Friday, December 19, 2008

Things To Do This Weekend in New York City and Roosevelt Island - Dyker Heights Christmas Lights, Winter Solstice Celebration, Bach & Menorah Lighting

You Tube Video of Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Looking for fun things to do on Roosevelt Island or in some other part of New York City this weekend before Christmas and Chanukah? Here are some suggestions.

On Friday night take a trip to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn to see how neighborhood residents try to one up each other with fabulous Christmas light decorations. Gothamist says of this spectacular:
Every Christmas residents of the predominantly Italian-American community of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn try to outdo each other for the most epic light display. And they're certainly not about to let a little economic meltdown spoil the festivities; this year's displays are as spectacular as they were in the year 2000, when the hilarious documentary Dyker Lights was filmed. (It airs again on PBS Thursday night!)

Here's a map of the neighborhood, and if you don't feel like schlepping out via subway, Brooklyn's own Tony Muia operates a tour bus from Union Square to Dyker Heights...

Once in Dyker Heights, the bus—which broadcasts excerpts from the Dyker Lights film during the ride—stops again and Tony leads passengers around to the most impressive displays in the neighborhood. Finally, the tour culminates with a stop at Mona Lisa Bakery for dessert before heading back to Manhattan.
In addition to Tony's Slice of Brooklyn Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Bus Tour a walking tour of the area is given by Justinsnewyork.

On Saturday night (as well as Friday and Sunday) , the Cathedral Church of St. John the Devine is hosting Paul Winter's 29th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration with The Paul Winter Consort & Special Guests:
Gospel singer Theresa Thomason
Brazilian singer/guitarist Renato Braz
Woodwind Master Paul McCandless
A highlight of this year's Solstice events will be the return to the full space of The Cathedral, after the past several years of having only part of it available for the consort's various presentations. The stunning, fully-renovated interior of The Cathedral will be featured in these celebrations, as well as the newly restored Great Aeolian-Skinner Pipe Organ, being played for the first time since the fire in The Cathedral seven years ago.
On Sunday Celebrating With Bach, a free afternoon classical music concert will be performed at Roosevelt Island's Good Shepherd Community Center which is part of the Rosemarie and Robin Russell Family Concert Series. Comments from previous concerts include:
  • "This event is comparable to a performance at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful concert with our community." and
  • "The Chapel of the Good Shepherd is a better place to hear (rather 'experience') chamber music than Carnegie Hall. It is close to ideal. More chamber music, please.".
Also on Roosevelt Island this weekend, the Farmers Market will be open Saturday as is Gallery RIVAA, the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association which is featuring the Winter of Change group show and RIOC has produced a great self guided tour map (PDF File) of Roosevelt Island for any visitor or resident looking to stroll the Island and learn something more about it. Roosevelt Island 360 reports that there will a Chanukah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in front of Blackwell House on Sunday at 5 PM with music, latkes, hot drinks and gelt.

Good weekend transportation news. The MTA is reporting normal Roosevelt Island F Train subway service in both directions and RIOC is not reporting any Tram service advisories either.

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, December 18, 2008

Roosevelt Island Red Bus GPS Tracking System For Octagon Residents But Not Anyone Else - At Least For Now

Waiting for bus image by Amy Kim Ganter

Very few issues on Roosevelt Island raise the ire of residents more than those involving the Red Bus. Whether it is the perceived special service for Octagon residents, unreliability, bunching together, conduct of the drivers or tethering to the Tram Schedule - anything involving the Roosevelt Island Red Bus is sure to be of great importance to residents. Here's the latest.

At the December 4 RIOC Board of Directors Meeting (web cast available here at the 24 1/2 minute mark), RIOC President Steve Shane reported that the building owners of the Octagon requested the right to install a Global Positioning Tracking System (GPS) Antenna on top of the Roosevelt Island Red Buses that go to the Octagon so that Octagon residents can have up to date information on the arrival time of the Red Bus at the Octagon and perhaps at the Tram and Subway stations as well. This is a very good idea except that such a tracking system would not be available to residents of any Roosevelt Island building other than the Octagon.

Mr. Shane also disclosed that about eight months ago RIOC management considered and rejected the same GPS tracking system for all of Roosevelt Island. Mr. Shane said that at the time RIOC management could not justify the expense because, for other than the Octagon, the Red Bus route is "a fairly short run" and residents can "look up and down Main Street".

According to Mr. Shane, the cost of the system would be approximately $15-18,000 in initial capital cost and $4-5,000 in monthly expenses to RIOC. Upon prodding by RIOC Director Kraut, Mr. Shane agreed to revisit the issue of a GPS tracking service for Red Bus service to all of Roosevelt Island, advised the RIOC Board that they could choose to pay for such a system and indicated that he could ask the other building owners to contribute to the cost of the system. On the last point, RIOC Director Stewart advised that he knew the owners of Westview and Island House had previously rejected spending any money on such a system.

The RIOC Board approved the Octagon' request.

Here's a diagram of how the GPS bus tracking service works from Nextbus.

And a video of how it works in San Francisco.

Help Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 Parents Raise Funds For Tutoring By Purchasing 2009 Holiday Calendar

Click on Calendar to view bigger picture

A parent of a PS/IS 217 child sends in the following message.
We are selling these calendars for the public school as a fundraising for 2009 tutoring programs. The calendars are well done and pretty, and features the school's kids art work. They are only $10.00 each. They can be bought at the school at dropping and pick up time until the 23 December, also at the green market and possibly at Gristedes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series - Holiday Celebration With Bach, Come Join The Fun Sunday Afternoon December 21!

Image from R & R Concerts

I received the following message from the good folks at the Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series. They will be holding a free afternoon of classical music - Celebrating with Bach - on Sunday December 21 here on Roosevelt Island at the Good Shepherd Community Center. Their previous Roosevelt Island concerts have been excellent and well attended.
R&R Concerts
The Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series on Roosevelt Island presents:
Celebrating With Bach
3pm Sunday, December 21, 2008
Good Shepherd Center
543 Main Street
Roosevelt Island, NY
Admission is FREE

Please join us for this wonderful holiday concert presenting an all Bach program:
Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in Bb Major, BWV 1051
Selection from the Art of the Fugue for String Quartet, BWV 1080
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048
Ralph Allen
Songa Cho
Salley Koo
Amie Weiss

Milan Milisavljevic
Tawnya Popoff
Iris Jortner
Laura Metcalf
Ella Toovy
Troy Rinker
Byron Schenkman
This concert is presented free of charge as a gift to the community.
The New York City Council
New York City Department of Youth and Community Development
The Office of New York State Senator José M. Serrano
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation

Roosevelt Island Residents Association
The Main Street WIRE
Roosevelt Island Historical Society
Roosevelt Island Visual Artists Association
Coler • Goldwater Specialty Hospital & Nursing Facility

Aerial Tram Tower Collapses -Ice Jacking Incident Not On Roosevelt Island But At Canada's Whistler Ski Resort

Whistler Gondola accident from CNN

Given the importance of the Roosevelt Island Tram to all who live here, the recent Tram Modernization controversy and prior Tram incidents, residents pay attention any time there is an accident involving another tram anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, such an incident occurred yesterday on the Dopplemayr manufactured Whistler Mountain Excalibur Gondola at a ski resort near Vancouver Canada. According to the Globe and Mail:
A tower in the resort's Excalibur Gondola snapped halfway up where the two halves of the pole were bolted together, said Doug Forseth, the senior vice-president of Whistler-Blackcomb.

He said it was too soon to know what caused the partial collapse, but that the gondola, built in 1994, was "easily" within its lifespan and had passed its annual safety check by the B.C. Safety Authority "within the past six months."
A subsequent report indicates that the cause of the Tram tower collapse is being attributed to extreme cold weather as reported by the Globe and Mail.
Ice build-up after an extreme cold snap caused a gondola tower at the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort to collapse, sending at least one cable car careening into a chalet rooftop, injuring 13 passengers, and trapping other skiers for hours in dangling cars.

Water had seeped into the tower where two of its parts are spliced together, the resort operator said in a statement Wednesday. The cold snap had caused the ice to build up and rupture the splice, an "extremely unusual situation referred to as ice-jacking," it said.
Of the 53 trapped tram passengers,
... The RCMP say 13 people suffered minor injuries after being jolted when the tow line stopped abruptly.

Rescued skier Graeme Bell said he was riding the gondola when he felt a sickening lurch and the car dropped and bounced. He escaped with a broken finger and some bruises. Other people in the car with him were also injured....
Dopplemayr is the manufacturer and operator or the current Roosevelt Island Tram. The recent Roosevelt Island Tram modernization project was awarded to a competitor - POMAgalski. Although cold temperatures in New York do not get as low as in British Columbia, I hope the new Roosevelt Island Tram system will take into account the possibility of "ice jacking".

UPDATE - 1:15 PM - Here's how aerial tramway rescue drills are conducted on Roosevelt Island and Portland Oregon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Appropriate Response or Overreaction To Hammer Holding Roosevelt Island Resident By Public Safety Department Officers - Another Resident Says Thanks

Women With A Hammer Image by Charles Thomson from Heyoka Magazine

A reader of this post sends in the following message regarding her interaction with the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department yesterday morning.
I 100% agree with you! This morning, I went next door to check where a very loud noise had come from. I had a hammer in my hand as I had started fixing a gate that came lose, barrier from the living-room to the stair area as I have a 14 month old child. I am a 5'4 aprox. 100lbs female btw. As I knocked in the neighbor's home and he opened the door I saw the usual repair person and asked him what the loud noise was. I was frustrated as it was 8 am and my whole apartment was shaking from the driling including my son's bed. The repair guy called public safety as he supposedly felt threatened by my hammer (I did not even realize I have it in my hand) and while I turned away, got back to my apartment and was about to close the door 4 officers forced their way in while other random people walked in to enjoy spectatorship, taking over the staircase and interrogating me while accusing me of threatening the worker with the hammer. They attitude was extremely abusive and yelled at me to give them an id. I refused and said I did not wish to cooperate as I was being accused for I did not do. I have never in my life went through such shocking and abusive experience as I have never created any problems around me. The Public Safety Officers treated me as if I was a criminal. All I wanted was a quiet morning and instead I had 4 officers in my apartment threatening to handcuff me and drag me to the police station. All this in front of my 14 month old son. Absolutely outrageous. I am taking further action, will file complaint and have them apologize to me publicly.
Meanwhile, the whole hallway smells like marijuana at all time and nothing is being done about it.
Asked to comment on this incident, Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra replies:
I was made aware of this situation as soon as I arrived for work this morning, as it is the second incident where a resident goes to another apartment because of loud noise, carrying something in their hand. The prior incident involved a resident who stated she wasn't threatening the worker with the bat that was in her hand. (Coincidentally, an officer was hurt in that incident.) This time it was a hammer and again the person was not intending to appear threatening. If residents don't want to appear threatening, maybe they should leave the bats and hammers at home.

The resident further stated she was using a hammer in her own apartment, yet wrote in the blog that she wanted a quiet morning. She stated that the worker felt threatened and called Public Safety and that she went back to her apartment. Before she could close her door, 4 Public Safety Officers were there. That appears to be an incredible response time. She was asked for identification and openly admits she refused to cooperate. So, I ask you...what are the Public Safety Officers to do when they are called by someone feeling threatened by another person holding a hammer? They arrive on the scene and the person holding the hammer refuses to cooperate.
Mr. Guerra also forwarded this letter he received from another Roosevelt Island resident.
Clear DayThank You Public Safety
As a disabled person on RI, I am thankful for the assistance I received On Wednesday morning Dec.10th. My van (handicap accessible) did not start, I asked a Public Safety Officer for assistance and she immediately went into action and gave me her undivided attention.
My car battery needed a boost to get started.The battery booster I had did not work and the officer called for a back up battery starter and in a few minutes, a car pulled up and another officer had the proper equipment and I was underway to my destination thanking God for the courtesy and help shown me by the officers of Public Safety.
For all my Roosevelt Island Friends the next time you get a chance thank a Public Safety officer for helping old uncle Jim.

Here's How To Get Your Roosevelt Island Tram Reindeer Cards and other RI Holiday Gifts

Roosevelt Island Tram Reindeer Cards can be ordered from Marty Atkins

A reader asks:
Last year I bought Roosevelt Island Christmas/Holiday Cards from a man who lived on the island. Does anyone know if he is selling them again this year?
I spoke with the creator of the reindeer driven Roosevelt Island Tram Holiday Cards yesterday who explained that he has been ill recently and not able to sell his cards at the Motorgate Atrium as in previous years. However, the cards are available to be purchased. Just send an email to Marty Atkins to order and for more information-  - 20 cards with envelopes for $15. He delivers on Roosevelt Island. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Holiday Gifts are also available at the Roosevelt Island Historical Society Kiosk.

Special Evening HolidayShopping

At the RIHS Visitor Center Kiosk
Tram Plaza, Roosevelt Island
December 18th

5 to 9 P.M.
Jewelry, Calendars, Toys, Cards & More!
Refreshments Served

Monday, December 15, 2008

Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Ceremony Tonight at 7PM In Front of Blackwell House

Remember that the Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place tonight at 7 PM in front of Blackwell House. From RIOC:

Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Ceremony
When : Thursday December 11th at 7 PM (Due to the inclement weather, the Tree Lighting Ceremony has been rescheduled to Monday, December 15th at 7PM. )
Where: Blackwell Plaza
Featuring Live Performances, Food, Hot Cider, Gifts for the kids & Photos w/ Santa
Sponsored by RIOC, Amalgamated Bank, Starbucks & Nonno's Focacceria

Roosevelt Island Delivery Persons At Risk For Being Robbed - Is This A Job for Roosevelt Island Undercover Public Safety Officers?

Delivery Bike image from Workcycles for illustrative purposes only

The December 12 Roosevelt Island Daily Public Safety Incident Report indicates that a delivery person was robbed and injured in Eastwood (Roosevelt Landings). According to the report:
Robbery- Delivery man reports he was robbed and injured by three males in Eastwood. A search was made with negative results. NYPD on scene, EMS transported to hospital.
No information yet as to whether the victim was delivering take out food or some other item. There have been several other troublesome incidents over the past 6 weeks of Roosevelt Island food delivery persons being threatened or robbed.
Perhaps a good time to use the Roosevelt Island Undercover officers to investigate these robberies.

Warriors, Wanderers and Baldies Are Gone But Roosevelt Island Gang Summit Scheduled For January 12, 2009

You Tube Video of Warriors Come Out To Play Scene

The Warriors, Wanderers and Baldies may not be around any longer but on January 12, 2009 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Keith Guerra will be holding a Gang Summit on the theme of:

How to keep your kids off the Gang Radar Screen

Mr. Guerra explains:
In an interest to keep kids safe, Keith Guerra, the Director of Roosevelt Island's Public Safety Department, has begun staging several Informational Summits. The first was the Youth Summit held on September 10, 2008. "Our aim is to help keep kids on the right track. We'd rather expend the time and energy to keep them safe and productive, than deal with the aftermath of bad choices they may make down the road. We're hoping that by speaking with parents regarding some of the dangers that exist in today's society, they'll be savvy about the decisions their children are grappling with."

For this reason, the Public Safety Department is hosting a Gang Summit on Monday, January 12th. Besides Gang Awareness, the purpose will be two fold:
- To recognize whether your child or neighbor is in, or being recruited by a gang; and
- To conduct a frank discussion regarding the status of gang activity on Roosevelt Island and what we can do about it.

Director Guerra has enlisted the aid of Ron "Cook" Barrett. Cook is a well renowned Gang Expert, who speaks across the country to Law Enforcement Officers as well as Parents and Teachers in Communities. He is also responsible for starting a model Community Center for troubled youths in Albany, NY. Cook has assisted many youths with getting away from the Gang-life they had chosen. These young men and women are now productive citizens in their respective communities.

The Summit will be held in the Good Shepherd Church. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 PM. The "Must See" presentation will begin sharply at 7:00 PM. This Summit is for parents and adults who have an interest in learning more about an important topic our youth could be facing. No children please, as the presentation is for adults only.
Below is the opening scene from the Wanderers with the Baldies.

You Tube Video of the Wanderers