Thursday, July 30, 2009

Did You See This Yellow Bike? It Was Stolen From Roosevelt Island Subway Bike Rack

This Is The Stolen Yellow Bicycle

Received the following message from a Roosevelt Island resident who had the bicycle pictured above stolen from the Roosevelt Island Subway Bike Rack.
Last Tuesday at 9 AM I locked my bicycle in the bike rack near the
subway station, as I usually do every day. Around 7:30 PM, when I
returned, I found only a broken chain on the floor. I communicated the PSD about the situation right away (I heard that this is not the first case). Well, the stolen bicycle is a yellow folding one and it was almost new (I bought it 3 months ago). If you see somebody riding a bike like the one in the pictures, please tell a police officer.

P.S.: I'm living in here since last April, and when I was searching
for an apartment, the rental agent told me that the zip code 10044 is
the safest in NYC :-(

Broken Bike Chain Found on Floor

Jazzmobile With Saxaphonist Lily White Performing at Roosevelt Island's Good Shepherd Plaza Tonight at 7 PM

Lily White's Big Blue Line Image From Amazon

Jazzmobile, the longest running New York City Summer Jazz Festival, is returning to Roosevelt Island's Good Shepherd Plaza tonight at 7 PM with a performance by Saxaphonist Lily White.
Saxophonist Lily White is one of the most promising and engaging young musicians on the New York jazz scene. In small clubs or large concert halls, on alto, tenor, or soprano sax, Lily never fails to inject her sunny personality and sharp wit into her playing....

Tram Plaza Water Fountain Now Working - Ready To Greet Roosevelt Island Tram Passengers

Roosevelt Island Tram Plaza Fountain

Normally, I would not be very happy to see water spraying from a fountain after being soaked all yesterday from the thunder and lightening rain showers. But I was pleasantly surprised last evening upon getting off the Tram to see the Roosevelt Island Tram Plaza Fountain in operation.

Roosevelt Island Tram Plaza Fountain

The installation of the fountain is just about finished, only a little tweaking here and there before it is ready to greet Roosevelt Island Tram passengers on a full time basis.

Good job by all involved - RIOC and the Hudson/Related Companies. My only suggestion would be that RIOC adds some color to the dancing water spray.

Colored Water Fountain Image From Ebay

It's not the Digital Water Fountain Clock but still very nice.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Update On Roosevelt Island Main Street Parking Spots Removed From Front of PS/IS 217 - They're Back

No Parking In Front Of PS/IS 217 on Main Street

Latest update on the recent removal of 12 Roosevelt Island Main Street parking spaces in front of PS/IS 217.

Parking Signs In Front Of PS/IS 217 Are Back

The parking spaces have returned.

Parking In Front Of PS/IS 217

Good job by RIRA President Frank Farance in bringing attention to this issue and RIOC President Steve Shane in correcting the original action.

On July 24, Mr. Farance sent the following message to Mr. Shane:
Dear Steve Shane and Fernando Martinez

Today, at PS/IS 217 I saw the parking signs back to metered parking. Thank you for considering the residents' needs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Nightime Walk Around Roosevelt Island's Creepy and Spooky Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital -- Booooooo

A reader sent in this link to a You Tube Video showing a nighttime walk inside the chain linked fence around Roosevelt Island's Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital . The Renwick Ruins are located at Southpoint Park which is closed after dark so you really are not supposed to be there at night much less inside the fence, yet people still tempt fate.

This is what the inside of the Renwick Ruins looks like during the day.

And at night when it glows green.

Roosevelt Island Dog News - Virus Speading and Should LIC Gantry State Park Dog Restrictions Be Implemented Here?

You Tube Video of Walk on Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island Dogs, who blogs about all things canine on Roosevelt Island, is reporting:
Be aware that there is a canine virus spreading around the island. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting. The incubation period appears seems to be between 4 & 14 days and the virus seems to be spreading by contact with dogs who have the virus or contact with their feces....
and provides a later update from a local Veterinarian:
... More than likely we are dealing with a coronavirus which is a virus that affects the intestinal track. As far as avoidance, there is really nothing other than absolute no contact between dogs which is impossible so we just have to treat the symptoms accordingly as they show up..
For some more canine news, the Daily News ,via Curbed, is reporting today that Long Island City's nearby Gantry State Park has:
...recently started enforcing a dog ban on the piers, an area that owners have enjoyed with their furry friends for over a decade. The restriction, which has been on the books for state-run parks in the city, came after the park opened a new green, dog-free section to the public early this month...

... "The reason we made the change is because we have a serious problem with people not picking up after their dogs," said Rachel Gordon, the regional director for New York State Parks....

No Dog Sign at Gantry State Park in Long Island City

Roosevelt Island Dogs does not think that these dog restrictions are fair.
... Instead of a blanket ban on dogs, it makes more sense and is more helpful to provide solutions to help correct the problem. Installing poop bag dispensers, vigilantly keeping those dispensers filled with bags, and installing many more trash cans would prove tremendously beneficial in the battle to change the behavior of those who are not currently cleaning up after their dogs. What isn't helpful is foolishly banning dogs from the area...
Unfortunately, all too often I have seen Roosevelt Island dog owners not cleaning up after their dogs and ignoring Curb Your Dog signs, particularly on the Riverwalk Commons area where people, adults and children, play and relax.

Riverwalk Commons Curb Your Dog Sign

Few things are as disgusting as the squishy sound you hear when stepping in dog crap, particularly when there is a poop bag dispenser close by.

Riverwalk Dog Poop Bag Dispenser

RIOC has a dog enforcement policy which includes the responsibility of dog owners to:
...Remove their dogs feces from any public areas (New York City Health Code 161.03 and New York Public Health Law 1310)
If dog owners do not do this:
Effective immediately, Public Safety Officers will enforce this policy and issue notices of violations to dog owners who are not in compliance.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fantastic Diane Birch Concert On Roosevelt Island Last Saturday - She Says Roosevelt Island Is Best Kept Secret!

Riverwalk Commons For Saturday's Diane Birch Roosevelt Live Concert

Saturday's Roosevelt Live Concert with Diane Birch was simply a great time for everyone who attended. The day was sunny and beautiful and Ms. Birch was spectacular.

It is easy to see why she will become a huge star very soon. I hope she remembers Roosevelt Island then and comes back to play another show. Really, why do the David Letterman show again when you can play Roosevelt Island again?

Diane Birch after Roosevelt Island Concert

Just kidding about playing the Letterman show. She can do both! Ms. Birch remarked that Roosevelt Island was New York's Best Kept Secret.

During the show, I noticed a gentlemen video taping the concert and asked him to upload it to You Tube. I think he did and if so. thanks very much

You Tube Video of Diane Birch performning Choo Choo

More You Tube Videos of Diane Birch performing at Roosevelt Island here.

UPDATE - 7/29 - More photos from Roosevelt Live Diane Birch Roosevelt Island Concert here.

Kung Fu Panda Tonight's Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movie - Firefighters Field at Sunset

You Tube Video of Kung Fu Panda Fighting

Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movie Series Continues Tonight with showing of Kung Fu Panda at Firefighters Field starting at sunset.

UPDATE - 8:10 PM Movie canceled due to inclement weather. Rescheduled for Saturday August 1.

RIRA President's Report on Roosevelt Island Reunion, Blackwell Park Master Plan, Red Bus, Parking & Public Safety Town Hall Meeting

RIRA President Farance at Public Safety Town Hall Meeting

RIRA President Frank Farance sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
1. Reunion of young Island residents, circa 1976-1985. "If you remember ice skating next to Westview, if you remember swimming in the Island House pool ..." the invitation read. It's being covered in this issue of The WIRE. As a "kid" (age 21), I remember all my musician friends on the island. I was a mentor for younger musicians, who became mentors themselves, and so on. On some Saturday mornings, we'd pull together keyboards, guitars, amplifiers, and drums, and play at the back of Motorgate — in those days, Motorgate was far away from disturbing any residential building. On June 27, we musicians returned for a reunion jam. Ah, the pleasure of playing Mustang Sally on a summer day. Thanks to Mike Smith and his staff at RIOC for making everything go perfectly. And thanks to RIOC President Steve Shane for suggesting and supporting Southpoint as the venue.

2. RIOC tea party for Blackwell Park renovation. Rosina Abramson, RIOC Vice President of Planning and Inter-Governmental Affairs, has continued her work on developing a master plan for the park. She held an informal "tea party" on July 15 to present Lee Weintraub of LWLA landscape architects, who will be working with a team of talented designers and community specialists, including Alyce Russo (former RIOC development director) of Schall & Russo Planning Works, BKSK Architects, Jane Clark Chermayeff, and other creative team members (some of whom designed the science playground at the Queens Children's Museum). Abramson says, "We hope, collectively, to develop a master plan incorporating community aspirations regarding the kind of recreation and pastoral area Blackwell Park can be". Great idea, and off to a good start.

3. Two steps forward, one step back on red bus schedule. The experiments in the red bus schedule have been successful in the late morning. The buses arrive and depart reliably and consistently (at Octagon: 9:55, 10:10, 10:25, etc.). Unfortunately, it appears that RIOC has discontinued this regular schedule. (I will investigate.) Although it is summer vacation for schools, I will continue to prod RIOC to work on experiments and improvements in the red bus schedule for the evening rush and nighttime.

4. RIOC eliminates 22% of Main Street parking, residents not consulted, school drop-off is impossible. One day last week, RIOC removed the parking spots in front of PS/IS 217 and made them No Stopping, No Standing, No Parking. That's 12 spots of the 55 available that affect the 6,000+ residents and contractors of the WIRE buildings. RIOC did not consult with the school. The head custodian, made aware of the parking loss, mused that RIOC should have had a town meeting to get community input. Steve Shane defended the actions as replacing signs that were previously stolen (photo evidence back to 2004 shows there were no restrictions) and as Department of Transportation (DOT) guidance (which he didn't cite) on making spots available to the Board of Education (PS 85 on 57th Street and Second Avenue still has muni-meter parking, contrary to Shane). In fact, RIOC already has 10 parking spots reserved for PS/IS 217 in the alley next to 2-4 River Road. RIOC has backtracked slightly; they've laser-printed a sign to tape over the existing No Standing sign during school hours. Now drop-off and pick-up are possible. In short: RIOC didn't consult with anyone, the school didn't ask for it, DOT doesn't require it, RIOC has already assigned school parking in the alley, and parking was already scarce on Main Street. How is RIOC serving the community?

5. RIRA town meeting on Public Safety. RIRA held a town meeting Wednesday night for community input on Public Safety. We had a good turnout, including PSD Director Guerra, his colleagues from the 19th and 114th precincts, a representative from the Manhattan District Attorney's office, and Assemblymember Micah Kellner. All noted that this kind of community forum was a good thing to do.

We had approximately 25 comments and detailed follow-up discussions: the May 30 Capobianco Field incident (the case was dismissed), an explanation of the Trespass Program in Eastwood (don't loiter), the question of a curfew for children (there is none), the legality of taking pictures of Public Safety (it is legal), why Public Safety officers don't respond to reports of drivers going through stop signs (officer needs to personally witness the infraction, not take the word of a resident).

At my request, Guerra started the evening with a presentation on the dos & don'ts of children and adults interacting with Public Safety. Initially, residents were miffed that they were being told how to behave. (They had complaints about Public Safety's behavior.) However, by the end of the meeting, Guerra's presentation made for a good reference point and a good reference document for everyone.

After the meeting, Fernando Martinez, RIOC's Vice President of Operations, suggested several collaborative task forces on Public Safety, transportation, etc., to include RIOC, RIRA (which includes all residents), and other stakeholders. This is a very good sign of cooperation, and I hope we can all take advantage of it.

6. RIRA Public Safety Committee Chair investigates May 30 baseball field incident. Erin Feely-Nahem, committee chair elected by the RIRA Common Council, has completed her investigation. Here is a summary of her findings:

— PSD Officer Payne tried to de-escalate the conflict, as reported by numerous witnesses.

— PSD Officer Toro escalated the conflict by continually threatening people with arrest.

— PSD Director Guerra's investigation was one-sided. He interviewed only PSD officers and no other witnesses, including island residents. Guerra did receive a statement from the off-island baseball team, but only in response to Guerra's phone request. "My officers are getting a raw deal here" — clearly a self-serving statement from Guerra.

— The initial conflict was not just an island resident hurling slurs, but also involved one of the members of the off-island team.

Here's my analysis. Director Guerra gets a D-minus on his community approach and his investigation of this incident.

Days after the event (past the heat of the moment), Guerra's attitude was, "Either you're with us [RIOC/PSD] or you're against us". That attitude makes it impossible to hear genuine criticism about his organization. Guerra advocates a policy to RIOC execs and the RIOC general counsel that can be summarized as, "We're not giving any information out — you'll have to FOIL your requests".

Feely-Nahem's investigation was hampered and obstructed by Shane and Guerra. They refused to participate in the review. Shane claimed there was some legal action by Feely-Nahem, but that was not true (see below). Shane believes that, because Feely-Nahem doesn't have law enforcement experience, she can't do the investigation. By Shane's logic, only a police officer can objectively investigate another officer's actions — likewise, only police officers are qualified to be jurors in criminal and police misconduct cases.

I interviewed Feely-Nahem to better understand this so-called legal issue RIOC was raising. On June 14, 2008 her son (without cause) was manhandled by PS officers. Guerra threatened her and her husband after the event: "I can still arrest your son [at any time for the next year]". After they filed an intent to claim, the harassment stopped. The claim expired June 14 of this year, so there was no pending legal issue between Feely-Nahem and RIOC. I asked Shane to verify this with his general counsel.

In response to RIRA's request to meet with him, Guerra said that he would not share the paperwork because it was confidential. But Guerra gave a copy to another resident, Ron Schuppert, a retired detective and former head of the RIRA Public Safety Committee, whom RIOC wanted for the RIRA investigation instead of Feely-Nahem, the elected community representative. Guerra's story and PSD's confidentially policy are inconsistent.

City Councilmember Jessica Lappin and State Assemblymember Micah Kellner have expressed concern about PSD's actions in the May 30 incident. Kellner is working on legislation to have a citizens' review board for state entities. Clearly, RIOC is unable to provide oversight and to investigate itself, as Guerra's one-sided analysis shows, and as was already acknowledged by last November's 94% favorable resident response to a referendum on a Citizens' Review Board. Shane and Guerra will be the poster children for new state legislation.

During the past couple of weeks, I was inspired by many residents' comments (none of which Shane or Guerra chose to hear). Uniformly, the residents provided complete details, including some who acknowledged their own and their neighbors' imperfect behavior. The honesty was refreshing; residents clearly understood what was at stake.

Although I have not yet had a chance to discuss this with my fellow RIRA Common Council members, here are my thoughts on RIOC/PSD staff involved. On Officer Payne: He acted professionally, which is consistent with my personal experience with him. On Officer Toro: I think he needs training on handling these kinds of situations. I can't suggest anything stronger because, without further background on this officer (which Guerra refused to supply), we don't know if Toro's actions were a one-time event in his life (and in the heat of the moment), a regular daily occurrence, or something in between.

On Director Guerra: He gets my harshest criticism. He knows what a proper review process should be (but chose a one-sided, self-serving approach), he knows how to conduct an investigation (but chose differently — something NYPD wouldn't do), and he is expert on the process (but chose not to use his expertise). Parroting Guerra's comments about Mr. Mansour's infraction: I believe Guerra is a good person, but had a lapse in judgment at this moment.

On RIOC President Shane: He certainly has the knowledge and experience to recognize the poor quality of Guerra's investigation, yet he accepted it.

RIOC has suspended an employee (an island resident and parent) because he asked Officer Toro not to arrest Mr. Mansour. The employee was asked to sign a statement and a waiver. At a weekend barbeque, if an employee of the City of New York had (even worse) a shouting match with a neighborhood NYPD officer, do you think on Monday the employee would be suspended from work and forced to sign legal paperwork in order to keep his job? Of course not.

Likewise, RIOC and PSD have their own conflicts of interest. A wheelchair-bound island resident getting on the red bus tried to flip up his chair, but fell backwards, cracking his head. I witnessed this and called Public Safety, which then called for an ambulance. While waiting, officers asked the driver why he didn't put down the ramp. The driver made a mistake. Rather than reporting this honestly, both PSD officers reported that the passenger refused the ramp — protecting a fellow RIOC employee, protecting RIOC from liability, and shifting the blame to the passenger, who was in no condition to object. We wouldn't have this conflict of interest if it were NYPD.

RIRA's Public Safety Committee will hold a meeting in August to discuss recommendations on policy, procedure, and actions, which will be presented to the full RIRA Common Council meeting on September 9. The public is welcome to attend. Feely-Nahem wants the RIRA committee to be the long-term repository of residents' complaints and to provide more transparency to the residents – a good idea.

Finally, regardless of my criticisms of Public Safety, I still give them respect, which they deserve.
The RIRA President's message was also published as the RIRA column in the 7/25/09 Main Street WIRE.

More on the July 22 Public Safety Town Hall Meeting here.

An update to item 4 on the removal of the parking spots in front of PS/IS 217. A July 24 message from Mr. Farance to RIOC:
Dear Steve Shane and Fernando Martinez

Today, at PS/IS 217 I saw the parking signs back to metered parking. Thank you for considering the residents' needs.
Parking Sign in front of PS/IS 217

Report From RIOC's President - RIOC Board Nominees, Southpoint Park, Red Bus, Amalgamated Bank, No Ice Skating Rink This Winter& Other RI Issues

Imager From RIOC

RIOC President Steve Shane sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents. Mr. Shane addresses issues on RIOC Board Nominees, Southpoint Park, Amalgamated Bank opening, Red Bus Schedule, no ice skating rink this winter and other issues of concern to Roosevelt Island.
July 21, 2009

While the WIRE has been on Summer vacation, RIOC is chugging away on the following:

1. Board of Directors: No meetings scheduled during the Summer. The nominations of Margie Smith and Mike Shinozaki to the Board have been made by the Governor and forwarded to the NY State Senate for confirmation. They would replace Charlee Miller and Patrick Stewart. Dr. Grimm has been re-nominated. Given the state of the Senate, their confirmations will occur at some future date.
2. Southpoint: As to the projects:
(A) Renwick Ruins: Stabilization work is complete and the entrances to the building have been gated to secure the interior and prevent trespassing.
(B) Green Rooms/Wild Gardens: The contractor is completing Phase 1 rough grading, paths and stone walls. An RFP for Phase 2 will be issued to complete the park, including finish grading, capping, utilities, fencing and planting as soon as grades to meet MTA requirements for Strecker Lab and emergency exit are complete.
(C) FDR Memorial: Following Board Project approval in June, RIOC is 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, the matching $4 million from the City and at least $8 million from FERI as necessary for Phase I. DEC permitting being integrated with GR/WG. Legal work on finalizing development relationship is in drafting.
3. Tram Overhaul: The schedule is now for a March 1, 2010 shutdown and end of August 2010 reopening. Sliding the shutdown period permits better coordination with architectural work for the two stations and avoids the holiday street closure and weather issues of working through the 2009/10 winter. See concept presentation of the proposed Tram stations on our web site.
4. Projects: Work is ongoing on many projects and others are being completed. Alex Snedkov has joined our engineering department as a senior project manager. Alex’s area of expertise is primarily in electrical and mechanical engineering.
5. Bank: Amalgamated Bank’s takeover of the NYNB space is completed and the branch has officially opened as of July 20. Welcome Amalgamated.
6. Southtown Buildings 5 and 6 are almost complete. Occupancy to commence within the next few weeks. Tram turnaround fountain under construction and should be operational by mid August.
7. Red Bus: The joint experiment with RIRA in AM scheduling is ongoing , although we have discontinued the collection of ridership statistics until school resumes in the Fall. The Octagon Local buses are scheduled to leave Octagon southbound at 8:55, 9:25, 9:55, 10:15, 10:35 and 10:55. Fire House Local buses will depart the Comfort Station southbound at 9:10 and 9:40. Buses arriving at the Tram before 10 will run continuously. A bus will meet the 10:00 Tram and each Tram thereafter before heading north. After 10AM, a 25 minute loop is built into the schedule. As the data is reviewed, we have expanded the experiment into the next earlier rush hour. A demonstrable result may be the ability to reduce the number of buses on the street after 10AM and before the afternoon rush hour to two (2) and still meet the schedule of an every 20 minute departure from Octagon and meeting the Tram. The schedule after 11:30 AM now so provides, as does the schedule after 8:30 PM. Savings on eliminating the extra bus during this period would be substantial.
8. Bridge Closures: The NYC Department of Transportation has notified us that the reconstruction work requiring complete closure of the bridge to vehicular and pedestrian traffic during July was completed without incident. As was previously done, EMS, police and fire responders were present on the Island. The Tram and red bus ran throughout the night.
9. Skating rink: Think Bryant Park. The previously imagined skating rink for Firefighters’ Field has been considered and put aside. The cost to RIOC of between $250,000 and $300,000 for a three month season is just not justifiable. Lefrak has a permanently installed facility in his Newport development in New Jersey and discussions with the Developer of Southtown when buildings 7, 8 and 9 go ahead might see it happen.
10. Sportspark: The weekly table tennis turnout on Wednesday evenings is growing. Come participate. The pool will be closed for about a month in the Fall for resurfacing.
This message was also published as the RIOC column in the 7/25/09 Main Street WIRE.