Friday, February 29, 2008

Proposed Food Mart with Rooftop Access to Queensboro Bridge - Solution to Roosevelt Island Transportation Crisis?

Image of Queensboro Bridge Trolley Cars from Abandoned Stations -, David Pirmann Collection

Another, weekend another MTA subway advisory that there will be no Manhattan bound F Train service from Roosevelt Island this weekend. RIOC President Steve Shane writes of a recent meeting with MTA officials in his 2/23/08 Main Street WIRE column (PDF File):
I discussed the F train scheduling, both as to morning rush hour crowding and weekend outages, especially in light of the pending Tram outage in 2009. I was promised a schedule of weekend interruptions to meet the work plan and the projected completion. I asked for and was promised a work schedule for the escalators and elevators, so at least we’d have some idea of the program and timeline.
However, there is unbelievably good news regarding the long hoped for, but unattainable, goal of access to the 59th Street (Queensboro) bridge from Roosevelt Island. The New York Times is reporting on a proposed 10 story Roosevelt Island building that:
will be placed adjacent to the Queenboro bridge ... it's roof being on a level with the floor of the bridge.
The top of the building will be made into a concourse and a connection effected between the bridge and building by means of a runway. The building will be provided with a number of elevators both freight and passenger.
... It is proposed also to install a bakery to provide bread and rolls ... There will be a central butcher shop...
What's wrong with this story? Well, you know there must be a catch and there is. The story is real but it was published June 25 1916 .

Of course there was opposition to this plan just as there is now to ideas for a similar plan. The NY Times reported in 1912 that the highway lobby opposed the plan because it would lead to congestion on the Queensboro Bridge and the civil service ferry pilots worried about their lost jobs.

Maybe something similar to this 1916 proposal can be done to the current Steam Plant adjacent to the Queensboro Bridge? The steam plant (PDF File) was part of the RFIP put out several years ago by RIOC and Jones Lang LaSalle.

What do you know? 92 years ago, the ghosts and forbearers of Roosevelt Islanders were having the same trouble getting on and off Roosevelt Island as we do in the year 2008. I thought that like Thomas Wolfe' s short story of the same name, "Only the Dead Know Brooklyn". I guess the same applies to Roosevelt Island.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jogging on Roosevelt Island

Ever wondered what it was like to run or jog around Roosevelt Island? Blogging triathlete Swim, Bike Run Race describes his January run from Astoria to and around Roosevelt Island.

...the short bridge connecting Queens and Roosevelt Island is currently facing renovations, so I trek across under a canopy of plastic as seen to the left. At this point, I'm feeling quite good; the crisp sub-20 degree air is more refreshing than chilling.
Heading south along the East side of the island, I cross under the Queensboro Bridge and turn back for a rather beautiful shot of one of the city's major borough connectors. In more temperate weather, I hit the Queensboro Bridge to embark on my long bike rides in Central Park.

At the South end of the island, I head toward the West side of the island with a great view of some of Manhattan's East side landmarks, including the U.N. building. Roosevelt Island's South end is currently a wasteland of overgrown weeds and razor
wire. However, there are plans for a Spring 2008 park opening so that is definitely something to look forward to.

You Tube 360 Roosevelt Island Southpoint Park View from StrahlemannBE

I hit the four-mile marker and turn right up the West side of Roosevelt Island. I hop off the pavement and run on the grass for a while with bare trees hanging overhead on both sides. Despite the rather unattractive hospital facility to my right, the tree branches connect overhead to form a picturesque canopy - in New York, we take beauty where we can get it!

Video of Coler-Goldwater Hospital from Roosevelt Island 360

At mile five, it's time to refuel. I'm feeling great, keeping up a quick pace and getting a kick out of the side mission of photographing my run. Fuel of choice today is strawberry banana-flavored Powerbar Gel, a personal favorite.

The West side of Roosevelt Island offers both a nice view of Manhattan as well as a few comical artistic displays, as shown to the right. There are a handful of these statues emerging from the river. They're funny and it's always nice to check out some art when you're cruising along on a run.

Marriage of Real Estate and Money Image from Tom Otterness

The North point is one of the main reasons I love coming to Roosevelt Island despite the eery zombie-movie architecture, constant construction and general lack of human life. When you get to the point where you can't move any further North, you hit this fascinating little lighthouse and a great spot to get a real 360-degree perspective of New York City: Manhattan to the left, Queens to the right and the TriBoro Bridge looming in the distance. Of course, there's water all around and for me, that's a huge positive.

You Tube 360 Roosevelt Island Lighthouse View from StrahlemannBE

Heading back down the East side of the island toward the sun provides yet another fleeting glimpse of beauty. I'm in the home stretch now, hitting mile six as I cross over the footbridge and back into Queens.
If you are coming from Manhattan, take the Roosevelt Island Tram from 59th Street and 2nd Avenue over to Roosevelt Island and head either South to Southpoint Park or North to Lighthouse Park. The F train also stops here. For those wanting to run all the way to Roosevelt Island from Manhattan, take the pathway on the 59th Street ( Queensboro) Bridge over Roosevelt Island to Queens. Make your way back towards the East River and then take Vernon B'lvd through Long Island City to 36th avenue and go over the Roosevelt Island Bridge. Now you're on Roosevel Island!
Maybe you will even find some human life over here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Roosevelt Island Gastronomic Civilization!

Sign on the window of the new Fuji East Japanese Bistro at Riverwalk announcing the Grand Opening of Roosevelt Island's newest restaurant on Saturday, March 1.

Lights Out at Motorgate Garage

Flickr Image of Motorgate Atrium Staircase from Ultrasparky

Public Safety Department issued the following warning regarding lights being out at the Motorgate Garage.
2/26/08-700 AM to 2/27/08-700 AM
Hazardous Condition- At 688 Main Street in the Motorgate Garage the lights are out in levels "3B", "6A", and "7B". Central Parking attendant notified. Public Safety to monitor the area.
As Hill Street Blues Segeant Esterhaus used to say at morning roll call:
And hey, let's be careful out there!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So, You're Thinking of Moving To Roosevelt Island and Worried About Dark Water. Read This First.

Image of Octagon Building from Urban Baby Daily

You Tube video of Manhattan Park from Roosevelt Island 360

Image of Main Street buildings from Forgotten-NY

Image of Riverwalk buildings from NY Times

I often meet people who when they learn that I live on Roosevelt Island ask if it is really as creepy and spooky as portrayed in the Jennifer Connelly movie Dark Water. I usually respond with a definitive "it depends".
If you are thinking of moving to Roosevelt Island don't worry about Dark Water, but this recent message thread on Live Journal describing life on Roosevelt Island represents a point of view worth considering. The thread began:
Roosevelt Island?
I checked the tags but couldn't find anything about Roosevelt Island. Can anybody give me any testimonial information about living there?
Some responses:
I live at The Octagon which is at the north tip of the island, the furthest stop on the red bus.

I'm currently in negotiations to break my lease because I want to get out of here that fast. I've lived here for 2 years, basically since it opened. The first year I had a car so it was easier if I wanted to pick something up to eat, or goto the store since I could just hop in my car and drive over the bridge to Queens where there is tons and tons of shopping on Steinway.

There is nothing here. The Gristedes is DISGUSTING. I really mean it... you should go there and check it out... my favorite place is near the dairy, it actually smells like shit so they put an air freshener there to make it smell a little better. Not to mention in the summer or maybe early fall when I was in there I heard the manager say right in front of me and other customers "Wow, I really can't believe we passed that health inspection!" Since that day I have not shopped there.

Food shopping here is very bad, unless you are the kind of person who can buy every kind of food you want at Duane Reade, but otherwise you'll have to take a subway or the Tram over to Manhattan and lug your stuff back. That is especially fun since you will get to carry it on the red bus and then everyone will give you dirty looks!

Pick up an issue of The Main Street wire, there's an on going battle between residents here and it's pretty stupid and annoying, people bitch here on a daily basis and the atmosphere is a little dismal to me. You can bank on someone bitching about the red bus daily, each way you go to work and it kind of wears you down a bit.

The food options here are pretty weak, very weak. The diner, Trellis, doesn't really have the best food and for what it is I would say it's a little over-priced. There's a chinese food place, too and not just recently in the last month a Italian/Pizza place which is pretty good. Sometime you can order food from Queens but not very many places deliver.

Be prepared for it to take you about 45min/an hour to get home, be prepared to deal with the crappy red bus, the occasional Manhattan bound train not running or the occasional Queens bound train not running (which makes it hard to get somewhere or go home either way).

I do not like living here, obviously, but from what I hear living in the new buildings near the Tram is a real pleasure - they live above a Duane Reade, the pizza place, soon a Japanese restaurant, a Starbucks, and I think some kind of salon as well. Living there would take away from the extra 15/20 minutes tacked on to your daily commute for waiting for the bus and for it slowly crawling up and down the Island.

Otherwise, I would strongly strongly urge you to really check it out before you move here. This is the right place for some people but for people like me who like to go out and be able to goto 20 different restaurants outside of my apartment within walking distance this is NOT the place us.
... I lived in Manhattan Park for a year, and while our apartment was amazing, I had to split a 3br between 5 people to afford it lol. Our view was incredible, but I cant imagine living there again. The gristedes was the bane of my existence. They're horrible, rude people and always out of everything. And Fresh Direct is ok but like the above poster said, there's something to be said for having the ability to actually walk into a grocery store. Also there's nothing more depressing than spending 45 minutes getting home only to have a 15 minute walk ahead of you or take your chances waiting for the red bus, which never runs on any kind of schedule. I dunno if you're much into the night life, but when all your drunk ass wants do is just crawl into bed and that daunting commute is ahead of you, it's really depressing hahha.
Though also like the above poster said, if you managed to get into one of the places by the subway that'd solve a lot of your problems. I do miss my amazing view, jogging around the island was really nice, and the tram was always good fun. But for day to day livability it's a little isolated.
Opinions vary, different people like different things. Remember Italy loves Roosevelt Island.
After 6 months of life on R.I. I still believe that this place is the best place to live in NYC. No doubts about it.

... P.S.
Despite the bus, R.I. is still the best place in NYC
My opinion from earlier post when I was considering the classic Clash question "should I stay or should I go" concerning Roosevelt Island and ultimately decided to stay and move to Riverwalk:
... There are many attractive benefits to living at either Manhattan Park or the Octagon on Roosevelt Island. Both have gorgeous waterfront locations with great views of Manhattan and beautiful green park grounds each with adjacent swimming pools as well as an outdoor tennis court facility and ball fields. However close proximity to Manhattan with access to any city life amenity is not one of those benefits. At Manhattan Park there is at least a significant Roosevelt Island discount, as compared to Manhattan, on rent but that is not the case at the Octagon.

The moral of this story is that if living within 15-20 minute walk of a movie theater, bookstore, museum, good restaurant, bar, nightlife and the buzz of the city is very important to you then perhaps the Octagon and Manhattan Park are not the right place for you to live, but Riverwalk may be. If the benefits of tranquility and recreational activities described above are more important and/or you have small children, then Manhattan Park and Octagon would be great places to live.
I think this is a reasonably fair summary of life on Roosevelt Island. Dark Water, it's not- Maybe.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Not So Fast on Roosevelt Island Democracy - What Will Governor Spitzer Do?

Image of Governor Spitzer from Wikipedia

Question Mark Image from

It's nice to see some reporting on Roosevelt Island by the NY Times. The Sunday's NY Times had an article on the Roosevelt Island election for nominees to the RIOC Board.
...Roosevelt Islanders have grumbled for a decade about the way the island is governed.
Although the island is city property, it is leased to the state until 2068. The governor appoints all nine members of the operating corporation’s board, which manages an annual budget of $32.5 million. Legislative efforts to amend the system so that members are directly elected have repeatedly failed in the State Senate.

... On Feb. 12, the island’s city and state legislators, along with Representative Carolyn Maloney, whose Congressional district includes the island, wrote to the governor urging him to appoint the candidates. They would then require approval by the State Senate.

“The ball is now in the governor’s court,” said Assemblyman Micah Kellner, one of those lawmakers. “He can do the right thing by appointing these six people if they pass the vetting process, or he can ignore the wishes of the people on Roosevelt Island.”

This statement by Governor Spitzer's spokesperson, Erin Duggan does not seem very encouraging. She said Governor Spitzer's office would:
“give consideration to all the potential appointments in the way that we consider any recommendations from local leaders and community organizations.”
This statement seems to suggest that the ballots of over 1718 Roosevelt Island residents, more ballots than were cast on Roosevelt Island for any elected official including Governor Spitzer, is of no greater importance to the Governor, than the recommendation of any local politico or community organization such as the Residents Association. If this is truly the position of the Governor, and I am basing this on nothing other than the statement above, then the whole election for RIOC Board was a mockery and waste of time. I hope it is not the case!

Also, for the record. The Governor does not appoint all 9 members of the RIOC Board as reported by the NY Times. The New York City Mayor has 2 of the 9 appointments and the Commissioner of DHCR as well as the NYS Director of the Budget have 1 each. You would think the Times could easily do a fact check on this small point. One wonders when the NY Times gets an important fact wrong on a small story like the Roosevelt Island election, what facts are wrong or incomplete on big stories like the Presidential elections and war in Iraq?

Public Safety on Roosevelt Island Compared to Park Slope, Fort Greene, Williamsburg and other Brooklyn Neighborhoods

Video blogger Press HD provides comments made by some of the RIOC Board nominee candidates regarding the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department during February 2 debate.

Below are excerpts from Public Safety's 24 hour incident report from the last two weeks. Incidents include theft and tire slashing at Motorgate Parking garage, resolving a taxi fare dispute, aiding a sick person, trespass at Renwick Ruins, bicycle stolen from delivery person and loud noise complaints among others.

The full 24 hour Roosevelt Island Public Safety Incident Reports from 1/19/08 to 2/24/08 are located here. Also, included for comparison purposes are crime reports for a variety of Brooklyn neighborhoods from the Brooklyn Paper.

2/11/08-700 AM to 2/12/08-700 AM
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.

0700 hrs 02/14/08 - 0700 hrs 02/15/08
Aided - @PS217 having irregular heart beat. Aided transported to hospital

2/16/08-700 AM to 2/17/08-700 AM
Verbal Dispute- At 300 Main Street over payment of fair. There was a misunderstanding which was resolved by PSD.

Hit and Run-At 688 Main Street a motorist reported to PSD. PSD conducted a search in the R.I bridge yielded negative results for the suspect. NYPD responded and prepared a report. Motorist taken to the Hospital by EMS.

2/18/08-700 AM to 2/19/08-700 AM
Trespass- S/O 1 Main Street 4 subjects were summonsed by PSD. They were in the fenced area of Renwick Ruins.
INVESTIGATION- China 1 delivery person stated he was approached by group of male youths twice on two different locations. Male youths attempted to stop and grab him. He believed they wanted to rob him. NYP report refused, a search for youths was conducted with negative results.

2/19/08-700 AM to 2/20/08-700 AM

Investigation- S/O 888 Main a deliveryman reported that on fiday 2/16/08 5 males grabbed his bicycle and he fled. He believed they were going to rob him.

0700 hrs. Wednesday February 20th 2008 - thru 0700 hrs. Thursday February 21st 2008.

Criminal Mischief - Male stated parked his vehicle at Motorgate at roof area. Vehicle rear tires slashed both sides of vehicle scratched. PSD Conducted a search for subjects with negative results. Owner refused NYPD and will file a report with Central Parking.

0700 hrs. Friday February 22nd 2008 thru 0700 hrs. Saturday February 23rd 2008 hrs.
Larceny - GPS system taken from Motorgate garage.

2/23/08-700 AM- to 2/24/08-700 AM
Investigation Stuck Elevator-At 540 Main Street 7 youths were jumping inside of the elevator and caused it to be stuck. FDNY and UA personnel removed the youth. PSD arrested the youth.

Noise Complaint-At 10 River Road a DJ was playing music in her apt. Tenants complained. Public Safety corrected the condition. The music was turned off.

For comparison purposes take a look at the Police Blotter report of neighborhoods such as Park Slope, Fort Greene, Williamsburg, Bay Ridge and Greenpoint from the Brooklyn Paper. For example:
A burglar stealthily broke into a 13th Street apartment, hauling away gadgets and jewels. Plus all the other crime news from Park Slope’s 78th Precinct. Read more.

Two perps not only took a man’s phone, but they got him to take $100 out of his ATM. Plus all the other crime news from Fort Greene and Clinton Hill’s 88th Precinct. Read more.

Two thugs beat up and robbed a man on Third Avenue after nonchalantly approaching him. Plus all the other crime news from Bay Ridge’s 68th Precinct. Read more.

It was a bonanza fortnight for burglars in Williamsburg, but one crime stood out: a smash-and-grab job at a Varick Avenue auto repair shop. Plus all the other crime news from the 90th Precinct in Williamsburg. Read more.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

News Links

A seafaring ferry commute for NYC waterfront neighborhoods. (Gotham Gazette)
Comprehensive city wide ferry system could cost $100 million. (Streetsblog)
Green wall installations for energy savings. (NY Times)
Is the creation of affordable housing in jeopardy? (Brownstoner)
Condominium owners tell smokers take it outside. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Services to haul away your junk. (Real Estate Journal)
Pepsi $100 million 10 year naming rights deal for Xanadu Ferris Wheel. (Commercial Property News)