Friday, May 9, 2008

Roosevelt Island Ferry Service May Be Available During Tram Shutdown and Normal Subway Service for this Weekend

You Tube video of New York Water Taxi leaving Fulton Landing underneath the Brooklyn Bridge

This will be the second weekend in a row of normal tram and subway service for Roosevelt Island. According to the MTA, there will be regular F train subway service to and from Roosevelt Island this weekend and no report from RIOC of any Tram disruptions either.

Can Roosevelt Islanders handle some more good transportation news? We learned earlier this week that ferry service for Roosevelt Island is inching closer to reality and is scheduled to start in 2010, though much work still needs to be done. There is also the possibility that Roosevelt Island ferry service may be available sooner, as early as 2009.

During the May 7 Roosevelt Island Residents Association meeting, City Council Member Jessica Lappin mentioned the possibility that ferry service for Roosevelt Island might be available by the time the Tram goes out of service next year for repairs and modernization. Lappin emphasized that this was not definite but merely a possibility. It seems as though neither the Mayor's office nor the Department of Transportation were aware until very recently that the Tram was going out of service for an extended period of time in 2009. Now that they do know, they are trying to see if it is possible to expedite Roosevelt Island ferry service. Let's hope that they succeed.

Council Member Lappin also confirmed that the Roosevelt Island ferry dock landing will be located near the Octagon because it has already received the necessary Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard approvals. She acknowledged that this is not the most convenient of all possible locations and left open the possibility of a second ferry landing for a future date.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Heebie Jeebies - Passengers Trapped in Roosevelt Island Subway Elevator

Image is of street level Roosevelt Island subway elevator

One does not have to be acutely claustrophobic to get the heebie jeebies at the thought of being trapped inside an elevator, particularly a subway elevator and especially a subway elevator deep below a place as isolated as the Roosevelt Island subway station can be at times. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to 5 subway passengers yesterday who became stuck in the Roosevelt Island subway elevator and were rescued by the NYC Fire Department. More details to follow but for now this is from the Roosevelt Island 24 hour Incident Report:
Aided- 5 people stuck in the subway elevator. FDNY removed them. No injuries and EMS refused.
A recent New Yorker magazine article on the lives of elevators describes a 1999 incident in which a man got stuck for 41 hours in an elevator at the McGraw-Hill building and what happened to him since. According to the article his ordeal began one night after going out of the building for a cigarette break when:
... he returned to the lobby and, waved along by a janitor buffing the terrazzo floors, got into Car No. 30 and pressed the button marked 43. The car accelerated. It was an express elevator, with no stops below the thirty-ninth floor, and the building was deserted. But after a moment White felt a jolt. The lights went out and immediately flashed on again. And then the elevator stopped.

The control panel made a beep, and White waited a moment, expecting a voice to offer information or instructions. None came. He pressed the intercom button, but there was no response. He hit it again, and then began pacing around the elevator. After a time, he pressed the emergency button, setting off an alarm bell, mounted on the roof of the elevator car, but he could tell that its range was limited. Still, he rang it a few more times and eventually pulled the button out, so that the alarm was continuous. Some time passed, although he was not sure how much, because he had no watch or cell phone. He occupied himself with thoughts of remaining calm and decided that he’d better not do anything drastic, because, whatever the malfunction, he thought it unwise to jostle the car, and because he wanted to be (as he thought, chuckling to himself) a model trapped employee. He hoped, once someone came to get him, to appear calm and collected. He did not want to be scolded for endangering himself or harming company property. Nor did he want to be caught smoking, should the doors suddenly open, so he didn’t touch his cigarettes. He still had three, plus two Rolaids, which he worried might dehydrate him, so he left them alone. As the emergency bell rang and rang, he began to fear that it might somehow—electricity? friction? heat?—start a fire. Recently, there had been a small fire in the building, rendering the elevators unusable. The Business Week staff had walked down forty-three stories. He also began hearing unlikely oscillations in the ringing: aural hallucinations. Before long, he began to contemplate death.
Read the whole article but be warned - you may never feel the same about getting into an elevator. Security cameras captured the entire ordeal. Here is a You Tube time lapse video of the entire 41 hours condensed to 3 minutes.

On a more light hearted note here is a You Tube video of the Boswell Sisters from 1932 singing the Heebie Jeebies. Maybe thinking of it will help you get through being stuck in an elevator for a brief time. Maybe not.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Second Chance for Free Mammogram On May 17 at the Second Annual Roosevelt Island Health & Fitness Day

Image from RIOC

Building upon the success of the free Roosevelt Island Mammogram event held last March, RIOC has scheduled a second visit from the Mammogram Van on May 17. Since Mother's Day is this Sunday, it is a good opportunity to remind all the moms, grandmas, sisters, daughters and any woman in your life to get a complete and thorough health exam. Here's some more information:
Free Mammogram
Second chance to sign up for a free Mammogram.
When: Saturday, May 17th, 2008 starting at 9:00am
Where: Look for the Mammography Van at Capobianco Field during Health and Fitness Day
An appointment is necessary.
Sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation,
The American-Italian Cancer Foundation & the Women's Outreach Network
invite you to have a Free Mammogram
For more information, please call 1-800-564-6868
May 17th is also the second annual Roosevelt Island Health & Fitness Day.
When: Saturday May 17th 11am-4pm
Where: Capobianco Field (Across the street from Westview, 595 Main Street)
Featuring free health screenings, Information vendors, Aerobic clinics led by professional instructors,
Sport clinics facilitated by professional and amateur athletes, free giveaways & tons of activities for the kids.
Come out and kick off spring in a healthy fashion!
For more information, please call 212-832-4540

Image from RIOC

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Roosevelt Island Based Orphans International to Hold Spring Gala Dinner Benefit, The Realms of Indonesian Culture

Image from Orphan's International

Roosevelt Island resident and Orphans International Founder Jim Luce forwards the above invitation for all interested to attend the Orphans International Spring Gala Dinner Benefit on June 4 at the Indonesian Consulate.

Orphans International (OIWW) was created:
... as a response to the global crisis facing orphaned children. OIWW has established a network of locally incorporated homes to house and educate children orphaned and abandoned after the Tsunami in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and the 2004 hurricane in Haiti.

... In 2008, OIWW will begin to move orphaned children into more permanent family settings by arranging foster care for Tsunami orphans in Sri Lanka. In this "Family Care" model, OIWW will arrange for donors to provide on-going, monthly stipends for the financial, health and educational support of the poorest families. OIWW also provides school oversight, after school tutoring, enrichment programs, health checkups, and monitoring of the child’s wellbeing.
Last September, Roosevelt Island residents raised more than $10,000 for Orphans International.

Tragedies such as the recent cyclone that devastated the nation of Myanmar last Saturday, killing more than 20,000 people, demonstrates the great need for organizations such as Orphans International. According to the NY Times, a UN spokesmen said of the cyclone:
as many as one million people might have lost their homes and that some villages were almost totally destroyed.
For more information on individual nations in which Orphans International provides services, take a look at their country blogs for Haiti, Indonesia and Sri Lanka as well as future country projects.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Holy Crap! Roosevelt Island is Finally Getting Ferry Service - NO JOKE!!!

Image from NY Water Taxi

AM New York via Curbed reported today on a new subsidized ferry route between the Rockaways and lower Manhattan with stops in Brooklyn that will begin on May 12.
The new ferry is the first step in a two-year pilot program to expand ferry service in the city, the mayor is expected to announce today. In between Rockaway and Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan, the ferry will pick up passengers at the Brooklyn Army Terminal's Pier 4 at 58th Street.

"It will be a one-hour ride from Southeast Queens to Manhattan," said Councilman John Liu, chair of the Transportation Committee. "This is most welcome. We are straining at transit capacity."

The fare will be "comparable" to the $5 cost of express bus ride, Liu said.
While reading Mayor Bloomberg and City Council President Quinn's press release describing their comprehensive plan to bring East River Ferry service to Brooklyn and Queens waterfront neighborhoods, I was getting ready to rant and rave again at the neglect of Roosevelt Island in any NYC ferry transportation system. But near the end of the press release I was absolutely stunned to read this:
The second phase of the plan will further expand East River service by adding new stops at North Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. Studies conducted by EDC and DOT have concluded that this arrangement on the East River will provide the most useful service for commuters in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. This phase of the plan will also include the construction of a new landing at Roosevelt Island that will be used by a private operator. (emphasis added)
EDC has budgeted funds to begin the design phase of this service, and there is $4.4 million in federal transportation funds secured by Congress members Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, matched with $1.1 million split from the Bloomberg Administration and the City Council. The federal funds will be used to construct the ferry landings at Greenpoint and North Williamsburg as well as the dock at Roosevelt Island

"For a city of islands, ferries are a natural fit. I'm delighted that federal funds will help bring convenient and downright scenic ferry service to commuters in some of New York's fastest-growing communities," said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. "This investment will also help build a new ferry dock on Roosevelt Island, giving residents there much-needed access to alternative transportation. I was proud to work with Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, Congressman Nadler, and Councilwoman Jessica Lappin to secure these crucial upgrades to our transportation network."
Great news and good job by Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Nadler, Mayor Bloomberg, Council President Quinn and Councilwoman Lappin. Not known at this time when a Roosevelt Island Ferry service will begin though dock will probably be near the Octagon. One issue of concern is whether the Roosevelt Island ferry will be part of the subsidized route since the press release notes that a private operator will be operating the ferry landing at Roosevelt Island but does not mention that fact for any of the other ferry landings.

For a look at how a public ferry system works, take a look at Seattle Washington.

UPDATE 6:10PM - RIOC officials met with representatives of the Octagon building and Congresswoman Maloney's office today to discuss Roosevelt Island ferry service. According to RIOC President Steve Shane:
... There remains much to be accomplished in the regulatory process, both at the City and RIOC levels. We are being asked to grant a permit which I would be delighted to recommend to the Board upon the creation of a record which would substantiate our action. Whether the City as the recipient of the Federal funds would have to be the contracting party with all of the difficult machinery of procurement that entails is completely unresolved.
UPDATE: 5/7/08 - Ferry service for Roosevelt Island is planned for 2010. The NY Sun reports:
The city plans to expand ferry service to include stops at East 34th Street in Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens, and South Williamsburg in Brooklyn, beginning in July of this year. Additional stops are planned for 2010 in Greenpoint and North Williamsburg in Brooklyn, as well as Roosevelt Island. The city is also exploring creating stops that could include East 90th Street and West 125th Street in Manhattan, Riverdale in the Bronx, and Coney Island in Brooklyn, among others
UPDATE - 9/2/09 - The 8/29/09 Main Street WIRE (PDF File) reports on more delays and bungling in the quest to get ferry service for Roosevelt Island.