson – whose office manages the city's retirement fund – to review the investment by the New York City Employees’ Retirement System in the purchase of the developments. They seek a similar review from state Comptroller Thomas DiNaopli, who is the sole trustee for the New York State and Local Retirement system.

State Assemblyman Micah Kellner, a Democrat whose Upper East Side district includes one of the purchased properties, criticized the investment of retirement funds for city and state employees in “private equity groups that purchase former Mitchell-Lama developments and make them unaffordable to those same workers.”

Below is letter from Comptroller Thompson responding to Assembly Member Kellner's concerns that outlines the results of a recent meeting between the Comptroller's Staff and Urban America. According to Comptroller Thompson, Urban America agreed to take steps to meet with tenants, address their complaints and resolve senior citizen, section 8 and disability subsidy issues. It should be noted that representatives of Urban America participated in the recent Eastwood Town Hall meeting hosted by State Senator Jose Serrano last , February 7.

According to NYC-Architecture, Roosevelt Island's Eastwood building is on their 30 buildings under 30 years of age watch list of future buildings to be landmarked as is the Roosevelt Island Tram Station. Since Eastwood was built in 1976 the list was obviously put together prior to 2006.

If anyone is having trouble scrolling through the letter, click on this link for full copy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Can Roosevelt Islanders Levitate Up the Escalator?

You Tube video link of levitating passenger on Escalator

A reader of this subway post asks a great question:
I would add a corrolary question to this: given that the extra escalators have been shut down, why is the up escalator at one of the levels always shut down - at least during the day? Someone is going to have a heart attack one of these days. . . .and they can't say to take the elevator, because they don't post signs about it, so by the time you find out, you've already come up one or two levels.
We all know that the subway escalator situation on Roosevelt Island is simply horrendous. I was told that the lower level Up escalator to the mezzanine was working this afternoon but at 5:30 PM tonight it was not in operation nor was it working at the same time last night. What in the world is going on with the MTA escalator repair program at Roosevelt Island that the up escalators in the deepest subway station in NYC stops working during the evening rush hour when many people are on the way home!
Here is link to MTA Escalator and Elevator status page. Big help!
Do we really have to learn to levitate up the escalators?

News Links

$7 Million Needed to Preserve Renwick Ruin, Have $4.5 in State Funds (Daily News)
Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning. (NY Times)
Toll Brothers family member walks away from contract to buy house. (WSJ Real Estate Journal)
Michelle Obama solidifies her role in election. (Wall Street Journal)
Cheaper WiFi Access at Starbucks (NY Times)

Keeping Cities Safe From Real and Virtual Catastrophic Attacks

A common Roosevelt Island sight is looking up in the sky and seeing very low flying helicopters barely above some of our buildings and wondering what that was all about. This story may or may not have anything to do with those Roosevelt Island helicopters but recently the Washington Post reported on efforts to keep New York and other cities safe from catastrophic terrorist attacks.

A New York City Police Department helicopter with an ultra-sensitive radiation detector affixed to its tail whipped through a wintry sky over Lower Manhattan last month, hunting block by block through the concrete canyons of Wall Street for a black SUV containing the components of a homemade radiological "dirty bomb."
Article like this are just a reminder that despite much of the frivolity and nonsense of the daily news (I am not referring to the newspaper of that name) presented by all aspects of the media, we do live in a very dangerous world.

The Washington Post also reports that Intelligence officials are concerned over virtual 3D worlds such as Second Life as potential training grounds and havens for terrorists and criminals.

Bus Crash on Main Street

A NYC Q102 bus crashed into the column outside of the Main Street Video store last night. Roosevelt Island 360 reports that the accident occurred at approximately 10 P.M. The image is from Roosevelt Island 10044.

Roosevelt Island Public Safety reports:

Vehicle Accident- f/o 544 Main Street the Q 102 MTA Bus struck a concrete Pillar and knocked it down. Three passengers suffered minor injuries, refused medical attention. Driver was not injured, however he was transported to the Hospital for observation. UA manager notified. RIOC, PSD, MTA, NYPD, EMS all on scene.
UPDATE 11:50 A.M. - RIOC President Steve Shane reports that:
The ceiling collapse is only cosmetic on the outside. The column itself was not structural. The NYC Buildings Department was here and inspected and found no cause for structural concern (which would have resulted in an evacuation). No residents have been displaced.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Valentine's Day Suggestions - Didn't Know We Had Gastronomes on Roosevelt Island

Looking for Valentine's Day ideas. Here are some and a profile of Roosevelt Island residents in New York Magazine Valentine's Day Guide.

Jeffrey Escobar, 30, attorney.
Elle Erickson, 26, attorney.
Relationship status: Married for 1.5 years. Live on Roosevelt Island.
V-Day criteria: "A relaxed yet upscale night of good food and wine. Maybe dinner at Per Se, drinks at the Rainbow Room?"

Time Lapse Video of Manhattan from Roosevelt Island and Nightime Visit to Eerie Southpoint Park

A look at New York from Roosevelt Island from Aziz K. on Vimeo.

An odd and strange, yet somehow soothing day/night time lapse video of Upper East Side Manhattan, FDR Drive traffic and East River tide as seen from Roosevelt Island.

And an eerie nightime visit to Southpoint Park down the lantern lit path past the greenish glow of Renwick Ruins to Roosevelt Island's southern tip opening up to NYC skyline.

Distant Minute Episode Eighteen from DistantDragon! on Vimeo.

Why the Constant F Train Subway Disruptions at Roosevelt Island

A reader of this post asks a very good question.
A bronze plaque should go to whomever is able to get the MTA to state when the weekend shutdowns will end permanently. Every other capital project of the MTA's has a start and an end date. Except, it seems, this one. And what is the tunnel work for? The LIRR East Side connection? Tunnel reinforcement to protect agains terrorism? I'd love to know.
Long time Roosevelt Island residents know that work repairing the Roosevelt Island Station and train service is nothing new as evident from this 1998 NY Times article.
Only eight years after it opened, the 63d Street subway tunnel will be partially shut Sunday for repairs that will last 15 months, causing extra transfers and long waits for approximately 12,000 riders daily in Manhattan, Roosevelt Island and Queens, New York City Transit announced yesterday.
... The need for a $44 million repair job -- workers will tear up the track, lay new cushioning pads and anchors and replace the track -- was first made public in 1995, only six years after the tunnel project was completed at a cost of $868 million. But the advance warning did not make the inconvenience go down much easier.
... The 3.2-mile-long tunnel was built using an innovative but flawed design that called for laying the rails in shallow epoxy-and-sand pads instead of atop conventional railroad ties. The design allowed for a slightly smaller tunnel, but the pads began to crack soon after the tunnel opened.
Does anyone know the answer to what the tunnel work is seeking to accomplish?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Weekend Links

Roosevelt Island votes for RIOC Board of Directors, Awaits Governor Spitzer's Approval (Daily News)
Sitting RIOC Board Members Stayed Off the Ballot. (Press HD)
Roosevelt Island's Loveable Weirdness. ( Keeping Up With Jonas blog)
Neighbor sues next door smoker over second hand smoke. (NY Times)
Legal Analysis of smoking next door neighbor and nuisance law (Stephen Bainbridge Blog)
How to do anything instructional video web casts. (HowCast)
Monitors report NY City Wide Presidential Primary election problems, but no report of Roosevelt Island voting machine malfunctions. (NY Times)
New York Voting Machine Fixer. (NY Times)