Monday, June 15, 2009

Report From RIOC President - Little League Arrest Incident, FDR Memorial, Tram Delay, Bike Storage, Red Bus Schedule Experiment & Other RI Issues

Image From RIOC

RIOC President Steve Shane sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents. Mr. Shane addresses issues on the little league permit dispute that led to parent's arrest, Proposed FDR Memorial SEQRA Environment Review and project approval, Tram Modernization Delay, morning Red Bus Schedule Experiment expansion, Amalgamated Bank progress, Bike Rack Storage and other issues of importance to Roosevelt Island.
June 9, 2009, 2009

1. Board of Directors: Next Meeting at 9:30 AM on Thursday the 25th. As it will be the last scheduled meeting of the Board for the traditional summer hiatus, there is an extensive agenda including a number of required compliance reporting items, a number of projects, the SEQRA required action on the environmental analysis for the FDR project and, if the deliverables under the Conditional Designation Agreement are submitted, consideration of a project approval which would include consideration of the entire project.
2. Southpoint: As to the projects:
(A) Renwick Ruins: Stabilization work is complete and the entrances to the building will be boarded up to secure the interior and prevent trespassing.
(B) Green Rooms/Wild Gardens: The contractor is doing rough grading, paths and stone walls. An RFP for Phase 2 will shortly be issued to include finish grading and capping of the site, utilities, fencing and planting.
(C) FDR Memorial: The Environmental Analysis has been posted on our web site and disseminated to the WIRE and the blog sites. RIOC has been in consultation with the State’s Division of the Budget and Parks Department and the City to work out funding mechanics for the $4 million State appropriation to RIOC and the matching $4 million from the City and at least $8 million from FERI as necessary to complete phase 1.
3. Tram Overhaul: The schedule for a July 2009 shutdown and December reopening has shifted. The Contractor, POMA, has requested sliding the window of closure to accommodate redesign changes in the structural elements, principally the tower heads and the necessary bracing. Design and fabrication of the various elements is well advanced. A shutdown on September 8 and a reopening in February now being finalized. Better coordination with architectural work at the two stations will result. I met again with Community Board 8 on June 3. Architectural work for Tram stations is proceeding. A preliminary sketch of the Manhattan and Island stations is posted on the RIOC website, but it is an evolving concept.
4. Projects: Work is ongoing on many projects and others are being completed. Our engineering department is very busy!
5. Bank: RIOC received advice from NYNB that it intends to close its branch at 615 Main Street on June 6, 2009, but due to the potential of Amalgamated, will stay open until July. We have promised to maintain a substantial deposit with Amalgamated, on the order of $10 million, subject to emergency need. The negotiations with Amalgamated seem stuck on our inability, as a public agency, to guarantee a lock-up of the deposit for the duration of the lease. We continue to negotiate and are optimistic that we can get it done.
6. Southtown Buildings 5 and 6 moving toward completion.
7. Bicycles: The bike racks at the subway station and tram had notices posted that leaving bikes overnight will not be permitted. After 2AM and before 5AM, Public Safety has removed bikes to increase availability for those who utilize the space as intended for commuters. Of the 17 bikes in the possession of Public Safety, only 5 are in usable shape, the rest being rusted derelicts. Anyone who wants to claim their bike should go to Public Safety and reclaim it on identification.
8. Roosevelt Island Day last Saturday, June 6. Great weather, everyone seemed to have fun.
9. Red Bus: Our joint experiment with RIRA in scheduling is ongoing during the weeks of June 1 and 8 to schedule the three red buses on the route from approximately 10 to 11:30 so as to leave the Octagon at 9:55, 10:10, 10:25, 10:40, 10:55, 11:10 and 11:25. Each bus will wait at the Tram to pick up the passengers and return northbound. A 45 minute loop is built in to account for unpredictable events along the way. Predictability should be enhanced, although waiting times seem to suffer as the buses are held out of service to meet the schedule. As the data are reviewed, we will expand into the earlier rush hour. We are also going to meet with the MTA’s bus scheduling department to access their expertise.

Now for my views on the unfortunate events of Saturday, May 30, 2009 where a fracas erupted between the users of a field and the subsequent permit holders. The loss of control in front of the children resulting in racial and homophobic slurs and refusal to comply with lawful authority was truly a sad day on Roosevelt Island. The story has received wide attention on the Island and I need not repeat the details here. However, lack of civility and civil disobedience cannot be tolerated in a peaceful community. The escalation of the dispute to the point that Public Safety was called to intervene was entirely unnecessary, but once called, the officers had a duty to keep the peace. When all but one person obeyed the officers’ requests to vacate the field in favor of the legitimate permit holder, Public Safety was left with no choice. The vilification of Public Safety by the supposedly responsible voices of this community does nothing to promote the common welfare, enhance domestic tranquility or have rational conversations about problem solving. Inflammatory rhetoric may have its place, but not here where I find it singularly unproductive.

The Chief of Public Safety has conducted a full investigation of the actions of his officers and I have reviewed it with our Counsel. Would I have preferred that the incident could have been closed without an arrest? Absolutely. But, in the field, when faced with the circumstances of the moment, decisions have to be made and in my opinion, there was nothing unreasonable that was done. I have requested the now former head of RIRA’s Public Safety Committee to meet with Chief Guerra and to review all of the information on this incident and to report to both RIRA and RIOC on his findings. He has indicated that if so requested by RIRA, he will proceed. I suggest that all await the full findings before leaping to any conclusions.

Finally, to try to resolve the underlying problem of our playing fields in a crowded society, we are putting more manpower resources into advance preparation of the fields so as to try to mitigate the impact of weather on scheduling and playability. There is a limit on what can be accomplished, but it seems to have worked better this past weekend, even with heavy overnight rain. Please! Everyone can do better.
This message was also published as the RIOC column in the 6/13/09 Main Street WIRE.