Friday, July 2, 2010

Message To Roosevelt Island Community From RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin

Image of June 2010 RIOC Board of Directors Meeting

As reported earlier today:
I have offered the opportunity to members of the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors to use this blog as a vehicle to communicate to Roosevelt Island residents regarding issues of concern to the community in an unedited format and taking as much space as they wish. I am very happy that the newest Board Member, Margie Smith, decided to do so and hope that other Board Members follow her lead...
Just received this message from a second RIOC Director, Jonathan Kalkin. From Mr. Kalkin:
I believe in the hope of Roosevelt Island. I believe in the experiment. However, experiments need changes from time to time to get it right. More importantly, experiments need catalysts.

I believe in the hope of owning your own home no matter who you are. For too long, people in this community have been paying for affordable housing that they can’t call their own. It is a treadmill of never-ending rent, or uncertainty without any equity and security. Today, tenants do not know if a rent hike, or a landlord’s electricity scheme, or a market-rate privatization deal will cause them to lose their home. They also don’t have the financial security to sell and give the next person the opportunity to buy an affordable place. This cycle puts their fate in someone else’s hands. This is a statement that if you need affordable housing, you will never achieve the American Dream to say it’s yours.

As my first act as chair of the RIOC Board’s Real Estate committee, with the help of my tireless fellow Board members and our great Assemblymember Micah Kellner, I have set out to break that cycle for the first time. Too many plans had come before and were never acknowledged by the RIOC Board. So, I had it put on the agenda, and we approved the DHCR affordability plans for Rivercross, Island House, and (when the tenants approve one) Westview. It seemed inefficient that all the State and City agencies had never met together in one room, and so I asked the Assemblymember to help set up a meeting at City Hall, and he delivered. As a result, things have started to come together and movement is at hand. It may seem that the RIOC Board doesn’t believe in you, in the hope of owning your own home. This is not true. Your fight is our fight. Your hope is our hope.

I believe in the hope of choice and opportunity and prosperity in owning your own business, and the joy that brings in providing a service and employment for others. For too long, nine, three, or worse – one person – has decided what stores go on the Island. Government thinks it can plan what you want and need. It destroys the entrepreneurial spirit by putting it through a complex and expensive legal and government bidding process that makes it impossible to achieve another American Dream – owning a business. This robs the hope of employment for people on the Island in a time of economic uncertainty. Finally, government says that people of this Island don’t deserve the rich panoply of shops and opportunities of other areas because we are a mixed-income and affordable community.

When I came to this Island, I examined this process and wrote an article in The WIRE outlining a solution – a master lease where the choice of what businesses exist here, and the dreams of the entrepreneurial spirit, are taken from us on the Board and given rightfully back to you. It was approved by the RIRA Common Council, endorsed in a RIRA election referendum, recommended by Senator Jose Serrano’s Hunter College study and even by a consultant study commissioned by RIOC – and then approved by the New York State Attorney General. It has been a long fight, but we are not giving up until a person who wants to open a shop here on Tuesday, and has the means and acumen, is allowed to sign their lease on Wednesday. That business owner will then employ people, provide services for you, and, because there are businesses everywhere on Main Street, will not take the customer for granted. At the same time, that healthy competition will allow our present and future businesses to prosper because, for the first time, there will be a reason to walk down Main Street and patronize the stores.

More importantly, if that business doesn’t survive, it can be replaced immediately. Currently, we have a race to the bottom. We are so afraid of anyone leaving that we allow any business to operate or open, whether or not they fulfill your needs. The current government-approval process is long and, therefore, we are desperate to keep or accept anyone who is interested under any circumstances, simply because we know the current bidding process requires months.

This process can’t be done piecemeal. We want a long-term solution. Also, no one wants to be the first business to invest if they are surrounded by an empty block of stores. The process that will exist will be simple. We give someone the opportunity if they can prove they deserve it; the business then survives if they prove to their customers that they can and will perform. If they perform, they are able to pay to stay in their location. If they can’t, someone else is immediately given the opportunity. It’s a contract that exists between the consumer and business owner, and it’s your right to be in control of it.

I believe that we can be a place of innovation. Our Island started with the idea that we would be a modern community with new technology and ideas. I have been proud to commission studies from Columbia and Cornell regarding transportation, technology, and our parks that have brought new life to this experiment. Ideas like GPS time-clocks for buses are installed. Next up is fiber-optic wi-fi internet in our parks, an Island 311-type information/complaint system with help from Frank Farance, efficient LED lighting, GPS time-clock signs, and bike sharing. I have spoken to companies about installing chargers for electric cars like the new Chevy Volt in Motorgate, powered by solar or tidal energy. These ideas are becoming a reality because the Board and residents believe this Island deserves better.

Finally, I believe in a true and diverse democracy – an Island of diverse incomes where people work together for a better life with true political representation. We are not Tribeca or Brooklyn Heights; we are better, we are diverse, we are special, we are an experiment worth fighting for.

We are the American Dream.
I hope Ms. Smith and Mr. Kalkin continue to share their thoughts with the Roosevelt Island community via Roosevelt Islander blog and that the other RIOC Board Directors do the same as well.

Message To Roosevelt Island Community From RIOC Board Director Margie Smith

Image Of June 2010 RIOC Board Of Directors Meeting

I have offered the opportunity to members of the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors to use this blog as a vehicle to communicate to Roosevelt Island residents regarding issues of concern to the community in an unedited format and taking as much space as they wish. I am very happy that the newest Board Member, Margie Smith, decided to do so and hope that other Board Members follow her lead.

I have also offered the same to Steve Chironis, the interim President/CEO of RIOC and he has agreed to do so. If former RIOC President Steve Shane wishes to share his views with the community on his departure, the blog is open for him as well.

I have asked RIOC Board Chairperson and DHCR Commissioner Brian Lawlor to comment on the reasons for Mr. Shane's departure and to date have received no reply.

From Ms. Smith:
I’ve been on the RIOC Board now for several months and as one of the newest members I thought I’d take this opportunity to say where I think we are right now and to look toward the future and what I hope we’ll be able to accomplish in the upcoming year(s).

The current board is composed primarily of residents elected by each of you. We recognize our responsibility to you and our responsibility to New York State. Those responsibilities, fortunately, are in perfect synchronization. The objectives of this community are still very much the objectives of this board. We want to continue the original plan for this Island, a community with mixed ethnicities, incomes and age groups.

We’re working to revitalize Main Street. We’ve put forward a plan to get a Master Leaseholder to take over the storefronts. We believe this will provide a long-term solution to an ongoing problem. While it takes longer upfront to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a Master Leaseholder than it would to issue an RFP for an individual store, once it’s done, it’s done forever. That means that in the future if a store becomes vacant, it can be filled instantly with whatever type of shop or service is needed, without RIOC having to issue an RFP, with its inherent delays, every time that happens. It also means closer management of the storefronts by people who know retail. I, personally, feel this approach will be a plus for the residents as well as the merchants. We appreciate your patience and completely understand the frustration felt by all of you. We feel it too and I want to assure you we’re doing everything in our power to breathe life into Main Street as quickly as we possibly can.

At the same time we’re putting a high priority effort on finalizing the affordability plans outlined by the Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). Those plans will insure that affordable housing will continue for the residents of Island House, Rivercross and Westview. We’ve been very fortunate to have the expertise of the DHCR staff in developing these plans and our objective now is to get them implemented as quickly as possible.

Then there’s the tram. By now you’ve all read that we’re behind schedule by about a month. We recognize the importance of getting the tram back as quickly as possible and we’re doing everything we can to make up the time. You’ve probably seen the after-hours work that’s being done to speed up the job, with safety always being our primary concern. I personally walk from my job on the West side to the tram every evening after work rather than going down into the subway. I miss that and want to get back to doing it while the weather is still nice. I also recognize the huge inconvenience this is to the disabled and senior population who can’t always depend on the elevator in the subway working. Bottom line, we understand the importance of getting the tram back in service as fast as is safely possible. We’re trying to do just that.

While there are a myriad of other projects going on right now, we’re also looking well into the future of the Island. Our first concern is to be sure that the Island will be financially stable in the years to come. That will be a challenge, but we believe we’re on the right road to making that happen. As a board member and Island resident I want tosee Roosevelt Island be in the forefront of innovation. That’s what we’ve always been about. We had the first commuter tramway in the United States; we have the only Automated Vacuum Collection (AVAC) system serving a residential complex in the United States; we had electric buses back in the ‘70’s. This board wants the Island to continue to innovate. We’re focusing on the areas of technology, energy, and communications. I’m looking forward to more community involvement in each of these areas to make the next decade one that’s marked with creativity and progress that will make us all proud.

RIRA President On RIOC President Shane's Departure, Master Leaseholder, Free Market Economics, Mitchell Lama Privatizations, Reunion & More

RIRA President Frank Farance Speaking At June RIOC Board Public Comment Session

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Frank Farance sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents. Mr. Farance addresses:
1. RIRA Blood Drive a huge success. Thank you to all participated. This year was our best effort ever. Thanks to Matt Katz for organizing this, vampires would have been proud.

2. Roosevelt Island Day was wonderful! This is such a great community day. Thank you to Doryne Isley, Charlie DeFino, the managing companies, RIOC, and others who supported, helped, and participated. RIRA was served hundreds of free bagels, coffee, and orange juice to residents — thanks to Trellis for the wide assortment of bagels. My children and I enjoyed the rides, the ponies, the little train ride, and the children's ID event. The Motown review band was excellent including watching PSD Deputy Director René Bryan work up the crowd. Mr. Bryan, you were having so much fun, you should have been in the band.

3. Roosevelt Island Reunion. Last weekend, we had a reunion of original residents circa 1976 to 1986. About 200 returned to picnic, swap stories, show off their children, and play music. I was in the last category, a keyboard player. In our younger days, us musicians would haul equipment on spring Saturday mornings to the water's steps at Motorgate and jam for a couple hours. (Or as one derisively put it: a loud tuning of guitars for four hours.) Over six hours of playing we covered Jeff Beck's Freeway Jam, Tom Petty's American Girl, Credence Clearwater Revival's Born on the Bayou, Wild Cherry's Play That Funky Music, James Brown's Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, Allman Brother's Statesboro Blues, Jimi Hendrix's Fire, and ending with Blind Faith's Can't Find My Way Home. Thanks to residents Dana Doyle, Olya Turcihin, and Brian Dorfmann for organizing the event. Thanks to RIOC staff Donna Masly, Carol Rubino, Mike Smith, and Fernando Martinez for their excellent help. Thanks to Public Safety for providing security who received many compliments from us old-timers.

4. RIRA Town Hall meeting on Main Street storefronts. We had our town hall meeting, unfortunately no one from the RIOC Board's Real Estate Development Advisory Committee attended. The whole idea was to be informed about the process to hear the multiple sides. RIOC President Steve Shane explained that we could have a 90-day process for renting storefronts. Cynthia Ahn, who runs a nail salon, and Julie Palermo, of the RI Chamber of Commerce. expressed concerns and dissatisfaction over the potential master lease process. Merchants are worried that when their leases expire will they be pushed out? Here's some of the main problems with the present master lease process:

- The big developers (Southtown and Octagon) are willing to invest millions in this because it will help with their rentals and sales. This is baloney. If spending a million dollars helped their rentals/sales, they'd spend the money now. But we have already learned that they won't spend money: for all the chatter from developers about getting a ferry while the tram is out, when it came to these developers putting up money, they balked. So we learned that the developer's sob story about rental/ssales is not true. The same applies here: they are piggy backing on residents' frustration with a plausible but phony story about a loss of rentals/sales. Yes, developers might be interested in the storefronts, but not because of loss of rentals/sales.

- Some RIOC Board members claim that only "free market" economics works and government can do no good. Recent US economic history tells us that "free market" doesn't always work. Not only will it not work here, we are NOT getting "free market" economics with the master plan. According to RIOC Board member Mr. Jonathan Kalkin, developers would allow the stores to run at a loss. So if RIOC allows their stores to run at a loss, it's bad government; but if a private enterprise does it, it's "free market". Furthermore, the deals that brought Duane Reade and Starbucks to the Island were not standalone profit operations, they were trades (as described by RIOC's real estate advisor Jones Lange Lasalle) where the developer would allow the merchant some prime location OFF of Roosevelt Island, but in exchange the merchant has to put a store on Roosevelt Island. These kind of arrangements aren't "free market" economics, they are merely choosing between two kinds of artificial/non-market economies: one is chosen by a government entity (RIOC, of which we have some influence) and one is chosen by a private entity (master lessee, of which we have no influence).

- Roosevelt Island is intended to be an economically diverse community. This is very different from most other communities. As Mr. Shane pointed out, we have a nail salon whose rent is $45/sq-ft in Southtown and a nail salon whose rent is $15/sq-ft in Roosevelt Landings with clienteles for both. In the master lease process, it might easily be economically viable to replace the $15/sq-ft nail salon with another service at $22/sq-ft (which is unaffordable by the nail salon). The outcome is: businesses and services lost for a lower economic segment are replaced by businesses and services for a higher economic segment. This is what normal "free market" economics do and, normally, some kind of out-of-market entity (e.g., government) is necessary to reduce this imbalance. Essentially, this is the argument that our current merchants are making.

- The storefronts could be rented right now with leases subject to the master lease, which is how it is done in shopping malls, but the RIOC Board does not want to do that. They say that will reduce the value of any master lease RFP process. This makes no sense: either your investment horizon is short-term, in which case you only care about the 10,000 sq-ft available, which is so small it is of little interest; or you care about the long-term, i.e., when big spaces like Gristede's become available in 2032, in which case the tenants rentable within 90 days are not your investment concern.

- What happens when the master lease doesn't work? For example, what if residents are really really unhappy with the outcome. The only way to unwind the deal is litigation or concessions, which will cost the Island (and a future RIOC Board). This is an all-lose situation and the RIOC Board has not said how they will handle this.

The RIOC Board is unwilling to permit a hybrid: lease storefronts now (could be done in 90 days) with leases subject to the master lease, meanwhile work through community concerns. As RIRA's Vice President Ellen Polivy said regarding the 2008 Island referendum question on a master lease, "I don't think we literally meant that [it had to be a master lease], what we wanted was the storefronts rented right away". About two months ago, RIOC Board Member Jonathan Kalkin said that merchants would be able to rent as soon as June. June has come and gone. It appears that Mr. Shane's predictions seem to be more accurate. After all, he is a real estate attorney that has worked with many commercial properties over the years.

I think experience is important. For example, When RIOC Board member Mr. Mike Shinozaki talks about operations, it is clear that his background brings vital experience to RIOC's efforts. For the Real Estate committee, there is nothing inherently wrong with a insurance agent, a grade school teacher, and a pediatrician being involved, but if this were any other organization that weren't so close to home, one would say "Gee, given the experience of your committee and the fact that you have a real estate attorney whose done commercial properties, I think I'd like to hear his point, too". And I've heard that two independent studies, including one by DHCR, recommended against the master lease process. So that's the point here: the board seemed to be upset that it was important to hear Mr. Shane's point of view, and it was important for these and other differing points to be discussed within the community (which the RIOC President chose to do, but the Real Estate committee declined).

Minimally, the RIOC Board needs to interact with the community and they should start by showing us what the RFP drafts look like. Had present resident board members not been on the RIOC Board, as outsiders they would have demanded: you should share this with the community. Although there were some initial bumps in the road, RIOC's Rosina Abramson's approach to have RIRA provide a Blackwell Park Committee produced the best outcome: (1) it satisfied RIOC's needs, (2) it satisfied the developer's needs, (3) it satisfied the residents' needs. The RIOC Board should choose the same approach, which will benefit everyone.

5. RIOC Board fires President Steve Shane. [Preface: These are my personal comments, RIRA has not yet met to discuss this, so I don't know their opinions.] At the Roosevelt Island Reunion on Saturday, the reporter who did the Newsweek article 30 years ago was doing a follow-up on Roosevelt Island and she was looking for juicy dirt to report. In that discussion, I was quoted as saying "I think Steve Shane has been the best RIOC President we've had in the past 15 years". On Monday, I found out his board was going to fire him. Considering the number of disagreements I've had with Mr. Shave over the years, you'll probably find it odd that I was strongly supportive of Mr. Shane continuing in his role.

Let me be clear, I think the RIOC Board made a serious mistake. Mr. Shane had approximately six months left in his term with the present governor. There are many major projects that need to be completed in the next 4-6 months, including the tram project that is a month behind schedule, the park work and memorial work at Southpoint, the privatization efforts for the three remaining Mitchell-Lama buildings (disclosure: I am the corporate secretary for the tenant association in the one of those buildings.) While there might have been other times for the board to assert itself (such as the wasteful dual-tram approach that could have saved us $10 million), this was the wrong time and for the wrong reason.

Given the risk of completing these efforts (including the inevitable litigation/mediation that will come from the tram delay), it seems foolish to lose the knowledge base of a key executive who was central to all of this. I checked the minutes of the RIOC Board meetings since January 2009 and I can find no actual impropriety or violation of the board's directives. If the RIOC Board really felt they needed to be clear about their direction, they could have adopted a specific board resolutions, but they chose not to -- until then, Mr. Shane had a fiduciary responsibility to report the truth, which he did. It seems that it was all about a personality issue, which is fine for clubs of teenagers, but not for corporate governance of a state public benefit corporation. The personal (non-business) aspect of this was clear: after the board forced his retirement in executive session, they then asked him to leave the table in the board meeting because board members "felt uncomfortable" with him being there. The RIOC Board looked like a bunch of amateurs, not serious executives. After Mr. Shane left, they then had a public beauty contest where the CFO and VP of Operations were treated as children: a face-off, including each describing the other's strengths and weakness. It was disgusting and non-professional. I, like many others in attendance, thought: Why couldn't you have discussed this in private? Why do you force your CFO to explain in public why he himself might not be good for the job of Acting President/CEO? Amateurs -- not a criticism of their lack of real estate experience, a criticism of their lack of professional courtesy.

Part of why Mr. Shane fired was his willingness to tell the truth to us on the master lease process. This is not a McChrystal moment (who was clearly disrespecting his boss), this was a RIOC Board that didn't want him to interact with the community to hear differing perspectives. At the RIRA Town Hall Meeting, it was clear that there was dissatisfaction with the RIOC Board and they wanted to express it.

Mr. Shane caused some friction elsewhere in privatization: the nature of exiting Mitchell-Lama housing for three of the remaining buildings is determining a variety of things, including how much profit tenants and building owners will make as the buildings become market-rate. (Note: Exiting Mitchell-Lama is essential for the survivability of all three buildings and keeping their present tenants; I have consistently supported privatization.) Considering the significant potential self-dealing conflicts of interest when a majority of the resident members of the RIOC Board are all effected by this pecuniary interest, you can see that Mr. Shane had to walk a fine line while satisfying his corporate obligations. Mr. Shane has said, which is completely proper for his role, he wanted to preserve affordable housing (post conversion), he wanted to make sure the owners and tenants would not walk away with obscene profits (which might put him on the front page of the New York Times), and he wanted to make sure that the Island's finances would improve long term (possibly to the detriment of the owners' and tenants' profits). A very tough job for Mr. Shane, but he seemed to be making steady progress.

I think this is an important moment in the Island's drive for self-governance. Some well-known advocates of self-governance believe that firing Mr. Shane is the pinnacle of our self-governance effort. I have been a strong supporter of self-governance and continue to be. However, if we really want people to respect the Island's ability to govern, then we cannot be of the mind "everything from Albany is Bad, everything by Island residents is Good". We have to demonstrate that we have better thinking, honesty, fairness, and transparency about Roosevelt Island. Which means that we need to feel free about being able to criticize your own neighbors on their mistakes — that is what will make us better, not a blind demonstration of power; and not blind support of board members just because they are our neighbors and we elected them. At the next RIOC Board election, hopefully some of those residents who expressed their unhappiness about the present RIOC Board will become candidates and remind voters that they won't make the same power grab, will have more executive management experience, and will be more cooperative about interacting with their constituents. Let the public decide.

Goodbye Mr. Shane. Thank you for reorganizing RIOC to be a much better organization that responsive to the Island; for reducing the prior "bunker mentality"; for giving us the experiment of elected resident members to the RIOC board (who just thanked you by firing you); for insisting upon a better Public Safety Department (which has improved substantially); for your many conversations (although we weren't always in agreement). I still stand by my statement "You're the best RIOC President we've had in the past 15 years" and it is our loss that you could not finish your term.

7. Upcoming RIRA meetings. The next meeting is on September 15 at 8:00 p.m. in the Good Shepherd Community Center; future meeting is October 6. Have a great summer!
The RIRA President's message is also published as the RIRA column in the 7/3/10 Main Street WIRE.

No Fourth Of July East River Fireworks Viewing From Roosevelt Island For 2010 - On Hudson River Again But This Is What It Was Like In 2008

You Tube Video of July 4 2008 Fireworks at Southpoint Park Roosevelt Island

There will be no viewing of the July 4 Independence Day celebration from Roosevelt Island again this year as the Macy's Fireworks Celebration will be set off from barges in the Hudson instead of East River for the second straight year. As NewYorkology reported back in April:
... For the second year in a row, the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks will light up the skies above the Hudson River, again snubbing the East River which had been the most frequent location for decades....
and NewYorkology received this response from Macy's as to the reason for this year's move to the Hudson River:
...The Hudson allows us to put on the massive show we planned this year celebrating the nation’s independence and the its unique musical heritage. With 6 extra long barges, positioned end to end we are able to cover more than 30 city blocks and heights of up to 1000 feet with multi-tiered fireworks. The public viewing is also great for this design on the west side with its non elevated highway and various piers and parks that allow for increased viewing of the show’s multi level effects...
Take a look at the video of the 2008 East River Fireworks from Southpoint Park. Simply spectacular!

Roosevelt Island 360 shows us what it was like trying to evacuate the Island of guests following the 2008 July 4 Fireworks Celebration.

Time Out New York shows us the best places to watch the fireworks and other things to do on the July 4 weekend.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Scenes From The Rock Reunion Year 2010 - Roosevelt Island Teens From Late 70's Return To Lighthouse Park For Fun Times & Good Memories

Group RI

Lighthouse Park was the site last Saturday for the "Rock Reunion 2010", a return of the original Roosevelt Island teenagers from the years 1976 - 1980. The reunion was organized by Dana Doyle (family lived on RI until 2001), Olya Turcihin, Brian Dorfmann (both past and current residents), and Frank Farance (current RIRA President - he was an original island kid as well).

RI Reunion Planning Team

It was an opportunity for old friends to get together,

Mike, Darrick & Rodney

remember old times,

Jennifer and Esrin

catch up on current situations

and have a great time.

McGee & Jessica

Hope & Frank

One of the organizers, Dana Doyle, commented:
There was so much love shared on the day of the reunion. Growing up together on Roosevelt Island remains in our hearts and we continue to be good friends as of today. Ours is a very special and unique bond.
Rebecca, Ramona & Jen

There was a "Rock" ing band playing most of the day

The Band.

and night
Brotherhood Band

Ms. Doyle described the band as:
... a bunch of old friends that used to play together as teens and reunited for this event. They had such an incredible bonding experience playing together this past Saturday that they named themselves "The Rock Reunion Brotherhood Band". It was a "love festival" that day, so it makes sense :) Some of them are current professional musicians or in the music business. They definately rocked!
Here's the band in action. On keyboard is our very own RIRA President Frank Farance.

The Roosevelt Island Reunion photos were taken by several different people.

There's More!

The photos after the jump and video were provided Rebecca Knell.

I also received old 1970's pictures from some of the Reunion kids of Roosevelt Island back in the day that I will be posting soon. Stay tuned for those pictures.

Roosevelt Island Little League Advances In Tournament With NY Yankee Style Win - Wear Down Starting Pitcher, Score On Relievers - Next Game Tonight

Roosevelt Island Little League Team warming up

Reported last week on the return of Little League Baseball to Roosevelt Island and the exciting 12 -11 walk off extra inning win by the Roosevelt Island team. Here's the latest, as of last night, on the Roosevelt Island Little League from Special Correspondent Charlie DeFino, Executive Director of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center.

On Monday our 9 and 10 years banged out 21 runs on 17 hits to beat the North Riverdale team after wearing down their star pitcher (65 pitch LL limit) to advance to round 4 on Thursday. They will play at 5:30 pm against a gutsy Greenwich Village team also facing elimination at Inwood Hill Park Diamond 6 adjacent to Wien Stadium (Columbia University Field) 218th Street in Northern Manhattan. If you would to support our youth call the Roosevelt Island Youth Program Inc. for directions

Our 11 & 12 year old team played tonight and after battling back from an 8 run deficit to tie the game at 11 had their game suspended because of darkness and be resumed in the top of the 7th (extra innings) down 15 to 11 with no outs and a runner on first. At this time we do not know of the field and game time, we will keep you posted.
Below are some pictures taken by Roosevelt Island resident Don Smith at second game played against the Stuyvesant A team. Unfortunately, Roosevelt Island lost that game 18 to 0.

# 12 Alex (AJ) Franquie is caught stealing 2nd base

# 33 Thomas Guzman 1st base made several excellent catches from infielders

#1 DJ Smith 2nd baseman throws out runner on a ground ball

Grounder To Shortstop

#2 Jaden Perry catches fly ball in center field

Here's the magic of baseball as explained by James Earl Jones in Field Of Dreams.

UPDATE 7/2 - Special Correspondent Charlie DeFino, reports on Thursday's game:
The Roosevelt Island Little league All-Star Team 9 and 10 Division lost Thursday night in Inwood to a feisty Greenwich Village team also facing elimination 7 to 4 in a well played game. The RI youth lost the lead in the 4th inning and squandered opportunities with the bases loaded in the 4th and 5th innings and are eliminated from the Official Little League Tournament with a record of 2-2. The young boys and girls and their coaches deserve a big hand for competing in a tough tournament and representing the Roosevelt Island Youth Program and their community beyond even our high expectations. The team will continue to compete over the summer in other tournaments and exhibition games.

Council Member Jessica Lappin Secures Funds For Roosevelt Island PTA, Seniors, Disabled, Youth, Patients, History Organizations From NYC 2011 Budget

Image of Council Member Jessica Lappin & Mayor Bloomberg From NY Real Estate Law

The June 29 NY Times reported:
The City Council voted 48 to 1 on Tuesday to approve a $63.1 billion budget that would raise no taxes but drastically reduce spending on a variety of programs, from senior centers to schools.

The vote was expected, and it followed a deal last week between the Council and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for the fiscal year that begins on Thursday...
I received the following message from the office of Roosevelt Island's New York City Council Member Jessica Lappin:
Council Member Jessica Lappin was able to secure $82,200 in expense funding for organizations serving Roosevelt Island in the FY11 New York City budget passed by the Council on June 29. Funds were granted to eight different organizations and, among other things, will go toward community service projects for teenage girls, support for seniors and disabled residents, and arts in the local school.

“Each of these organizations provides a valuable service for Roosevelt Island residents,” Council Member Lappin said. “I’m glad to be able to help support them and the great work they do for the Island.”

Council Member Lappin was able to allocate money to the following groups:

• Roosevelt Island Senior Association - $25,000 for educational and recreational activities
• PS/IS 217 PTA - $20,000 for in-school Spanish language and arts program for grades K-5 and in-school enrichment programming for grades K-8
• Roosevelt Island Youth Program - $10,000 to support continuing work with teenage girls in community service and leadership program and continue to open Youth Center on weekends during winter months
• Angelica Patient Assistance Program - $7,200 for Goldwater Hospital activity room, which is used by patients with mobility issues
• Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts - $7,000 to support Lincoln Center’s arts education programs at PS/IS 217
• Roosevelt Island Disabled Society - $6,000 to support wheelchair basketball
• Island Kids - $3,500 to expand program offerings and expansion of summer camp
• Roosevelt Island Historical Society - $3,500 to support educational programs for schools, tours, community groups, and hospital residents

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NY State Assembly Passes Bill Sponsored By Micah Kellner On Roosevelt Island Governance - More Community Input & Oversight By Directors

Received the following release from Assembly Member Micah Kellner yesterday.
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner (D,WFP) to reform the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) passed the state Assembly today. The bill will open up RIOC to greater community input and improve oversight by the corporation’s Board of Directors. It is sponsored in the State Senate by Senator José Serrano.

“Roosevelt Islanders know that the Island only works when RIOC is accountable and responsive to the community,” Assembly Member Kellner said. “This bill means that Islanders will have a greater role in the governing process—it opens up the corporation to the public and establishes the principle that Island residents must have a say in how the Island is run.”

The legislation gives the public a role in the process of hiring the RIOC President—requiring the Board of Directors to consider at least three candidates for the job and to hold hearings allowing members of the public as well as Board members to interview the candidates. It requires that meetings of the Board of Directors be subject to the state’s open meetings law, and specifies that members of the public must have an opportunity to comment on all agenda items before the Board votes on those items.

Additionally, the legislation provides that two of the public members of RIOC’s Board of Directors will be chosen upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the Assembly and the Temporary President of the State Senate—who will make their suggestions based on consultation with the local member of the Assembly and the Senate, ensuring input for those elected officials who are most answerable to Roosevelt Island residents.

“This is a victory for Roosevelt Islanders,” Assembly Member Kellner said. “It is a clear affirmation of residents’ right to be part of the Island’s decision making process.”
The full text of the bill (A10392) is here.

Given the departure of Steve Shane as President of RIOC last Monday, this legislation is certainly timely though it has been in the works for some time and is not related to Mr. Shane's leaving RIOC.

A similar bill sponsored by Senator Serrano was recently passed by the State Senate.

RIRA President Asks Questions About Roosevelt Island's Island House Security Camera System - Building Management Answers & Verizon FIOS Available Soon

Image of Island House From Bridge and Tunnel Club

Below is an interesting correspondence between Roosevelt Island Resident Association President (RIRA) Frank Farance and Island House Management representative Jennifer Jones concerning security camera features available at Island House. It is an informative and productive dialogue.

From Mr. Farance:
I've heard from one of my neighbors that this week there was a robbery of a child (iPhone taken) in the Island House courtyard. My neighbor told me the suspect, an Island resident, was arrested yesterday. I'm glad there is a happy ending to this story.

However, I think it is possible that some of these places can become crime magnets is because there are no video cameras. Most buildings these days (welfare SROs?) have blanket coverage of their properties.

So I'd like some answers to questions:

1. [For Ms. Jones] Why does Island House not have security features that are common to other high-rise apartment buildings?

2. [For Ms. Jones] What is the plan to put in security features? In what timeframe?

3. [For Ms. Jones and Director Guerra] How will this been coordinated with Public Safety and their island-wide security camera program?

4. [For Ms. Jones and Mr. Hirschorn] Why is there a delay in Verizon FIOS for Island House? Why are Island House and Westview the only buildings on Roosevelt Island that do not have FIOS? RIOC has asked for this to support there island-wide security camera program. Residents have asked for this and Verizon might soon "force" there way into the building regardless of Mr. Hirschorn's delay. Why is the owner, David Hirschorn, opposed to *permitting* (at no cost to him) the installation of common communications infrastructure that, in this case, might have helped prevent/deter crime upon children?

I'd like prompt answers because I believe the residents of Island House would like for their children to feel safe playing on its premises. I've included Ms. Feely-Nahem and Ms. Mincheff on this E-mail so they can coordinate and comment upon a broader Island-wide basis.
Ms. Jones replies:
Thank you for your inquiry regarding security cameras and FIOS. Management is finalizing the agreements with Verizon for installation of FIOS at both Island House and Westview and expect this to be done in the next 30 days. Thereafter, it will be up to Verizon as to actual scheduling of the installation.

Contrary to your email, neither RIOC nor PSD has ever requested that IH or WV install FIOS as part of the Island wide security camera program. When your email was received, we contacted PSD Director Guerra and he confirmed that installation of FIOS at IH and WV has nothing whatsoever to do with PSD's Island wide camera installation. However, we did discuss with Director Guerra a review of security measures at IH and WV generally, and we will be working with PSD to update crime prevention techniques. In this regard, a review of the security camera situation will also be undertaken. Apart from PSD, we have solicited proposals from security monitoring vendors and will be discussing this with PSD. As you must know, both IH and WV have extensive existing camera systems.

We invite RIRA and the IHTA and WTI organizations to submit suggestions for continued security enhancements and to work with management and PSD to improve security in the Island Community.
Here is the Island House Tenants Association (IHTA) and Westview Task Force (WTI) web sites.

On the issue of Roosevelt Island security cameras, a reader sends in these pictures of recently installed roof top cameras at 510 Main Street

and asks those of us walking by to look up and say "cheese".

UPDATE 12 PM - RIOC Director of Information Technology Michael Moreo provides a correction to the images above that were thought to be security cameras. Mr. Moreo reports:
The images shown on the Roosevelt Islander Blogspot is in fact NOT cameras, but rather equipment known as Free Space Optics (FSO). These devices are used when physical cabling is cost prohibitive, but high bandwidth capability is required (1GB speed or greater). We are using these specific FSO's to connect the Roosevelt Island Tramway to the fiber backbone of the corporate network for RIOC.

There is another FSO connection that connects our Engineering Department (513 Main Street) to the fiber backbone of the corporate network. Both connections are using the rooftop of 504 as the junction point to the physical network. That is why you see 2 FSO's on the roof of 510 Main Street. One is pointing to the rooftop of 504 and one is pointing to the Tramway. 510 Main Street is being used as a relay station due to it's height and line of sight capability to the Tramway. The 504 Main Street rooftop does not provide that same capability.
In addition, you see 2 FSO's on the rooftop of 504 Main Street. One is pointing to the relay point on the top of 510 Main Street and one is pointing to the Engineering Department.

I hope this clears up matters regarding this portion of the project.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Roosevelt Island Grand Larceny - Handbag Stolen From Pregnant Women - Taken To Hospital As A Precaution

A disturbing Roosevelt Island Daily Public Safety Report for 6/28-29:

Grand Larceny- A hand bag was taken from a female. PSD responded and conducted a search for the subjects with negative results. NYPD and EMS responded. Female is pregnant and as a precautionary measure she was transported to the hospital. PSD and NYPD filed reports.
I have asked Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department for additional details and will report back when received.

UPDATE 6/30 - Received the following additional information from the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department about the hand bag stolen from a pregnant woman and another prior incident:
With regard to the Grand Larceny the woman is an island resident and the incident occurred at 7:10 p.m. The woman was pregnant and skinned her knees. She was brought to the hospital as a precautionary measure due to her pregnancy. The subjects are unknown.

With regard to the Assault, Resisting Arrest and Disorderly Conduct incident, two island families were involved in a physical dispute. This incident occurred at 9:05 p.m. Minor injuries.
The second incident was reported in the Public Safety report for 6/25-10-7:00 AM to 6/26/10-7:00 AM and indicated:
Assault/Resisting Arrest/Disorderly Conduct- PSD arrested 4 subjects.
UPDATE 11:05 AM - From the Public Safety Department:
The Grand Larceny took place in front of 400 Main Street. Four unknown youths were the subjects.

Roosevelt Island Summer Outdoor Movie Series Began Last Saturday Night With Spider Man - Zoolander On July 10

Some scenes from last Saturday night's Roosevelt Island Outdoor Movie Series showing of Spider Man.

Scpijim tweeted:

Free movie night in the park (Spiderman) on Roosevelt Island.
Image of Roosevelt Island Outdoor Movie Night from Twitpic

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Community Relations Specialist Erica Wilder reports:
I wanted to share with you a few pictures taken from Saturday's movie "Spiderman. We had a great turnout- 332 people. Hope you can make it to the next feature!
Image From JoAnna Lopez

Image From JoAnna Lopez

Future movies and show dates:
Saturday, July 10th- Zoolander
Saturday, July 24th- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Saturday, August 7th- Conspiracy Theory
Monday, August 21st- Nighthawks
A reader of prior Roosevelt Island Outdoor Movie post commented:
I knew the other 3 were shot on RI, but I am going to have to see TMNT and Zoolander again to catch the RI scenes.
The Zoolander cemetery scenes were shot at Southpoint Park.

F Train Subway Delays This Morning At Roosevelt Island Subway Station Due To Smoke Conditions At Manhattan Station

Roosevelt Island Commuters Figuring Out How To Get To Work

Another day of problems with the morning's Roosevelt Island F Train subway commute. No trains to Manhattan or Queens due to a smoke condition at a Manhattan Station. According to RIOC:
Please be advised that due to a smoke condition at a Manhattan station, service has been temporarily suspended in both directions.

RIOC has added additional Red Bus Service to Manhattan and the Q102 Bus is running on schedule.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Roosevelt Island commuters were packed together in groups trying to figure out how to get to work, school or elsewhere this morning near the Rivewalk Bus Stop

and the subway station

Some took the Red Bus to Manhattan

and others shared a cab.

At about 9:20 an announcement was made that F train service had returned to Queens and a little while after that Manhattan F Train service resumed.

Upon hearing the announcement, Roosevelt Island commuters stoically made their way through the Riverwalk Commons

to the F Train Subway Station and resumed their commute.

RIOC issued the following advisory at 9:45 AM:
Please be advised the F train is back in service in both directions.
Must be an interesting day for Mr. Steve Chironis to start his position as Interim President of RIOC.

Monday, June 28, 2010

BREAKING NEWS - Roosevelt Island Operating Corp President Steve Shane Out As President, On Leave Pending Retirement - Chironis New Interim President

Only the second time I have ever done this.


Image of June RIOC Board Meeting ( last with Steve Shane, left of Light, as President)

A stunning development, at least in the context of Roosevelt Island governance, occurred during tonight's June Roosevelt Island Board of Directors (RIOC) meeting held in a hot, sweltering, un- air conditioned Good Shepherd Community Center. Following the Public Comment Session of approximately 40 minutes, the RIOC Board of Directors unexpectedly went into Executive Session (Note the Executive Session was not on the Agenda) to discuss what was described as an employment related issue.

The public is not allowed to attend an Executive Session of the RIOC Board so the Directors leave the public meeting room and meet in private as the public waits for them to return. At least an hour after the Board Directors went into Executive Session, they returned to the Public Board meeting announcing that RIOC President Steve Shane was no longer President, that he was going on leave pending retirement and chose RIOC CFO Steve Chironis as Interim President.

Image of Interim CEO Steve Chironis

A resident told me of seeing Mr. Shane exiting the Good Shepherd Community Center prior to the resumption of the public meeting in the company of RIOC's Fernando Martinez and Rosina Abramson and remarking to the resident that he's gone.

I sent an email to Mr. Shane asking:
Do you wish to make any comment on your retirement and leave as RIOC President.

My sincere best wishes for your future.
Mr. Shane replied:
I'm sorry it has ended. I wish the residents of the Island and the staff of RIOC the very best going forward.
Assembly Member Micah Kellner issued the following statement earlier tonight:
“As a non-voting member of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Board of Directors, I have always believed that the RIOC President is answerable to the Corporation’s Board of Directors. The law clearly states that the Board has the authority to replace the President and I respect that authority.

“I fully support the Board’s choice of Steven Chironis as Interim President, and will do everything in my power to make this transition as easy as possible, so that we can move forward on the many urgent initiatives we are pursuing on Roosevelt Island.”
Ironically, during the Public Comment Session, Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Frank Farance complimented Mr. Shane by saying that despite some of their disagreements on any number of issues, Mr. Farance believed that Mr. Shane was the best RIOC President of the last 15 years.

Image of Frank Farance During Public Comment Session of RIOC June Board meeting

Not exactly comparable to President Obama (the RIOC Board) firing General Stanley McChrystal (Mr. Shane) but still big in Roosevelt Island Land.

None of the Directors I spoke with would comment regarding the reason for Mr. Shane's departure but Mr. Kellner's statement is intriguing:
... I have always believed that the RIOC President is answerable to the Corporation’s Board of Directors. The law clearly states that the Board has the authority to replace the President and I respect that authority....
More on this to follow but regardless of the reason for Mr. Shane's departure, he has my best wishes for the future.

UPDATE 6/29 - Received the following message from NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin:
I enjoyed working with Steve Shane, particularly on Southpoint Park, and wish him all the best in his retirement. I look forward to working with the next RIOC President to make the Island an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.
UPDATE 6 PM - The web cast of the June RIOC Board of Directors Meeting should be available soon.

UPDATE - 7/22 - The latest here including article about Mr. Shane's removal from NY Times City Room Blog.