Friday, April 11, 2008

Looking For a New Television? Try Something Different Under Your Bed

Are you looking for a new television for your cluttered Roosevelt Island apartment or bedroom? You can do away with bulky, large TV cabinets or carts by purchasing one of these motorized Underbed 50" plasma screen TV's for only $18,000. Here's how it works.

You Tube video of Underbed Television

Or combine a Television and a chair with NapTV. You can sit on it or watch TV while lying underneath it.
Great Big Hat Tip to Trendhunter for Underbed and NapTV.

Return of Regular F Train Service for Roosevelt Island But Sunday Tram Shutdown For Rescue And Evacuation Drills

MTA is reporting that there will be regular Roosevelt Island F Train service in both directions this weekend. Unfortunately, there is a Tram advisory for Sunday morning through early afternoon. From RIOC:
On Sunday, April 13th, 2008. The Tramway will be shutdown from 6AM to 2 PM.
This schedule is necessary in order to perform cabin rescue and evacuation drills..
We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this change.
No complaint here. We do not want a repeat of the April 18-19, 2006 fiasco when Roosevelt Island tram passengers were stuck overnight dangling over the East River depicted here in NY Times video. Below is NY 1 video recap of incident and follow up safety tests.

Video from Truveo
And a link to New York City Council Hearing on the "Tramway Incident".

Thursday, April 10, 2008

First Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert A Great Success - Next Stop Carnegie Hall!

Image by Sascha Diamond (click on image to make larger and more clear)

One of the organizers of last Saturday's Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series reports on the event:
The concert Saturday night went really well. The music was beautiful and the chapel was filled. We had to bring up chairs from the basement. There were about 200 people there at one time. With people leaving and others coming in late there were 220 there over the whole evening.
It turned out to be a family event, as we had hoped, with people of all ages.

...These family concerts are a unique opportunity for all ages and participants to learn about and appreciate the music. The programs are addressing a full range of people from first time concert goers to veterans, new neighbors and long-time residents. We are considering some adjustments, but the audience as a whole seemed very happy with the evening and the performers were thrilled.
Some audience comments:
  • "This event is comparable to a performance at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful concert with our community."
  • " I am a Computer Scientist and [I] like jazz music. I play piano and couldn't resist going to a free concert on my Island. I really enjoyed the Hungarian piece from Kodaly and the introduction of the movement was really appreciated. I remembered the imitation, the question-response and the improvisation techniques Iris mentioned. Wonderful piece of music and interpretation. I loved it, please continue."
  • "Wonderful music and musicians. It's rare to hear string trios; that was a real treat. I like the balance of Baroque, classical and contemporary pieces. Church acoustics were just right - not too echoey for the selection they played. And it was free! Great turn out; great flyers; great musicians! Thank you!!".
  • "The Chapel of the Good Shepherd is a better place to hear (rather 'experience') chamber music than Carnegie Hall. It is close to ideal. More chamber music, please.".
  • "Who would believe there was something to do on Roosevelt Island besides eating...and going to sleep?".

Image by Mark Diamond

The musicians were:
  • Ralph Allen, violinist and violist
  • Junah Chung, violist
  • Iris Jortner, cellist

Image by Thomas Diamond

Here's some more from Coler-Goldwater Hospital performance:
The Public Outreach Performances On Monday, March 31, were well attended and particants were really appreciative and quite vocal at the end when Iris and Ralph asked them what they liked or didn't like about the music. At Coler there were approximately 26 participants in the audience including about 5 therapists and at Goldwater about 48 participants including about 4 or 5 therapists. We've got plans to go back before the May 17 concert and at Coler we're planning to also hold smaller, shorter sessions in Day Rooms on each floor for patients who can't make it to the Atrium. At Goldwater, we'll be in the auditorium next time, as their Activities Room was overflowing into the hallway.

Image by Mark Diamond

I look forward to the next concert. Great Job!

Main Street WIRE has more about Robin Russell's work on behalf of Roosevelt Island.

New Obstacles for Kahn/FDR Memorial - May be Security Problem for United Nations and Danger to Fish!

Image of United Nations viewed from Southpoint Park Roosevelt Island from Natasha

Image of Striped Bass caught and released in the East River from

The Louis Kahn/FDR memorial proposed for Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park may have another obstacle to overcome. Besides the:
  1. opposition of Roosevelt Island residents who do not want the existing beautiful, jaw dropping, one-of -a-kind panoramic views of East River Waterfront/NYC Skyline forever ruined by the Kahn design,
  2. desire of community for a true waterfront park at Southpoint,
  3. 35 year failure to raise the $40 million estimated to build the Kahn/FDR memorial through private funds,
  4. New York State and City budget crisis which makes it obscene for elected officials in favor of Kahn design to provide the $20 million in taxpayer funds now sought by Kahn supporters when there are much more pressing needs.
  5. resignation of Governor Spitzer, a key supporter who revived project from its deathbed,
  6. alleged binding 1974 committment by State of New York to the Kahn/FDR memorial may not be valid due to State and City failure to fulfill prior condition by each making $2 million payment and
  7. security concerns (Main Street Wire PDF File) that the Kahn/FDR memorial box enclosed on two sides with high walls may be a danger and threat to the United Nations.
We now learn that the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing waterfront projects to determine if new structures will be casting shadows on the water damaging to marine life. The April 8, NY Observer reports that:
A clash between state environmental regulators and multiple government agencies threatens several planned waterfront projects in the city, including portions of Hudson River Park on Manhattan’s West Side, the East River Waterfront and the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park set to rise on Brooklyn’s once industrial shore.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is pushing back against sections of all three projects, particularly because of the shadows that structures like floating walkways and a heliport would cast on the water. Led by Commissioner Pete Grannis, the D.E.C. has determined that shade from the new construction could damage marine life below, and, in many cases, violates the law.
The Kahn/FDR memorial's 465 feet of tall trees enveloping both the east and west sides of Southpoint Park's waterfront together with what one resident dubbed "The Kahn Death Box" room at the edge of the Island's southern tip will certainly cast shadows on the water possibly damaging East River marine life. Hopefully, another nail in the coffin of this outdated and ill-suited project.

Below are images of the Kahn/FDR memorial. We now know that it was designed from the outset with the intent to cut off and block the existing NYC skyline and waterfront views from almost all of Southpoint Park's southern section except for the very tiny tip at the end of the Island. Describing the Kahn/FDR memorial, Robert McCarter, a Kahn admirer and author of Louis I. Kahn which has been described as the authoritative text and definitive monograph on the architect Kahn's work writes:
It is in this forecourt that we are given our first- and last- view of the midtown New York Skyline to the west, previously blocked by the trees of the garden, and to be blocked again by the walls of the Memorial room.

Image from NY Times

Image from Architectural Record

Click here to see the magnificent waterfront and skyline views that will forever be lost if the Kahn/FDR memorial is built.

Here is a You Tube video with a 360 degree view from Southpoint Park.

The Kahn/FDR memorial must be stopped.

The March 29 Main Street Wire has extensive coverage of the Kahn/FDR memorial Town Hall meeting where many of these issues were discussed and Press HD has video of the event.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

NYPD Arrests Suspect in Motorgate Break-Ins

Image of NYPD Blue form Amazon

The recent string of broken windows, theft and vandalism at the Motorgate Parking Garage may have finally been brought to an end yesterday when the New York Police Department apprehended a suspect on Vernon B'lvd in Long Island City. According to the Roosevelt Island 24 hour Public Safety Report for 4/8 -4/9/08:
Investigation- Regarding theft break ins at Motorgate Garage (688 Main Street) NYPD arrested a subject on Vernon Blvd for auto break in on 4/7/08. He is taking responsibility for 20-25 Auto break ins in the Motorgate Garage. PSD is assisting in the investigation.

Roosevelt Island's Proposed 2008/2009 Fiscal Year Budget

Image from RIOC

One of the items on the Agenda for the April 10 RIOC Board Meeting is approval of RIOC's proposed budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Below is a Draft of the proposed RIOC 2008-2009 Fiscal Year budget.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
Statement of Financial Activities- All Funds
Fiscal Year 2008-2009 Budget
Proposed Budget FY 08-09

Residential Fees Revenue $2,152,417
Ground Rent 7,707,472
Commercial Rent 1,542,195
Tramway Revenue 3,027,671
Public Safety Reimbursement 1,444,279
Transport / Parking Revenue 2,646,916
Interest Income 1,222,674
Other Revenue 611,869

Total Revenue 20,355,493

Personnel Services (PS) :
Salaries 6,311,133
Temporary Employees 235,000
Employee Benefits 2,412,036
Compensated Absences Exp -
Total Personnel Services (PS) 8,958,169

Other Than Personnel Services (OTPS) :
Insurance 1,432,409
Professional Services 1,164,000
Tram Management Fees 2,420,000
Motorgate Management Fees 686,003
Legal Services 446,700
Telecommunications 92,300
Repairs & Maintenance 581,060
Vehicles Maintenance 615,500
Equipment Purchases/ Lease 257,900
Supplies/ Services 1,480,301
Depreciation 2,630,561
Other Expenses 837,661
Total Other Than Personnel Services (OTPS) 12,644,395

Total Expenses 21,602,564

Net Surplus (Deficit) ($1,247,071)

Note: Does not include either Grants ($15,000,000 + $4,500,000) or Capital Improvements ($37,358,059)
Here is RIOC's approved 2007/2008 fiscal year budget. Among the differences between the two budgets are:
  1. the approximately $16 million Residential Fee Revenue line item for 2007/08 reduced to approximately $2.1 million for 2008/2009,
  2. approximately $9.05 million Ground Rent line item for 2007/08 reduced to approximately $7.7 million for 2008/2009,
  3. salaries are increased from approximately $5.3 million in 2007/2008 to $6.3 million in 2008/2009,
  4. a $14 million 2007/2008 expense line item for Island Improvements is not a line item at all in the 2008/2009 budget unless that may now be included in the Grants ($15,000,000 + $4,500,000) or Capital Improvements designation ($37,358,059) and
  5. approximately $2.85 million line item Tramway Revenue for 2007/2008 increased to approximately $3 million in 2008/2009.
There was a time when New York State pledged to subsidize any Roosevelt Island deficits. That ended over ten years ago and Roosevelt Island has had to be self sufficient ever since. Here's a brief history of the Roosevelt Island budget. From 1996 NY Times:
July 13 was a turning point for Roosevelt Island. That was the day the State Legislature, under the prodding of Gov. George E. Pataki, halved the state's contribution to the island's operating budget and, in Albany's argot, "zeroed out" its capital budget.

...To the Pataki administration, the cutback is a form of tough love. "This action will further transition Roosevelt Island to a more self-sufficient state," said John Signor, a spokesman for the Governor's budget office.

The budget history dates to 1971, when the state's Urban Development Corporation, now the Empire State Development Corporation, pledged to develop the island -- a former prison and workhouse known as Welfare Island -- into a mixed-income, multiracial community of 20,000 residents. (emphasis added)

But today, Roosevelt Island has only 8,200 residents -- far below the self-sustaining level -- in part because of the state's unwillingness to spend millions for full development. For two decades, the state's allocations have functioned as a subsidy to make up the difference between what the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation collects in rent and other revenue, which last year totaled $7.7 million, and what it costs to manage the island. The state provides all the long-term capital construction budget.
The January 31, 1997 Main Street WIRE (PDF File) reports on the Pataki administration's decision to renege on NY State's commitment to subsidize Roosevelt Island until the Island became self-sufficient with 20,000 residents. Roosevelt Island's current population is approximately 12,000.
Roosevelt Island is owned by the City of New York, but is leased to New York State and operated by RIOC, a public benefit corporation. The original State plan for the Island called for it to be self-sufficient - require no state subsidies - when the number of residents reached 20,000. That number is currently just over 8,000.

Last fiscal year, the state’s contribution to the capital improvement and maintenance of Roosevelt Island was over $5 million. For the current year, that was reduced to zero. The operating subsidy was reduced from $1.5 million to $625,000.

...Commenting on the Governor’s proposed budget, Grannis said:
“The most irresponsible thing the Governor has done is eliminate the capital budget... It’s made it impossible for RIOC to carry on with an orderly capital construction process to deal with the Island’s needs the garage, the seawall, and so on. And we have plenty of history to show that if you don’t take care of things they fall apart.” Grannis cited the New York subway as an example of a system that suffered when preventive maintenance was deferred over long periods.
Here is the 2007 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. Financial Statement, the Roosevelt Island General Development Plan (as amended 2003) and the 1974 Master Lease for Roosevelt Island.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Two More Broken Car Window Incidents at Motorgate Garage - Bet Vehicles Did Not Have Miracle Safety Glass!

You Tube video of safety glass slowing down car window break-in

There continue to be acts of vandalism at Roosevelt Island's Motorgate Garage with two more broken car windows. From the Roosevelt Island 24 hour Public Safety Incident Report:
4/7/08-700 AM to 4/8/08-700 AM
Graffiti-540 Main Street in stairwell "J" on the 1 st floor. Search for the subject made with negative results.
Criminal mischief- R/O 551 Main Street on the East Seawall a Concert Garbage Can was turned over and broke. Search for the subject yielded negative results.
Criminal Mischief- At 688 Main Street (Motorgate Garage) a vehicle's window was broken. Search for the subject yielded negative results.
Papers Served- At 546 Main Street PSD served eviction papers.
Investigation-/Suspicious substances- At 475 Main Street the door person found a package sent to a tenant that had a white powder substance. PSD responded. The substance was raison powder. It was sent by a friend in London.
Criminal Mischief- At 688 Main Street (Motorgate Garage) a vehicle's window was broken. Search for the subject yielded negative results. No record on the owner of the vehicle per Central parking.
What is going on at the Motorgate? Maybe the new Segways should start patrolling Motorgate?

Chopstick Challenged? Don't Let That Stop You From Trying Roosevelt Island's New Japanese Restaurant - Fuji East Bistro

Roosevelt Island's newest eatery, the Fuji East Japanese Bistro has been open for a little more than a month now and has become a favorite of many residents. The food is good, staff friendly and accommodating with pleasant decor (except for the music videos) and the place always seems busy. One long time Roosevelt Island resident told me she and others happily trek down from Manhattan Park to Fuji East several times a week for lunch. Long time restaurant deprived Roosevelt Island is finally getting some more dining options!

With Fuji East, Nonnos Focacceria and Starbucks all open in the Riverwalk building at 455 Main Street, Southtown is starting to become a real community with places for neighbors to congregate, meet and chat with each other as well as with other Roosevelt Island residents. Good job by these owners. Let's hope it continues. I am particularly looking forward to some warm weather so we can enjoy the outdoor seating that will be available at Nonnos and Starbucks. Don't know if Fuji East will have outdoor seating.

And for those who are hesitant to try Fuji East because of any difficulty with chopsticks, and I know you are out there, try the Chork:
This is perfect for those times when you want to use chopsticks but don't really know how, but still want the luxury of wood pressing against your lips as you shovel food into your mouth. That was always my problem with chopsticks. I'm American, I like to eat my meals in 2 minutes or less, and that's just not possible with chopsticks. These are perfect though. (Via Gadling and Slashfood)

Chork Image from Slashfood

Monday, April 7, 2008

Vandalism and Graffiti at Renwick Ruins - Didn't They Read the Sign?

Image of Renwick Ruins graffiti by Press HD

Two recent incidents of vandalism and graffiti in and near Renwick Ruins at Southpoint Park reported by Roosevelt Island 24 Hour Public Safety Reports. Looks like the NO TRESPASSING NO LOITERING sign did not help much.
4/6/07-700 AM to 4/7/08-700 AM
Criminal Mischief-S/O 200 Main Street the lights surrounding South Point Park were torn down. Search for the subject yielded negative results. Damaged lights found at scene.

4/5 -4/6/08
Graffiti- S/O 1 Main Street at South Point Park (in Ruins Light Pole). Search for the subject yielded negative results.
Roosevelt Island blogger Press HD has more:
It’s been about three weeks since the brush on the east channel side of Southpoint Park was set fire and today another incident of vandalism in the park.

The vandalism was discovered at 4:30pm Sunday during a walk through the park. Several walls of the Renwick Ruin have been defaced with bright red spray paint and six-letters spelling out a racial slur were painted on six of the spotlights that illuminate the ruins. Cables, light bulbs and fixtures have been pulled from parts of the fence that surrounds the park.

Roosevelt Island Easy Riders - Segways for Public Safety Officers

Image from RIOC

RIOC has purchased two Segway Personal Transporters for officers of the Public Safety Department. According to Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Keith Guerra, the Segways are useful because:
... Besides allowing officers to move expeditiously in the street, they were also able to navigate on sidewalks and even through the halls of the residential buildings here on Roosevelt island.
During a test drive through the halls of Eastwood, an officer riding a Segway made an arrest for criminal trespass.

In 2007 the New York Police Department purchased 10 Segways. From the NY Times:
...the two-wheeled Segways are to be deployed today as patrol vehicles on pathways and boardwalks in parks, at beaches and at stadiums, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at a news conference yesterday.
... “Their obvious advantages are visibility and mobility,” Mr. Kelly said. He was referring to the battery-charged agility of a Segway, which can roll up to 12.5 miles per hour, and to the imposing stature the devices tend to give officers, who are eight inches off the ground and ride standing up.
... Such use of Segways by anyone else would be against the law. Despite several recent attempts in Albany to define a Segway as a vehicle that can be legally registered and insured, the rules of the State Department of Motor Vehicles do not even acknowledge the existence of a battery-operated, stand-up scooter capable of carrying one rider. Should it be allowed on the sidewalks? The streets? Legislators disagree.
It would be interesting to know how NYPD evaluates the Segway.

Here's a You Tube video of the Segway Police.

Segways have been on Roosevelt Island before. Remember the Segway Polo match.

Also, though they never made it to Roosevelt Island, two friends decided to make a movie and travel across America from Seattle to Boston in a 21st century Segway version of Easy Rider:
10 MPH is a comical documentary that follows a pair of aspiring filmmakers as they quit their jobs and turn a friend's ludicrous idea into a movie. The impulsive purchase of a two-wheeled Segway scooter sets this story in motion when the two friends decide to travel from Seattle to Boston at 10 mph in an attempt to change their lives forever... What ensues is a road trip like none other with a haphazard cast of characters you could only find on a zany 100-day trek through America's back roads. Each poignant story the two friends discover along the way inspires a craving inside to go out and do that thing you're supposed to do.
You can watch 10 MPH on You Tube or go view the film and register for a free account with Our Stage who will then donate $1 to the filmmakers to help them finance their next movie.

Here's the opening scene from Easy Rider with Born to be Wild soundtrack via You Tube.