Friday, September 12, 2008

Things To Do This Weekend In New York City Include A Honey or Book Festival/ Regular F Train Service To And From Roosevelt Island This Weekend

Image of Southpoint Park Picnic From Time Out New York's Best Picnic Recommendations

According to the MTA there will be regular F train service to and from Roosevelt Island this weekend and RIOC reports no interruptions in Tram service either.

Looking for things to do this weekend on Roosevelt Island or in New York City? Head on down to Southpoint Park on Roosevelt Island for a picnic and enjoy the amazing panoramic views. They may be ruined forever if residents are not able to stop the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute from building their memorial to the architect Louis Kahn so go there soon to enjoy a remarkable waterfront and New York City skyline view while you still can. Time Out New York says it is one of the best places in New York for a picnic.

Other things to do this weekend include the Buckminster Fuller Symposium on Friday and Saturday at the Whitney Museum. The Starting with the Universe exhibition closes on September 21.

On Saturday, head up to Wave Hill in the Bronx for Honey Weekend and:
Try on beekeeping gear, peek inside an empty hive and learn fascinating facts about honeybees. Taste different kinds of honey and find out why honey is available in so many flavors and varieties.
On Sunday, take a trip to Brooklyn for the Brooklyn Book Festival then take a short walk to Fort Greene for Brownstoner's Brooklyn Flea market.

Additional suggestions on what to do in New York City this weekend can be found at the NY Times Urban Eye, NY Post Weekend Calendar and Newyorkology.

Sad Day For Roosevelt Island, Conditional Site Control For Kahn/FDR Boondoggle Approved - You Can Put Lipstick On A Pig, It's Still A Pig

Image of Unhappy Face

Conditional Site control for the southern portion of Southpoint Park was granted to the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) last night by the RIOC Board of Directors with a vote of 7 yays, 1 no and 1 abstention. I really am so disgusted that I can't say much more except that a great deal of the frustration is caused by the fact that opponents of site control were not permitted to speak to counter the statements made by FERI representatives. I know, I tried. A reader of this post in attendance at the meeting sums up the proceeding this way:
Apparently end of sale on cement and granite WAS the most important. The vote went along political line - this beautiful island is just a fodder and cash register for 3rd rate politicians, political deadwood, and connected crooks. Sheeple shlep around. Our own kookoo NEST..
I don't agree with the crooks reference but understand the frustration.

All of the Board members voted for site control except newly elected Faye Fryer Christian who voted No and re-appointed member Patrick Stewart who abstained. Ms. Christian should be congratulated for being the only Board member with the guts and gumption to stand up for the residents of Roosevelt Island. Those Board members who voted for site control or abstained appeared to be more concerned with the financial problems of FERI than they were in exercising their fiduciary obligations to RIOC and the residents of Roosevelt Island. They owe it to their Roosevelt Island neighbors to explain why they voted for this blemish on Roosevelt Island and I would be happy to give them the space on Roosevelt Islander to do so.

To borrow a quote from the next President of the United States, Barack Obama, and apply it to the Kahn/FDR boondoggle:
You can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig.

Pigs Feeding at the Trough image from troy politcs

The Kahn/FDR memorial is still a pig for Roosevelt Island and FERI will be trying to feed at the public trough of taxpayers.

Opponents of this memorial to Louis Kahn will regroup and find a way to stop this thing.

The Board meeting should be available for viewing on the RIOC webcast here soon.

UPDATE - 11:30 AM : For one brief shining moment it appeared that the proposed site control for FERI was in trouble and might be voted down by the RIOC directors. Board member Shinozaki asked a series of challenging, skeptical questions of the FERI representatives regarding the qualifications of FERI to handle this project given the decrepit state of the FDR Library in New Hyde Park, as well as the proposed benchmarks and timetables. Also, Board member Stewart expressed exasperation with FERI for their continuous failure to live up to previous promises and deadlines over many years. At this point I noticed several representatives from FERI leave their seats to huddle up outside of the meeting room. They came back and one of the representatives whispered something in the ear of RIOC president Steve Shane. I have no idea what was said but I do know that neither I nor any other opponent of the conditional site control was allowed to speak in public during the meeting to the Board members much less whisper in the ear of any Board member or RIOC official.

When the time came to vote, the entire Board with the exception of Ms. Christian caved in to the alleged need for FERI to lock in a lower price for cement (Page 2 of vanden Heuvel letter to RIOC Board). There were some Board members that voted yes or abstained that appeared to believe that they could still vote no at a later date on FERI site control if the construction timetable and financing milestones negotiated by RIOC President Steve Shane did not satisfactorily protect what these Board members perceive to be the best interests of Roosevelt Island.

That is certainly not the view of Mr. Shane. It will be interesting to see what happens when these timetables and deadlines are negotiated if, as based upon prior history, they are overly generous to FERI. In that event, will the view of RIOC directors who believe they can revisit the conditional site control designation prevail or will the view of RIOC management prevail?

The RIOC Board members who are Roosevelt Island residents and voted for site control are Ms. Grimm, Mr. Kalkin, Mr. Kraut, Ms. Miller and Mr. Shinozaki, Mr. Stewart abstained and Ms. Christian voted No.

Below is RIOC President Steve Shane's memo regarding the "phased development" of the memorial.

Read this document on Scribd: RIOC Site Control Memo Supp

Some Board members were highly skeptical of the contention that at no time would Roosevelt Island be left with an incomplete Park should FERI fail, as is likely based upon past performance, to live up to it obligations to Roosevelt Island.

Stay tune. It's not over yet!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2001 Remembered, Never Forgotten

Image from Roosevelt Island 360

Roosevelt Island 360 reports:
Each year Roosevelt Island holds its own 9-11 memorial service behind the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. This year the service, sponsored by RIRA, begins at 7:30 pm.
Here is my post from 9/11 last year.

On a beautiful sunny, blue sky Tuesday morning six years ago today, New York City and Washington DC were attacked by terrorists because both cities are world wide symbols of what is great about the United States of America. Immediately after the attack there was a national unity of purpose and resolve to punish those who committed these acts and insure that such attacks would never happen again. Unfortunately, that national unity has not existed for a very long time though it is not my purpose here to engage in an endless dialogue debating the reason for the change.

What I would like to do is share two email messages I received from a friend who was that morning, and still is, a volunteer fireman in Nassau County. He relates what it was like on the World Trade Center pile right after the attack. I am sorry for the length of the post and the disturbing video above, but think it is important to remember what it was like only six years ago today. Below are the email messages. Friday, September 14, 2001:
I hope that you and your families are all OK. If you know any of our friends who are injured or missing, please let me know.

I had the radio on at work, and heard about the first crash right after it happened, and we followed it throughout the morning. When the first tower collapsed, I left work, and reported in at the fire department. The City called on the Nassau departments around noon. We were asked to set up a staging area at Belmont Race Track. By the time we got there from Syosset, there were well over 100 engines and trucks there ahead of us. Most of them were being detailed to City firehouses in Brooklyn and Queens, to cover for those companies as they were called into Manhattan.

Syosset has a confined space rescue unit and a collapse rescue unit, as well as a heavy rescue truck (which I'm assigned to), so we were called directly in to the scene. The staging area was around the federal courthouse. From about this point onward, you had to wear a dust mask. The fallout from the collapse was horrendous - a fine, white, powdery dust, together with a heavy smoke condition. As you moved south and got nearer to the Trade Center, the air got darker and heavier. Within a couple of blocks of the Trade Center, it was so dark, you couldn't tell if the Sun was still out.

At first they set us up near City Hall. They were unable to move heavy equipment to the scene because there were fire hoses running across town from the east side to the Trade Center. Our collapse rescue unit is a large panel truck which carries lumber and tools, so we were put to work building ramps over the hoses running across Broadway at Ann Street, Fulton Street, John Street, Maiden Lane and Liberty Street.

Once we reached Liberty Street and secured the hoses there, we were sent down Liberty and were set up at the corner of Liberty and Church, just opposite the spot where 4 World Trade Center had been, by the entrance to 1 Liberty Plaza. All that was left of the building 4 was a portion of the easterly wall, which was broken into shards, and was pitched over Church Street at about a 20 degree angle. All up and down Church Street were the blasted hulks of the trucks and engines from the first responding units. The crews, of course, were all gone. We found out the next day that the
building we were set up under, where the triage unit and food was set up, was deemed to be in danger of collapse, and was evacuated.

There was nothing we could at the collapse site itself. There were still fires burning, and the smoke and dust made it impossible to get far into the rubble. We concentrated on getting a crane set up, and on clearing a plaza across the street, so that debris could be dumped there as clearing began.

The mood was pretty grim. Usually at large fire scenes, the firemen will engage in gross and macabre humor regarding the victims - it's a method of dealing with it - but there was none of that here. Notwithstanding the trucks, bulldozers, cranes, etc. the place was eerily quiet. There was one small humerous incident. At about midnight, I was sitting on the back ofour truck, with my back to the scene. Suddenly, guys were running past me - cops, firemen, construction workers, medics - at least 50 people, running like their lives depended on it. I jumped off the truck and looked back, but couldn't see what the hell they were running from, so I grabbed a firemen and asked him why he was running. He says "Because everyone else is!" A pretty good answer. What had happened was some facing had fallen off the building across the street, and they were afraid that there would be another collpse. It didn't (so far).

We got into the rubble at about 2:00 am, after the wind shifted, and visibility improved. All you could see was steel, concrete, paper and dust. Everything else was pulverized or crushed beyond recognition. There was one exception - office waste paper cans were everywhere. I guess that their lightweight construction caused them to be blown out the windows, and they sailed down slowly, and landed on top. The paper was everywhere in the rubble, and in the blocks around. It was unsettling to see letterheads,memos, etc, from firms whose names you recognize. Our search was entirely fruitless. We found no survivors, or signs that there might be any. I believe that there must be some people still alive in there, but I can't
imagine how anyone is going to get at them. You can not imagine the size of this disaster without seeing it. It's disheartening to work for two hours at moving this stuff, and ten to look around and see how insignificant your effort is.

Our relief crew arrived at 4 am. It's just as well. After breathing this crap in and working all night, we were pretty bushed, and they were looking to get us out of the debris so that the crane could start working anyway.

It's still impossible to grasp the enormity of this catastrophe. There is no retaliation we can take against these people that's ever going to provide a real sense of satisfaction for me personally. It's a fucking waste. It makes me ill to think what people will do when they believe that they have some kind of religious mandate. I hope that ultimately, there will be some kind of victory for common sense and reason from all of this, but historical precedent does not suggest that this will be the case.

At any rate, I hope again that you are all well, and that we can rebuild from this lunacy. Take care of yourselves.
And this on Saturday, September 15 ,2001:

Hey, Bros!It's funny, the emotional gyrations this business puts you through. Theinitial shock, disbelief, anger, disgust are all too much to process effectively. At Topaz we simply stayed at our desks, trying to work while listening to the radio. It was difficult to get any substantial amount of work effectively accomplished, but we felt the need to keep going because it's essential that we all continue to do our jobs. We continued to do what we're paid to do as well as we could because we understood that this was now the priority of the moment and was the best way that we could contribute tothe national well-being. When I came back to work on Thursday, a co-worker said that she was surprised that I stayed at work as long as I did. Of course, it had never occurred to me that the City would call on the volunteer departments until the first tower collapsed.

The emotional gyrations we went through at the scene were greater by orders of magnitude. There was an inescapable exhilaration that comes from being part of a colossal and historic undertaking; and from being right at the center of it all; from being a trained rescue worker with a defined mission. There was a counterbalancing guilt that this exhilaration on our part coming on the heels of the deaths of hundreds of our brothers who were doing the same job.

There was an immediate sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when we were able to open up Broadway to emergency vehicles and construction equipment simply because we had arrived with a truckful of lumber. This feeling gave way at the end of the night when we actually got to attack the pile of debris. The staggering, indescribable size of this task made our efforts and abilities seem insignificant. As we began to move the stuff, I attempted to do the mental arithmetic concerning the value of my own efforts, but the realization of the insignificance of my own efforts was too depressing to face. I felt like one ant in a colony of ants trying to move
a mountain. So I stopped thinking about it and just kept going.

Afterwards, it occurs to me that the reason that ants are successful is that they just keep going. If you stomp on an anthill, the ants simply clear the corpses and debris out of the way and go on about their business. The colony survives - and prospers - regardless of the assault. We humans don't like to think of ourselves as insignificant parts of a greater whole, but this is how we must view ourselves in a time of crisis. We are always important to ourselves and to our families and friends, but when there's real work to do, you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself, you have to stop being afraid for your own safety and your own well-being and you have
to do your job, regardless of its relative significance to the overall task.

We all have an opportunity to be heroes now, and the method is simple. Show up at your job when you're supposed to. Do your job to the best of your ability. If you were planning to fly somewhere next week - do so! Don't start selling off stock in a panic. Don't start hoarding goods and commodities. Understand that the actual damage inflicted is insignificant in terms of our gross national product. This will only be an economic disaster if we panic. Finally, do not call on the president with demands
for immediate and pointless retaliation. Let him do his job while we do ours.
Keep in touch.
That's all.

Back to 2008. I have always thought that the Tribute in Light should be the permanent memorial to 9/11. Here it is.

You Tube video of Tribute in Light for 9/11

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Will Freedom From Mildew Be Included In Proposed Louis Kahn/FDR Memorial Four Freedoms Park? Sponsor A Tree and Obstruct Empire State Building View

Serious questions need to be asked and answered concerning the qualifications and competency of the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute's (FERI) ability to finance, develop and manage the proposed FDR Memorial Four Freedoms Park at Southpoint Park for which they are seeking "conditional site control" at the September 11 RIOC Board of Directors meeting. Based upon the decrepit condition of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park, NY of which FERI is the non-profit funding arm the answer, at least according to this NY Times op-ed article is a gigantic NO. According to the NY Times article titled Freedom From Mildew:
THE Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park, N.Y., the nation’s first presidential library, is literally falling apart. The roof leaks, the basement floods, asbestos is flaking from old steam pipes, an ancient electrical system could send the whole place up in smoke. This sorry situation is an insult to the person the library and museum honor: the founder of the New Deal, the greatest investment in our nation’s modern development.
Do RIOC directors, who must exercise fiduciary responsibilities and comply with the NY State Public Authorities Act in the disposition of real property on Roosevelt Island, reasonably believe that handing over site control to FERI is in the best interest of Roosevelt Island over all other alternatives for Southpoint Park including those not yet explored? Or does the Public Authorities Act only apply on Roosevelt Island when it concerns vacant Main Street retail space?

One RIOC director explained to me that it is only a "conditional" and "non-conclusive" site control designation. But what does that really mean? We can reasonably expect FERI to exploit any affirmative vote on site control by RIOC Directors for the Kahn/FDR memorial as support by the community for the project even if that was not the intent of their vote. Also, what impact will such designation have on any future possible landscape competition to find the most appropriate 21st century design for that site? Assume, for argument sake, that the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art proposes to develop an outdoor sculpture park at the southern tip of Southpoint and has the means to finance it. If "conditional" site control is now given to FERI, would that preclude even the possibility of exploring such an option in the future. I don't know the answer but I hope the RIOC directors ask a lot questions and do not settle for the historical, unchallenged, vague dribble in response.

The written FERI presentation submitted to the RIOC Board has some interesting new information and is embedded below.
  • The estimated cost of construction has again increased from the previous $40 million to $45 million (Page 3) and the estimated construction time for just the Kahn/FDR memorial is 36 months (Page 4) during which time the park will obviously be closed and unavailable for use by residents and visitors alike.
  • FERI projects raising $7.5 million from sponsorship donors purchasing individual trees (Page 5). I wonder how they will value the purchase price for individual trees that block views of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, United Nation and the waterfront? The more prestigious and beautiful view blocked, the higher the cost?
  • The proposed site has been deliberately left vacant by RIOC, (or NYC and State) and is considered to be an in-kind contribution. (Page 5)
  • Funds will be raised in stages as construction progresses instead of construction not starting until and unless all funds are raised and in the Bank. (Exhibits) What happens if construction starts, that portion of Southpoint Park in closed and financing for the next stage is not available? The answer of course is that Roosevelt Island residents and other users of the park are screwed. Do the RIOC Directors care about that?

Read this document on Scribd: FERI 9/11 RIOC Board Presentation

For comparison purposes below are images of FDR Memorial in Washington DC. This National Parks Service memorial has nothing to do with FERI. Can anyone serious deny that the Washington DC Roosevelt memorial truly honors FDR and all that he stood for while the FDR memorial proposed by FERI for Roosevelt Island does nothing more than pay tribute to it's designer Louis Kahn and his worshipers.

Image of FDR Memorial from Visiting DC

Image of FDR Memorial Bread Line from DC Traveller

Below is RIOC President Steve Shane's explanation as to what "conditional designation" for site control means.
Standard to ask for Conditional Designation in all development projects on the Island, prior to the Developer's investing in developing final plans, undertaking environmental studies for permits and licenses and committing to the expenditure of sums considerably larger than "development" or "planning" , ordering long lead items, an assurance of willingness to go along, subject to further review and approval as the process gets farther down the line towards finalization. Here, the developer (FERI")is prepared to assume the risk to spend the money on lawyers, environmental consultants, etc. to go through the combined DEC and Coast Guard review as it affects the shoreline, order the stone from the quarry which has a lead time of 1+ year, etc., a considerable undertaking. If the Board is unalterably opposed, the Project will not proceed. If a conditional designation is given, it will require the Developer to enter into a standard agreement which only indicates the Corporattion's preliminary approval of concept, requires the Developer to take the necessary permitting and application steps and to return to the Board with such matters in hand with a definitive financing and scheduling plan. Usually, there are specific time milestones attached, subject, of course, to delays incurred for reasons beyond the reasonable control of the Developer. Reimbursement of RIOC's expenses incurred in the review and permitting process is also to be undertaken as SEQRA will require public hearings and RIOC's own consultants to review submissions and applications. Sort of a scoping and molding process to move down the path to see where it leads without commitment to go all the way until all is revealed. Similar requests and conditional designations were sought and given for the Octagon and Southtown developments. Simply put, it is not unreasonable to seek some assurance of preliminary willingness to entertain the proposal before risking millions of dollars on development.
Does that help explain what conditional site control entails?

UPDATE - 4:20 PM- I sent the following inquiry to RIOC President Steve Shane:
Here's another harangue on Kahn/FDR memorial prior to 9/11 Board meeting.

Could you clarify what obligations and restrictions are placed on RIOC if"conditional" site control is given to FERI?

For instance, the day after conditional site control is acquired by FERI and until any time prior to a formalized binding agreement between FERI and RIOC for the development of the Kahn designed memorial, can some other entity develop a park facility on the same grounds without the participation of FERI. As an example, assume a proposal for a renewable energy park and museum is presented to RIOC that fully complies with the GDP. Does site control by FERI preclude that proposal from being accepted by RIOC?
Mr. Shane's response could not have been more clear:
Yes, until FERI fails to meet its contractual obligations, the site is designated for FERI to develop in accordance with the plans and to meet the tasks and milestones established in the agreement. The design of the Memorial is an integral part of the conditional designation, not subject to further debate. It's up or down now. Really unfair to ask any developer to proceed to lay out hundreds of thousands or a few million during development for lawyers, environmental studies and applications, granite, etc. and then jerk the rug out from under them. Especially, in a non commercial undertaking.
So there you have it. A yes vote by the RIOC Board of Directors effectively gives FERI control over the site for the Kahn?FDR boondoggle.

At the last RIRA meeting there was a discussion about having certain referendum items on the ballot for election day. The large turnout due to the Presidential election presents a great opportunity to finally get a valid sample of Roosevelt island opinion on the Kahn/FDR memorial. As an alternative to voting no on FERI site control, perhaps the vote could be postponed until after such a referendum. I would hope that the fact that FERI may not get as good a deal on cement (page 2 of vanden Heuvel letter in FERI 9/11 presentation to RIOC Board) is not as important as the views of Roosevelt Island residents on this issue.

Duane Reade Pink Paper Ribbons Help Raise Funds For Breast Cancer Research But More Help Is Needed For Other Forms Of Cancer

Did you notice the pink paper ribbons that were placed behind the cash register and on the glass window of the Roosevelt Island Duane Reade last month? They were part of Duane Reade's sponsorship of the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure scheduled for Sunday, September 14. There is still time to register for the race and pledge here.

According to Komen NYC:

As part of Duane Reade’s commitment to health and wellness, the Company is selling $1 paper ribbon pinups in its 241 stores in the New York metropolitan area. The promotion raised over $90,000 to date, which will be donated in addition to a contribution of $80,000 through Duane Reade’s Charitable Foundation, to the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure to underwrite New York area community-based breast health programs and national peer-reviewed research.
Good job by Duane Reade in raising awareness and funds for finding a cure for breast cancer. It is appreciated by everyone who has battled breast cancer and their friends and family as well.

Unfortunately, there are other types of cancer patients who do not benefit from this type of publicity, public awareness and resulting research or support services. For instance, a friend and Roosevelt Island resident was recently diagnosed with what is believed to be esophageal cancer and has had a difficult time getting information on the appropriate treatment. If any members of the Roosevelt Island community from Memorial Sloan Kettering, Cornell-Weill or any other medical institution have any thoughts or suggestions it would be greatly appreciated.

Another Bicycle Found and Returned - Remember Today is the Roosevelt Island Youth Summit

Image from Japan Nomads

The Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department reports that another lost or stolen bicycle was found and secured yesterday.
Found Property- A bicycle. It was secured in PSD.
That makes 2 bicycles found this week.

Also, Public Safety Director Keith Guerra is reminding all Roosevelt Island youth and their parents that they are hosting a Youth Summit at PS/IS 217 tonight starting at 6:30 PM.

Image from RIOC

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First Day of Roosevelt Island School Bus Service to Lower Lab School A Great Success!

I was happy to learn that yesterday was the first day of school bus service from Roosevelt Island direct to the Lower Lab School. According to at least one parent and child I spoke with it was a great success. The child was particularly happy that there were no stops and even said it was FUN! If it is as much fun as the Scholastic Magic Bus, save a seat for me!

Latest Generation Verdant Power Turbine Being Placed in East Channel of East River

Dick Lutz of the Main Street WIRE forwards this picture taken Monday morning of Verdant Power dropping it's latest generation of water turbine into the East Channel of the East River. Currently, this experimental renewable energy source utilizes the power of the East River tides to supply electricity for the Gristedes supermarket and Motorgate Parking garage on Roosevelt Island. More on Verdant Power here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Call For Landscape Design Competition At Southern Tip of Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park- RIOC Board Members, Reject Kahn/FDR Site Control Please

Vote NO on Kahn/FDR Memorial Image from Roosevelt Island 360

The first item on the Agenda for RIOC's September 11 Board of Directors meeting is a vote on whether to give "conditional" site control of the 3 acres at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park to the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI), the driving force behind the Louis Kahn/FDR memorial Boondoggle. The agenda item calls for:
1- Conditional Designation of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Development of the FDR Four Freedoms Park (Board Action Required)
Last Friday, I sent an email message to the members of the RIOC Board urging them to vote No on giving site control to FERI. Rather than merely rejecting the Louis Kahn memorial, which for some unknown reason has received support from local politicians such as Council Member Jessica Lappin, I suggested that the RIOC Board create an architectural landscape design competition for that part of Southpoint Park. After all, that small three acre parcel of land has one of the most spectacular unobstructed views of the NYC skyline and waterfront and deserves a 21st century landscape design, not the antiquated 1970's design of Louis Kahn. However, the supporters of the Kahn design would be free to compete with others as well and if the Kahn design wins the landscape design competition, then it will be built with the support of the entire Roosevelt Island community. If some other design wins, Roosevelt Island can only benefit. What can possibly be wrong with that?

Below is the message I sent to the RIOC Board. As of the time of this post, Monday afternoon, I have not received a reply from any of the Board members.
Members of the RIOC Board and Roosevelt Islanders,

I write a blog about Roosevelt Island called the Roosevelt Islander.

I am opposed to the building of Louis Kahn designed FDR memorial at Southpoint Park because it destroys the existing 360 degree panoramic views of the NYC Skyline and East River waterfront. I also think Roosevelt Island can do better than a landscape design that was intended for what Roosevelt Island was like in the 1970's not Roosevelt Island as it exists in the 21st century. In the classic New York architectural book New York 1960 by Robert AM Stern, prominent art critic Thomas B Hess described the Kahn design as (page 648-649):

"This is the sort of political edifice that the Italian fascists loved and Speer perfected for the glory of the Third Reich... The site itself is treated heartlessly. What was a modest, picturesquely rugged shoreline has been disciplined to straight lines and symetrical angles that have no significance beyond the alarming one of man's ability to impose a meaningless geometry on nature. The ultimate irony is that Roosevelt, who fought totalitarians to the death, is commemorated in the harsh style propogated by the dictators."

There is no legal obligation on the part of RIOC to go forward with this project. Why not open up a competition for the best landscape artists in the world to design a park at this location. There is certainly time to do it. The supporters of the Kahn/FDR memorial can compete as well and if there design is truly the best thing for Roosevelt Island then they will be selected. If their design is not the best, which is my opinion, then Roosevelt Island can only benefit because a better designed Southpoint Park will have been created. A design competition is a win-win situation for Roosevelt Island. What could possibly be the objection to this proposal?

As a new page has been turned in the management of the RIOC Board with elected community representatives, I urge you to vote No on the agenda item giving "conditional" site control of the 3 acre southern portion of Southpoint Park to the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for the purpose of building the Kahn/FDR memorial. Be independent of RIOC management and the local politicians. Represent the interests of Roosevelt Island First. Open up this area of Southpoint Park to a great landscape competition for the benefit of all Roosevelt Islanders and New Yorkers.

If any of you are interested in learning more about the views of those opposed to the Kahn/FDR memorial, I would be happy to put together several people to talk with you about this matter. Also, a couple of my posts on this issue are here and here and here.

Thank you for your consideration.
RIOC Board members. Another factor in deciding whether or not to give this site control to FERI should be the question of whether or not FERI, as an organization, is competent to fulfill any obligations it assumes for Southpoint Park. To date, the record of FERI is certainly less than impressive when you consider their 35 year record of failure and deadline after deadline passing to impose this boondoggle on Roosevelt Island. Also, consider the condition of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park, NY of which FERI is the:
non-profit funding arm of the nation's first presidential library, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, where our support helps sustain the many programs and resources that make the FDR Library the most important center for the study and teaching of the Roosevelt era in the world.
What is the condition of the FDR Presidential Library? According to this NY Times op-ed article titled Freedom from Mildew:
THE Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park, N.Y., the nation’s first presidential library, is literally falling apart. The roof leaks, the basement floods, asbestos is flaking from old steam pipes, an ancient electrical system could send the whole place up in smoke. This sorry situation is an insult to the person the library and museum honor: the founder of the New Deal, the greatest investment in our nation’s modern development.
Read some of the comments as well. According to the article, the condition of the FDR Library is pretty bad. Is this state of disrepair what we want to happen to Southpoint Park? Perhaps FERI should care more about the legacy of President Franklin Roosevelt and focus its fundraising efforts on fixing the FDR Library rather than promoting the work of Louis Kahn and the hero worship of Kahn supporters.

And how or why can Roosevelt Islanders believe any of the representations made by FERI when they have failed to keep so many in the past? For instance, as reported in the April 26, 2008 Main Street WIRE (PDF File):
In January, the head of FERI, former Ambassador William vanden Heuvel, set a deadline for his organization to raise the rest of the $40 million needed to make the project happen. He said FERI will abandon the effort if funds aren’t in place by that time, which is now about two and a half months away.
Obviously that deadline has come and gone with another broken promise from FERI. They are still nowhere close to raising even half of that amount yet they still will not go away. Under what definition of common sense can politicians like Lappin and RIOC management still support this boondoggle.

The newly elected RIOC Board members and the re-appointed board members are residents of Roosevelt Island. At the very least, I hope that they explore other options for Southpoint Park, including the Kahn design if they must, by creating a 21st century landscape design competition so that the best vision for Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park comes to fruition. But first they must vote NO on site control for FERI at this Thursday's RIOC Board meeting!

It is also interesting to note that there will be a town hall meeting for Roosevelt Islanders to express their views on any topic they wish. Unfortunately, that Town Hall meeting occurs after the Board members vote on this agenda item. From RIOC:

The Town Hall Meeting is not part of the RIOC Board Meeting
UPDATE - 3:55 - Here is link to FERI presentation at the 9/11 RIOC Board Meeting.

Residents Association Exploring Civilian Complaint Review Board for Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department

Logo of New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board from

A discussion was brought up during the September meeting of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council concerning the formation of a citizen review board to monitor the activities of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department in a similar fashion as the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) does for the NYPD. According to the CCRB web site:
The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) is an independent and non-police mayoral agency. It is empowered to receive, investigate, hear, make findings and recommend action on complaints against New York City police officers which allege the use of excessive or unnecessary force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or the use of offensive language. Investigations are conducted in an impartial fashion by the board's investigative staff, which is composed entirely of civilian employees. Complaints may be made by any person whether or not that person is a victim of, or witness to, an incident. Dispositions by the board on complaints are forwarded to the police commissioner. As determined by the board, dispositions may be accompanied by recommendations regarding disciplinary measures.
Although no decisions at this meeting were made regarding the formation of a Roosevelt Island Civilian Review Department for the Public Safety Office, RIRA is seriously considering the possibility of doing so. I have asked Public Safety Director Keith Guerra for his comments on the matter. From what I can tell there has been a big improvement in the Public Safety Department since Mr. Guerra's arrival though that is certainly not a reason to prevent a Civilian Review Board for the Public Safety Office from being formed.

In other Roosevelt Island Public Safety news, remember that this Wednesday, September 10 RIOC is holding a Youth Summit at PS/IS 217 which is described as intending to help Roosevelt Island youth deal with law enforcement, among other things.

Below are Public Safety Report incidents for September 1-7 including a found bike returned to Public Safety (9/4), trespassing at the Motorgate garage (9/7), public urination (9/2,3), open alcohol containers (9/3,7) and what is described as public loitering and exposure between a male and female suspect (9/5)

Monday 09/01/09 7:00AM thru Tuesday 09/02/08 7:00AM
Found Property - Cell phone found and secured at PSD. Attempt was made to contact owner with negative results.
Escort - PSD and Service escorted Home Attendant into apt due to patient being disabled.
Aided - Male dislocated shoulder while moving furniture. EMS responds and he is transported to New York University Hospital.
Aided - Male feeling dizzy . EMS responds and aided is transported to Astoria General Hospital.
Found Property - Bag found containing small personal items, no currency and no identification. Secured At PSD.
Trespassing - Two males on roof, set off alarm. PSD responds and both are issued summons.

9/2/08-7:00 AM to 9/3/08-7:00 AM
Domestic Incident- No injuries. NYPD responded and referred Husband and wife to Family Court regarding child custody matter.
Missing Person- A Coler Hosp Patient since last week. Search of the Island yielded negative results. 114 Pct Detective handling it.
Vehicle Accident- Between a Tractor Trailer and a pickup Truck. No injuries. 911 notified for NYPD.
Water leak- Tenant not home. PSD and UA responded. UA located leak and will repair later.
Aided- A male accidently cut his foot on glass. EMS responded and he refused transport to the Hospital.
Disorderly Conduct- Subject arrested by PSD.
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Domestic Dispute- Between Husband and wife. No injuries. Daughter responded to resolve the matter.
Trespass/ Public Urination-Subject arrested by PSD.

9/3/08-7:00 AM to 9/4/08-7:00 AM
Criminal Poss Weapon/ Reckless Endangerment- Subject arrested by PSD.
Trespass/ Public Urination- 2 subjects arrested by EMS.
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Court Papers Served- PSD served court papers regarding a family court matter.
Missing Person- Male youth. PSD and NYPD conducted a search for the youth. 911 operator called PSD and reported youth was found. He went home.
Gas Smell/Hazardous Condition- PSD and UA responded. The stove was not completely shut off. Condition corrected by UA personnel.
Alcohol/ Open Container- Subject arrested by PSD.
Alcohol/ Open Container- Subject arrested by PSD.
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Aided- Male stated he was ill. EMS responded and he refused transport to the Hospital.
Graffiti- R/O Building on Column. Search for the subject yielded negative results . UA Notified.
Criminal Mischief- Rear Building window shattered in lobby. UA Notified. Search for the subject yielded negative results.
0700 hrs 09/04/08 - 0700 hrs 09/05/08

Aided - PSD officer responded with EMS to tenant's apt. Tenant was not feeling well. Refused to be transported to hospital.
Graffiti - PSD officer observed graffiti on seawall. Search was made with negative results.
Criminal Mischief - Officer observed cracked lobby window. Search was made with negative results. Super was notified.
Found property - Person turned in bike that was found into PSD. Bike secured at PSD.
Aided - Officer responded with FDNY and EMS for man not breathing. CPR was performed and aided transported to hospital.
Investigation - PSD received call of assault. Upon arrival mother of victim told PSD that it happened at unknown location in Queens. Advised to call NYPD and PSD when victim comes home.
Aided - Resident stuck in elevator. Resident was removed and refused medical attention.
Harassment - Victim notified PSD that she was harassed by male subject. PSD report made.
Harassment - Victim stated he was harassed. Summons was issued to female subject.
Aided - Female bit by dog. Refused medical attention.

0700 hours 09/05/08 - 0700 hours 09/06/08
Reckless Endangerment- Teacher reports to PSD while in courtyard with class unknown subject threw strawberries out of window. Child had redness on back. Nurse check child, refused EMS. School notified parents.
Graffiti- PSD officer observed written on stair at southpoint park.
Small Fire- PSD officer observed fire rear of 200 Main St extinguished by PSD. Property Damage
Verbal Dispute- Between two resident about Laundromat machine. PSD spoke to both parties.
Smoke Condition- PSD officer responded to apartment. Super on scene reporter tenant was cleaning her electric stove causing light switch to spark. Super unplugged stove.
Aided- PSD Officer while on patrol lost balance on segway. Causing injuries to left elbow refused EMS.
Arrest- PSD Officer summons a male and female subject for Loitering and Public Exposure of a person.

9/6/087:00 AM to 9/7/08-7:00 AM
Aided- Female fell in apt. EMS responded and transport was refused.
Found Property- a Wallet. It was secured at PSD.
Criminal Mischief- Broken Window. BY Mgt notified. Search for the subject yielded negative results.
Hazardous Condition- A tree down. It was cautioned off by PSD.

9/7/08-7:00 AM to 9/8/08-7:00 AM
Verbal Dispute- Over Motorgate fee. PSD resolved matter between Customer and Central Parking Employee.
Trespass- In the Motorgate garage. 2 subjects arrested by PSD.
Harassment- PSD and NYPD responded, NYPD prepared a report.
Alcohol/Open Container - Subject arrested by PSD.
Verbal Dispute- PSD responded no injuries and resolved by PSD.
Investigation- Tenant thought she saw someone in her apt. PSD and NYPD responded. There was no one in the apt.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Emergency Request From Orphans International To Help Respond To Damge Done By Hurricane Gustav in Haiti

You Tube video from AP on impact of Hurricane Gustav on Haiti

I received the following message from Jim Luce of Orphans International based here on Roosevelt Island. More information is available at Orphans International Haiti blog.

Roof Falls In
Our Children in Haiti Safe

In May 2004 Hurricane Jeanne ripped through Gonaives, Haiti, killing over two thousand people. Our twelve children there lost their families. In July 2008, worried about the continued deterioration of Gonaives, we moved our children to a better home in the city of Jacmel. Last week, Hurricane Gustav hit Haiti and our old home in Gonaives – which we left only eight weeks ago – collapsed. It would have killed our children, had they not moved to Jacmel.

But in spite of the safety of our kids, our needs in Haiti are still great. Our director Jacques Africot, who was with us in Indonesia after the Tsunami, writes yesterday from Jacmel:

I could not have access to internet café because the Hurricane Gustav had hit hardly the city of Jacmel, specially our Cyvadier community. The community was really damaged. We have no electricity, all water drained damaged. Almost all trees down: mangoes, breadfruit trees, banana trees. Some houses are destroyed and everywhere is flooded. Please, do not let us suffer too much.

Thank God nothing bad happened to us at OI Haiti. But all around us there were tears. I was even affected directly because a coconut tree fell on my father's house, where the roof is covered with iron sheet, and it was damaged it a little bit. We are aware that there is another hurricane named Hanna that is in the air, we hope that it won’t touch Jacmel. It would be a complete disaster. We are at the beginning of another month, and I have to pay the staff and get food for this month but every price has raised up after the hurricane. Please, do not let us suffer too much. LINK

What can you give this week to assure that the orphans, who lost their families in Hurricane Jeanne in 2004, do not feel that the hurricanes have completely destroyed their life yet again? We must somehow make twice as much money available to buy what food there is, and we must advocate for Haiti from the outside. With our U.N. affiliation, we have joined others in actively appealing for more food aid for Haiti, but we must act now to meet our own kid's needs for food and cooking fuel... we are a small organization and have no available money for situations such as these.

We even need child sponsors for some of these kids. Won't you help us today? Go to and click "Sponsor an Child" in the upper right hand corner. You can sign up for regular monthly support payments using a credit card.

American Airlines is assisting us with a small airlift of supplies to Haiti on Tuesday, led by founder Jim Luce. IMMEDIATE tax-deductible donations are needed. You know that OI is a lean organization, but we are too skinny for this financial challenge and desperately need your help. Call us at 212-755-7285 and tell me what you can do to raise this burden from our hearts.

Please call Jim directly at (212) 755-7285 or at (212) 755-7550 to donate by credit card, the fastest way to get us funds.
We must raise $4,000 over the next 48 hours to meet our obligations there.

If you are in a position to help, please do.