Friday, July 4, 2008

Normal F Train and Tram Service for Roosevelt Island This Weekend And Other Things To Do

You tube video of 2006 Macy's Fouth of July Fireworks from Southpoint Park Roosevelt Island

MTA reports normal F train subway service to and from Roosevelt Island this weekend and the Tram is operating on a regular basis as well although I expect it will be much more crowded than usual due to the 4th of July Fireworks extravaganza at Southpoint Park this evening.
In addition to the Fireworks tonight, there are plenty of things to do this weekend in New York including a free concert by the New York Philharmonic on July 5 at Governors Island and a weekend of Yankee/ Red Sox games (Go Yanks - I'll be there on Saturday).

Image of Lou Pinella/Carlton Fisk 1976 collision from daily press

There's also the 28.5 mile Marathon Manhattan Swim around the entire island of Manhattan on July 5. For more things to do this weekend, check out New York Post and Newyorkology

The Fourth of July Is About the Declaration of Independence - A Reading By JFK & Southpark's Cartman Visits The Founders

Image of John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence from

There's more to the Fourth of July holiday than fireworks, bbq, burgers, beer and flag waving. What the Fourth of July is really about is the Declaration of Independence:
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
The rest of the Declaration and historical background can be found at US Also, here is a You Tube video of a 1957 reading by then Senator John F. Kennedy of the Declaration of Independence.

On a slightly less serious note here's South Park's version of the decision by American colonists to declare independence and go to war against England.

And lessons learned from the Founding Fathers for present day America.

Here's a link to the full episode of I'm A Little Bit Country from southpark studios

Have a Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Solar Powered Trash Compactor Pilot Program Comes to Roosevelt Island

Dick Lutz of the Main Street WIRE sends along the following information and photo above.

RIOC this morning installed a solar-powered BigBelly Trash Compactor at the Island subway station, and invites residents to use it for household trash. The $4,000 unit compacts 150 pounds of trash, using power from batteries recharged by solar cells that cover the top of the unit. The unit installed here is for demonstration purposes, but RIOC thinks more might eventually be set up elsewhere on the Island. The technician setting up the unit said it needs about two hours of solar recharging each day.
RIOC's Sylvia Giralde explains further:
I wanted to inform you that as part of one of many eco-friendly initiatives RIOC in undertaking, an Eco-friendly Pilot Program is one of them. This initiative consists of a solar-paneled trash compactor and recycler which will be placed in front of the train station as of tomorrow, July 3. The compactor, otherwise known as the BigBelly, uses solar energy to compact trash and has the capacity of 4x-5x a regular receptacle. The initiative is not meant to replace the recycling bins in the residential buildings but as an addition to the Island for visitors, commuters, and residents walking about the Island.

The way the technology works is as the trash begins to fill up in the BigBelly trash compactor, the solar powered motion sensor causes the trash to compact. The recycler does not compact recyclables.

This initiative reduces the amount of trash collection frequency, which in turn reduces emissions of pollutants into the air, lowers cost all around, and provides for a 'greener' island.

Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions about this exciting initiative!
Roosevelt Island 360 has more on the Big Belly Trash Compactor.

UPDATE 7/8 - The Daily News reports today that NYC is not interested in using the Big Belly Trash Compactor because
... after a two-unit trial, found them impractical, a Sanitation Department spokesman said.

He cited four sticking points: the cost, the complexity of emptying them, the confusion people had telling it apart from a mailbox and the small trash opening.

"We have no plans to implement BigBelly in the city," said Sanitation Department spokesman Matt LiPani. "It may be good for the BIDs, but it's not good for the city."

But Franklin Cruz, the president of BigBelly's Bronx-based distributor, Direct Environmental Corp., disagreed. He noted that he sold two to the city's Department of Citywide Administrative Services in June.

"I don't understand their rationale. BigBelly has a tremendous track record," Cruz said. "I think the city will come around."

Southpoint Park 4th Of July Extravaganza - The Best Place to See Fireworks and It's On Roosevelt Island

You Tube Video of 2007 Southpoint Park Fireworks Celebration

For those not able to get to Southpoint Park for viewing the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza the above video will take you there, at least virtually and for a few minutes. The event is now sold out.
More information here.

On a quick walk down memory lane, I find it amazing to recall that one year ago tomorrow, the 2007 July 4 Roosevelt Island Fireworks display was the first post on this blog and raised the issue of why it cost $18 to view the fireworks in a public venue. Apparently the City of New York does not consider Southpoint Park or Roosevelt Island to be a public venue but private property:
Pedestrians will not be allowed on the Queensboro Bridge, and Roosevelt Island is not suggested as a viewing area as it is private property.
Also, the Southpoint Park Fireworks event now costs $20 but residents get a discount of $18. That's called progress on Roosevelt Island.

For those attending the Southpoint Park Fireworks show, please take a moment and consider that these wonderful views of the East River and New York City Skyline are in danger of being forever ruined by what many residents refer to as the Louis Kahn Death Box (that is being disguised by proponents incorrectly as a memorial to FDR). Many residents including myself are hoping for a real waterfront park that incorporates the wonderful views not destroys it. That would be real Roosevelt Island progress!!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fireworks and Dinosaur BBQ at Southpoint Park For the Fourth of July

There is no better place to watch the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks display than Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park at night with it's unobstructed view of the East River and Manhattan skyline. As an added attraction, Dinosaur BBQ will be handling the food concession this year. I have been to their 131 street store several times and their BBQ is very good.

Unfortunately, it will cost Roosevelt Island residents $18 and others $20 to partake in the Independence Day festivities. What do you get beside the usually free magnificent view? Not any BBQ, that of course is extra, but according to RIOC you get this:
live musical performances by:

1) The smooth Jazz sounds of The Jazz Collective
2) Alternative band- Citizens of Contrary Knowledge
3) 12 Piece Salsa, Merengue & Latin Jazz Band- Victor Quezada y su Banda
4) Calypso & Soca sounds of The Therapy Band
Only ticket holders will be admitted to the following:
Food, Children's Entertainment, clowns, facepainters, balloon artists, kid rides, stilt walkers and much more.
Gates to the venue will open at approximately 5:00 PM
Fireworks begin at approximately 9:00 PM
RIOC reports that there are no more tickets left. There will be approximately 5000 people in attendance. Here's some more information on the Roosevelt Island Fireworks Festival from RIOC.

One of the benefits of having so many people visit Southpoint Park for the Fireworks display is that they get to see the magnificent East River waterfront and NYC skyline views from this unique location. The more people that are aware of this special place the more likely it is that we can prevent what some residents refer to as the Louis Kahn Death Box (disguised as a purported FDR memorial) from ever being built there and forever ruining Southpoint Park.

For those visitors to Roosevelt Island here are directions for the subway, tram, bus and by car though we hope you use public transportation.

On a less expensive note, Nonnos Focacceria will be having a children's carnival on the lawn outside of their store from approximately 3-7 PM prior to the fireworks with inflatable rides, pizza, popcorn, burgers and hot dogs. For those non-Roosevelt Islanders, Nonnos is located in the Southtown section of the Island behind the subway station and next to the Starbucks. Check it out.

Also, a new Roosevelt Island resident asks the following question:
I was just wondering about 4th of July on the Island. This will be my first 4th of July here and saw that you can go to southpoint to watch the fireworks. I also found out that you must pay to go see this. I was just wondering if you can see the fireworks from other places on the island, specifically around the manhattan park area. Thanks.
When I lived at Manhattan Park, we were able to go up to the roof of the building to watch fireworks. Despite being far away, you actually had a pretty decent view. After the Macy's fireworks were over it was fun following the boats racing down the East River to get home as well as watching local neighborhood fireworks displays from Queens. It's a sight. Other people, particularly from off island go to the top of the motorgate parking garage.

For those boaters viewing the fireworks on the water:
... the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port is establishing a Safety Zone in the East River and restricting vessel traffic through the Upper Harbor Monday from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

This Safety zone will cover an area in the East River from the southern point of Roosevelt Island to Governors Island, and in Newtown Creek west of the Pulaski Bridge. Boaters are also restricted from the Hudson River at a northern boundary from North Cover Marina due west to New Jersey, and a southern boundary from the southern tip of Governors Island to Liberty State Park.

Vessels over 65 feet may view the display near the Williamsburg Bridge south of the East River Main Channel Lighted Buoy 18, north of South 9th Street Brooklyn, and 200 yards from the Manhattan shoreline. Vessels must remain in position from 7:00 p.m. until released by the Coast Guard patrol commander approximately 11:30 p.m. Vessels under 65 feet may view the display from Buttermilk Channel south of the southwest corner of Pier 9A Brooklyn, and on the Hudson River northwest of Pier A and north of the Eillis Island 150-yard Security Zone. For additional restrictions, please visit the the Urgent Coast Guard Advisory Notice at
Here's some other fireworks viewing locations from Macy's.
Image of fireworks viewing location from Macy's

Whatever you do have a great time and if you wish, take a moment to remember what the holiday is all about - The Declaration of Independence.

Starbucks Closing 600 Stores Nationwide - Please Howard Shultz, Do Not Kill Roosevelt Island's Hope For Retail Amenities!

Starbucks will be closing over 600 of its stores this summer though particular store closing locations have not yet been announced. According to the Seattle Times:

About 200 of those will be directly operated by Starbucks, with the rest managed by other companies like bookstores and airport concession firms.
About 70 percent of the stores closing had opened since October 2005. That means Starbucks is shuttering about 10 percent of the 4,081 U.S. stores opened since then.

"They probably made some poor real-estate decisions, and when they opened stores in fiscal 2006, they probably didn't anticipate how tough the economy would be and how the brand would be struggling," said John Owens, an analyst at the research firm Morningstar in Chicago.
I certainly hope that our Roosevelt Island Starbucks will not be among those closed. If so, it will be a huge setback for the development of any additional retail amenities here on Roosevelt Island. The Real Deal reported in December 2007 that before Starbucks came to Roosevelt Island:
"It looks like East Berlin before the wall fell," said Andrew Oliver, executive vice president of Cushman & Wakefield Sonnenblick Goldman. For years, there was only one chain store, a Gristedes grocery, and much of the remaining retail was service-oriented: a diner, a Chinese takeout joint and a thrift shop, among others.

This fall, however, the island became home to a Duane Reade, which followed on the heels of the opening of the area's first Starbucks. Both are tenants in a Hudson Companies/Related Companies complex, and part of a new wave of retail space that brokers say is changing the island.
Howard Shultz, please don't close the Roosevelt Island Starbucks!

Rescue Me Filming on Roosevelt Island's Subway Pier Last Night

You Tube video of Rescue Me Intro

Did you notice all the equipment, lights and people hanging around the Subway Pier last night and wonder what was going on? I did and wandered down there around 11 PM to see scenes from one of my favorite television programs being filmed. Rescue Me, which is about the lives of New York City Firefighters starring Dennis Leary, was using the Pier for nighttime shots of Manhattan. Story line did not involve Roosevelt Island but the views of Queensboro Bridge, East River and Manhattan skyline were great.
Roosevelt Island 360 was there too and has this nice photo of nighttime Rescue Me filming East River waterfront and Manhattan skyline from Roosevelt Island's subway pier.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Difference Between Eliasson's Waterfalls and Roosevelt Island's Delacorte Geyser? East River Fecal Matter, Clean Water Act, 40 Years & $15 Million

What's the difference between Olafur Eliasson's 2008 East River Waterfalls

Image of Brooklyn Waterfall from Time

and Roosevelt Island's 1969 Delacorte Fountain?

Image of Roosevelt Island Delacorte Fountain from Judy Seigel

The answer comes from this NY Times article:
The “Waterfalls” is not the first controversial water element to grace the city’s shores and headlines. The philanthropist George T. Delacorte donated $400,000 to build a 450-foot geyser at the end of Roosevelt Island, then known as Welfare Island, that opened in 1969.

Upon learning that the source of the water was the East River, which then had 160,000 fecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters, the city’s health department demanded that the water be chlorinated to reduce the risk to public health. The chlorine spray damaged a stand of 55 pine trees donated by residents of Sutton Place to improve their view. After occasionally failing, being vandalized and turning red from too much chlorine, the fountain fizzled out in 1987.
The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance explains some of the reasons for a cleaner East River:
The water quality of the East River has improved considerably after the Clean Water Act of 1972. The water is well oxygenated, clearer, and the level of coliform bacteria, in dry weather conditions, is low enough to fish and boat. Bathing is not yet recommended.

The New York City Harbor Survey (since 1909) on East 23rd Street monitors the following parameters: Dissolved Oxygen, Fecal Coliform Bacteria, Chlorophyll ‘a’, and Secchi Transparency.

Those results have been achieved because today, industrial discharges are well regulated, and wastewater treatment plants have been improved. Along the East River there are five treatment plans: Newton Creek, Brooklyn; Red Hook, Brooklyn; Wards Island; Hunts Point, Bronx; and Tallman Island. They treat the water from different areas in the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx. These areas are highly populated and during wet weather, the storm water will thoroughly wash the hard land surface picking up dirt, chemicals, highway debris, unburned oils from vehicles, animal waste, and other pollutants. Part of the storm water runs off straight into the East River, the other part goes into the combined sewers that mix it with sewage and often discharge the untended overflow in the East River.

At the waterfront you can see the “Combined Sewer Overflow” outfall- the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) marks them with green signs. One is encouraged to report discharge, during dry weather, by calling 311.
Maybe now, the Delacorte Fountain can be turned back on!

This Old House Coming to New York, But Not to Roosevelt Island's Blackewell House

Even though I live in a 200 plus unit apartment building and have no desire to live in an old house or even a new single family home, I have always enjoyed watching the This Old House Television Program. There is something enjoyable and satisfying about watching the camaraderie of professionals like Norm Abram, Tom Silva, Rich Trethewey and Roger Cook working on a building project from beginning to end together with an everyman helper like current host Kevin O'Connor or the former host Steve Thomas. (I started watching the show after the Bob Vila era). I think it's the teamwork they exhibit on each project and that they appear to enjoy working with each other, like a great live rock concert band (Springsteen & E Street Band, U2 or Great Big Sea), that appeals to me.

Anyway, This Old House recently announced that they are looking for a project to do in New York City.
For the first-time ever, the Emmy Award-winning television series This Old House is looking for a historic home to renovate in New York City. The TV crew is hoping to find a dynamic family with a great old house in need of help, with plenty of things to save and update. However, the project's scope must be "just right"— not a whole house, but more than just a kitchen. The renovation must be completed in about 4 to 5 months, with construction beginning as early as August and finished by December. The ideal project should already be underway with design plans and have the ability to be “fast-tracked.”

The selected project will be featured on multiple This Old House episodes beginning on PBS in early 2009. The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 4, 2008.
Although This Old House projects usually involve residential home renovations, I thought it might be worthwhile to inquire if there was any interest in undertaking a project to complete the renovations of Blackwell House, one of the oldest, if not the oldest farmhouse in New York City. As described by RIOC:
Blackwell House is one of the few farmhouses dating from the years immediately following the Revolutionary War. It was built in 1794 and is the fifth oldest wooden house surviving in New York City. The pale-blue, two-story clapboard structure, was once home to Roosevelt Island’s earliest resident, Robert Blackwell.

Image of Blackwell House from RIOC

Unfortunately, RIOC President Steve Shane does not think that it is feasible to have a This Old House program work on the Blackwell House renovation because:
Already been there. We cannot do projects that are not in compliance with ADA, do not meet Historical Standards, etc.
Good idea, though.
More on the history of Roosevelt Island's Blackwell House from the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. Also, Roosevelt Island 360 on some more current activities at Blackwell House.

I guess This Old House will wind up in Victorian Flatbush or Brownstone Brooklyn for their New York Adventure.

Monday, June 30, 2008

School Bus Service Coming for Some Roosevelt Island Children

Image of Otto, the Simpson's school Bus Driver from Wired

Received the following good news from City Council Member Jessica Lappin's office. Council Member Lappin has helped obtain school bus service for some Roosevelt Island children.
In response to a request from Council Member Jessica Lappin, the Department of Education has reversed its position of refusing to assign a school bus route to Roosevelt Island for students who attend schools in Manhattan.

On behalf of several constituents who had contacted the Council Member’s office, Lappin wrote a letter to Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm in which she laid out the overcrowded transportation situation on Roosevelt Island and urged the DOE to create a bus route for the Island. In her June 24 response, Deputy Chancellor Grimm wrote that the DOE intended to do just that.

The Deputy Chancellor wrote that while bus service may not be available to all Island children attending public schools elsewhere, certain District 2 schools like Lower Lab that have more than the minimum number of students needed to create new service will be getting a bus stop in the coming year.

“I want to commend the Department of Education for doing what is right for Roosevelt Island,” Council Member Lappin said. “Especially with the tram expected to be out of service for long periods of time over the coming year, school bus service will provide needed transportation for children who attend school in Manhattan. I’m glad that I was able to play a part in making school bus service a reality.”
Below is Councilmember Lappin's letter to Department of Education
Read this document on Scribd: Lappin letter re RI busing 5 13 08-1

And the letter in response from DOE

Read this document on Scribd: DOE Letter re RI busing 6 24 08

Image of Council Member Jessica Lappin

Good job by Council Member Lappin in obtaining a much needed service for Roosevelt Island children and their parents. Gothamist has more on last year's school routing problems.