Friday, October 17, 2008

Roosevelt Island Marlins Water Polo Try Outs On Saturday October 18

Looks like fun. Why not give it a try!

Why Is RIOC Hiding Kahn/FDR Site Control Draft Agreement From Roosevelt Island Public Review Prior to Signing?

Image of Deaf, Blind and Mute Monkeys from John Fenzel

In response to this post requesting RIOC President Steve Shane make public the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute's (FERI) proposed conditional site control draft agreement for the Louis Kahn/FDR memorial boondoggle, Mr. Shane responds:
And how, pray tell, would you have me or anyone else deal with the collective comments of the Island's 14,000 residents? Is there some body of super review for every document that RIOC negotiates?
If any member of the Board wants to directly participate, he or she could call me and we would be delighted to discuss their concerns.
I do not need you to demand that RIOC confirm the New York City Council's appropriation message. When the Conditional Site Designation Agreement requires the demonstration of funding, either it will be there or it won't.
I reply:
Neither I nor anyone else on Roosevelt Island that I know of is asking to negotiate this or any other agreement on behalf on RIOC. I am only asking to review the current Southpoint site control draft submitted by FERI to evaluate whether they have complied with the promises they made to the Roosevelt Island community during the 9/11 Board meeting.

At the 9/11 RIOC Board of Directors Meeting, FERI officials made certain promises and representations to the Roosevelt Island community regarding their acknowledgment of the need for reasonable funding timetables and deadlines that they would meet for the Memorial Park, including building the park area of the Memorial prior to building the "Room" at the southern tip. In fact, some of the Board Members yes vote was based on those promises by FERI. It is not unreasonable for the Roosevelt Island media, which includes the Roosevelt Islander blog, to inquire whether or not FERI has kept this promise by reviewing their draft proposal for site control prior to the execution of any definitive agreement tying up this magnificent location for the length of the Agreement.

I again request that you make the draft publicly available.
Mr. Shane answers:
No. Neither you nor any other member of the community is going to be in such a position.
A reader commenting on this post, Amy W, asks this relevant question:
Don't the people have a RIGHT to know?
Apparently, the answer according to RIOC President Shane is a loud and resounding NO?

Unfortunately, Mr. Shane fails to understand, or does not deem it relevant, the reason it is so important to reveal the contents of FERI's proposed site control draft agreement prior to execution. As stated above, FERI made certain promises and representations which were relied upon by the Roosevelt Island community and RIOC Board of Directors during the 9/11 meeting in which the conditional site control was approved. Making the requested draft agreement public will demonstrate whether or not FERI has kept those commitments. If they have not, how can any of their representations ever be believed or reasonably relied upon? Moreover, if FERI has again reneged on their commitment, the conditional site control approved by the RIOC Board should be re-evaluated and revoked!

As we all know FERI has a long and dismal history of failing to comply with their prior commitments and promises to the Roosevelt Island community and there is absolutely no reason to believe that is still not now the case. Before any agreement with FERI is finalized, both the RIOC Board and the community should know whether FERI's representations at the 9/11 meeting were just another example of their empty promises. Unfortunately, Mr. Shane's refusal to make the draft public creates the impression, whether true or not, that acceding to the wishes of FERI is of greater priority than protecting the interests of Roosevelt Island.

Also, FERI recently announced that they hired the politically connected Howard Rubenstein public relations agency. Perhaps the first bit of advice the PR agent will provide to FERI will be to follow through on promises made to the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors and community, but don't hold your breadth.

Troubling as well is Mr. Shane's refusal to reconfirm with the NYC Council that the $4 million in public taxpayer funding is still available for the Kahn/FDR memorial boondoggle in view of the severe New York State and City budget crisis. As reported in Newsday:
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn yesterday warned city residents to brace for deep budget cuts, some of which she said will "sting badly," as the city and nation continue to reel in an anemic, unpredictable economy.

"It will not be easy," Quinn said. "It will not be pain-free. "
In this article describing potential cuts to East River Ferry service, the NY Times reports:
With city grants to nonprofits drying up and schools ordered to slash $185 million from the current budget, it is perhaps understandable that subsidizing a luxurious amenity for a few hundred owners of fancy condominiums might not seem a priority.
It is equally, if not much more, understandable that New York City will not subsidize Council Member Jessica Lappin's $4 million funding allocation for the Kahn/FDR memorial boondoggle from the City's capital budget when there are so many more vital needs that require public taxpayer funds.

In view of the NY State and City budget crisis, this statement by Mr. Shane, in my opinion, does a great disservice to the interests of Roosevelt Island:
When the Conditional Site Designation Agreement requires the demonstration of funding, either it will be there or it won't.
It is difficult to understand why RIOC will not reconfirm the availability of these funds unless they just don't care about the changing NYC budget realities and are determined to shove FERI's conditional site control agreement through, despite the potential likelihood of public funds no longer being available. The harm to Roosevelt Island is that this agreement ties up Southpoint Park for a longer period of time thus preventing development of a real waterfront park by a competent organization.

Is RIOC acting like the blind, deaf and mute monkeys pictured above in not making FERI's draft site control agreement public and re-confirming with the NYC Council that the $4 million allocated for this boondoggle is still available? It sure looks like that to me.

UPDATE - 10/20: Mr Shane responds that I have misread the RIOC 10/11 column in the Main Street WIRE regarding who sent or submitted the draft conditional site agreement. He may be right about that and I am checking into it. From Mr. Shane:
While appreciating your personal desire to inflame, I suggest you read carefully the statement in my last WIRE column, to wit "The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) group has been sent a draft of RIOC's Conditional Designation and Funding Agreements, ..." The operative word which you have erroneously characterized is "RIOC's", indicating that these documents are our drafts, prepared by our General Counsel, consistent with prior and similar matters.
You have failed to share with your rapt audience my perfect willingness to post the documents to your web site when they are final. You and your adoring public may judge the work product when completed and we shall be perfectly willing to defend our effort on behalf of the Corporation.
Even if Mr. Shane is correct about who sent the agreement, there is still no good reason why the draft site control agreement should not be made public to residents and Board Directors prior to any execution nor any reason why RIOC should not reconfirm that the $4 million in public taxpayer funds, that was used as a justification for giving FERI site control, will still available given the severe budget crisis facing the City and State of New York.

Free Flu Shots For Roosevelt Island Seniors On October 28 - Appointments Necessary

You Tube Video on importance of getting a Flu Shot

Assembly Memeber Micah Kellner's office forwards the following message advising Roosevelt Island senior citizens that free flu shots are available but they require appointments:
... we are doing free flu shots for seniors in association with Coler-Goldwater on Roosevelt Island on October 28th at the Roosevelt Island Senior Center from 10 am - 1 pm. We are still accepting appointments for the shots, all they have to do is call the office at 212-860-4906 but they should do it soon since the appointments go quickly. But they must make an appointment since there are only a limited number of shots available. We did flu shots on the Island last year as well.
If you know of a senior who may not read the blog, please let them know that this important service is available to them. Also, it would be great if free flu shots are made available to children and all others who may need it as well.

Things To Do This Weekend In New York City & Roosevelt Island- Act Like a Frugal Tourist, Zombiecon, Tour Domino Waterfront & Kidfest - Have Fun

You Tube Video of Frugal Traveler in New York

Looking for fun things to do on Roosevelt Island or in New York City this weekend? Here are some suggestions. For something different, the NY Times Frugal Traveler shows New Yorkers how to be tourists in their own city:
Yet after a decade of living in New York City — nine years in Manhattan, 18 months in Brooklyn — I’ve learned that big-ticket amusements merely obscure the city’s more affordable (and more enjoyable) corners, something I was recently prepared to put to the test. One weekend in late September, my wife, Jean, and I set out to rediscover our hometown as frugal tourists, on a budget of $500,...
The Frugal Traveler's conclusion?
... New York is really a city of small, manageable neighborhoods, and it's not expensive if you know where to go.
Other ideas for things to do in New York City this weekend include Saturday's Zombiecon when:
the zombies will rise in their disgusting annual search of bloody marys, brains, and braaaands. All undead are entreated to join this, our fourth annual ghoulish spree of shopping, bar-hopping and horrifying Manhattan street theatrics.
Via New Yorkology, on Sunday, for the first time in 100 years:
The waterfront at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg will open to the public for free this Sunday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m.
There are things to do on Roosevelt Island this weekend as well such as the third weekend of Roosevelt Island Kidfest with Uncle Rock & The Playthings performing on the Riverwalk Lawn Saturday afternoon. Remember, October is also Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Month. Highlights this weekend include:
Saturday, October 18th
11am - 2pm Community Art Class taught by RIVAA members at Sportspark Studios. No previous experience required.6 - 9pm
- Opening reception for "Great Escapes"; an exhibition of pastels and watercolors by RIVAA member, Georgette Sinclair. Everyone welcome.

Sunday, October 19th
Gallery RIVAA open 11am to 5pm
4 - 4:50pm. - Students of IS217 present an exhibition of Ballroom Dancing with audience participation.
5 - 7pm. - Try out your poetry writing ability at a Poetry Workshop led by island residents. No previous experience required.

On Sunday, October 19 at 2:30 PM Roosevelt Island's Church of the Good Shepherd:
is sponsoring a free Sunday concert series benefitting our local food pantry. Donations in lieu of admission will be gratefully accepted to feed our most vulnerable neighbors in crisis.

Justin Kantor, Cello with Sheryl Lee, Piano perform works by Martinu and Bach
According to the MTA, Roosevelt Island F Train will be normal this weekend and RIOC reports no service interruptions for the Roosevelt Island Tram.

Check out some other ideas on what to do in New York City this weekend from the NY Times Urban Eye, NY Post Weekend Calendar and Newyorkology.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Roosevelt Island Riverwalk Court Condo Sales Tactics - Increase Broker Commissions or Price Reductions For Buyers? Is Rent To Own Next?

Image of Roosevelt Island Riverwalk Court

The NY Observer reported last month that 35% of the Hudson/Related Riverwalk Court condo units on Roosevelt Island have been sold. Who are these buyers?
Buyers at Riverwalk Court, part of that massive Riverwalk development, generally fall into three categories: Manhattanites looking for inexpensive but convenient real estate; current Roosevelt Islanders choosing to upgrade; and "people who appreciate Roosevelt Island as a quiet enclave ... who are picking Roosevelt Island in lieu of living in Queens or New Jersey or Long Island," said Mr. Kramer, the Hudson Companies principal.
According to the President of Related Residential Sales responding to a question from the NY Observer, Riverwalk Court buyers are also more concerned with the subprime mortgage market than other more sophisticated New York City buyers.
Do you think there’s more anxiety at Related now, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsing, than after 9/11?

I don’t.… Because we run the gamut on price-per-square-feet, we feel we don’t have all our eggs in one basket. … Let’s say at Riverwalk [on Roosevelt Island], our customers are more concerned about the subprime market. When you’re dealing with Astor Place or the Harrison or the Brompton, that sophisticated, more, you know, wealthier individual [is] more comfortable.
Could this recent announcement of a 4% brokerage commission for condo sales at Roosevelt Island's Riverwalk Court building be a sign of difficulties in selling the remaining condo units to such unsophisticated buyers? It could not have helped Riverwalk sales having Roosevelt Island listed by Gawker's post-recession New York City neighborhood map as being in the wilderness together with Queens, The Bronx and outer Brooklyn.

Blogger and real estate agent Urban Digs says new condo developers should decrease prices on unsold condo units instead of increasing brokerage commissions.
... New developments typically pay between 2.5% and 3% commissions upon closing of the apartment. Sometimes they pay 4% commissions. Recently, developers are offering to pay commissions in advance and 4%, 5% and 6% commission emails are popping up in my email twice daily.

... What I would love to see instead is... Price reductions! Or at least closing cost incentives; pass savings on to the buyer! Most real estate agents who love their jobs want to pair their customer with the best apartment at the best price. Offering commission incentives does nothing for me. I will offer to lose the extra commission to try to get my customer a better price on the apartment every time. But I wont bring a customer to a building where prices are completely out of their budget.
What's next for Roosevelt Island condos? Perhaps rent to own programs like that at Northside Piers, a similar waterfront development in Williamsburg, described at Curbed or others from this article in current issue of The Real Deal?
... Those developers, who are predominantly in Brooklyn, are trying to woo would-be buyers with deals that allow them to rent a unit in a condo building while at the same time putting their monthly rent checks toward a down payment.

The so-called "rent-to-own" programs, which started popping up in the last few months, collect the rent money in escrow until the end of the lease period.

Early last month, the real estate Web site reported that Toll Brothers was offering units at the first tower in their Williamsburg waterfront development Northside Piers on a rent-to-own basis. A week later, the site reported that another Williamsburg condo, the Decora on North 10th Street, was doing the same.

It turns out that they are not the only ones.

In Fort Greene, the Clarett Group is mulling doing the same thing for its condo, the Forté, where sales have been sluggish.

"Because of the overall economic climate, potential buyers are having trouble making decisions about whether to buy now," said David Von Spreckelsen, Toll Brothers' vice president...
Curbed has some additional advice on buying into new condo developments.

UPDATE: 12/2 - The NY Times and Urban Digs have more information on rent to own programs. Curbed reports on Rockrose's Long Island City The View condo development that is offering a 5 year money back guarantee to apartment purchasers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stallone's Nighthawks Shot on Roosevelt Island But Not The Prisoner's Village

Nighthawks Tram Hostage image with Stallone and Hauer from Mr. Peel's Sardine Liqueur

Following up on last post about Life on Mars shooting scenes at Roosevelt Island's Goldwater Hospital and using Southpoint Park as their parking lot, here's some more Roosevelt Island movie and tv info.

Blogger Mr. Peel's Sardine Liqueur remembers the Roosevelt Island Tram hostage scene from the Nighthawks movie starring a young Sylvester Stallone and Rutger Hauer.
There’s a terrific chase through the subway and, what most people probably remember about the film, a long, very well-done hostage sequence filmed on the Roosevelt Island Tram, a location also used in SPIDER-MAN but since this is all actually filmed there (no blue screen work) it plays extremely perilous and suspenseful.
Although Portmeirion Wales was the location where it was shot, Roosevelt Island reminds some visitors of The Village from my favorite all time television program, The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan. From Gawker's article on post-recession New York City neighborhoods one reader wrote:
I never could put my finger on what I found odd about Roosevelt Island's look until I realized it's an urban version of The Village from The Prisoner.
Also, blogger Catholic Churches of Manhattan asks:
Does Roosevelt Island remind anyone out there of the island on The Prisoner?

You Tube Video of opening sequence from The Prisoner

Good news for Prisoner fans. Variety reports:
AMC and ITV will remake Patrick McGoohan's cult TV show "The Prisoner" as a six-part mini with Ian McKellen as Number Two and Jim Caviezel as Number Six.
"There will be nods and winks and references back to the original, but I don't think that they'll feel in any way that their original has been tarnished," said Wayne. "Even though this would fall under sci-fi traditionally, this is a drama at its core."

While the original show worked as a metaphor for the paranoia of the Cold War, AMC says the remake will reflect 21st-century stressors such as constant surveillance and the conflict between liberty and security.

Roosevelt Island 360 has some thoughts on Nighthawks as well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park Closed For Film Shoot 10/15-10/17 & How To Get Your Roosevelt Island Film and Photography Permit

Images of Zoolander Cemetery created at Southpoint Park from RIOC

RIOC is reporting an advisory for Southpoint Park:
Southpoint Park will be closed from Wednesday, October 15th through Friday, October 17th to accommodate a film shoot. The park will reopen on Saturday morning.
Many other films and television shows have been shot on Roosevelt Island. According to RIOC:
Principle photography for the Columbia Pictures blockbuster, Spider-Man, was shot on Roosevelt Island and the Roosevelt Island Tramway. Other major feature films such as Anything Else, Autumn in New York, Before Night Falls, Changing Lanes, City Slickers, Conspiracy Theory, Down to Earth, Kate & Leopold, Keeping the Faith, Night Hawks, The Professional, The Secret of My Success, The Yards and Zoolander all contain scenes shot on Roosevelt Island.

In addition to motion pictures, Roosevelt Island locations have been used for television shows such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent, 60 Minutes, The Sopranos, Spin City, Third Watch and Unsolved Mysteries . Commercials, industrials, music videos and documentaries for the BBC and The Discovery Channel have also utilized Roosevelt Island’s unique settings.
Unfortunately, if the proposed Kahn/FDR memorial boondoggle is ever built at the southern tip of Southpoint Park, the most unique and magnificent East River waterfront and NYC skyline views will forever be destroyed and lost forever.

For more information regarding filming or photography shoots on Roosevelt Island, including arranging for required permissions and permits, click here.

Recent Roosevelt Island film and television shoots have included Dennis Leary's Rescue Me and Andy Garcia's City of Light.

UPDATE - 7:30 PM - A clarification to above. I have just learned that Southpoint Park is not being closed because it is being used as a film location but is being closed to the public because it is being used as a parking lot for a film shoot at Goldwater Hospital. According to a RIOC employee:
No film shoot IN southpoint- we're just providing parking. They're filming some scenes for the new show "Life on Mars" at Goldwater, but need more room for parking.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Roosevelt Island Subway Escalators Help Find Your Soul Mate - All 10 Are Working Too

Image of Roosevelt Island Subway Escalators from Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy

Though I am out of town this week and cannot confirm by personal observation, I am overjoyed to learn from a reader that after a long absence, all ten Roosevelt Island subway escalators are working today and the middle staircase is open as well. I am hesitant to accept that this is a permanent condition for the Roosevelt Island subway escalators since the MTA Elevator & Escalator status page still lists some Roosevelt Island escalators as being out of service for capital repairs. I remain hopeful that the status page has not yet caught up to the reality on the ground.

We also learn via a Roosevelt Island resident and filmmaker why it took the MTA so long to get the Roosevelt island escalators back in service. The escalators may have been installed with magical matchmaking powers. According to Jeff Lee, not only do the escalators transport riders up and down to the platforms, but they talk to you as well and will help you find your soul mate or at least a date for the evening. Even more reason to come to Roosevelt Island!

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Talking Subway Escalator from Jeff Lee