Friday, April 24, 2009

Things To Do This Weekend In New York City & Roosevelt Island - Tribeca Outdoor Movies, Prospect Park Food Foraging, Earth Day Folk Concert & RI Tour

You Tube Video of Central Park Food Foraging

Looking for fun or interesting things to do on Roosevelt Island or in some other part of New York City this weekend? Here are some suggestions.

On Friday and Saturday night, The Tribeca Film Festival Outdoor Drive-In Screening is returning to downtown Manhattan. According to Newyorkology:
Drive-In at the World Financial Center Plaza opens at 6 p.m.; activities and programming begin at 6:30 p.m. and screenings begin at dusk (approximately 8:15 p.m.)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Tribeca Film festival is honoring screenwriter William Goldman (All the President’s Men, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride, Misery) and the 40th anniversary of the legendary, Oscar winning film staring Paul Newman and Robert Redford on Friday April 24.

P-Star Rising
One of the buzz titles at this year’s festival is this documentary featuring the Harlem native and teen rapper Priscilla Star and her rise to fame. This is a family friendly documentary showing at the Drive-In on Saturday April 25.
On Saturday morning learn how to feed yourself out in the wilds of New York City Parks. From the Green Edge Collaborative.
Food from the park? What!? Yes, indeed you can find food right in the city's playground. Take a guided tour of the urban forest, also known as Prospect Park, with forager, committed locavore, botanist, (and June Supper Club Speaker!) Leda Meredith. Leda will be sharing her wisdom and teaching us how to identify edibles in the urban terrain. At the end of the foraging walk, we will spend some time sitting in the shade while Leda takes Q& A and we taste treats made with wild edible ingredients.
Sunday is supposed to be a beautiful day so Free NYC suggests heading on up to Columbia University for a whole day (12 - 6PM) of free folk music.
Postcrypt Coffeehouse has teamed up with Greenspiration this year to bring you the second annual Postcrypt Folk Festival—a whole day of live music to celebrate Spring and the end of Earth Week. There will also be local food from off campus vendors, plus art projects brought to you from multitudinous student groups. Get there early; Sony will be giving away some copies of the new Bob Dylan album!
On Roosevelt Island this weekend the Farmers Market will be open as usual on Saturday as is Gallery RIVAA, the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association which is exhibiting a new show titled Art From The Heart. According to RIOC:
Art from the Heart III
When : Saturday April 25th and runs through May 17th
Where : RIVAA Gallery
Works of Coler-Goldwater patients.
Gallery hours Sat-Sun 11am-5pm
Also, 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.

The MTA is reporting normal Roosevelt Island F Train subway service in both directions but RIOC is reporting a Tram Advisory for Sunday.
Tram Advisory

Schedule Change

On Sunday, April 26th 2009, the Tramway will be shutdown from;
6:00 am. to 2:00 pm.

This schedule change is necessary in order to perform the cabin rescue and evacuation drill.
Check out some other ideas on what to do in New York City this weekend from the NY Times Urban Eye and Spare Times, Free NYC, NY Post Weekend Calendar and Newyorkology.

Roosevelt Island Tram Rescue & Evacuation Drills Scheduled For Sunday & Skynet Robots Are Missing From New Tram Cabin Designs

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Tram Rescue Drill

RIOC is reporting a Roosevelt Island Tram advisory for Sunday in order to perform cabin rescue and evacuation drills.
Tram Advisory

Schedule Change

On Sunday, April 26th 2009, the Tramway will be shutdown from;
6:00 am. to 2:00 pm.

This schedule change is necessary in order to perform the cabin rescue and evacuation drill.
On the topic of the Tram, RIOC President Steve Shane forwards the latest images of the new Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin design. Happily, the Roosevelt Island Tram signage is included on the cabin side but do we really need the RIOC logo on the side as well? What purpose does placement of the RIOC logo on the Tram side serve other than promoting a NY State Corporation? If a Corporate logo is to be placed on the Tram Cabin side, at least try to sell these rights to a private corporation so that it might generate some revenue for Roosevelt Island. (A caveat - The NYC Council banned advertising on the Roosevelt Island Tram in 2001)

What happened to the to the Skynet Robotic Army Tram Drivers from earlier Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin Designs?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

MTA Plans F Train Subway Service Delays For Roosevelt Island During Tram Outage

Just last month, RIOC President Steve Shane reported in his RIOC column for the 4/21/09 Main Street Wire that:

...At the meeting with MTA, they assured us that there were no planned subway disruptions during the entire period of the tram shutdown....
Alas, that is not to be. It looks like Roosevelt Islanders will have to suffer through morning and evening Rush Hours subway service delays through the planned Roosevelt Island Tram modernization program when there will be no Tram service from July 6 until the Tram's projected re-opening in mid-December.

A reader sent in the following message:
There are signs in the subway saying the F train rush hour service 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday will be reduced until dec. 31 due to track work.
Sounds weird!
I inquired of RIOC President Steve Shane:
There is a MTA poster on the subway platform that indicated there will be less F Train AM and PM Rush Hour Service during the time when the Tram will be out of service (thru 12/31/09). Is that true and if so, is there any chance the MTA will postpone this work until the Tram is back in operation?
Mr. Shane responded:
The MTA has found it necessary to do track replacement work in Queens which it is doing over the weekends. However, the temporary track inserted during the progress of the work necessitates slowing down the trains, resulting in the aforesaid reduction in service. I have inquired and been informed of this chain and while the MTA recognizes the problem, so far there is no choice. The expected reduction is 2 trains per rush hour which will likely exacerbate the present crowding during rush hours as MTA falls behind the to be desired 4 minute headway. See trail of e mail correspondence below.
Mr. Shane also forwarded this response from a MTA representative:
Because of track replacement (about 800 feet) between Roosevelt Avenue and Forest Hills-71st Avenue, there will be delays on the EFV lines.

The work is being done on the weekends. During the week, the trains must proceed at a slow speed through the area which will cause 5 to 10 minute delays. In addition there will be 2 less trains on each line (EFV) during the morning and evening rush hours. We expect the work to continue through the end of summer.
I also asked Mr. Shane:
do you have any idea what "service change ends on Thur" means that is on the attached MTA Poster (below Mon-Fri and above Trains Run)

He did not know the answer but Roosevelt Island 360 does:
Dec 31st is the Thursday it is referring to. The MTA posters will sometimes state the actual ending day. In this case the service changes posted end on dec 31, a Thursday.
Is it possible that the MTA does not consider less frequent rush hour train service to be a Subway Disruption that they assured Mr. Shane would not occur during the disruption in Tram service?

What's That Funky Roosevelt Island Smell? The Answer Is - Pile Of Steaming Dung

Image by Rece Reid

A reader shares this pleasant early morning sensory experience on the way to the Roosevelt Island subway:
Hello there,

A fellow Roosevelt Islander who thought you might like this photo for your blog. On the way to the subway this morning... commuters were surprised by a huge pile of steaming dung in the middle of the sidewalk! The smell was so offensive... you could smell it all the way to the subway entrance. It was right in front of the Starbucks building (don't know that address). I have attached a photo for your use if you would like. I just ask for acknowledgment for submitting the photo.
Have a great day!
I am not sure but think that the area in front of Starbucks is have some new plantings. At least I hope so and that this "Steaming Pile of Dung" is not some new weird art exhibit.

UPDATE - 5:50 - Well I guess the "Steaming Pile of Dung" was not some sort of odorous new art exhibit. It is now gone but remnants are still left on the sidewalk and the rest have been used for some new plantings on the Riverwalk Commons.

UPDATE 4/24 - RIOC President Steve Shane informs us that:
Even city folks should be able to tell the difference between "dung" which is always of animal origin and "mulch" which is almost always vegetable material.
I replied:
Thank you for the clarification between "dung" and "mulch".
I guess some of us City Folk need to join the Roosevelt Island Garden Club to learn more about such things.
Which elicited this response:
Best is to have the opportunity to have it between your toes. Then the difference is "clear".
Happy spring.
That's a nice thought for such a beautiful day - Happy Spring Everybody!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Orphans International Founder Jim Luce Writes On Tibet For Huffington Post

Image of Potala Palace in the capital city of Lhasa from Huffington Post

Roosevelt Island resident and Orphans International founder Jim Luce writes a blog for the Huffington Post and sends the following message:
My article on Tibet just came out in HuffPo – I have now been asked to meet with the Dalia Lama’s Representative to North America. ;-)
An excerpt of Jim's article - Tibet: Polar Perspectives Can Both Sides Be Heard - is below.
The 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's exile has generated much press and media attention.

News accounts have been full of the Dalai Lama's visa revocation which blocked him from speaking at an coming 2010 World Cup-related peace conference in South Africa, where two other Nobel Laureates where scheduled to speak.

In reading these articles, I find little background on China's side of the story and was curious to learn more about the conflict.

Many Chinese friends speak to me with great pride about how their country has profoundly helped Tibet -- especially the children. And our own government, as well as all 192 member states of the United Nations, acknowledges that Tibet is part of China....
The rest of the Huffington Post article is here.

RIOC Approves RIRA Recommendations For Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds

Pile of Money Image from KR Connect

After tabling the resolution concerning allocation of Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds at their last Board of Directors meeting, the RIOC Board approved the same RIRA recommendations for the funds allocations during a meeting this morning. At the suggestion of Board Member Christian, an amendment was added to the Public Purpose Funds approval resolution that the RIOC Board will revisit the process by which these funds are allocated prior to next year's allocation.

The allocations made by RIRA and approved by RIOC are as follows:
$0 Child School
$36,000 Island Kids
$20,000 Life Frames
$0 Orphans International
$10,000 RICLA
$4,000 RI Day Nursery
$25,000 RI Disabled Association
5,000 RI Seniors Association

with the following rationale:

- The applications were scored based upon the established criteria.

- Some proposals (Child School, Orphans International) were excluded because they did not provide significant direct benefit to Roosevelt Island residents.

- The highest ranked proposals (Island Kids, RI Disabled Association, RI Seniors Association) were considered first and given highest priority in their funding.

- The next highest ranked proposals (Life Frames, RICLA) were considered and given second priority in funding.

- The remaining proposals (RI Day Nursery) were considered and given third priority in funding.
The RIOC Board made the right decision as did RIRA with the funding allocations. It is a very difficult task to allocate a limited amount of funds in a very short period of time among competing Island organizations. However, the criteria established by RIOC and implemented by RIRA was proper and fair despite some acknowledged shortcomings with perceived conflicts of interest among RIRA committee members which will hopefully be addressed by next year.

The webcast of today's RIOC Board Meeting on allocation of Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds is available for viewing for those interesting in watching the proceedings.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Latest Roosevelt Island Restaurant Violation Reports - Good Job By Trellis & Nonnos With Zero Violations/China One, Fuji & Subway Have To Do Better

Image from Chicago Tribune

Below are the latest Roosevelt Island Restaurant Inspection reports from the NYC Department of Health. (DOH). Click on restaurant name for individual reports.
24 Violations

25 Violations

0 Violations


15 Violations

14 Violations

27 Violations

0 Violations
According to the NYC DOH, here's how the Violation Reports work:
The lower the number of points accrued by a restaurant during an inspection, the better the inspection result.

The Health Department inspects restaurants, and assigns violation points for every violation observed, depending on the severity and extent of the violation. A score of 27 or less is needed for a restaurant to pass the inspection. Restaurants with scores of 28 or more are re-inspected.
Good job by Trellis and Nonnos with Zero violations!

Spacebuster By Raumlabor Not Coming To Roosevelt Island

You Tube Video of Spacebuster By Raumlabor

Curbed reported yesterday on the Spacebuster Bubble exhibit (it reminds me of Rover from The Prisoner) that will be installed in various neighborhoods across the city. The Storefront For Art And Architecture describes Spacebuster By Raumlabor as:
... a mobile inflatable structure - a portable, expandable pavilion - that is designed to transform public spaces of all kinds into points for community gathering. A new iteration of a past Raumlabor project, the K├╝chenmonument (presented in Europe in 2006-8), the Spacebuster will make its first appearance in the US this evening and will travel throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn for 10 consecutive evenings hosting various community events.

The pavilion is comprised of an inflatable bubble-like dome that emerges from a step van that also houses the compressor that keeps the Spacebuster inflated. The dome expands and organically adjusts to its surroundings, be it in a field, a wooded park, or below a highway overpass. The material is a translucent plastic that allows the events taking place inside of the shelter - screenings, lectures, dinners or discussions - to be entirely visible from the outside. Likewise the exterior environments become the events' backdrops....
Earlier this month, Curbed and Roosevelt Island 360 reported that the Spacebuster was to make a stop on Roosevelt Island but alas that is not to be. I inquired of RIOC President Steve Shane about the Spacebuster project which had originally included both RIOC and Gallery RIVAA as Partner Organizations. Mr. Shane replied:
It was a project that was proposed by an architectural firm and artist who failed to meet the deadline of submitting a proposal explaining the project and its purpose. It's not going to happen.
Representatives from Gallery RIVAA confirm this.
As far as I know this project has been scrapped due to their not meeting necessary deadlines
That's unfortunate. It might have been fun imagining the Spacebuster (following the example of the Prisoner's Rover) chasing down Roosevelt Islanders trying to escape from the Island.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Roosevelt Island Bridge Closure Advisory Over For Now - Return In June

Image of Roosevelt Island Bridge from NYC Roads

I inquired of RIOC President Steve Shane if the work being done on the Roosevelt Island Bridge last week was completed. Mr. Shane replied:
Yes. All is complete for this round. Expected to repeat for 2 nights at end of June. Back to normal operations until then.

Metro Card & Access A Ride Mobile Sales Presentation At Roosevelt Island Senior Center - Apply For Reduced Fare Metro Card On April 22

Image provided by RIOC

RIOC Community Relations Specialist Erica Wilder informs Roosevelt Islanders that Metro Card Mobile Sales is coming to the Roosevelt Island Seniors Center 546 Main Street on Wednesday April 22 from 10 AM - 2 PM. Presentations will be given regarding Access A Ride and Reduced Fare Metro Cards. If you are over 65 or have a qualifying disability you can apply for a reduced fare Metro Card.

Report From RIOC's President - Public Purpose Fund Allocation, Transportation, Southpoint Park, Motorgate Lighting & Other Roosevelt Island Issues

RIOC Logo Image from RIOC

RIOC President Steve Shane sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents. Mr. Shane addresses issues on Public Purpose Fund Allocation, Tram, Red Bus and Subway transportation issues, Renwick Ruins Stabilization, Green Rooms/Wild Garden and FDR Memorial among several other items of importance to Roosevelt Island.

1. Board of Directors: Special Meeting April 22, 2009. Public Purpose Fund allocation recommended by RIRA after reconsideration is to be considered again after the Governance Committee meeting on 3/31/09 and RIRA’s meeting on 4/7/09. No news on Gubernatorial appointments and Senate confirmation.

2. Southpoint: As to projects:

(A) Renwick Ruins: Stabilization work nearing completion with much of the steel superstructure erected inside the walls to support the structure. The building will then be boarded up to secure the interior and prevent trespassing.

(B) Green Rooms/Wild Gardens: The contractor, Coppola Paving & Landscaping Corp., has executed and delivered its contract, insurance and bonds and has started with mobilization, rough grading, paths and stone walls. Phase 2 will be the finish grading and capping of the site, utilities, fencing and planting.

A combined ceremony for the groundbreaking for GR/WG and completion of the Ruins stabilization is being planned for early May. Stay tuned for details.

(C) FDR Memorial: FERI is working on engineering and permitting with DEC, Army Corp. of Engineers, Coastguard, etc. FERI has delivered its Environmental Analysis which RIOC’s consultants are reviewing as part of the SEQRA process. The State Budget includes a $4 million capital appropriation to RIOC for the FDR Memorial project, conditioned on a matching $4 million from the City and at least $8 million in the possession of FERI as necessary to complete phase 1. Much remains to be worked out.

3. Tram: Work is underway on design and fabrication. Spools of cable are to be ready for shipping from Europe by early May. Scheduling of tower work, street and park closures, crane locations, etc. with permitting for everything is ongoing. Met with Community Board 8 Transportation Committee on April 7. On schedule for July 6, 2009 shutdown and December reopening. Thornton Tomasetti has undertaken architectural work in addition to its previous structural engineering engagement. As soon as designs and sketches are available, will make available to the community. Studies of present day code requirements (ADA, fire, electrical, lighting, access & egress, communications, security, HVAC and sprinklers for sub-grade rooms, wind, rain and snow barriers, etc.) as applied to both stations is in the works. The last Tram Emergency Evacuation Drill for this equipment is scheduled for the early morning of April 26. We are coordinating with NYPD and NYFD to develop familiarity with and establish protocols for the new system.

4. Red Bus, Tram and Subway: By running the Tram and a connecting Red Bus all night, the late night F train shutdown during the week ending April 10 slipped by without much incident. Now we will do the same for the 36th Avenue bridge closures. See the last item, below.

5. Projects: Grounds cleanup underway. Lighting at Motorgate (we are experimenting by installing two alternative types to test efficacy), replace the exterior of the AVAC building, install replacement chambers for AVAC, repaving portions of Main Street and start on the improvements to PSD. Public Safety has temporarily relocated to 504 Main Street while the work is being done. Flowers for Main Street are here. The benches are restored to the plaza outside our office at 591 Main. Enjoy the spring weather.

6. Sportspark Swimming: In response to requests, morning weekday adult swim hours are 6 to 11 AM especially to accommodate those with child care responsibility. We hope for greater participation.

7. Bank: RIOC received a notice from NYNB that it intends to close its branch at 615 Main Street on June 6, 2009. We met with another institution to urge it to come to the Island, and we are getting encouraging response. Let us hope.

8. Southtown Buildings 5 and 6 moving toward completion. Landscaping being done and interior finishes and fixtures being installed. The roadway in front of the Tram is scheduled for paving. The Ground Rent Increase Deferral Agreement is finalized and will be executed when documentation is obtained from the building loan lender, attorneys, title company, etc.

9. 36th Avenue Bridge: After meeting with representatives of Skanska and DOT to discuss mandatory bridge closings to replace buffers and cables, BE ADVISED that the Bridge will be closed the mornings of April 16 and 17th (was supposed to start the 15th, but got rained out and if it rains on either, then also on the 21st or 22nd) between the hours of 12:30AM and 5:30AM. No vehicles will be able to cross during that time. A similar closing is scheduled for June 29 & 30. We have coordinated with emergency services to station fire, police and EMS responders on Island and to plan for transport and response if necessary. We will run the Tram and coordinating Red Bus during the period of closure to make sure that there is access and egress. We have lived through this situation before, are well aware of the potential difficulty and will do our best to mitigate the disruption. PLEASE MAKE PLANS ACCORDINGLY. Follow the RIOC website for developments and news about the closing.

10. R&R Concert Saturday April 18th at 8:00PM. At the Good Shepherd Community Center. All Bach. Come and enjoy.

11. The Mobile Van for Free Mammograms will be on the Island during the day Saturday April 18th, but is fully booked and it is by appointment only. There will be a return visit on May 30th. If interested in scheduling an appointment, call Erica Wilder at our office (212) 832-4540.
12. Senior MetroCards: Wednesday, April 22 at the Senior Center, 546 Main Street, 10:00AM to 2:00PM, the MTA will have its mobile van to get reduced (1/2) fare MetroCards for those over 65 or with qualifying disabilities. A presentation will also be given regarding Access-A-Ride service.

13. Finally, while there was a firearms incident early on the morning of the 14th, there was a very swift response by NYPD which apprehended the shooter and took custody of the gun. Thankfully, no one was injured.
This message was also published as the RIOC column in the 4/18/09 Main Street WIRE.