Saturday, February 23, 2008

Roosevelt Island Marlins Swimming Championships

Roosevelt Island swimmers and those who like to watch competitive swimming meets are invited to come to the Roosevelt Island Marlin Swim Team Annual Championships to be held at Sportspark on March 1, 2008 from 9 A.M. - 11:30 A.M. You are asked to arrive by 8:45 for registration.
All Roosevelt Island residents are invited to compete or to cheer on your friends and family. There is a $10 fee to participate and a $5 fee to watch in the audience.
For more information contact or call 917-518-9004.

Friday, February 22, 2008

No Roosevelt Island F Train to Manhattan This Weekend Again

Image from via reader Craig

Nothing else to say.
Said it all before.
Roosevelt Island weekend transportation problems for sure.

UPDATE: 6:45 PM - Main Street Wire bulletin is reporting that MTA has cancelled all scheduled weekend work due to the inclement weather conditions.

Is The Arrival of More Restaurant Choice on Roosevelt Island Improving the Trelis Diner?

Image of Trellis Portabello and Cheese Challah from NYC Nosh

Image of Trellis Diner from nrvlowdown

Blogger CinDelicious and a friend made a long desired trip on the Roosevelt Island Tram and had dinner at what they incorrectly thought was the Island's only sit down restaurant, The Trellis Diner. (I guess they had not heard of the famous Nonno's Focacceria). They liked it and gave it a very good review. Here is an excerpt:
We landed in RI, hopped on the bus (25 cents to ride) for Trellis, the ONLY sit-down restaurant on Roosevelt Island. It’s modest, more like a diner, but most importantly, no wait at all for us. Dan and I were both craving the California Monte Cristo (served with avocado), but the waiter crushed our dreams when he told us there was no avocado to be had. Instead we settled on pastas (a little skeptically because we were at a diner), and an $18 bottle of Tempranillo (why the heck not)? My capellini in garlic & olive oil with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp, and parmesan was a generous portion. The challah bread served with the meal was also unexpected and raised the bar on our RI dining excursion. We were too full to have dessert, I took half my dinner home, all in all it was a decent night of food, friends, and spontaneous (as M would call it) fun, and as we walked back toward the tram the rain had cleared out and the city shone on the other shore.
Maybe the good meal at Trellis had nothing to do with Nonnos and it's soon to open neighboring Japanese restaurant Fuji East. Before Nonnos opened, The Black and White Cookie blogger also had a "wonderful dinner" at the Trellis Diner though they did not care much for the Black and White cookie and NYC Nosh says of Trellis, "solid, hearty diner fare".

There is also a new restaurant that just opened in Long Island City at the foot of the Roosevelt Island/36th Avenue Bridge. A Roosevelt Island couple visited recently and had this to say about it on the Chowhound food blog:
I live on Roosevelt Island. There isn't 5 restaurants within a 10 block area. No, Astoria is MORE than 10 blocks!
A Romanian Restuarant opened on 36th Avenue and Vernon Blvd., within the 10 block criteria. We dined there last night. My meal was OK, my wife's was so-so. Not a place I'd highly recommend. The only saving grace was it's BYOB for now. Caveat: They do not accept CCs
Another new restaurant that opened in the vicinity of Roosevelt Island is the conveniently l0cated Smokin Q Barbecue on 63rd Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues. I had their take out Texas Brisket sandwich. It was OK. I would certainly go back and try it or something else from them again. I usually go to Blue Smoke, Rub BBQ or the Smoke Joint in Fort Greene for BBQ but I would be thrilled if the nearby Smokin Q succeeds

Let's give these newly opened restaurants, as well as Trellis and Nonnos a break and try them for ourselves. The more restaurants that open open on Roosevelt Island and in the vicinity, the better for residents of Roosevelt Island.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bloomberg Administration Measures and Publishes It's Effectiveness Governing NYC - Why Not RIOC?

You Tube Ed Koch clay animation video

Former Mayor Ed Koch loved to ask New Yorkers "How'm I doing"? Now Mayor Mike Bloomberg has instituted an online municipal performance tool that will allow New Yorkers to evaluate how well the New York City government is operating and answers Mayor Koch's question of How'm I doing.

Newsday reports that:
New Yorkers now can go online to find out how city government is serving them, like how fast the fire department responds in emergencies, whether rodent complaints are up and how the city's crime rate is doing.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday that the database, which will be updated monthly, is online at the city's Web site, It is known as the Citywide Performance Reporting, or CPR, tool.

"This is the first opening step in empowering the people who live in this city and giving, what in past years I think has always been viewed as the government's data, but I think it is the public's data," Bloomberg said.
Government Technology provides more detail on the New York Citywide Performance Reporting tool:
CPR uses a uniform, standardized reporting format across all agencies and all data types, and provides a single point of access for all users. Most notably, it aggregates data across agency into "citywide themes," which represent groups of related services such as infrastructure, education, or public safety. The system also provides easy downloading to help users analyze and present system data. It will increase accountability by making it easier to monitor agency performance for the most important "outcome" measures - those directly reflecting how citizens' lives are affected by government. CPR includes 500 hundred "critical" outcome measures. More than 200 of these critical measures are being reported for the first time.
Here is the web site for New York Citywide Performance Reporting:

Will Roosevelt Island be part of this reporting system? I have been told that Roosevelt Islanders who call 311 operators to report problems encountered on Roosevelt Island are advised that either the operator does not have Roosevelt Island in their data base or that Roosevelt Island is not part of New York City so the operator cannot help the caller. I hope this gets rectified now.

Can RIOC institute a similar system of operational metrics to evaluate it's effectiveness in running Roosevelt Island and make this information publicly available? To date, it has been difficult to answer the question how well, or not, RIOC is doing it's job? The difficulty in answering this question is that there is no objective standard or measuring device to accurately and fairly evaluate RIOC's effectiveness other than individual anecdotal evidence, at least that is publicly available. For example is there statistical information collected and analyzed regarding:
  1. how often do the Red Buses bunch up during their Main Street route and one bus is packed with passengers and the next bus right behind it empty?
  2. how often does the Red Bus achieve the goal of meeting the incoming tram or an unsafe condition arises because of overcrowding on the bus?
  3. Are the street cleaned and garbage picked up regularly?
  4. Are streetlights lit at night and replaced on a timely basis when they go out?
  5. Is the Tram service sufficient to meet the needs of the public?
  6. How is Public Safety performance measured?
  7. Is Rodent infestation being controlled?
This is just a small example of the kind of information that, if properly measured and analyzed, would not only be helpful in evaluating RIOC's performance but would also help RIOC do a better job!

This is one of my favorite Ed Koch moments. Be warned there is an expletive that is not deleted at the end.

Quintessential Ed Koch moment from You Tube

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Time Lapse Video of Bike Ride from Prospect Heights to Roosevelt Island

Google Video of Bike ride for Prospect Heights to Roosevelt Island

Let's take a bike ride from Prospect Heights Brooklyn through Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, over the Pulaski Bridge into Long Island City and then to the Roosevelt Island Bridge. A total of 7.87 miles in two and a half minutes thanks to this time lapse video. Unfortunately, the rider had his bike tires sliced up by riding over the grating on the Roosevelt Island Bridge. Had he taken the temporary pedestrian pathway on the side of the bridge, the tires would have been OK.

Here's an earlier post on Roosevelt Island Bike riding. Also, remember Talking Head David Byrne's bike ride visit to Roosevelt Island - Psycho Killer Visits Lunatic Asylum, Shoots Cormorants!

Bike route Map from Map My Ride

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Replace Roosevelt Island Renwick Ruins With Calatrava Waterfront Restaurant Pavilion?

Image of Santiago Calatrava's restaurant pavilion for Southpoint Park from Main Street WIRE

Today's Daily News reports on efforts by local Roosevelt Island preservationists to raise an additional $3 million to the already allocated $4 million for the stabilization of the Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital at Southpoint Park. According to the NY Times City Room:
Under the current master plan for Southpoint Park by the Trust for Public Land, the ruin would be stabilized, though the building would not be rebuilt. There is $12.9 million available for the entire first phase of park development, which is to begin this year, of which $4.5 million has been set aside for the stabilization project.

Image of the crumbled Renwick Ruins from Gothamist

According to RIOC President Steve Shane:
"We've been told by the engineers that to really do an adequate job, we need somewhere around $7 million," ... "We have $4.5 million to spend on preservation. The rest of the money is slated for the parks, and I don't want to pit the preservation people versus the parks people".
The Renwick Ruin Smallpox Hospital:
... was given official landmark status in 1976 as “a picturesque ruin” that “could readily serve as the setting for a 19th-century ‘Gothick’ romance,” in the words of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Those who favor preservation say:
The hospital was designed by famed architect James Renwick, who was also responsible for St. Patrick's Cathedral and Grace Church.
"His buildings had a castle-like quality," said Judith Berdy of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. "Everything was built with quality. It's a beautiful, detailed stone fa├žade."
... "It's irreplaceable," said Berdy. "No one would have the budget [today] to put up a building like this [and] I don't know if there are any craftsmen who could put up a building like this anymore."
Not everyone agrees that the Renwick Ruins Smallpox hospital should be preserved particularly at a $7 million price tag. From Architectural blogger Tropolism:
Anyone who has visited the asylum knows that the old building is little more than a ruin, stabilized by luck, some steel, and a lot of ivy. And some theatrical uplighting. Which made the idea of preserving it something short of silly, both from a cost standpoint and a use standpoint. It's frankly more interesting as a ruin...turning it into a building again would make it bland again.
I agree with Tropolism. At a price tag of over $7 million, without any reasonable guarantee that after millions of dollars are spent the structure will not continue to fall apart, it is time to re-consider how these taxpayer funds should be used and to explore other possibilities for this section of Southoint Park. For example, how about replacing the Renwick Ruins Smallpox hospital with architect Santiago Calatrava's proposed Roosevelt Island Southpoint Park restaurant pavilion pictured above? Out with the dilapidated spooky Roosevelt Island, in with the dynamic winged waterfront eatery!

Below are some pictures to remember the Renwick Ruins.

Image from Weblicist of Manhattan

Image of Manhattan seen through the windows of Renwick Ruins from Undercity

Some intrepid urban adventurers such as these would miss exploring the grounds around the Renwick Ruins until ...

Directions and Getting to Roosevelt Island - Then Finding a Parking Spot

Roosevelt Island Map Image from RIOC

I am often asked "How do I get to Roosevelt Island" and Can I park there"? Here is a good summary from RIOC with some additions.

From Manhattan:
Take Tramway Car at 59th Street & Second Avenue Station. (Travel time is 4-5 minutes.) Exit at Tramway Station on Roosevelt Island. The Fare is the same as the NYC subway and you can use your Metro Card. From the Tram, you can take the 25 cent Red Bus north as far as the Octagon or just walk since nothing on Roosevelt Island is more than 1 mile from the Tram Station.

New York City SUBWAY
Take the F Train to Roosevelt Island stop. The Red Bus stops here as well. Check the F train subway advisories because they occur very often on weekends and if you are not familiar with the subway system can get easily lost.

New York City BUS
From Queensboro Plaza overpass, take stairway down north side to corner of Crescent and Bridge Plaza North. Take the Q102 Queens Surface bus to Roosevelt Island



59th Street Bridge (Upper Level ) to 21st Street. Take 21st Street to 36th Avenue. Make left onto 36th Ave. Continue to Roosevelt Island via the 36th avenue Bridge.

Triborough Bridge to first exit. Make right on 31st Street (under the elevated subway) to 36th Avenue. Make right onto 36th Ave. Continue to Roosevelt Island via the 36th Avenue Bridge.


Grand Central Parkway (West) to last exit before Triborough Bridge (Hoyt Ave.) Remain on Hoyt Ave. to 21st Street. Turn left. Continue to 36th Ave. Make right turn at 36th Avenue. Proceed to Roosevelt Island via 36th Ave. Bridge.


BQE East to Exit 33- Humboldt/McGuiness, at the end of ramp bear left under the BQE to McGuiness, crossing the Pulaski Bridge into Queens. McGuiness becomes 11th street. Continue on 11th to 44th Drive. Make left at light onto 44th drive. Turn right at next light on Vernon Blvd. Follow Vernon Blvd. to 36th Avenue. Turn left on 36th Avenue to Roosevelt Island via the 36th Avenue Bridge.

If you come to Roosevelt Island by car, you can park, and probably should, at the Motorgate Parking Garage that you enter from the 36th Avenue bridge prior to descending the ramp to Roosevelt Island because there are very few parking spots available and the use of them is quite controversial here on Roosevelt Island.

Motorgate Parking Garage
Managed by Edison Parking
688 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, N.Y. 10044
Phone#: 212-832-4585
Daily up to1 Hour $7.
up to 2 Hours $9.00
up to 4 Hours $12.00
up to 10 Hours $15.00
up to 24 Hours $20.00
Monthly Residents $180.00
Non-Residents $160.00
Reserved $235.00

As reported by Roosevelt Island 360 Motorgate Parking Rates will be rising effective July 1, 2008

If you do decide to try and use one of the sidewalk parking spots here are some of the rules. There are 55 Northtown Main Street parking spots available for up to a maximum of 40 minutes at a price of 25 cents per 2o minutes. The same parking price for a spot on River Road in front of Manhattan Park but with much less availability.

There are 14 parking spots on Southtown's Main Street in front of the Riverwalk buildings available for up to two hours at a price of $1 per hour.

Parking spots are also available for up to six hours on Main Street in front of the Motorgate garage and Post office.

Parking permits are available at the dispensing machines located in front of 455 Main Street for Southtown, across from Blackwell House, M&D Deli, and P.S 217 for Northtown and by the Motorgate garage and Post Office for Manhattan Park.

The Octagon has a separate, private parking facility for their tenants.

Once on Roosevelt Island there is a local Red Bus service that travels back and forth, for better and worse, from the Octagon to the Roosevelt Island tram for 25 cents.

You can also try getting a cab to Roosevelt Island. Good Luck with that!

UPDATE - 7/31 - More on parking and the Octagon Garage here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Roosevelt Island Cheesehead for Barack Obama in Wisconsin Democratic Presidential Primary

On President's Day it's important to note that Words Do Matter in the life of a nation. Barack Obama explains how words can persuade, inspire and spark positive political change.

Tomorrow is the Wisconsin Democratic Presidential Primary. This Green Bay Packer and Brett Favre fan from New York City's Roosevelt Island is hoping all Cheeseheads in Wisconsin cast their ballots in tomorrow' Democratic Primary for Senator Barack Obama for these reasons.

Cheeseheads for Change image from Harvard Dems.

Brooklyn and Madison, Wisconsin Law Professor/Blogger Ann Althouse Video Blogs her reasons for voting Obama in the Wisconsin Democratic Primary but is keeping her options open in the general election.

Verizon FIOS Versus Time Warner Road Runner Broadband Internet Service - Which Do You Prefer?

An earlier post responded to a reader's inquiry concerning cable and internet providers on Roosevelt Island in which I stated that I was satisfied with my Time Warner digital broadband internet service. In the last few months I have become increasingly dissatisfied with Time Warner's Road Runner internet service noticing significantly slower page loading speeds and am seriously considering switching to Verizon's FIOS service.

Readers of the prior post had different views on whether Road Runner or FIOS were the better service for Roosevelt Islanders. From a Road Runner supporter:
... I got rid of Verizon broadband because it went out every time there was a heavy rain. After insisting on a home visit, the Verizon man mumbled something about water in a tunnel.

I have no problems with my Time Warner Cable connection and Roadrunner.
And a FIOS fan:
I've been using it for a year, and it is hands-down the best internet service I've ever used. ... I highly recommend it.
The Wall Street Journal reports on the battle between phone and cable companies for the business of internet users:
Stung by the success of phone companies in selling packages of TV and high-speed Internet services, the cable industry is getting close to launching a counteroffensive -- an inexpensive new technology that dramatically boosts Internet connection speeds. Called Docsis 3.0, the technology will allow the cable industry to compete on a more even footing with telecom giant Verizon Communications Inc., which is aggressively marketing a high-performance fiber-optic network called FiOS that offers much faster Internet connection speeds than cable modems can currently deliver. Whether the cable industry can roll out the new technology fast enough to minimize the damage from FiOS remains to be seen.

... For many years cable companies had an advantage on Internet speeds because phone companies were limited to DSL offerings, which had a maximum speed of seven megabits per second. Both Verizon's FiOS and a more limited fiber-optic service being rolled out by AT&T Inc. called U-verse are allowing the phone companies to offer more-competitive services. FiOS currently offers download speeds of up to 50 megabits a second -- nearly two and a half times faster than what Comcast or Time Warner offers. AT&T's U-verse can offer up to only 10 megabits a second, a 40% improvement over its fastest DSL offering and more comparable to cable offerings.
The NY Times on all-in-one cable, internet and phone triple play packages.
Consumers can also be the winners, if they are careful and question the sales representatives thoroughly. Let me impart my hard-earned knowledge and suggest that anyone considering a bundled plan ask these questions:

Are taxes included, or is there a flat rate?

Is there a one-time installation fee? Is there a fee to keep your phone number?

Is a contract required? For what duration? Can the fees rise over the contract period? What will they go up to after the contract expires? (For example, Cablevision’s bundled service rises to about $125 a month after the first year.)

If I change or drop one of the bundled services, will I be penalized? (Generally, the answer is yes.)

Is there a termination fee? (Verizon, for example, may charge a $200 fee if you cancel before the end of a two-year contract; Cablevision requires no contract and has no termination fee.)

Are there any promotions? (For example, we were offered $10 off the first six months of the bill in addition to a $200 gift certificate at an electronics store. My friend was given a $50 Target gift certificate for signing on.)

What options come free with the telephone services, and what costs extra? Caller ID? Call waiting? Voice mail?

There are other considerations. With Verizon we would get FiOS — the company’s name for its fiber optic technology. To make it more confusing, cable networks also use fiber optic technology, but it does not go all the way into the house, as FiOS does.
I think the cable companies better hurry up with their Docsis 3.0 technology.

UPDATE - 5/21/09 - I made the switch to Verizon FIOS and could not be happier.

Roosevelt Island Library Book Discussion Club Schedule

524 Main Street
Roosevelt Island NY 10044-0032

February 21- The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse By Louise Erdrich book description:
For more than a half century, Father Damien Modeste has served his beloved people, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man. To complicate his fears, his quiet life changes when a troubled colleague comes to the reservation to investigate the life of the perplexing, difficult, possibly false saint Sister Leopolda. Father Damien alone knows the strange truth of Sister Leopolda's piety and is faced with the most difficult decision of his life: Should he reveal all he knows and risk everything? Or should he manufacture a protective history though he believes Leopolda's wonder-working is motivated by evil?
Below is the Book Club schedule through August.

March 20 - The Dubliners by James Joyce (free online version from Google Books)

April 17 - Life of Pi by Yann Martel

May 15 - Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

June 19 - White Noise by Don DeLillo

July 17 - The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

August 21 - The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster

The Book Discussion Group meets on the 3rd Thursday of every month at 6:30 PM and is free to the public