Friday, May 16, 2008

No Queens Bound F Train Subway Service for Roosevelt Island This Weekend/ But is Tramway Surfing a Transportation Option?

We all knew that the past two weekends of normal subway service for Roosevelt Island would not last much longer and it has not. According to the MTA, there will be no F train service from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island this weekend.

Be prepared for very crowded Roosevelt Island tram cabins like this from several weekends ago resulting from the lack of Queens bound F train service.

However, despite the picture of person standing on top of moving tram, to my knowledge, there is no truth to the rumor that RIOC is testing the possibility of adding roof top standing room positions for the Roosevelt Island Tram to alleviate overcrowded tram cabins.

Fellow blogger Roosevelt Island 360 calculated that since the start of this year, Roosevelt Island experienced weekend subway service outages for 13 out of 20 weekends and asks if this may be some sort of New York City subway record. Anyone know the answer?

Free Concerts are Busting Out on Roosevelt Island This Weekend - Folksy Moms and Classical Trio

Image from Motherlode Trio

This weekend is looking like Roosevelt Island will be chock full of free concerts. On Saturday, (also, Roosevelt Island Health & Fitness Day) the Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert series will have a night of music featuring a classical trio playing Schumann, Bach and Mozart. On Sunday afternoon (2:30 PM) the Mother Lode Trio, described as "sophisticated folk with a touch of motherhood" perform at the Church of the Good Shepherd.

The Daily News says of the Mother Lode Trio:
They have jobs. They have kids. They do the laundry. But in their spare time they're plugging and playing away.
Here's a You Tube video of the Mother Lode Trio performing "The River is Wide" at the Clearwater Festival in 2005.

Enjoy the Weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Governors Office Interviews All 6 RIOC Nominee Candidates - Next Stop?

Assemblymember Micah Kellner, together with other Roosevelt Island elected officials, recently met with members of Governor Patterson's staff and discussed issues of concern to Roosevelt Island residents. Among the issues discussed was appointment of the six Roosevelt Island residents who won the recent election to be nominees to the RIOC Board of Directors.

Following up on that meeting, Kellner wrote the following letter to Governor Patterson asking that all six winners of the election be appointed to the RIOC Board and that the Governor not re-appoint those members of the current RIOC Board whose term has expired because they chose not to participate in the election. After the letter there is a February video from Press HD interviewing several of the current RIOC Board members who explain their views on why they did not participate in the election as well as the functions of the RIOC Board.

Dear Governor Paterson:

Thank you for graciously arranging the recent meeting between your staff and the elected officials representing Roosevelt Island. It was a very productive meeting, and I am pleased that your office has gone forward with interviewing the six winners of the Island’s recommendation vote for appointees to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) Board of Directors.

It is important to recognize that these candidates were chosen by the community as part of a deliberate and well-considered process. I strongly believe that if the Roosevelt Island community had been satisfied with the performance of the residents who currently sit on the Board, it would not have undertaken such an exhaustive effort to hold a referrendum to nominate new Board members. Those members currently serving expired terms must not be considered exempt from the democratically-expressed will of Island residents – indeed, some residents have speculated that none of the sitting Board members chose to participate in the balloting process in part because they did not want to expose themselves to a clear repudiation from the community they are supposed to represent.

The residents of Roosevelt Island have made clear their choice as to who should fill the six positions on the RIOC Board of Directors. More Roosevelt Islanders voted for the RIOC Board than in the 2008 Presidential Primary or for Governor in the 2006 election, a clear signal of Islanders’ desire for change. I must respectfully emphasize that you alone can uphold the unambiguous preference of Roosevelt Islanders for a completely new RIOC Board of Directors. The authority to appoint members of the RIOC Board to all six vacant or expired positions rests with you as Governor, notwithstanding the tradition of deferring to the Mayor of the City of New York as a courtesy in regards to the recommendations of two people for the Board.

I strongly urge you to respect the results of this historic vote. If the six winning candidates can pass a police background check, I request that you appoint them to the RIOC Board of Directors so that their confirmation by the State Senate can go forward before the end of the legislative session.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter, and for your continued support of the Roosevelt Island community.

Very truly yours,

Micah Z. Kellner
Assembly Member

cc: Matthew Katz, President, Roosevelt Island Residents Association
David Bauer, Chair, Maple Tree Group
Deborah VanAmerongen, Chair, RIOC Board of Directors
Stephen H. Shane, President, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
Charles O’Byrne, Secretary to the Governor
Carl Andrews, Deputy Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of the Governor
James Clancy, Director of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Governor

Sitting RIOC Board Members Stayed off the Ballot from PressHD on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series Continues - Enjoy Schumann, Bach and Mozart on Roosevelt Island, Saturday May 17

Image from rr concerts

The second Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series will be held this Saturday, May 17, 8PM at Roosevelt Island's Chapel of the Good Shepherd with a classical music program of Schumann, Bach and Mozart. Can't go wrong with those guys!
The musicians playing will be:
  • Benjamin Hochman, piano
  • Ralph Allen, violin
  • Iris Jortner, cello
The first Roosevelt Island Russell Family Concert was a great success. Some comments from concert goers were:
  • "...the program choices are great, the performers energetic and the space is great for chamber music." 3 viewers betw ages 20 to 59.
  • "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!!". From 2 visitors from New Jersey ages 20 to 59.
  • "This event is comparable to a performance at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful concert with our community." From 3 local people betw ages 0 to 59.
Admission is free. Here are the directions.

Some background on Rosemarie and Robin Russell:
The late Rosemarie and Robin Russell together organized numerous concerts and events on Roosevelt Island; they wanted to encourage music education and appreciation. Robin spoke about organizing a concert series which would bring music to Roosevelt Island on a regular basis.

After Rosemarie passed away, Robin continued their mission on Roosevelt Island and founded the Island Arts Music School. He established programs with the new Roosevelt Island communities at Southtown and Octagon. He had just started Musikids, a music and dance experience class for toddlers. Music was the catalyst and the reward. Robin was the director, secretary, accountant and one of the teachers at the school. Robin died unexpectedly in February, 2007, leaving our community at a tremendous loss.

In 2007, staff and students of Island Arts Music School rallied together to held three events: a concert in Robin’s memory, a final student recital dedicated to Robin and finally a holiday event presented as a gift from the musicians to the community. The audiences responded warmly with appreciation, enthusiasm, and support in remembrance of what the Russell Family brought to Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island Community Activists Start Young - Will They Be Heard?

Young Roosevelt Islanders David and Emilia are concerned enough about their fellow neighbors that they wrote to RIOC President Steve Shane alerting him to the rusted metal plates protruding from the space separating the sidewalk from the grass near the playground by the handball court and other green spaces. Will RIOC hear the cries for safe playing spaces from Roosevelt Island's young children and fix these hazards?

UPDATE - 5/16: RIOC reports the metal strip has been removed and that some railroad ties on the south side of Capobianco field have been removed as well. The Mr. President (Steve Shane) reports that:

All anyone has to do is ask. We appreciate all the extra eyes and ears (of all sizes).
Thank the kids. See you at health & fitness day.
Job well done by all - the kids and RIOC.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Who Needs Dirty Harry? Suspected Bank Robber Apprehended by Roosevelt Island Public Safety Officer

You Tube video of classic Dirty Harry scene "Do you feel lucky?"

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Keith Guerra reports that one of his officers was responsible for capturing a suspected bank robber. According to Mr. Guerra:
On April 23, 2008, a Capitol One Branch, in Manhattan, was robbed by a black male, who passed a note to a teller. The man exited the bank with almost $3,000.00 in cash and fled on foot. A civilian entering the Tramway entrance in Manhattan phoned 911 about a suspicious male. The description of that man matched the description of the man who robbed the bank. He then boarded the Tram toward Roosevelt Island. NYPD detectives from the Major Case Squad relayed information to our Agency and, a day later, a suspect fitting the description was apprehended by Lt. Yee. He was turned over to the case detectives and arraigned on Bank Robbery charges.
Lt. Yee received a commendation from the 19th precinct community council. Who needs Dirty Harry when Roosevelt Island has Lt. Yee.

Come See New York City Waterfront Documentary, City of Water, Being Screened May 14 on Roosevelt Island/ Help Stop Louis Kahn Memorial Being Built!

Tomorrow night, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) and Municipal Art Society will show their wonderful New York City waterfront documentary, City of Water, at Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA (527 Main Street - 7:30). I know it is wonderful because I have seen it screened before and had a very small role in helping to put it together as a participant in MWA's East River Agenda.

City of Water describes the past, present and future of New York City's varied waterfront uses and constituencies including its role as a port and industrial center, transportation network, garbage dumping ground, residential neighborhood as well as a place for parks, open spaces and recreational activities. According to the MWA:
... City of Water explores the aspirations of public officials, environmentalists, academics, community activists, recreational boaters and everyday New Yorkers for a diverse, vibrant waterfront at a time when the shoreline is changing faster than at any other time in New York's history. The film features interviews with former Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, Representative Nydia Velazquez, MacArthur Prize winner Majora Carter, author Phillip Lopate, Sandy Hook Pilots Captain Andrew McGovern and many others, and includes footage from Jamaica Bay, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and many other places on the waterfront.
The City of Water documentary illustrates many past mistakes made by NY City officials that blocked New Yorkers access to and views of our magnificent waterfront as well as recent waterfront success stories. This is of particular concern to Roosevelt Islanders because the proposed FDR memorial (which everyone knows is really a memorial to its architect, Louis Kahn) repeats these same mistakes of blocking waterfront views and access. This is probably not surprising since it was designed in the early 1970's, a period of time when waterfront access and views were not particularly valued. Blogger Nature Calendar describes the Louis Kahn memorial as a "concrete press-on nail for Roosevelt Island" and writes:
The sterile, largely paved and walled Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and Four Freedoms Park designed by Louis I. Kahn would run counter to our city’s progress toward reconciliation with the estuary, restoration of both marine and uplands habitats, and recreational enjoyment of the harbor. One look at the model in the image at top reveals the travesty awaiting the island, one that ends in what is literally a high-walled room.

... “It looks like a Soviet era, Eastern European thing. It will impede the views of the UN and surroundings. The focus should be on looking out, not looking in.”
For those interested in more information on New York City waterfront development as it relates to parks and open spaces, the Regional Plan Association produced a very informative study titled "Spring 2007 - On the Verge - Caring for New York City's Emerging Waterfront Parks and Public Spaces. Below are the Summary of Recommendations from the report.

Ensure equitable funding for management of all waterfront parks

➜ The surest, most direct route toward ensuring public control, improving parks maintenance and meeting the demands generated by new waterfront parks is to increase the management budget of Parks & Recreation as well as other agencies managing public spaces on the waterfront.
➜ A specific fund – separate from Parks and other agency operating budgets - should be established to pay for expensive and critical repair required by shoreline bulkheads, piers, and other maritime infrastructure of waterfront parks and public spaces.

Capture revenue from licenses or leases on or adjacent to parkland

➜ The City should generate revenue received from licenses or leases on parks and adjoining public property for the maintenance and management of public spaces.
➜ The public’s ability to gauge the costs and benefits of prospective agreements and enforce their provisions should be addressed through better performance standards in the guiding RFP and by ensuring Parks & Recreation’s jurisdiction on public access sites.

Assess feasibility of waterfront Park Improvement Districts (PID)

➜ The feasibility of new waterfront PIDs should be assessed by the City, Local Development Corporations and non-profit partners in waterfront areas with prospective new development, an ability to pay an assessment fee, appropriate zoning and use, and an economic and physical connection between the park and adjoining property.

Create public access through zoning

➜ The City should amend the 1993 Waterfront Zoning text to extend the transfer of ownership provisions established in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg zoning to other waterfront areas.
➜ The Department of City Planning and Parks &
Recreation should collaborate to develop overall “Waterfront Master Plans” in specific waterfront areas to create a programming and design vision, consider upland access areas, streamline government approval processes and identify areas for rezoning. A waterfront improvement fund should be created to provide incentives for landowners to meet the goals of these plans.

Make non-profit management partnerships work better

➜ In general, standard costs such as infrastructure, insurance, utilities, and security, as well as nonrecurring capital expenditures are best handled by City agencies. Non-standard elements, such as programming, maintenance of non-standard items, and supplemental care are well suited for local non-profit groups.
➜ Parks & Recreation should assist non-profit organizations managing space on the
waterfront, especially in lower income areas, by leveraging bulk discounts on supplies, providing roving horticulturists, training for local staff, and allocating funding that can be matched by volunteer hours.
➜ A park administrator jointly responsible to a community based non-profit and to Parks &
Recreation should be established in the most important waterfront areas to help coordinate these arrangements.

Promote common waterfront park design and performance standards.

➜ Parks & Recreation should develop a specific set of design standards for waterfront public spaces to help ensure that materials and designs are sustainable and well-suited for waterfront locations and that those organizations responsible for construction can accommodate Parks &
Recreation’s requirements before time and design monies are invested in non-conforming elements. Help greenways and roadways connect us to the waterfront.

➜ Parks & Recreation, NYC DOT, EDC, and other public and non-profit partners should create non–governmental greenway stewardship entities that could coordinate stewardship of all agencies along a single route. As warranted these entities could be directed by new park administrators and overseen by a City Greenway Director within the Mayor’s office.
➜ Roadways adjacent to waterfront parks should be subject to park-appropriate design standards and the same maintenance standard of the adjoining park.