Friday, April 16, 2010

Working On Roosevelt Island Tram Towers, Cables & Cabins Removed, Tower Tops & Hanger Arm Installed Next - Will Americas Next Top Models Be Back Soon?

Did you notice the construction crane and increased activity near the Roosevelt Island Tram Tower on the West Channel Road recently? That's because the Poma-Leitner construction crew brought in a crane

and started work assembling the new tower tops.

Work Started On New Roosevelt Island Tram Tower Tops

About the Tram Modernization Project, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC) President Steve Shane writes in his latest report to the community (Item 2 A):
After 6 weeks, the construction is proceeding on schedule. Cables and old cars are removed, demolition and removal of old machinery is almost complete. Tower tops are next. We are monitoring closely.
Assembling The Tram Tower Top

I was surprised to see the work starting first on the Roosevelt Island Tower because as reported in this February 28 post:
The construction plan schedule for the Tram Modernization has been altered slightly. Initially, RIOC and POMA planned working on the Tram Towers on the Roosevelt Island side first, which they say will be easier, in order to gain some experience prior to working on the more difficult Manhattan side towers. That has changed because RIOC was informed by NYC that the Department of Transportation is scheduled to start working May 15 in the same 59th street area on a water tunnel project. POMA will now work on the Manhattan side Towers first so that there is no conflict with DOT's projected May 15 water tunnel start date
Tram Tower Top

It was later decided to be more important to start on the Roosevelt Island Tram Tower because the Manhattan Tower will be a much more difficult job and the experience gained by working on the Roosevelt Island Tower first would be very helpful. According to Mr. Shane:
The timing of when they choose to schedule work is up to the contractors. As might come as no surprise, the H2O work is delayed. Crane permitting and street closure scheduling is all up to DOB and DOT.
Tram Tower Top

Earlier today a Tower Hanger Arm was delivered and is resting alongside it's new home to be.

Tower Arm Hanger

More information on Roosevelt Island Tram Modernization construction schedule available here.

Work is also going on at the Roosevelt Island Manhattan Tram Station.

Manhattan Tram Station

What do you miss most about taking the Roosevelt Island Tram - the convenience, awesome NYC skyline and waterfront views

Image from the CW Source

or being hit on by Americas Next Top Model.

Image From Buddy TV

Remember last November Americas Next Top Model shot some scenes on Roosevelt Island and one resident tweeted:
Omfg they are shoooting ANTM's new Season on Roosevelt Island near my apartment.. Yesss I see ms.Jay and Nigel Barker.. Can't rake pixxz :(
Here's the scene from Americas Next Top Model on the Roosevelt Island Tram.

Happens every day - doesn't it?

Roosevelt Island Landscaping Study By Cornell Architecture Students Underway- Help Shape Our Greenspaces, Plazas and Pathways

During the April meeting of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Meeting a presentation (Copy Below) was made by the leader of a group of students from the Cornell Graduate Program In Landscape Design. The students are participating in a project initiated by Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC) Director Jonathan Kalkin to help redesign Roosevelt Island's green spaces and pathways.

After several weeks of exploring Roosevelt Island, meeting with RIOC staff, RIRA members and other Roosevelt Island community leaders a preliminary plan was presented by the Cornell Landscaping team to the RIRA Common Council at the April meeting. The goal of the presentation was to receive comments, criticism and other feedback from RIRA members that the Cornell Landscape team can incorporate in a final Roosevelt Island Landscaping plan to be presented at the May RIRA meeting.

The initial plan presented at the April meeting envisions a 3 Phase Agenda including (Page 17 of the Presentation):
Phase One: Safe, ADA-compliant pedestrian circulation & community gardening

* Four greenways: four paths to improve existing pedestrian pathways

* Temporary greenhouse & nursery for container plants: partnership between residents, schools, & hospital for use

Phase Two: Expansion of Community Gardens and Public Plazas

* Construction of hardscapedplazas, community garden, and landscaping areas

Phase Three: Green Energy Projects

* Informed decisions about site-appropriate sources for energy– Informed decisions about site-appropriate sources for energy

* Agreement with power company on an energy cost reduction program for the whole island

* Installation of green energy projects
Among their proposals are (page 15)

Creating Plazas: Unify areas that contain several disconnected public spaces, using hardscaped, tree-lined plazas that can be used for performances, community events, and educational programs.

Redesigning for existing green spaces: Extend community gardens into Redesigning for existing green spaces: Extend community gardens into permanent locations; if a location is available temporarily, a greenhouse and nursery for container plants can be set up for residential, educational, and therapeutic use. Utilize disused spaces for stormwater-managing landscapes and/or native plant educational gardens.
The Cornell Group is seeking any additional feedback on their proposals (Page 19).
  • Do you have any questions about this preliminary plan? Are there any features of it that are especially exciting, or especially worrisome?
  • What do you feel are the best things about living on Roosevelt Island? What are the worst things about living here?
  • Any other comments? Things we have overlooked? Ideas you have for the island’s landscapes?
Click To Enlarge Image and tell your favorite Roosevelt Island places you like and dislike.

Remember these are preliminary proposals and a final plan will be presented at the RIRA May Meeting. Of course, none of these proposals are binding upon RIOC but are helpful suggestions.

Below is a copy of the Presentation made before the April RIRA meeting.
Cornell Landscaping Roosevelt Island Project

Roosevelt Island has been the beneficiary of several other recent University Projects including the Columbia University Roosevelt Island Transportation Study and Hunter College's Access RI Accessibility Study.

Roosevelt Island Octagon Park Tennis Season Is Here - Make Sure You Have A 2010 Permit & That It Belongs To You

Image of Octagon Tennis Courts From RIOC

Get your rackets out of the closet because Roosevelt Island tennis season is upon us. However, make sure the pass you use to enter the Octagon Park Tennis Courts is your own if you want to avoid what happened to this fellow as reported in the 4/14-4/15 Daily Public Safety Report:
Tennis Court Access- Male gained access to the Tennis Courts with the card of another. PSD responded and escorted him out. RIOC personnel notified.
Octagon Tennis Court Entrance
According to RIOC:
...All players entering the facility must have permits (or guest permits when appropriate) available in hand for display to on-court players or monitors when claiming a court. No entry to the courts without a valid permit or guest permit. NO EXCEPTIONS! ...

...Players must not allow entry to non-permit holders. Failure to observe this rule may result in suspension or revocation of permit without reimbursement, as well as the arrest of unauthorized persons who trespass in the facility.
More RIOC rules and procedures for the Octagon Park Tennis Court:
... This facility is available for RIOC Tennis Permit holders and their guests only. New York City Parks Department permits are NOT valid.

-Season fees are:-Adults $100 :-Seniors (62 and over) $20 :- Juniors (18 and under) $10 :-Instructors $200. There is a $10 charge for replacing lost or stolen cards. YOU MUST ALLOW THREE BUSINESS DAYS FOR CARD PROCESSING. PLEASE SEE ABOVE FOR PASS PICKUP HOURS.

-Courts will be open from 6am until 10:30pm every day. Courts are maintained by RIOC from April 1 through November 30, but permit holders will be able to access the courts through March 31, 2011.

-No advance reservations. Play is on a first come, first served basis. All players must sign in, noting the time and court number when they take possession of a court. Failure to sign in, or signing in with a false start time, will allow any waiting players, with valid permits or guest passes in hand to assume that the court has been occupied for its allotted time (1 hour for singles, 2 hours for doubles) and to ask the players not signed in to relinquish the court.

-PRIMETIME HOURS: 6pm-10:00pm weekdays, 9:30am-2:00pm weekends and holidays. No ball baskets, individual practice, or private lessons during primetime hours.

-Court monitors from the Roosevelt Island Operation Corp. and/or the Roosevelt Island Tennis Association (RITA) will oversee the facility during primetime hours and on a spot-check basis during non-primetime hours. Monitors oversee court use and settle disputes. Compliance with their requests is mandatory.

-Court 4 is reserved every weeknight 6pm to 10:00pm for RITA lessons and community programs. This court may be released for general play at the discretion of the RITA official in charge. No other instruction/coaching is permitted during primetime hours.

-Private instructors/coaches may only give lessons during non-primetime hours and must relinquish their court after one hour if there are any permit holders waiting to play....

Permit applications for players and instructors are here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vision 2020 Waterfront Meeting Still Asks The Question Why Can't Roosevelt Island Residents Access The East River?

Blogger Frogma attended last week's Vision 2020 New York City Waterfront planning session and provides a summary as to what went on. As to Roosevelt Island Frogma reports:
... People on Roosevelt Island, in particular, would like water access; they'd always been told that the currents around there are too dangerous for small boats, and it's true that they are swift around there, but they've had people who know the water look at the situation & find ways it could be done, and they'd like to see that happen. Rob actually asked in his 3 minutes if the phrase "dangerous currents" could please be dropped in future discussions - we do have powerful currents, but with a little knowledge, they aren't dangerous & in fact allow for some fantastic current-assisted trips (my longest day paddle ever, for example, was about 50 miles - try that without a flood & an ebb helping you out!)....
The NYC Department of Planning will have a copy of the presentation made at the meeting available on their web site soon and advise:
The first citywide public meeting to kick off the outreach process was held on April 8th. A copy of that presentation and a summary of the comments received will be posted to this website shortly. Thanks to all who attended the kick-off meeting.

We will be announcing the next set of public workshops soon! Stay tuned!
Here's more on the question Why Can't Roosevelt Islanders Get In The Water (including wonderful Great Big Sea video with the Chieftains) and the potential for a kayak launch from Roosevelt Island.

Reminds me of this 2007 post on the lack of Roosevelt Island waterfront access.

I have often passed Roosevelt Island on a Ferry Boat but never a sail boat. The video above illustrates what a great experience it must be. As a waterfront community it is a shame that Roosevelt Island does not take more advantage of being surrounded by the East River. For example, it would be great for a boat house and kayak launch to be established on Roosevelt island as it has been right across the river in Queens at the Long Island City Community Boat House. and at East River Crew on East 96th Street. Several years ago I inquired of RIOC about the possibility of a Kayak launch here and was told that the currents were much too strong to safely permit. But others with practical experience of such matters advised that with proper guidance a kayak launch could readily be created on Roosevelt Island.

Same old, Same old.

Roosevelt Island Bridge Re-Construction Update - DOT Newsletter Reports Project Will Be Completed By March 2011

Roosevelt Island Bridge Image From NYC Grid

Wondering what is going on with the Roosevelt Island Bridge Re-Construction Project being undertaken by the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT)? Below is the DOT Roosevelt Island Bridge Spring 2010 Reconstruction Newsletter, which reports that the project is not scheduled to be completed until March 2011.
Roosevelt Island Bridge Spring Newsletter

The DOT web site provides some background on the Roosevelt Island Bridge:
The Roosevelt Island Bridge is a tower drive, vertical lift, movable bridge across the East Channel of the East River between the borough of Queens and Roosevelt Island, New York City. The span length is 418 feet. It was known as the Welfare Island Bridge when it was first opened to traffic in 1955. The bridge is the only means of vehicular access to Roosevelt Island. Prior to construction, the bridge carried two 17-foot lanes of vehicular traffic and a 6-foot sidewalk. The bridge is used by both pedestrians and vehicles with increased volume during rush hours....
NY 1 reported on a September 2007 incident when the Roosevelt Island Bridge lift got stuck stranding people on either side for hours.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crowding On Roosevelt Island F Train This Morning - Squeak, Squeak And Squeak

Image From Trevre Andrews

Received report from Roosevelt Island resident Trevre Andrews on this morning's F train commute.
I arrived at the Manhattan bound F-Train platform at 837 this morning. A train showed up at 847, bursting with people. Another train arrived right behind it which was also full, but I did manage to squeeze in, many did not. Sure this is rush hour, and it is probably also a problem not just for the RI riders but also for the prior stops in Queens where I am guessing the trains are equally overloaded in the mornings. Yes, this is probably partly due to the temporary tram outage, and we are not alone in crowded rush hour trains in NYC. That being said the squeaky wheel gets the grease...squeak...squeak...

Roosevelt Island Residents Association Resolution Supporting East River Greenway Alliance Initiative To Bridge The 37 - 60th Street Waterfront Gap

East Coast Greenway Alliance Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano Addressing RIRA Meeting

During the Public Session of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) April Common Council Meeting, representatives from the East River Greenway Alliance addressed the RIRA Council seeking support of the Roosevelt Island community to:
... create a well maintained, full length, world class waterfront esplanade and greenway similar to the Hudson River Greenway on the West Side of Manhattan. This includes a significant widening of the current Greenway in many places and connecting the gaps that still exist, especially the major gap that extends from East 37th Street to East 60th Street which creates an extremely dangerous situation for cyclists and other Greenway users

We are building a coalition of community stakeholders that supports closing the gap and improving the East River Greenway....

View East River Greenway Initiative in a larger map

RIRA passed the resolution below in support of the East River Greenway Alliance initiative.

More on the East River Greenway Initiative.
East River Green Way Signon FINAL Withlist

Elizabeth Brody, a Trustee of the East Coast Greenway Alliance was appreciative of RIRA's support and commented:
The ERGI is very grateful for the hospitable treatment RIRA accorded Dennis Markatos-Soriano, Executive Director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, as he made his presentation in support of the resolution. He and I would be happy to answer any further questions or supply information.

Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA Art Show & Silent Auction Saturday April 17 In School Cafeteria - Come Support Local Kids!

Image from Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA

Received this message from the involved parents over at the Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA:
The PTA would like to invite you and your readers to the PS/IS 217 Art Show & Silent Auction, to be held this Saturday, April 17th, from 11:30 - 2pm, in the School Cafeteria. In addition to showcasing some of the wonderful art that the students have made during the year, we'll have a Raffle, arts & crafts tables for the kids, and a Silent Auction, bidding for which will take place from 12 - 1:30pm sharp. Items available for bid include Memberships for a Family of Four to both Manhattan Park & Westview Pools, Free Semesters of classes at Island Kids and the Main St. Theatre & Dance Alliance, Arts Classes, Personal Training sessions, Salon Certificates, Gourmet Gift Baskets courtesy of FoodCellar & Trader Joe's, and much, much more...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ridership Statistics For Roosevelt Island Red Bus Manhattan Shuttle Service During April 11 F Train Service Disruption

Waiting For The Manhattan Red Bus Shuttle At Riverwalk Stop

As reported in this post, there was no Manhattan bound F train service from Roosevelt Island last Sunday during the hours of 12 AM - 12 PM for the first time since the Tram Shutdown. To replace the Manhattan Bound F Train, RIOC operated a Red Bus Shuttle service to Manhattan on the hour from 12 AM - 8 AM and on the half hour from 8 AM - 12 PM. RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez provides the ridership statistics below:
As you know, we provided additional shuttle bus service on Sunday, April 11th. During the F train service disruption (12AM to 12PM), we had a total of 372 people taking the Manhattan-bound bus, and 16 people returning to Roosevelt Island. We resumed normal shuttle bus service at 1PM. From 1PM to 11PM, we had 130 people taking the Manhattan-bound bus, and 129 people returning to Roosevelt Island. For your review, I have attached a copy of the shuttle bus ridership data for Sunday, April 11th.
Bus Ridership for April 11th 2010

A reader of the earlier post commented:
Here's one data point for the Sunday morning challenge. I waited opposite the school a little prior to 8:40 AM since I thought that the Red Shuttle Bus to Manhattan should be running every 1/2 hour. No such luck. By the time I got to the subway, there was one lone, but pleasantly smiling attendant, telling us that the Manhattan bound trains weren't running and the next shuttle bus to leave from River Walk Bar & Grill would be 8 AM. She didn't know of any 1/2 hour schedule. Aside from the attendant, the only reinforcement for the lack of service was the elevator to the platform was tied off. There was a distinct lack of signage indicating the schedule change by the subway entrance so when arriving to the Queen's bound platform, there were several people on the platform for the Manhattan bound side.
I think the timeline in this comment is a little off. The reader probably means that the next shuttle bus to leave Riverwalk Bar & Grill was 9 AM not 8 AM as written.

Take A Roosevelt Island Springtime Phototour Now & Cherry Blossom Walk On April 24

Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) President Judy Berdy presents a photo tour of a beautiful Roosevelt Island April spring day including a Cherry Tree Walk,

tots lounging on our green lawns

and slightly older kids playing in the Tot Lot.

Take a look at Ms. Berdy's entire April photo tour gallery.

Also, remember that the RIHS Cherry Blossom Walk is scheduled for Saturday April 24 at 11 AM.

What Happened To Roosevelt Island Adult Softball League - Not Enough Interest So Far

Softball Game At Firmen's Field

What happened to the adult softball league for Roosevelt Island residents? A prior report from RIRA President Frank Farance described an attempt to organize an adult Roosevelt Island Softball League:
Adult Softball. We are trying again this year to have a league. I spoken with the Riverwalk Bar and Grill about having a kick-off meeting in February. I'll have more details in my next column.
A reader of Mr. Farance's report asks:
I never saw a follow-up on the softball. Did I miss it?
Unfortunately, there was not enough interest. Mr. Farance responds:
Looks like it's Zogs. We were never able to get enough interest in this to form a set of teams. In short, we have a handful of people that might be interested in playing, but no team leaders/managers willing to do the work of recruiting/organizing.
Anyone want to step up?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Governors Island & Brooklyn Bridge Park Returned to New York City - How About Roosevelt Island?

Aerial View of Governors Island From GIPEC

The NY Post and NY Times are reporting that New York City will take back control of Governors Island from the State of New York. From the NY Post:
The city is taking control of Governors Island from the state and can now move forward with plans to turn the prime, if underused, real estate into a lush park and major destination for tourists and New Yorkers alike.
Under a deal with Albany, the city will put up $41.5 million for the initial work on the island and in return will control nine of 13 appointments to the Governors Island Operating Entity...
The NY Times adds that not only will NYC take back control of Governors Island from NY State but also:
... Last month, the city reached a similar deal with the state to take over Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Other prospective deals being discussed in the Bloomberg administration include exercising the city’s right to buy Battery Park City from the state and negotiating a takeover of the state-run City University of New York system, according to city officials...
Now can anyone think of another piece of land or neighborhood in New York City controlled by the State Of New York which should be returned to the City of New York? Come on, you can do it.

That right, the answer is Roosevelt Island, which while technically part of New York City, is leased to the State of New York through the year 2068 and run by our friends at the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp., a NY State Public Benefit Corporation created under these NY State Governing Statutes.

In 1999 former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani

visited a Roosevelt Island Town Hall Meeting and seemed to support the liberation of Roosevelt Island from the State of New York as recounted in this 2007 post:
... returning control of Roosevelt Island from the State of New York to the City of New York. This may not be as far fetched as it first appears. Politicians rarely give up power to others but remember that Mayor Bloomberg was able to gain control of the City's school system when most observers thought that it would be impossible. Perhaps the Mayor can accomplish the same thing for Roosevelt Island that he did for the NYC Public school system - return it to the control of the City of New York where it belongs!

As reported in the Main Street WIRE, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani took some baby steps toward the liberation of Roosevelt Island in 1999 during a Roosevelt Island Town Hall Meeting when he proclaimed:
"I'm very much in favor of the City controlling our own destiny... Ultimately, you'll be better off when you can touch it, scream at it, deal with it. The Commissioners are accessible... You're much better off moving more of this back to the City. We'll try."
According to the same article this comment from a Roosevelt Island Resident:
"What we're looking for here is democracy," and an escape from the "bureaucratic quagmire" that is RIOC.
drew this response from former Mayor Rudy Giuliani
"I would be very happy to work with you to liberate Roosevelt Island."
Will Mayor Bloomberg take on this challenge.
Some in RIOC assert that liberation from New York State would be detrimental to Roosevelt Island residents. They say we are much better off being governed by RIOC due to RIOC staff being intimately aware of our local problems and concerns which would not be addressed in the larger NYC bureaucracy.

Q102 Roosevelt Island Bus Route Confusion Ends - MTA Institutes Single Direction Bus Route & Elimates Some Stops

You Tube Video Of Q102 arriving on Roosevelt Island

The Q102 Roosevelt Island Bus service route has always been confusing. When the bus was approaching Motorgate Plaza, some were never quite sure whether the Bus would travel either north or south towards Coler or Goldwater Hospitals on Main Street.

The MTA has decided to change the Roosevelt Island Q102 route to make it consistent. I received the following advisory from RIOC regarding Q102 bus route change as well as elimination of several bus stops.


In order to provide more consistent and uniform service on Roosevelt Island, all Q102 service will travel through Roosevelt Island in the same direction.

Upon entering the island at the Roosevelt Island Bridge, all buses will first travel north on Main Street to Coler Hospital, then south to Goldwater Hospital, and then exit the island at the bridge.

In addition, the following closely-spaced bus stops on the island will be discontinued: (1) 568 Main St, (2) 579 Main St, (3) P.S./I.S. 270, and (4) The Octagon on Northbound Main St. Please use a nearby alternate bus stop.

All service in Long Island City and Astoria will remain unchanged.
Here is the The MTA Q102 bus service change route announcement for Roosevelt Island. The MTA Q102 Bus Schedule effective Fall 2009 is here but does not reflect the recently announced service change.

Report From Roosevelt Island Residents Association Island Services Committee - Transportation, Parking & 311 Reporting System

Image of April RIRA Common Council Meeting

Received the following report from Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Island Services Committee Chairperson Aaron Hamburger that was prepared for and delivered to the April RIRA Common Council Meeting.

Update On transportation Issues

º Tram Project – At the end of March, the project is on schedule, even one day ahead of schedule.

º Q-102 – Effective the 1st week of April, this bus route will change from an alternating route to one constant route. It will go north from the RI bridge, up to Coler, then south on Main St. to the subway and Goldwater, turning north again on Main St, stopping at the subway and other Main St. stops before leaving RI at the RI Bridge.

º F Train – Operation has been going reasonably well with no new problems introduced by the addition of Tram passengers. What’s helped is MTA personnel deployed on the platform during the morning rush hour to direct passenger traffic.

º Red Bus

- Queens Service -- This service ended 4/1/10 due to very low ridership.

- Manhattan Service – The schedule will continue thru April. Evaluation of ridership in May could lead to some schedule changes or reductions. Recent reports, however, indicate ridership is increasing.

- RI Service – The current system in Southtown – one-way route, south on East Main St., north on West Main St. – will continue until the Tram is back in service. Operation in September and thereafter is under discussion within RIOC with inputs by RIRA Committees and other residents. RIOC seems to be leaning to the one-way (north) West Main St. proposal which in addition to solving the “pedestrian safety” problem has some beneficial side effects (parking spots and an off-road truck loading and unloading area), but one key disadvantage – a 30 second extra walk for passengers going to the subway.

Frank Farance has an alternate proposal and there are several more modifications proposed by others. There will be no decision until probably August and vigorous discussion and negotiations until then.

Update On parking Issues

The ISC needs to be involved in improving parking availability on RI.

º On Main St. there are still too many vehicles illegally parked for long periods of time. Also, many vehicles have lapsed parking stickers.

Public Safety must get aggressive in enforcing parking regulations.

º East Drive at Goldwater Hospital – This street is still posted “No Parking” despite RIOC’s promise to remove these signs. ISC will follow up on this .

RI – 311

Jonathan Kalkin, supported by Frank Farance, has asked the ISC to look into re-installing the RI – 311 system. This is a computer reporting system for residents where various service problems (needed road repairs, safety incidents, bus problems, lighting outages, etc.) can be relayed to the appropriate department of RIOC and follow-up reports made.

ISC will accept this challenge.

Aaron Hamburger, Chair
UPDATE 10 AM - THE Q102 Bus route change will begin on April 18 not first week of April.