Friday, June 20, 2008

Trellis Open For Business

Image of Trellis Portabello Cheese Challah from nycnosh

I just walked by the Trellis diner and noticed that it was open and serving customers. I guess reader Rece will now be able to get the Portabello Mushroom Burger Deluxe unavailable last Wednesday when Trellis was closed by Department of Health. Also, I know that those early bird Roosevelt Islanders who enjoy their 7 AM breakfast at Trellis are happy that it is open. Maybe Nonno's will see that there is a market for early morning breakfast on Roosevelt Island and open early as well.

Roosevelt Island on Channel 4 News Tonight at 7 PM.

Check out Roosevelt Island 360 and other Roosevelt Island community residents tonight on the Channel 4 News at 7 PM.

Regular Roosevelt Island F Train and Tramway Service This Weekend Plus Things To Do

For those who forgot what it is like to ride on the tram,here is a You Tube Video

The Roosevelt Island Tram has been up and running since Wednesday night and will be available for normal service this weekend. Hurray. Also the MTA is reporting regular Roosevelt Island F train service to and from Manhattan for the weekend as well. Double Hurray. Now the MTA needs to get their act together and finally fix the broken Roosevelt Island subway escalators so that they work on a regular basis.

There are plenty of things to do this weekend including the start of the Roosevelt Island Outdoor Movie series on Saturday showing the Neverending Story, Roosevelt Island's RIVAA gallery will be showing a film about the sounds that Roosevelt Island makes called A Necessary Music on Saturday night and the Coney Island Mermaid Parade is set for Saturday afternoon. For more ideas on things to do check out Newyorkology or the NY Times.

Roosevelt Island Summer Outdoor Movie Night Starts on Saturday, But In Wrong Location - Bring It Back To Southpoint Park

Image of Roosevelt Island outdoor movie showing of Neverending Story from Roosevelt Island 360

Outdoor movie night returns to Roosevelt Island tomorrow night, June 21, with the showing of The Neverending Story. From RIOC:
Summer Movie Series

Look forward to seeing some of your favorite family movies on a giant, inflatable, 2-story outdoor movie screen.
Where: Fire Fighters Field (near the Tram)
When: June 21st- Pre-show start, 8:45 pm
Film start, 9:00pm
Movies: The Neverending Story
Runtime: 94 minutes
Rated PG
Blankets, lawn chairs and picnics are welcome.
For some reason, RIOC had decided to move the outdoor movie venue from Southpoint Park, where it had previously been held, to Firefighters Field. As reported by Roosevelt Island 360, the reason for changing the site of the outdoor movie series was:
... to allow more residents and guests access to the site as the gravel path and incline made it difficult for many to attend.
This is a very, very, very bad idea. It defeats the whole purpose of going to an outdoor movie which is to enjoy a movie in a beautiful, scenic area that has wonderful views. According to other NYC outdoor movie venues:
offers visitors and New Yorkers a chance to watch a movie, as well as enjoy some of New York City's best outdoor scenery -- from skylines to parks.
There are few, if any, outdoor venues in New York City with more beautiful views than Southpoint Park or a more suitable site for an outdoor movie location.

Click on link here to fully view beautiful panoramic nighttime view of Midtown Manhattan as seen from Southpoint Park on Roosevelt Island.

Instead of Southpoint Park, RIOC has chosen as an outdoor movie venue, Firefighters Field, that has views of the underside of the Queensboro Bridge, Keyspan Power Plant, Roosevelt Island Steam Plant and the Riverwalk construction site. Absolutely ridiculous!

Image of Firefighters Field from Bridge and Tunnel Club

Roosevelt Island 360 has an excellent video review of what a Southpoint Park movie night is like:

And a reader of 360's post makes the following excellent observation concerning changing the site from Southpoint Park to Firefighters Field and the importance of special venues for outdoor movies which I agree with wholeheartedly.
Once again what sounds like a sensible rationale for doing something is being given as an answer to your question. But changing the venue of these movies is something that significantly decreases the whole movie going experience. It's also taking the easy way out. The first movies shown at SouthPoint were accessible to everyone. The hospitals were part of the organizing team and quite graciously gave their bus to the team for use during the events. Seniors and disabled were picked up on Main St. and driven up the East Side path right to the southern tip, where chairs had been set up for them. During the showing, the bus stood by and made several trips back for anyone who didn't want to stay until the end.

Did anyone ask them to do this again? And, if they did ask and were turned down, how about asking the residents for a solution? A fund raiser to cover the cost of a bus could have been done, or a donation box at the showings, or a million other options.

I disagree with your statement that "...the idea is to watch the movies anyway." Outdoor movies are as much about the venue as they are about the movie. In fact the movie selection is almost an afterthought. If you want to see a particular movie, you can go to any theater you want and watch in comfort. Outdoor movies are more of a total experience.

The whole point of showing these movies in the first place was to introduce residents to SouthPoint Park, which had been closed for years. It was an attempt to get people down to that end of the Island to show them how terrific that area is and what kind of events could be done down there. With all the new residents on the Island, it's a perfect time to do this again.

Were the residents asked if they wanted a change of venue, or was the decision made in RIOC without input from their customers (the residents)? It's not too late to change the location back!
The decision to move the outdoor movie venue from Southpoint to Firefighters Field represents the same dull and bleak outlook that thinks destroying Southpoint's East River waterfront and NYC skyline views in order to build the Louis Kahn Death Box (some incorrectly call it the FDR Memorial) is a good idea!

I have asked RIOC to return future Roosevelt Island Outdoor Movie Nights to Southpoint Park. I hope RIOC does so and if they do, I am sure arrangements can be made so that anyone who wants to attend will be able to do so.

DHCR Plans Increased Surcharges for Roosevelt Island's Rivercross Building

Image of Rivercross from Adventures of a Goodman

Dick Lutz of the Main Street WIRE sends the following bulletin:
DHCR Plans Hike in Rivercross Surcharge

DHCR plans to order an increase in the Rivercross surcharge, levied on residents whose income exceeds the maximum allowed in a building, from 20% to 30%, according to an e-mail from DHCR Commissioner Deborah van Amerongen to Assemblymember Micah Kellner.

Van Amerongen said that DHCR staff called the building's managing agent today with the news. In addition, DHCR has approved an increase in maintenance charges which, if levied in one step, would be $7.45 per room (about 2.5%) per month (or $4.97/room/month if levied in two steps).

With regard to the surcharge increase, van Amerongen wrote, "...the [Rivercross] Board will be informed of our decision sometime today. If they decide to challenge this that is of course their right, we will argue the case in court."
I don't know if this is a fair and reasonable action by the DHCR or not. Nobody likes to have additional surcharges imposed or maintenance fees increased. Sometimes it is necessary, other times it may be not. I do know that it is very difficult to wage a successful legal challenge to decisions made by administrative agencies. Here's a 2001 Main Street WIRE article on same issue:
"These rulings are correct."

With that one-sentence paragraph, the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court backed a lower-level decision holding that the Rivercross Board and DHCR acted properly last year when it increased the surcharge for over-income residents.

In agreeing with the Court's decision finding no fault with DHCR's handling of the matter, the Court wrote that it "is well established that an agency is to be accorded wide deference in its interpretation of its own regulations... DHCR rationally construes the PHFL [Public Housing Finance Law] to allow Mitchell-Lama cooperatives to be responsible for creating their own individual surcharge schedules, in recognition of the business and practical factors unique to each..."
Also, a 2005 NY Times article on the changing housing dynamic on Roosevelt Island that may still hold true.
It is not the prospect of more affluent residents in their midst that rankles, but rather the fear that projects like Riverwalk and the Octagon will spur the proliferation of upscale buildings and tip the balance away from the middle-income interests.

"Millionaires' Row is O.K., but don't push us out," Maxine Siegel, an events planner at the City University of New York, said at a tenant get-together in Westview, one of the buildings scheduled to be taken out of the Mitchell- Lama program. "We are open to growth, to people with different economic backgrounds, and we are more concerned with maintaining our homes than keeping out the rich."
Here's an excellent resource for issues regarding affordable housing and Mitchell-Lama privatizations - Saving Mitchell Lama.

UPDATE - 5 PM: A reader makes this excellent comment regarding a legal challenge to the DHCR on this matter:
Seems like DHCR might be in an interesting position, having at one time argued that it could leave decisions to the cooperative board(and won!) and now ordering that same cooperative board to impose a higher surcharge?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Some Hope For Residents Use of Roosevelt Island Playing Fields Over Corporate Zog

Sign at Capobianco Field

An issue of great concern and resentment by many Roosevelt Islanders has been RIOC's policy that use of the Roosevelt Island playing fields is by permit only. The result of this policy has been that these fields are rented out to corporate groups and leagues, such as Zog, effectively locking out resident adults and children from using these fields during prime playing hours.

This subject came up at the RIOC Board Nominee Candidate's Forum as reported by Press HD.

Responding to these concerns RIOC has developed a schedule that permits residents to use the fields without permits.
Read this document on Scribd: riplayingfieldavailability

Green = Available for Residents
Red = Permitted Out

I do not know if the playing times for residents without permits is available only so long as these times are not permitted out to Zog and others or if these playing times are precluded from being reserved by permits.

Is Roosevelt Island Site For Future Health Care Facility And Is That Better Than Waterfront Condos For Island's Future?

New York Sun is reporting today on medical and hospital facilities seeking to expand their physical presence in NYC in order to keep up with improvements in technology and to meet the health care needs of an aging resident population but points out the lack of available land for development sites. Among the sites being considered are Roosevelt Island. According to the article:

In Manhattan, industry leaders expect the leading health care systems, including New York University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System, and Mount Sinai Medical Center, to seek locations near their present campuses. Sites may include the former Bellevue Hospital site on 30th Street and First Avenue, the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing on First Avenue near Bellevue Hospital, and the Solow development site on the former Consolidated Edison property on First Avenue between 36th and 40th streets. Potential expansion may include development on Roosevelt Island, as well in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.
Not many development sites remaining on Roosevelt Island other than the North and South Campus of Coler - Goldwater Hospital. I exclude Southpoint Park from potential sites because that is going to be a park, right? Could this be Coler's fate as part of a modern medical complex or would the existing uses and patients be tossed aside? If Coler-Goldwater becomes integrated into a more modern facility it would certainly be better for the current patients than being evicted for waterfront condos but would Roosevelt Island's transportation infrastructure be able to handle any additional development at all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Trellis Closed By Order Of The Commissioner Of Health - No Reason Known At This Time

Image of Trellis diner from nrvlowdown

As I was walking by the Trellis Diner this evening, I saw this notice taped to it's window announcing that the restaurant was closed by order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene.

At this time, no reason given nor is any information provided at the NYC Dept. of Health Roosevelt Island restaurant inspection web page as to why Trellis might have been closed.

Roosevelt Island Tramway Is Back In Service And Free - Until 2 AM Tomorrow

RIOC has announced that:

Work on the Tramway has completed
The Tramway will reopen for regular service starting at 5PM, Wed. 6/18/08
Free service will be provided to all riders through Thursday 2 AM
Queens/Manhattan Express Bus Service will no longer be provided
UPDATE: 6:45 PM - One of the first Roosevelt Islanders to use the back in service Tram kindly sends in this photo of free Roosevelt Island Tram. A brave soul.

Nonno's Focacceria - Not DiFara's or No. 28, But Italy and Roosevelt Islander Still Think It's Pretty Good!

You Tube video of Di Fara's Pizza in Midwood Brooklyn

Our Italian correspondent Alain chimes in on off-Island pizza by highly recommending No.28 on Carmine Street.
N.28 is at the very top of the Pizza rankings. I go there often.
But still I go to Nonno Pizza as well... And so do all the Italians I know.
Very very far away from N.28's level, but not below the average Pizza quality you can find around Manhattan.
I haven't been there since last summer but my personal favorite is DiFara's in Brooklyn, though as does Alain, I also like Roosevelt Island's six month old Nonno's. Nonno's square Grandma's Pie with meatballs is excellent. Try it, the cheese is very good. Of course, it does not compare to DiFara's. Very few do.

On a hot July day last year, my niece and I waited over an hour for a DiFara's pizza pie. As we were waiting, we felt kind of silly standing around in a hushed, almost cult-like atmosphere of hungry pizza fanatics watching Dom make each pie. But just as we were about to give up and leave, our pizza was done. It was great, unbelievable and worth the wait - at least once a year. Here's a round up of news about DiFara's from Slice and Gridskipper's 2007 top ten New York pizza places.

Easier Pedestrian and Vehicle Traffic Flow Coming Soon to Blackwell Turnaround

Work is being done today to decrease the area of the Blackwell Turnaround permitting vehicles more room to maneuver but still adding a paved sidewalk allowing pedestrians an easier and safer crossing path. Public Safety Director Keith Guerra explains that this was a top priority for him since he came on the job and that it was suggested by a Roosevelt Island resident. Another good job by RIOC.

Graffiti Removed from Riverwalk Trees - Will Boat Prow Dock Be Next?

As can be seen from the picture below taken yesterday by Roosevelt Island 360, the graffiti defacing trees on Southtown's Riverwalk lawn has been cleaned up and removed. According to RIOC President Steve Shane:

We arranged for management in Southtown to do it.
Good job by RIOC and Riverwalk management in cleaning up the trees so quickly.

Image of Graffiti free trees from Roosevelt Island 360

As to the graffiti on the boat dock prow and a suggestion to hire local kids to clean up Roosevelt Island graffiti, a philosophical Mr. Shane reports:
We do hire local kids.
Clean up of prow only creates tabula rasa. We will do it, again.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If Shutdown of Roosevelt Island Tram Causing Heartache For Romance - Try The Gun Club Instead

The shutdown of the Roosevelt Island Tram may even be causing problems for a group of people besides Roosevelt Island residents commuting to and from Manhattan. As readers of this Valentine's day post may recall, the Roosevelt Island Tram was named the second most romantic spot in New York City by Travel Lady Magazine and has also become a popular part of a date. But now, in the Trams absence, what is a couple to do instead?

It is obvious that descending the long climb down the stairs into the bowels of the 63rd and Lex subway station to catch the F train to Roosevelt Island hardly compares to the magnificent views experienced while gliding high over the East River in the Tram and would make a pretty awful date. So now, as a temporary alternative, why not try a visit to the West Side Rifle and Pistol Range in Chelsea as did this reporter from One women described the experience as the best date she's ever been on. Others saw it as a girls night out with a Charlie' Angels theme.

But don't forget to come back to the Tram once it is back in service. The trip is marvelous. Here's a nightime Roosevelt Island Tram ride with Hellogoodbye's "Oh it is love" and a daytime tram ride with U2.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Roosevelt Island Graffitti Now On Trees

Someone marked up two trees on the Riverwalk lawn with grafitti. Why would anyone do this? It's disgusting. Let's see how quickly this gets cleaned up.

Still waiting for the boat dock prow to be cleaned up.

MTA's Solution To Roosevelt Island Transit Woes - Not More Trains But More Staff On Platform To Cram Us Into Subway Cars!

Image of Roosevelt Island Subway Commuters from NY Times

A front page article in Saturday's NY Times Metro section described the transportation headaches on Roosevelt Island caused by the current Tram shutdown as well as potential, no likely, major transit problems next year when the Tram will be out of service for at least 6 months undergoing major repairs and upgrades (Here is 2007 Roosevelt Island Tramway Modernization Cost Benefit Analysis). According to the article:
They waited at the island’s single subway stop as jam-packed cars — two, three, four of them — clacked by without a seat to spare. Then the grumbling began. “The tram is always on time,” said Sally Jenkyn Jones as she forced herself aboard an already brimming F train. “This is always too packed.”
“I don’t see how the island is going to function next year,” said Ms. Shea, who works in finance. “It’s already a nightmare.”
Assmeblymember Micah Kellner expresses Roosevelt Islanders fear of the perfect transportation storm:
Mr. Kellner said residents live in fear of the “trifecta”— losing the use of the tram, the subway and the Roosevelt Island Bridge at the same time.

“When you’re in an area as isolated as Roosevelt Island, you always want to have another means to get out,” he said.
What does the MTA plan to do about the horrible transportation infrastructure on Roosevelt Island, which will only get much worse with the two new Riverwalk residential buildings coming on line early next year and three more planned soon thereafter? Will the MTA add additional F trains to the morning rush hour commute, express buses to Manhattan, extend the Q line to Roosevelt Island? No, of course not. According to the NY Times, this is what they plan to do:
Peter G. Cafiero, chief of operations planning for New York City Transit, said the authority had received several complaints from island residents about service at the station.

Mr. Cafiero said the authority could not add more trains, but he said additional staff members would be at platforms next spring to assist riders.
Incredible! The MTA's solution is to add more staff members to the overcrowded Roosevelt Island platforms to somehow assist riders. How exactly are they going to assist us? By stuffing us into packed subway cans like they do in Japan with "Subway Pushers"?

You Tube Video of Japanese Subway Pushers During Rush Hour

Roosevelt Island 360 Recaps 2008 Roosevelt Island Day

You Tube video of 2008 Roosevelt Island Day

Fellow blogger Roosevelt Island 360 captures the sights and sounds of Roosevelt Island Day 2008. Take a look.