Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tonight's Roosevelt Island Summer Outdoor Movie Showing of Transformers Postponed Due To Inclement Weather

RIOC has announced that tonight's scheduled Roosevelt Island Summer Outdoor Movie at Firefighters Field has been cancelled due to expected rain tonight and will be shown on this coming Tuesday. From RIOC:

Outdoor Summer Movie Series
When: Sat, June 20 at sunset
(Due to the inclement weather, movie will be shown on the rain date : Tuesday, June 23rd)
Where: Firefighters Field (near the tram)
Movie: Transformers (2007)
Starring Shia LaBeouf & Megan Fox
Runtime 144 minutes
Rain Date: Tuesday June 23rd

Friday, June 19, 2009

Things To Do This Weekend In New York City & Roosevelt Island

Not able to do the regular Things To Do This Weekend Feature so just click on these links for some suggestions 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.

Don't forgot Saturday's Sunset Roosevelt Island Free Summer Outdoor Movie at Firemen's Field showing of Transformers and the Roosevelt Live Concert Series with Frances and The Fabulous Entourage at 4 PM as well as Sunday's Queensboro Bridge Talk at Gallery RIVAA.

RIOC Will Schedule a 30 Minute Interval Between Permitted Roosevelt Island Ball Field Games

By Permit Only Sign at Capobianco Field

During the June 16 RIOC Operations Committee meeting (web cast available here) , it was reported that RIOC will now schedule a 30 minute interval between the end of one permitted time period for Roosevelt Island ball fields and the beginning of the next one so that disputes like the recent one which caused the arrest of a Roosevelt Island parent might be more easily avoided. RIOC President Steve Shane also advises that:
... 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.
The more fundamental problem is the lack of available green park space and ball fields for Roosevelt Island residents to use because of the permitting of fields to organized corporate and other off Island groups. RIOC claims that it is necessary to sell Roosevelt Island Ball Field playing time to these leagues because it needs the revenue.

A similar problem arose involving the use of newly renovated J.J. Byrne Park in Park Slope Brooklyn where the local neighborhood residents complained that the park was unavailable for their own use because it was being permitted out to organized leagues. These parents protested (not aware if anyone was arrested) and the New York City Parks Department changed their policy to allow local residents more free time usage of the park. From the Brooklyn Paper:
... Parents, sports league organizers and the Parks Department reached a tentative compromise on Tuesday night that will allow more free play on the turf once known as J.J. Byrne Park.

Under the deal, the new artificial grass playing field will be open to anyone on Friday evenings and for big chunks of time on Saturday and Sunday afternoons — instead of just the four hours per weekend in which organized sports teams would have been kept off pitch under the previous plans that caused such an uproar in these pages last week.

“I think we got something,” said Judy Schneier, a Slope mom, who was relieved that the city reduced the amount of time that permit-holding baseball and softball leagues would have exclusive use of the playing field along Fourth Avenue between Third and Fourth streets. “The Parks Department gave something, but we would have liked a little more after school time.”...
Of course, this may lead to other problems. Again, from the Brooklyn Paper:
...A number of volunteers from youth leagues also attended, hoping to preserve an adequate slice of the pie for themselves and issuing a warning to parents who expect harmony during the off-hours when uniformed squads don’t have the right of way.

“It’s the law of the jungle with un-permitted fields,” said David Nisbett, who directs the local 78th Precinct Youth Sports Council, which hopes to use the field for baseball...

At least the Parks Department listened to the local residents and allowed these residents more time to use their neighborhood parks. Will RIOC do the same?

UPDATE - 9:15 PM - RIOC Program Coordinator Donna Masly clarifies Roosevelt Island Ball Field Permitting intervals:
Just reading your blog and noticed that you noted there will be a 30 minute interval between permittees. I noted in the Operations Meeting that my scheduling program had capability of 15 minute intervals and it's more likely that I'll stick to that. This should suffice as more than enough time once field maintenance routine is caught up and permittees will be expected to honor their designated permit times.
This evening I ran into Ms. Masly at Nonno's and she told me that ball field permitting time intervals will be no less than 15 minutes and between 15-30 minutes depending on time of year and other specific circumstances.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Roosevelt Island - A "Non Sequitur" With "Goofy Tram" And No Dogs According To Lethem Story In The New Yorker Magazine

A reader points out that Roosevelt Island was mentioned in a recent New Yorker short story by Jonathan Lethem. According to the reader:
... Thought you might be interested in this mention of Roosevelt Island in the New Yorker from a few weeks back (May 25 issue, it's tough keeping up with these dense weeklys), if you haven't already seen it. It's from a short story by Jonathan Lethem, "Ava's Apartment". Lethem, as you may know, is ... known most famously for his novel "Motherless Brooklyn". The story concerns an aging rock critic, Perkus, who is forced out of his apartment by a snowstorm (it has undermined his building's integrity), and he decides to drop out for a bit. He finds a squat in an eastside building in the '60s given over to orphaned dogs, where volunteers come each day to take the dogs for walks, feed them, etc. Ava is the pit bull who occupies the apartment where Perkus takes up his squat. Perkus eventually assumes full volunteer duties for Ava and they go on walks all over the eastside:
Now the two gradually enlarged their walking orbit, steering the compass of Ava's sniffing curiosity, around the Rockefeller campus and the Weill Cornell Medical Center, onto a bridge over the Drive, to gaze across at the permanent non sequitur of Roosevelt Island, defined for Perkus by its abandoned t.b. hospital, to which no one ever referred, certainly not the population living there and serviced by its goofy tram, as if commuting by ski lift. "No dogs allowed," he reminded Ava every time she seemed to be contemplating that false haven. Or down First Avenue, into the lower Sixties along second, a nefariously vague zone whose residents seemed to Perkus like zombies, beyond help.
Well, he doesn't get the t.b. hospital right, at least not these days. But I'd say RI as a "permanent non sequitur", and the tram as "goofy", are both pretty much spot on. Plus I've always been struck by the lack of dogs on the island, having come from 2 neighborhoods (Chelsea then Hell's Kitchen) that are full of them. Manhattan Park, where we live, is just weirdly devoid of dogs (because they're banned of course).
Keep up the good work.
I appreciate the literary tip though we know that dogs are now allowed on Roosevelt Island. There is even a Roosevelt Island dog blogger and RIOC has a dog control policy as well!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New York City Outdoor Summer Movie On Roosevelt Island - Transformers - Firefighters Field Saturday June 20 At Sunset

You Tube Video of Tranformers Trailer

Outdoor summer movies are returning to Roosevelt Island this Saturday June 20 at Firefighters Field with the showing of the Transformers. According to RIOC:
Outdoor Summer Movie Series
When: Sat, June 20 at sunset
Where: Firefighters Field (near the tram)
Movie: Transformers (2007)
Starring Shia LaBeouf & Megan Fox
Runtime 144 minutes
Rain Date: Tuesday June 23rd
RIOC Community Relations Specialist Erica Wilder provides the dates for the upcoming Roosevelt Island Summer Outdoor Movie Schedule:
The movie dates are as follows, all movies begin at sunset:

6/20, 7/19, 7/27, 8/8/, 8/17

There will be a few weekday nights this year.
All movies will be shown at Firefighters Field.
RIOC is conducting an online poll to determine what movies to show this year. Click here to cast your vote and select your Roosevelt Island Summer Outdoor Movie. The current results are here.

Mommy Poppins has a list of other free outdoor movies in New York City this summer.

New Sports Bar and Bagel/Deli Opening On Roosevelt Island - Riverwalk Bar & Grill To Debut This Month

Image from Roosevelt Island's Riverwalk Bar & Grill

Another small step for civilization on Roosevelt Island. The folks who brought us Nonno's Focacceria are almost ready to open up a new Roosevelt Island sports bar and deli/bagel shop - the Riverwalk Sports Bar & Grill - at 425 Main Street adjacent to the Duane Reade in Southtown. They expect to open before the end of June.

The owners plan is to create a family friendly Applebees or Friday's type of restaurant with a 30 foot bar and 14 large flat panel television screens. Roosevelt Islanders will soon be able to watch their favorite sporting events or just have a relaxing night out without having to get on the Tram, the subway or trudge over the 36th Avenue Bridge to Queens. There will also be outdoor seating. An added bonus will be an adjacent bagel and deli store that will open in the early mornings as well.

Riverwalk Bar & Grill has a web site as well and describe their restaurant this way:
A new era of dining and socialization is coming to Roosevelt Island. Get ready to meet your neighbors! This Spring River Walk Bar & Grill Express will be opening at 425 main Street. Situated across the courtyard from Nonno’s Foccaceria & Fiji East, it will be a nice complement to the restaurants currently in place on the island. A dual purpose space that should leave even those with the most voracious appetites sated, Riverwalk Bar & Grill Express will have a deli express side which will feature bagels, breakfast, salads and Boar’s Head cold cuts as well as a sit down table service side with a full kitchen and bar.

Let’s attack the two parts that make River Walk Bar & Grill Express up individually for a second. The deli side will be open early, offer a casual eat-in counter and have salads, cold cuts and spreads to go as well as a complete menu of sandwiches. For the early risers, bagels, egg sandwiches, pancakes & French toast will be available to starting at 6am. Grab your breakfast BEFORE heading into the city and save yourself a buck! Eating lunch on the island? No problem there either. Italian heroes? Got them. Turkey Clubs? Got them too. Potato Salad. Yes. Cole Slaw. Yes. More other delicious choices than could possibly be list here…yes, yes, yes!

The Yin to the Deli Express side’s yang will be the Bar & Grill Side. Open at 11am daily and 10am on Sundays for brunch, the sit down lunch will consist of soups, burgers, wraps, specialty salads and a large variety of sharable apps. Chicken Fingers, Wings, Nachos, Quesadillas…you get the idea. Comparable to a T.G.I. Fridays or Applebee’s, the dinner menu at River Walk seems like it doubles the amount food choices available on the island! Steak, Chops, Ribs & Pastas are all present here with all the sides to match. Parents shouldn’t feel daunted though. They also offer a Kid’s Menu that should satisfy even the fussiest of children. Everything on dine-in menu will also be offered on the delivery menu and the kitchen will be open until midnight!

After dinner, it’s not time to leave this BAR & Grill just yet! With over 20 tap & bottled beers as well as all the shots your heart could desire, River Walk will be your home away from home if you are a sports fan. With 14 flat screen TV’s, they will be carrying all major sporting events. It’s about time a place like River Walk opened here! It is long overdue and will allow the residents and workers of Roosevelt Island more dining choices than they have ever had as well as a beautiful space to socialize. With something for everybody, River Walk Bar & Grill Express will undoubtedly become a Roosevelt Island staple.
The Riverwalk Bar & Grill menu is posted online as well as their drink list and Martini list. They also are soliciting suggestions from Roosevelt Islanders for inclusion in their menu. As a start I vote for a good, spicy Ginger Beer!

A couple of the owners playing Whiffle Ball on the Riverwalk Commons in front of Bar

Now if we can only get RIOC out of the retail real estate business with a private sector Master Leaseholder taking over, maybe Roosevelt Island's Main Street will finally have some decent stores

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Legend of Roosevelt Island - Improv Everywhere's MP3 Experiment, We Are All One

You Tube Video of Improve Everywhere's MP 3 Experiment on Roosevelt Island

The folks at Improv Everywhere have posted a complete recap of their zany Roosevelt Island MP3 Experiment with over 2000 red, green, blue and yellow t-shirt wearing participants flocking to Roosevelt Island last May 23 to participate in the adventure.
...This year’s location was Roosevelt Island. It’s a really beautiful place, situated in between Manhattan and Queens on the East River. There are about 12,000 residents on the island. To participate in this year’s experiment, agents were given these instructions. Everyone synchronized their watch to the clock on the instruction page, downloaded the mp3, wore a red, blue, yellow, or green shirt, and then traveled to the island. At exactly 4:00 PM, everyone would press play from wherever they happened to be on the island...

Check out the Battle For Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park via Improv Everywhere.

FERI Claims Desire To Work With Roosevelt Island Disabled Community On FDR Memorial But RIDA Member Wants Specifics

Children Standing Next To FDR Wheelchair Statue in Washington DC Image From Carol

After many, many years of paying absolutely no attention to the wishes and desires of Roosevelt Island residents in regard to the proposed Kahn/FDR Memorial at Southpoint Park, the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) now claim an interest in working together with the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) in finding a way to recognize FDR's overcoming of his disability.

FERI sent this letter to the Directors of RIDA.
The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute greatly appreciates the interest of the Roosevelt Island disabled community regarding the Four Freedoms Park which is to be built on Southpoint. Those who took the trouble to come to the recent meeting are absolutely right – we must find a way to tell our universal audience of FDR’s disability and the important role it played in his greatness as President of the United States. I never give a speech about FDR without telling the story of his disability. He was a man of incomparable personal courage. At the age of 39, he was stricken with infantile paralysis. He would never again walk or stand alone unassisted. He had endured almost unimaginable pain. He had to learn to move again, to stand, to rely upon the strength of others. He never gave in to despair, to self-pity, to discouragement. Just twelve years after he was stricken he was elected President of our country, itself paralyzed by the most fearful economic Depression of its history. He renewed America’s self-confidence just as he had his own. He organized the Infantile Paralysis Foundation and the March of Dimes which produced the resources to finance the extraordinary work of Dr. Salk and Dr. Sabine which resulted in the present possibility of eradication of polio in the world. He worked with polio victims throughout his lifetime, using Warm Springs as a place where he helped others recover just as he hoped someday he would walk again. He encouraged the concept of “independent living” for the disabled – and I have met countless members of the disabled community who regard FDR as an icon of courage and hope.

The Roosevelt Institute annually awards the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award at the United Nations, honoring countries that have made significant progress in assisting the disabled in receiving the full rights of opportunity and citizenship. This year we hope to have President Obama use the occasion of his first visit to the United Nations to sign on behalf of the United States the Covenant for the Rights of the Disabled adopted by the General Assembly in 2005 as part of the FDR Award ceremony. The Four Freedoms Park, of course, looks out on the United Nations of which Franklin Roosevelt is remembered as the Founder. It is another link that will have extraordinary meaning for the Four Freedoms Park.

Somehow we must find a way to convey this incredible story to those who visit Southpoint. Building on our initial meeting, we will work with representatives of Roosevelt Island to achieve that objective. We are grateful to Virginia Granato and Dr. Resnick for their effective presentation. Our task is to work together to find a way to accomplish our mutual purpose, honoring a great President and remembering the qualities of character that enabled him to lead our country so well.

Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel
Chairman, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC
Founder and Chair Emeritus, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
A member of the RIDA Board replied:
That all sounds well and good, however, we would be interested in knowing specifically how you intend to "recognize FDR as a disabled person?" Are you intending to support and fund a sculpture of FDR either sitting in a wheelchair or standing with the aid of his crutches and placed in the Four Freedoms Park? Or are you just trying to placate the disabled community with a small plaque "somewhere in the park?" If that is your intention then it's very clear to all of us that the Kahn Design is more important to all of you than actually recognizing FDR's disability. And that's a real shame and unacceptable!

Nancy Brown

Image of FDR Using Crutches From Poughkeepsie Journal and FDR Library/Museum

Could FERI's sudden expression of a desire to work with RIDA have anything to do with FERI needing the approval of RIOC's Board of Directors in order to move forward with their Kahn Memorial and that the resident RIOC board members may be favorable disposed towards their RIDA neighbors quest to have a FDR Memorial on Roosevelt Island that recognizes FDR's disability and honors all those who overcome great challenges?

There is a possibility that the June 25 RIOC Board of Directors meeting will have an Agenda Item to consider the approval of FERI's Kahn Memorial. If approved, based upon previous experience, FERI will go back to doing what they want and ignore the Roosevelt Island community once again.

Brooklyn Residents Complain About F Train Delays and Overcrowding, Get MTA Review - What About Poor F Train Service For Roosevelt Island

Image of Blurred, Moving F Train From Venus in Furs

Roosevelt Island residents are not the only New Yorkers upset with the delays and overcrowding on the F Train. According to the Brooklyn Paper, residents of that borough are asking "What the F is going on" with the appropriately nicknamed "If" subway line. With the help of their local State Senator, Brooklyn F Train Riders were able to get the MTA to undertake a performance and infrastructure review of the subway line. The Brooklyn Paper reports:
... The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has begun a full performance review of Brownstone Brooklyn’s underground lifeline after repeated complaints that the train’s name was actually the grade that most riders would give it.

The “performance and infrastructure” review, which goes beyond the agency’s normal oversight of the Coney Island to Queens line, came after state Sen. Daniel Squadron cornered the MTA’s Albany-based lobbyist and demanded action...
Perhaps Roosevelt Island's state elected officials, Senator Serrano and Assembly Member Kellner can get the MTA to extend their F Train performance review to include Roosevelt Island as well as Brooklyn!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Women Falls On Roosevelt Island Red Bus and Hits Back Of Head - Are The Red Buses Traveling Too Quickly On Main Street?

Image Of Red Bus Interior Space For Illustrative Purposes Only

There was a potentially very dangerous incident I witnessed last night (Sunday) on the southbound Red Bus at approximately 5:50 PM. After getting on the bus at Gristedes/Motorgate I made my way to the back door. The bus was not crowded.

At either the Deli or the Good Shepherd stop, (I'm don't remember which one) a senior citizen got on the bus. She was walking with a cane and made her way a few steps past the driver. As she was about to sit down, the driver abruptly resumed his route starting up the Red Bus very quickly causing the women to lose her balance, fall and hit the back of her head on the bus floor. Fortunately, the woman was not hurt. She bounced up very rapidly even before the other passengers could come to her assistance. The bus never stopped.

During the ride, I was standing, holding on to the hand rail and had to work more than usual for a bus at maintaining my balance. The driver was going too fast. Another passenger on the bus told me that the bus drivers often drive at what she felt was an unsafe speed on Main street.

On a positive note, the Red Bus GPS tracking system worked very well informing me what time the southbound Red Bus would arrive at the Gristedes/Motorgate stop.

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.