Saturday, April 19, 2008

News Links

Facebook application helps coordinate blood donations. (NY Times)
Roosevelt Island resident opens day care center for workers at Belmont Race Track. (Village Voice)
Top spring wardrobe tips for working women. (Forbes)
New tactic takes bite out of bedbugs. (Wall Street Journal)
Respecting religious beliefs not our own. (Crooked Timber)
Calculating residential apartment square footage. (Apartment Therapy)
NYPD Commissioner Kelly on Roosevelt Island police coverage from Queens. (Queens Gazette)

Friday, April 18, 2008

General Petraeus Loves Barack Obama - On Saturday Night Live

You Tube video of saturday night live General Petraeus segment

One of the funniest opening segments in a long time on last week's Saturday Night Live parodying General Petraeus testifying before Congress and being questioned by Senators and Presidential candidates Obama, Clinton and McCain.

Roosevelt Island Cherry Tree Walk Sunday April 20 1 PM


Roosevelt Island Historical Society

Cherry Tree Walk


Southpoint Tour

Join us on Sunday, April 20th

for a flower walk on the south of the island.

Meet outside the Visitor Center Kiosk

Tram Plaza

at 1 p.m.

Donation $5- to the RIHS

Cherry blossom and bird in cherry tree images are from Main Street WIRE photo gallery and are not individually credited.

Regular F Train Service Again This Weekend/Assembly Member Kellner and RIRA President Katz Address MTA on Future of Roosevelt Island Transportation

Image from Subway Nut

The MTA is reporting no subway advisories for F train subway service to and from Roosevelt Island this weekend nor is RIOC reporting any weekend advisories for the Tram, though there is the ongoing work being done on the Roosevelt Island/36th avenue bridge to Long Island City. That is 2 weekends in a row with normal subway service but there will not be a third. Subway service disruptions for Roosevelt Island are scheduled to return next weekend. It looks like a normal transportation weekend for Roosevelt Island.

However, as we all know a normal transportation day on Roosevelt Island is not necessarily a good or even adequate one. Assembly Member Micah Kellner knows this and is continuing his correspondence with MTA President Howard Roberts urging the MTA to improve it's service to Roosevelt Island. Kellner writes to Roberts:
Dear President Roberts:

Thank you for your letter of April 2, continuing our discussion about both short- and long-term transportation problems confronting the residents of Roosevelt Island. I appreciate your commitment to addressing some of the concerns I communicated to you in our conversation and correspondence. However, I am concerned that the MTA’s planning for the upcoming tram overhaul, as well as its response to questions about long-term transportation infrastructure on the island, seem to be somewhat lacking in a sense of urgency and focus.

Roosevelt Island resident Marc Diamond has calculated that, based on NYC Transit data of turnstile swipes at the Roosevelt Island subway and tram stations in September, 2007, tram ridership is approximately half that of subway ridership during the morning rush hour period. This would seem to indicate that that there will be a 50% increase in morning rush passenger numbers at the island’s subway station during the several months that the tram is to be out of service – unless vigorous measures are taken to mitigate the increase.

While I appreciate that the MTA and RIOC have discussed the possibility of extending RIOC’s Red Bus service to Queens during the tram overhaul, I must express my doubts as to whether RIOC will have the capacity to do so at a sufficient rate. I urge you to consider the possibility of instituting MTA rush hour express bus service not only during the tram outage, but permanently. MTA express busses capable of carrying 60-70 passengers at a time directly to the Queensboro Plaza subway station could make an appreciable contribution to reducing overcrowding at the Roosevelt Island F train station as the island’s population continues to grow.

I also welcome your commitment to working with RIOC and Roosevelt Island residents to find long-term solutions to the island’s transportation challenges. I am very supportive of the idea of instituting ferry service to Roosevelt Island as a long-term measure, but immediate solutions are also necessary. Residents have made other suggestions worth exploring – as both interim and long-term possibilities – including the possibility of rerouting every second Manhattan-bound R or V train through the 63rd Street tunnel during the morning rush, or extending the Q train to 71st Ave/Forest Hills.

It is my hope that the MTA’s discussions with Roosevelt Island stakeholders will result in concrete, achievable solutions to the island’s long-term transportation challenges, and that the MTA will be able to move forward with implementation of these measures in the very near future. On an immediate basis, I ask the MTA to go beyond vague assurances and develop a workable plan to use its express busses to accommodate riders who will be displaced during the upcoming tram overhaul.

Again, thank you for your commitment to working with me and other Roosevelt Island stakeholders to address these issues. If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to call me at (212) 860-4906.

Very truly yours,

Micah Z. Kellner

Assembly Member


cc: Matthew Katz, President, Roosevelt Island Residents Association

Stephen H. Shane, President, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation

Deborah VanAmerongen, Commissioner, NYS Division of Housing and Community


Roosevelt Island Resident's Association President Matt Katz testified before MTA President Roberts and the Transit Riders Council on Roosevelt Island's future transportation needs. Here is his statement:
Comments at Transit Riders Council – April 16, 2008

Good evening, Mr. Roberts and Members of the Board:

My name is Matthew Katz and I am the President of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, RIRA, elected to three two-year terms by my neighbors. A little background:

Roosevelt Island is a planned community in the heart of New York City, owned by the City and leased to the State until 2068. Our commuting population is presently composed of 12,000 residents plus the employees of two chronic-care hospitals, various retail stores and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.

We are served by an aerial Tramway, currently operating at capacity and the F train subway line. During the morning commute, the subway platform is jammed and my neighbors must let several trains pass before squeezing into a car. The experts tell us that the problem is caused by increased ridership throughout the length of Queens. We know the causes. What has not been addressed are the solutions to our growing transportation problems. After all, we are an island and we can’t opt for a different bus or subway line when ours are out of service or operating at beyond capacity.

Residential development on Roosevelt Island continues to increase our population. Buildings #5 and #6 of our Southtown complex will be occupied by next winter, to be followed by Buildings #7, #8 and #9. This will surely increase our population to 16,000 or so within the next five years. In addition, there is discussion of converting Goldwater Hospital’s ten-acre site into more residential development. The problem of how we will get to work, get to school, get to doctors’ appointments must be addressed now before our crush becomes a crisis.

A more immediate problem is the question of how to supplement our transportation mix when the Tram is out of service for major renovations starting in 2009. During the rush hour, the Tram carries 125 commuters every four minutes to Second Avenue and 59th Street. We’ve heard vague plans of some bus service to be directed to Queens Plaza to compensate for the loss of service. At present, we don’t know whether the Tram outage will be for six months, nine months or some other period, but planning should begin now. Clearly, the RIOC fleet of Red Buses is inadequate to deal with the Tram downtime. I know that our Assemblyman, Micah Kellner, addressed some of these problems to you in his March 19th letter, but I want to reinforce his concern that the Transit Authority must deal with these issues and in a timely manner.

When I spoke to your predecessor, Larry Reuter, in similar circumstances during the winter of 2002, to press for the inclusion of the Tram in the MetroCard system, he was enthusiastic. We began a two-year process of negotiation with RIOC, in which I acted as a factor, and with the help of then City Council Speaker, Gifford Miller, that culminated in the elimination of the last two-fare zone in New York City.

My goal is to enlist your assistance in maintaining my Island community’s ability to move freely to and from Manhattan. At present, we haven’t a single working dock on Roosevelt Island and, even with the inclusion of Water Taxi service, this will only be a drop in the bucket of our transit needs. I look to you and your organization to provide the solutions that will maintain the viability of my island home.

Thank you for your time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

McDonalds Presents the Louis Kahn Memorial - Naming Rights Fees Now Being Sought By Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute

McDonalds logo image from revesbylac and Kahn/FDR memorial from Architectural Record

After 35 years of failing to raise the necessary financing to build the Louis Kahn/FDR memorial, either through private or public taxpayer sources, the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) is now seeking funds in exchange for memorial "naming rights". According to FERI:
Now, it is time to build. Gift naming opportunities range from $100,000 to $10 million, but contributions at any level are gratefully welcomed.
How FERI proposes to incorporate naming opportunities into the so called FDR Memorial Four Freedoms Park is not specified on their web site. Perhaps the inscriptions for each of FDR's Four Freedoms could be sponsored by a single corporation. The NY Times could sponsor Freedom of Speech and Expression, McDonalds could sponsor Freedom from Want, Disney could sponsor Freedom from Fear and Wal-Mart could sponsor Freedom of Religion.

What a joke. Naming rights for a memorial that is supposed to honor Franklin D. Roosevelt. One would think FDR's name would be all that matters but we all know the real name that matters is Louis Kahn, the project's late architect.

Just add the naming rights embarrassment to this long list of obstacles that, hopefully, FERI will not be able to overcome before the time left to build this thing expires later this year:
  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,
  7. security concerns that the Kahn/FDR memorial box enclosed on two sides with high walls may be a danger and threat to the United Nations and
  8. shadows cast by the Kahn memorial on the East River which may be a danger to Marine Life in violation of NY State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations.
Roosevelt Island blogger Press HD has a video interview with RIOC President Steve Shane explaining:
the Kahn design for the FDR Memorial to Dick Lutz, managing editor of The Main Street WIRE. Shane weighs in on the recent controversy surrounding the trees and obstruction of the now 360-degree views

Shane explains Kahn design during walk-thru Southpoint from PressHD on Vimeo.

This video is one more example showing the intent of the Kahn design is to block the current East River waterfront and New York City skyline views from the sloping lawn of the southern section of Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park, the only place left where these views exist. As stated by: 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.
Here's Roosevelt Island 360's humorous though illustrative version of Kahn's design blocking views from Southpoint Park.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Road to Morocco with Roosevelt Island's Child School/Legacy High School - Send Best to Hope and Crosby

You Tube video of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby on the Road to Morocco

Following in the illustrious footsteps of those intrepid explorers Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, the adventurers/students from the Roosevelt Island Child School/Legacy High School are on the Road to Morocco. They kindly sent this report so that the Roosevelt Island community could share in their experience.

Students from The Child School/Legacy High School are in Morocco for our yearly Spring Trip. We thought you might enjoy reading about their adventures.

The Spring Trip is an opportunity for our students to travel overseas and learn the culture, geography, and history of another country firsthand. The goals of the program are to foster socialization, develop independence, responsibility and teamwork. In addition to the adventure of traveling to another country, our Spring Trip encourages the development of personal traits such as integrity, honesty, empathy, decisiveness and, most of all, caring. Accompanying the “trippers” are faculty members who utilize this opportunity to:

  • Develop greater insight into a child’s emotional and social issues
  • Receive a better understanding of parent’s needs within the home

This year one student, of the 35 traveling, received a Scholarship created from our newly established Earl Spirit Fund. Every year for 25 years, a scholarship will be awarded, in Earl’s memory, to help a child in need.

While students are in Morocco, they are being exposed to Islamic culture, souks (marketplaces), spices such as saffron, hand-woven kilims and carpets, couscous, tangine (stew), Mosques, camels, and as always, pools and beaches.

Image of Agadir Morocco

Image of Agadir Morocco market

All images are from the Child School/Legacy High School.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Deadline Day on Roosevelt Island and the Rest of the U.S.

You Tube video of Beatles Tax Man

It's April 15 and time is nearly up for filing your taxes before the Tax Man comes to seek you out. Remember, if you are a tax procrastinator, or need more time to file, make sure you get a tax extension. It may help to laugh as well with a Dave Barry column:'s also time to file your federal tax return. Yes, this is a pesky chore, but remember that paying taxes is not a ''one-way street.'' When you send your money to the government, the government, in return, provides you with vital services, such as not putting you in prison. The government also uses your money to pay for programs that benefit all Americans, such as the Catfish Genome Project.

...My point is that, as you do your taxes, you should remember where your tax dollars are going, and recognize that you, as a citizen, have a moral obligation to prepare your tax return with the same degree of conscientiousness that Congress exhibits in spending your money. So let's get started on your taxes! Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step one is to gather together your tax forms, your financial records, and, if you plan to itemize your deductions, at least two liters of vodka.

Step two: ... (Hat Tip to Andrew Sulllivan)
If you are self-employed you certainly recognize this hapless feeling:
... That was the sort of mood I was in on April 14 of last year, when I took out the tax forms I'd picked up at the library and started trying to wade through my finances. I was still wearing the clothes I'd fallen asleep in the night before and now was facing a floor covered with 1099s, a few W-2s, and those pesky "estimated tax payment" envelopes that I never remembered to send in.

About eight hours later, I was still sitting in my room and the sun was going down. I had reached my yearly tax breaking point, the moment each April when I realize that, while they are technically written in English, I have no idea what any of the documents I am reading actually mean.
Here are some helpful tax tips for freelancers and those self-employed.

And here's the Singing CPA via the Wall Street Journal. Maybe you will see him outside the Farley Post Office tonight with the other last minute filers.

Roosevelt Island Tennis Association Opening Day This Saturday

Received the following message from a member of the Roosevelt Island Tennis Association:

... RITA will kick off its season with an inaugural event Saturday, April 19th, starting at 10 am hosted by the RITA officers and executive board with special input by Arvind Rampurada. Please see the attached flyer. A few strong players will be joining us so this will be an opportunity for any of you who are eager to step up and hit with "the big boys" (and girls). There will also be familiar social doubles and mixed doubles as well for those who aren't ready for stiff competition.

This will be the day for all current members to renew their memberships and greet new members who are joining for the first time. So, mark your calendar and spread the word among all your tennis friends.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the courts. Let's hope the April weather cooperates!


PS. A note about your RIOC tennis permit. ALL players (even those who have permits from last year) need pick up new permits at the Public Safety Office after signing up and paying on line at RIOC's website.
Some Octagon Park Tennis Rules and Regualtions from RIOC:
This facility is available for RIOC Tennis Permit holders and their guests only. New York City Parks Department permits are NOT valid.

-Permits fees are:
-Adults $100
-Seniors (62 and over) $20
-Juniors (18 and under) $10
-Instructors $200

-There is a $10 charge for replacing lost or stolen ID cards.

-Courts will be open from 6am until 10:30pm every day. Although courts are maintained by RIOC from April 1 through November 30, permit holders will be able to access the court from April 1 through March 31 of the following year.

-PRIMETIME HOURS: 6pm-8:30pm weekdays, 9:30am-1:30pm weekends and holidays. Court monitors from the Roosevelt Island Tennis Association (RITA) will oversee the facility during primetime hours and on a spot-check basis during non-primetime hours. Monitors oversee court use and settle disputes. Compliance with their requests is mandatory.

-Court 4 is reserved every weeknight 6pm to 9:30pm for RITA lessons and community programs. This court may be released for general play at the discretion of the RITA official in charge. No other instruction/coaching is permitted during primetime hours. No ball baskets, individual practice, or private lessons during primetime.
Get your tennis permit here.

UPDATE - 4/16:
Public Safety 24 hour incident report for 4/14/08-700 AM to 4/15/08-700 AM
Hazardous Condition- N/E of 875 Main Street. All 6 lights were out by the Tennis Courts. RIOC Project Manager notified.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Get Your Share of the Roosevelt Island ZipCars

As I was walking through the Octagon Parking lot adjacent to the tennis courts the other day, I noticed several parking spaces occupied by Zipcars. Do you know what Zipcar is and that there are three ZipCars available at the outdoor Octagon Parking Lot on Roosevelt Island? Well, Zipcar is a business that is trying to rework the car rental business by creating a members only, web based, car sharing service. As described by the Washington Post:

While rental cars are most often found in sprawling lots near airports, the car-sharing companies work with municipalities and private businesses to rent spaces where subscribers could pick up and deposit the cars. Unlike the major car-rental companies, Zipcar and Flexcar have no airport counters or other bricks-and-mortar retail locations. The cars are reserved online or over the phone. Gas, repairs, parking and insurance are handled by the car-sharing companies.

"We are trying to replace car ownership," said Scott Griffith, Zipcar's chief executive. "It's a business model that locates cars in neighborhoods and uses 24-hour technology to locate the car."

And from the Boston Globe:

Cars are sprinkled throughout city neighborhoods. And there's never any paperwork or standing in line required to borrow one: just wave a membership card over the windshield, and the doors pop open. Seconds later, you drive off in a Mini Cooper, Ford Escape, or BMW sedan. Gas and insurance are included in the hourly rate, which hovers around $10.
... Car sharing finally seems to be gaining speed. Initially, the idea of "members" paying an annual fee to rent cars on-demand was dismissed as a European concept that wouldn't appeal to Americans. But it's starting to seem like big business...

Anybody have any experience using Roosevelt Island Zipcars?

Blogger Sotirov via A VC has an interesting spin on the Zipcar business model:
How about transforming the car ownership into an investment type of thing.

Imagine people being able to lend their own cars for the times they are not using them. Or even making a small business out of owning a few cars. Everybody sets their own prices.

Think of Zipcar - but without the centralized ownership of the cars.

Pleasant Spring Weekend Afternoon on Roosevelt Island for Some, Most Depressing Place in the World to Others

Saturday was a beautiful day here on Roosevelt Island. The warm temperature and sunshine gave us our first hint of spring. The farmers market was crowded and Dominos Pizza from Jackson Avenue in Long Island City was there showing some customer appreciation. (Do they really deliver until 1 AM, even to Roosevelt Island?)

Roosevelt Island Cherry Trees are blossoming. A very nice day!

Blogger Frying Pan had a different Roosevelt Island weekend experience on Sunday afternoon.

I’m not generally one to knock a place but the BF and I took our Sunday Walk this afternoon to Roosevelt Island and, well, I’ve wanted to go for years and was looking forward to it but man is the place depressing.

...The worst though was when we turned down into the ‘main street’ and discovered a series of apartment complexes that would fit in with the sad desolation associated more with an English small town than a section of a New York City. Throw in a few zombies and you’ve got a street perfect for the Worlds Most Depressing Location. I realize that they were going for “modern” and some sort of pre planned integration of living space and retail space.. but it looks too bland, too pre fab and just the ultimate in what I would think would be a soul-crushing place to live.

Image from Frying Pan

Roosevelt Island Tram Rescue Drill

On Sunday morning, RIOC together with the NYPD, FDNY and representatives of Tram operator Dopplemyr conducted simulated decision making, cabin rescue and evacuation drills so that they are as prepared as possible in the event of another incident in which the Tram cabins are not able to return to their respective stations . Approximately 20 volunteers, acting as Tram passengers stuck high above Roosevelt Island, were successfully rescued by officers in the little red emergency basket. Roosevelt Island blogger Press HD was there as well and will have video of the rescue drill soon.