Friday, September 26, 2008

RIRA Common Council Delegate Candidates Sought - Get Involved and Help Improve Roosevelt Island

Image from You Are The City

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz sends the following message to Roosevelt Island residents concerning the 2008 elections for the RIRA Common Council.
The nominations for the RIRA Common Council, for President, Vice President, and building delegates, open on Wednesday, October 1. You will find nominating forms available in building lobbies, the Trellis diner, the library, the offices of Accountable Finance, the Eastwood management office and Public Safety. To declare your candidacy, just fill out the form including the signature of the person nominating you and return it to the designated box at the Public Safety Office, open 24/7. Please read the questions requiring a yes or no answer carefully; they were put there to gauge the commitment of potential Council Members to understand the job and to carry it out for the full two-year term.

Nominations will close on Sunday, October 26 at midnight. We’ve scheduled a Candidates’ Night for Wednesday, October 29 at 8:00 p.m. in the Chapel and will include a debate among the presidential and vice presidential candidates should we be so fortunate as to have a contested campaign for those positions. The polling places and hours will be the same as for the United States presidential elections: at PS/IS 217, at Coler Hospital and from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. If you can volunteer some time to staff the RIRA election tables on Election Day, November 4, please let me know.

I’ll say it again; RIRA is essential to this community and it survives and functions only with your support. If you are over 18 years of age, consider running as a building delegate. If you have lived on Roosevelt Island for over a year, are well grounded in Island information and issues, and have the time and inclination to make a difference in the lives of your neighbors, consider running for one of the top two spots. As I complete my sixth year as President, I can tell you that serving this community has been the most fulfilling task I’ve ever undertaken. Okay, enough. Ad nauseam indeed.
More information is available in the September 13 Main Street WIRE (PDF File). Help make Roosevelt Island a better place to live.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NY Times Writes A Commercial Advertisement For the Kahn/FDR Memorial

Image from NY Times

I have had a bad cold for the last couple of days but after Roosevelt Island 360 alerted me to this NY Times commercial, disguised as a news article on the Kahn/FDR memorial, I was forced to get out of my sick bed to respond. From the NY Times City Room blog:
Don’t doubt the power of documentary films.That is one lesson William J. vanden Heuvel, the lawyer, diplomat and businessman, has learned. He says that the long-delayed project to build a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island — first proposed in 1973 — is finally moving forward in large part because of “My Architect,” a 2003 documentary by the son of the architect Louis I. Kahn.
Not a word in the article about opposition to the Kahn design by Roosevelt Island residents and others at all. I know that the NY Times has editorialized in favor of the Kahn/FDR memorial boondoggle but I would have thought that such an attitude would not have seeped into so-called "news" coverage.

Anyway here's my response from the NY Times comments page, #9.
The readers of the NY Times might be interested in knowing that there is significant opposition to the so called FDR memorial by residents of Roosevelt Island and other users of Southpoint Park, the proposed site. How can anyone object to a memorial designed by Louis Kahn to FDR? Simple, Mr. Kahn designed this memorial in the early 1970’s when Roosevelt Island was a very different place than it is now.

In 1973 there was no residential community on Roosevelt Island but now in the 21st century we are a neighborhood of approximately 12 thousand people and still growing with great need for park land, green space as well as open unobstructed waterfront views and access. Instead, what we get is the Kahn Memorial, and let’s not fool anyone it is the Kahn not the FDR memorial, with it’s concrete and granite replacing grass and open waterfront views. Amazingly, the design intentionally obstructs the existing panoramic 360 degree views of the NYC skyline and East River waterfront from Southpoint Park and the current architect and Kahn worshippers thinks that is a good thing.

In reality, the memorial is more to the architect Louis Kahn than to FDR. As the prominent art critic Thomas B. Hess, a self described friend of Kahn and admirer of Franklin Roosevelt said of this design:

“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.”

That hardly sounds like a memorial to the values that FDR represented, does it?

The sponsors of this memorial, FERI, have a 35 year record of failure to raise funds, missed deadlines and broken promises for this project and are now seeking at least $20 million in taxpayer funds for this vanity project. Surely, in these times of fiscal crisis and budget cuts, New York City and State funds could be better spent keeping libraries open, schools funded, garbage picked up, police on the street, fire department protecting us etc.

I am astounded that politicians like City Council Member Lappin prioritizes spending 4 million dollars in City Council funding for this very controversial memorial over the future needs of essential services to the citizens of New York City. Perhaps her colleagues at the City Council will examine this budget allocation more closely when essential services for their constituents are being cut but this boondoggle receives $4 million.

Wouldn’t it be a better to have a great landscape architectural competition for this fantastic site, for which the outmoded 1970’s Kahn design can compete, together with new 21st century plans, to determine the most suitable outcome for Southpoint Park? Of course FERI will never agree to this because they know that their proposal would never be selected in a fair competition for a 21st century Southpoint Park waterfront park.

What Roosevelt Island’s should have at this site is a real waterfront park, not the Kahn Memorial.

For anyone interested below is a link to more information on why the Louis Kahn designed FDR memorial is a bad idea for Roosevelt Island and the City of New York.

— Posted by Roosevelt islander

Back to bed.

UPDATE - 6:30 PM - The webcast of the 9/11 RIOC Board meeting that approved conditional site control of the southern portion of Southpoint Park for the Kahn/FDR memorial to FERI is available here. It is the first new item on the agenda. Watch and see how decisions get made on Roosevelt Island. Note that no opponents of the Kahn memorial were allowed to speak.

Manhattan Park Balcony Sought For Babysitting Plants and Containers

You Tube video of Plant Container Tips

A new Manhattan Park resident is seeking temporary storage space for her plants on a neighbor's balcony. She writes:
I'm moving to RI on Monday, September 30. The apartment from which I'm moving has a balcony but was I not able to get a balcony apt. at Manhattan Parks - yet.. I'm on the wait list for one. Meanwhile, I'm wondering if there is a RI resident who has a an empty balcony and who would want to "babysit" my outdoor plants. I don't care if the plants die. I would like to keep the containers and would prefer to have them outdoors. I'll pay a maintenance fee.
Apartment Therapy has some good tips on setting up your balcony for plants and other folding chars:
... One large and taller planter (or something built to fit the space) may be good to use in the trapezoid corners of the balcony, be a good anchor for the small pots, and help your plants overwinter better.
You may also want to go vertical with either hanging tomato planters(I've heard some varieties can actually do well in northern light) or something that will trail upwards (morning glories, squash) on a lattice or wire trellis against the wall space.
Plants and pots on balconies can freeze - but putting them on top of a blanket or a cushion of mulch when the weather gets cold, and also shielding them from wind and rain, will help them survive to come back next spring...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Flatbed RIOC Truck Racing And Burning Rubber on Roosevelt Island Pedestrain Walkway

You Tube Video of Jim Croce's Rapid Roy the Stock Car Boy

A reader sent in the following message regarding a RIOC vehicle constantly driving dangerously on the waterfront pedestrian pathway.
This afternoon I called and spoke with Officer Vera to report on an RIOC vehicle that repeatedly drives erratically, fast, and aggressive along the river. This is a 2-seater vehicle with a flatbed truck; the flatbed truck consists of several large, square containers that appear to be meant for either landscaping or for picking up garbage alongside the river walkway. I am unable to clarify what this truck is meant for as it never stops to do any work whatsoever; rather it appears to use the river pathway as a means of getting from one end of the island to the other and bypassing the traffic on Main Street. This truck spins its wheels, races as fast as can be, and aggressively honks if people don't get out of the way fast enough. Including children. This goes on in the mornings, evenings, and on weekends. It is horrifying and it is only a matter of time before this truck hurts or kills someone.
Officer Vera's response was that this falls under RIOC and is not their issue. She (very rudely and condescendingly) said I should speak to RIOC. When I again reiterated my concern that this truck is a public safety hazard, she responded that they could not do anything and I had to speak to RIOC. I asked if my complaint would be logged with Public Safety so it would be on record and she very vaguely said it would; I doubt that it was logged.
My questions are two-fold:

1. Why does RIOC permit their vehicles to drive in an aggressive manner? and

2. What is the point of Public Safety if they refuse to make the island safe for the public? Are they only operating on a reactive basis instead of a proactive basis? If it is related to the "public" and to "safety", I suppose it's not a problem until it is too late. Pity.

RIOC President Steve Shane responds:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
1. RIOC does not condone the described behavior and, while not being there to observe directly, will remind the driver(s) of the vehicle as to proper conduct; and
2. Any complaints lodged at PSD as to the conduct of RIOC employees should be brought to the attention of RIOC's management.
Maybe the RIOC drivers are practicing for the next Roosevelt Island stock car race.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Andy Garcia On Roosevelt Island Tram

You Tube video of Andy Garcia on Roosevelt Island Tram from movie City Island

Last month, Andy Garcia and the crew of the film "City Island" were on Roosevelt Island shooting scenes for movie. Above is a brief clip of Andy Garcia and Emily Mortimer on the Roosevelt Island Tram.

By all reports Garcia was very nice and mingled with the Roosevelt Island crowd.

Kahn/FDR Memorial Boondoggle Signage Plunked Down In Front Of Potential United Nations Donors - Will Foreigners Donate When Americans Don't?

Image of Kahn/FDR memorial Southpoint Park commercial from Roosevelt Island 360

Sunday afternoon I was on the Tram and noticed a large billboard or sign at the southern tip of Southpoint Park. I went over to the Park to see what it was but the park was closed due to security for the UN General Assembly so I could not find out any additional information about the structure. Yesterday, I received a message from a reader who said the sign was some sort of billboard promoting the Kahn/FDR memorial boondoggle. I inquired of RIOC President Steve Shane if that was true and if so whether it was a bit premature to allow a commercial for the proposed memorial boondoggle. He responded:
Yes, it is true. The agreement has not been negotiated and signed. I do not believe it to be premature. The sign will only be there for UN week when the Southpoint is otherwise closed by Homeland Security and populated by NYPD. Fund raising from the UN Delegate lounge from which the sign is highly visible is very important to FERI.
Wow. the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) has been unable to get American financial support for their $45 million memorial to Louis Kahn that is being sold as a tribute to FDR so they have to try and get foreign financing. What does that say about FERI's ability to finance this boondoggle and claim that it is a memorial to President Franklin Roosevelt? To date, Americans have not been willing to finance this project so FERI is now seeking overseas money. How typical of this entire charade. If placing a sign facing the UN delegate's lounge is the strategy being employed by FERI and Kahn memorial supporters to raise funds for this 35 year old failed project, I am confident that they will continue to fail, as they should, and this project will never be built. Of course that means more delays until a real waterfront park is built for Southpoint Park. What a terrible shame and waste of time and resources.

For the record, Roosevelt Island 360's image above is just a satirical representation of the FERI sign meant to demonstrate the destruction of NYC waterfront and skyline views from Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park that will be the intended result of the proposed Kahn/FDR memorial, not the actual sign itself.

Incitement to Riot and othe Roosevelt Island Public Safety Reports for September 15- 23

Here are the Roosevelt Island 24 hour Public Safety Reports for September 15 - morning of the 23rd. Incidents included:
  • Incitement to riot ( 9/20 - I have asked Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra for additional details on this matter but have not received any response yet)
  • Another Stolen Bicycle (9/21)
  • Attempted shoplifting at Duane Reade (9/21)
  • Clothing taken from laundry machine (9/15)
  • Drinking and urinating in public (9/16, 19)
  • Driver Failed to yield to pedestrian (9/22) and
  • Aided an ill person (9/15, 17-22)
I still have not received any comment from the Public Safety Department regarding the establishment of a Roosevelt Island Civilian Review Complaint Board that is being considered by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association.

Below are the daily safety reports for 9/15-23

9/15/08-7:00 AM to 9/16/08-7:00 AM
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Criminal Mischief- Radio was taken from a vehicle. Search for the subject made with negative results. Reporter will go to NYPD on his own.
Hazardous Condition- Smell of gas in apt. Tenant not home. PSD and RY Mgt responded and corrected the condition. No injuries.
Petit Larceny- Clothing from a dryer machine were taken. Search for the subject yielded negative results. NYPD refused.
Unlicenced Operator- PSD issued summons to the motorist and to the owner of the vehicle.
Aided- Male adult in bicycle fell and sustained injury. He was transported to the Hospital by EMS.
Unsecured Premise- Locks missing to comfort station bathroom. Search made of the interior and in order. RIOC notified.

9/16/08-7:00 AM to 9/17/08-7:00 AM
Chronic Noise Complaint- In Apt. It was referred to UA Mgt. PSD responded.
Found Property- A handbag. It was secured in PSD.
Aggravated Harassment- Via phone calls. PSD responded and matter referred to ADA and Detective. (pertains to previous case)
Reckless Endangerment- Rock thrown made contact with victim. Search for the subject yielded negative results. EMS and NYPD refused.
Criminal Mischief- Rear Bumper of vehicle damaged. Search for the subject yielded negative results. Owner to contact NYPD on his own.
Urinating in Public-Subject arrested by PSD.

9/17/08-7:00 AM to 9/18/08-7:00 AM
Found Property- Cell Phone. It was secured in P.D. Later the owner retrieved it.
Found Property-Bag with food. It was secured in P.D. Later the owner retrieved it.
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Petit Larceny- Boot on vehicle missing. NYP responded and prepare a report.
Graffiti- In Building. Search for the subject yielded negative results. U'S Super notified.
Aided- An Ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Graffiti- In Building. Search for the subject yielded negative results. U'S Super. notified.
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Criminal Mischief-Subject broke a window and sustained injury. EMS and NYP responded. Subject taken to the Hospital and NYP prepared a report.

0700 hrs 09/18/08 - 0700 hrs 09/19/08
Aided - Home attendant reports client having heart pain. EMS transported aided to hospital.
Aided - Officer responded with EMS to apt. Tenant had laceration and transported to hospital.
Unsecured vehicle - Officer observed window open. Message was left with owner. Vehicle appeared in order.
Graffiti - Officer found graffiti and notified management. Search conducted with negative results.

0700 hrs. Friday September 19th 2008 tru 0700 hrs. Saturday September 20th 2008
Hazardous Condition - PSD Officer observed three light poles not operational RIOC Notified.
Arrest - Two subjects were sleeping in the stairwell inside Motorgate. summonsed for trespass
Investigation - PSD Officers responded to 579 Main St. area for unknown subjects throwing objects out the window. Officer went to apartment and spoke to parents.
Graffiti - PSD Officer observed writing on a bench rear of 540 Main St. Supervisor notified.
Aided - PSD Officer responded to 531 Main St. pool locker room and observed male subject unstable. EMS on scene refused to be transported to the hospital.
Arrest - PSD Officer observed male subject urinating in public. Summons issued.
Arrest - PSD Officer observed seven males and five female subjects drinking in public. Summonsed for open container.

9/20/08-7:00 am TO 9/21/08-7:00 am
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Criminal Mischief- Zipper of soft top vehicle opened an items inside were thrown about. NYPD notified. Search for the subject yielded negative results.
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.
Disorderly/Inciting a riot- Subject arrested by PSD.
Lockout Tenant was locked out. UA drilled the lock to allow access to the tenant.

9/21/08-7:00 AM to 9/22/08-7:00 AM
Aided- Female cut foot on broken glass. EMS responded and she refused transport to the Hospital.
Found Property- a Senior Citizen metro Card. It was secured at PSD.
Criminal Mischief- Broken Window in building. Search for the subject yielded negative results. UA notified.
Smoke condition- small fire on rug in building. It was extinguished by PSD. Search for the subject yielded negative results. Small burnt mark on carpet.
Graffiti- In hallway and outside on concrete bench. Search for the subject yielded negative results. UA notified.
Attempted shop lifting/Trespass- At Duade Reade store. 4 subjects were issued trespass notices.
Criminal Mischief- Broken panel in elevator. Search for the subject yielded negative results. UA notified.
Criminal Mischief- Damage to wall. search for the subject yielded negative results. UA notified.

9/22/08-7:00 AM to 9/23/08-7:00 AM
Investigation- A female stated a vehicle almost struck her daughter. PSD Vehicle found parked. Motorist not in vehicle.
Petit Larceny- A Bicycle was taken. Search for the subject yielded negative results. NYPD refused.
Aided- A male fell on floor in apt. PSD responded and put him on his chair no injuries and EMS refused.
DOA/Aided- Deceased male in apt. EMS and NYPD responded.
Investigation/Missing Property- Postal scanner accidently sold to Island resident by Thrift store employee. Later it was returned to the owner.
Suspicions Male- Search for the subject yielded negative results. NYPD refused.
Fail to yield to pedestrian -PSD issued a summons to the motorist.
Aided- An ill person was taken to the Hospital by EMS.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Southpoint Park Subject To Closure During United Nations General Assembly Meeting

Below is the RIOC advisory announcing that Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park will be subject to closure while the United Nations General Assembly is in session. From RIOC:

Southpoint Advisory
As of Saturday, September 20th, 2008 through
Friday, October 3rd, Southpoint will be
subject to closure due to the U.N. General Assembly.
Plan accordingly.

There Used To Be A BallPark Here - Yankee Stadium Past, Present & Future On 161 Street & River Avenue

Picture of Yankee Stadium from my seat following Saturday's win

Last night was the final regular season game played at Yankee Stadium. I say regular season because there is still a very, very slight chance that the Red Sox could lose their remaining 7 games, Yankees win their last 6 and then beat the Red Sox in a playoff. Just like 1978. Yes , I know, extremely unlikely, but you never give up until mathematically eliminated. Remember last year's Mets and Phillies!

I was at the next to last game at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon which ended nicely with a bottom of the ninth Yankee win. Sitting in the stands and afterwards, I recall so many memories of great times and most importantly being with friends, family and loved ones.

The first game I ever attended at Yankee Stadium was in late September of 1966 against the Minnesota Twins and Bobby Murcer, my favorite player, was playing shortstop. I learned to switch hit by imitating Bobby Murcer's batting stance while playing stickball. Unfortunately, the Yankees lost and Murcer made 4 errors that game but I still liked him because he was the youngest Yankee and successor to Mickey Mantle. We sat behind the broadcast booth and Phil Rizzuto gave us his autograph. That was a great thrill. Here's the box score from that game.

The mid to late 60's were not an easy time to be a Yankee fan. It was the era of the last place Yankees, but I still remember the fun we had sitting in the General Admission nose bleed seats during Sunday afternoon doubleheaders and sneaking down for better seats later in the day while trying to avoid the ushers.

Our loyalty to the Yankees was rewarded in the mid 70's with 2 World Series Championships during the era of Thurman Munson, Lou Pinella and Reggie Jackson. My dad and I were at game 6 of the 1977 World Series when Reggie hit his three homers. That is a great memory.

In the early 90's Don Mattingly, Buck Showwalter and Gene Michael created the conditions which led to the Yankee dynasty of the Joe Torre era. Derek Jeter, Paul O'Neil, Bernie Williams, Andy Petitte, Jorge Posada and the Great Mariano Riviera, together with their teammates, gave Yankee fans thrills to remember for a lifetime.

The best game I ever saw at Yankee Stadium took place on July 1 2004 game when Derek Jeter made the unbelievable diving catch into the stands and the Yankees beat the Red Sox in a thirteen inning back and forth marathon game. My favorite Red Sox fan believes that loss was the spark that got the Red Sox their first World Series championship.

There are just so many great memories of Yankee Stadium. I hope the new Yankee Stadium can match the original. At least it will still have the same address. 161st and River Avenue Bronx NY.

You Tube Video of Frank Sinatra singing There Used To Be A Ballpark Here/A Tribute to Yankee Stadium

As to the new Yankee Stadium. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC took a tour of the new site and was impressed.

You Tube video of Keith Olbermann tour of New Yankee Stadium

And Derek Jeter on Yankee Stadium memories.

You Tube Video of Derek Jeter Yankee Stadium Memories Speech thanking the Yankee Fans

Roosevelt Island Subway Escalators Working in Both Up and Down Directions- Can We Put The Paramedics On Standby and Oxygen Cannisters Away Now?

Roosevelt Island escalators working in both up and down directions

I was pleased to find on Saturday morning that both sets of side escalators at the Roosevelt Island subway station were working in the proper manner - one side going up and the other down - from street level to the platform. However, on Sunday evening around 6 PM, the street level down escalator to the mezzanine level was out of service. Fortunately, this morning, all of the side escalators were working in both up and down direction from street to platform.

Let's hope this is the start of a functioning escalator service for the Roosevelt Island subway station. The expectation for Roosevelt Island residents and visitors alike should be that escalator service for one of the deepest subway stations in New York City (157 steps from platform to street) should be a matter of routine for users and not a cause for concern every time we get off the F Train as to whether or not the escalators are working. It would be a great relief to put the paramedics on standby and oxygen canisters away for a while.

At least we now know that should the up escalators go out of service, it is possible to reverse the down escalators to the up direction mode as long as an on-site MTA employee has the key and is trained to do so. We do not know if the MTA has made any such preparations.

The MTA is still working on Roosevelt Island's middle set of subway escalators as part of its capital improvement program. Roosevelt Island 360 reports that these escalators are scheduled to be operational in mid-October. We shall see.