Saturday, August 14, 2010

Young Roosevelt Island Lemonade Stand Entrepreneurs At Work Today - Good Price & Friendly Service, Can't Beat That

As I was walking towards the Farmers Market earlier today, I stopped to have some delicious lemonade made by a couple of young Roosevelt Island entrepreneurs. The girls were very impressive demonstrating efficient and friendly service with a smile at a good price - 25 cents - can't beat that.

Starting a lemonade stand is a great way for kids to have fun, meet people and learn business skills. Did you know there is a Lemonade Day?

Lemonade Day is a nation-wide event that teaches kids the skills they need to be successful in the future. Youth learn to set goals, develop a business plan, establish a budget, seek investors, provide customer service, and give back to the community. Lemonade day is the perfect opportunity for a community to show kids they care and train the next generation of entrepreneurs through a FREE, fun, engaging, experiential activity.

You Tube Video of Lemonade Day

Next Year's Lemonade Day is May 11.

It looks like there may be some competition for the Roosevelt Island Lemonade Stand market.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Leslie Torres Comments On First Week As RIOC President - Whirlwind Of Roosevelt Island Activity And Meetings

Image of New RIOC President Leslie Torres After Being Appointed By RIOC Board of Directors

Leslie Torres is about to complete her first week of work as the President of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC).

I asked her:
I hope your first week at RIOC is going well.

If you wish to share any thoughts or comments you have on your first week as RIOC President with the Roosevelt Island community, I would be happy to post them on the Roosevelt Islander blog.

I am sure the residents would be interested in what you have been doing, how you are getting acclimated to your new position and what are your top priorities as RIOC President.
Ms. Torres responded:
My first week has been a whirlwind of activity, filled with meetings with staff, developers and Roosevelt Island residents. I have met with so many people who are dedicated to Roosevelt Island and making the Island a great place to live, work and/or visit. It has already proven to be incredibly inspiring experience. A great first week indeed.
Will be interesting to find out what Ms. Torres discussed and learned from these conversations. I hope that she will share these thoughts with the Roosevelt Island community.

Stand Up Surf Paddlers Navigate Around Manhattan For Autism Awareness - Will Be Passing Roosevelt Island This Afternoon , Give Them A Wave And A Cheer

Image From Sea Paddle NYC

Sometime later this afternoon don't be surprised if you see a bunch of Stand Up Surf Paddlers making their way past Roosevelt Island on the East River heading towards their final destination at the South Street Seaport. What is going on you might ask? Well, today is the 4th Annual Surfer's Environmental Alliance Sea Paddle NYC event in which, according to Gothamist:
... over 150 people will participate in SEAPaddle NYC, an annual fundraiser to fight autism. Participants start on the Hudson River at Pier 40, paddle up past the George Washington Bridge, around Spuyten Duyvill creek, then all the way down the East River to the South Street Seaport. (It sounds fun, but we hope these guys are all caught up on their hepatitis vaccines.) The whole route is 28 miles and takes about five and a half hours. If you want to cheer them on, they're starting at 9:30, so click on the map to guesstimate when they'll be paddling by you.
The route map is here. This is what is says about approaching the East River Hell's Gate and Roosevelt Island:
is located approximately 5 miles from mid way check point. You will pass under the blue bridge attached to Ward’s Island look for CG Aux boats and find the safest route possible.

The water here can be very choppy and confused. There is a small passage around up against the break wall stay RIVER RIGHT or far left closer to Roosevelt Island RIVER LEFT.

Be mindful of the channel and boat traffic.
This previous post reported on the 2007 NYC Surf Paddle event and here's a You Tube Video from the 2008 event.

You Tube Video of 2009 Sea Paddle NYC

UPDATE 2:45 PM - Robstaro Tweets:
Surfboard paddlers passing roosevelt island

Click Here for full sized picture.

Be A Roosevelt Island Bee Watcher - Join NYC Parks & American Museum Of Natural History In The Great Pollinator Project - BZZZZZZ

You Tube Video Of Bumble Bee On Sunflower

Are you interested in Roosevelt Island Bees? If so, you may want to get involved in the Great Pollinator Project which, according to WNYC is:
... a collaboration between the American Museum of Natural History and the New York City Parks and Recreation Department's Greenbelt Native Plant Center. The goal is to get members of the public — “citizen scientists” in Great Pollinator parlance — to observe bees and report what they see and where they see it. The project then uses that data to determine how bees are affected by habitat and land use....
and interviews a Roosevelt Island resident Bee watcher:
... New York City is sort of a hotbed for exotic bees."

This surprises some of the bee watchers. Erenia Meriton works for the Seychelles Embassy. She used to watch carpenter bees in the Seychelles islands, off the coast of Madagascar. Now, she and her two children watch bees on Roosevelt Island. "I was surprised that there were so many bee species here," Meriton says, "not only in New York and America but all over the world. I knew there were a lot of them, but I didn’t know the numbers."...
The full WNYC radio report is below.

More information on becoming a Mobile Bee Watcher for the Great Pollinator Project is available here. Bee Gardens have been established at 18 locations around New York City though none are on Roosevelt Island. Despite no Roosevelt Island Bee Gardens, you can still participate in the Great Pollinator Project:
... Become a Mobile Bee Watcher In Your Own Neighborhood

Walk around your neighborhood. When you find a blooming, sunlit flower observe it following our Bee Watcher guidelines and using our data sheet for as long as you can. Note when you see bees visit, following the Instructions and filling in a separate data sheet for each plant observed. If you cannot identify the flower you observed, please send a digital image of the flower (along with your completed data sheet) to .

Thursday, August 12, 2010

See Click Fix Problem Reporting System Coming To Roosevelt Island - Give It A Try And See If It Works

You Tube Video Report On See Click Fix

What happens when a Roosevelt Island resident notices a problem with the
  • Red Bus
  • Tram
  • Motorgate Parking Garage
  • Street Parking
  • garbage not being collected,
  • pothole in the street,
  • crack in the sidewalk,
  • lights not working,
  • sprinklers not working properly or
  • any other issue that needs to be fixed.
Calling New York City's 311 reporting system is no help because more often than not the operators don't know that Roosevelt Island is part of New York City and many of these problems are under the jurisdictional authority of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC). So, you call or write RIOC and hope that they fix the problem in a reasonable amount of time. Others write to the Roosevelt Island media, (this Blog and the WIRE) and we contact RIOC on your behalf trying to resolve the issue. Sometimes the problem is resolved quickly and other times not. Not a very efficient system.

However, a solution to fixing Roosevelt Island problems may soon be forthcoming with the introduction of a Roosevelt Island 311 reporting service from See Click Fix. RIOC Board Director Jonathan Kalkin has been working on this issue for some time and writes:
See Click Fix: Island 311 System

At the present time we have an inefficient way to handle island issues. Some emails reach my inbox, some to the directors email, some to the President etc. There is a huge amount of redundancy and there is no efficient way for people on the island to resolve an issue and for the staff of RIOC to respond. There is also no way to escalate that complaint if many people see this as an issue or for the person to track the response to that complaint. Everyone is doing their best, but there is no central location or system to deal with this. If an issue is open, or fixed, there is no way for everyone to know that it has been resolved.

I have been looking at a number of options and I looked into your suggestion - SeeClickFix. They seem to be a great fit and we are beta testing it right now.

If you go on the mobile app available on almost any device you will see the RIOC logo. We haven't put in our own custom categories or assigned categories to different people. As I stated earlier this is only a beta test and therefore only for show.

See Click Fix Image From Jonathan Kalkin

However, if we move forward on this we will assign categories like the Tram, Red Bus, Parks, Parking, Signs, Litter, etc. and assign those categories to different departments. People will be able to upload pictures and even video in the comments. If you have GPS on your phone it is very accurate at stating the location, right down to the building, but if not you can write the location and a description of your complaint. If we choose this system you will have a button on the RIOC site to make a complaint. You can also access it via the seeclickfix website and on your mobile phone as stated earlier. We are currently trying to determine a procedure for inputting the data if someone calls in to create an issue ticket, but that is possible. I believe that this will allow the residents a way to help make RIOC aware of issues, track that issue, and make sure that we resolve them. It will be an island effort and people will have to be informed how it works and how to use it if it goes live. I will update you as we move forward.
Here's how See Click Fix works on the Iphone

and an interview with the founder of See Click, Fix Ben Berkowitz, explaining how the system works. Brooklyn blogger Ditmas Park reports:
Community Board 14 is now using SeeClickFix, a tool which will make it easy for anyone to report issues and problems to them, and make it easier for the fabulous folks at CB14 and other city agencies to respond, and act...
Here's how Brooklyn's Community Board 14 uses the See Click Fix tool. Right now there is a link on Roosevelt Islander's middle sidebar to the See Click Fix Roosevelt Island page. Give Roosevelt Island See Click Fix a try and test it out but also continue sending your reports of Roosevelt Island problems and issues here.

Updated Google Satellite Map Of Roosevelt Island Provides Great Aerial Views Including Southpoint Park Construction & New Riverwalk Buildings

Received the following message from Jason a couple of weeks ago.

I'm not sure if this really counts as a tip but it was of interest to me...

Google maps ( finally updated their satellite views of RI. The view it had been using up to today still had the Riverwalk buildings under construction. I first noticed the changes because those things (transports?) docked across the river are now very visible from above.

Is "Isla de Roosevelt" a place or is it just a quirk label?

You might see more things of interest than me.

View Larger Map

It's a great map. Play around with it and check out the construction at Southpoint Park on the southern end of the Island.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Roosevelt Island's Riverwalk Bar & Grill One Year Anniversary Party On Sunday - Come Celebrate & Drop Jon, Sal & Al In Ice Cold Dunk Tank For RIDA

Image Of Riverwalk Bar & Grill

Roosevelt Island's Riverwalk Bar & Grill will be having it's first Anniversary Party this coming Sunday, August 15 starting at 1 PM on the Riverwalk Commons:
Sunday August 15th is our 1 year Anniversary party on the island. We will have giveaways and games for both adults and children in the commons. Please join us in our celebration. Thank you for your support. Kids need a wrist band to participate. Wrist bands will be given out with with a child's meal from now until August 14th...
One of the highlights of the festivities will certainly be Roosevelt Island's version of Coney Island's Shoot The Freak attraction. What might that be you ask?

Well, Riverwalk Bar & Grill owners Jon, Sal & Alphonse will be sitting on top of a Dunk Tank waiting for the inevitable. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to throw a ball at the Dunk Tank target, hit the target and then watch and laugh as they plunge into a tank of ice cold water (probably won't be that cold). It's all in good fun and the proceeds from the Drunk (I mean Dunk) Tank will go to the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA).

The honor of being dunked is also available to anyone else who wishes to do so.

Jim Bates, President of RIDA adds:
Friends of RIDA,
On Sunday August 15th The Riverwalk Bar & Grill is having a 1 ST Anniversary Party.

Rides for kids Food & Drinks,Giveaways and best of all, A Charity Dunk Tank with all money raised going to the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association.

I am asking my friends if you would volunteer to be dunked, either way come and invite your family and friends to this fun day and see if you can dunk someone.

See you at the Riverwalk Commons
Don't know if Jon, Sal or Alphonse will be singing on the Dunk Tank like this clown at 2009 San Gennaro Festival but they will be getting wet.

You Tube Video of 2009 San Gennaro Dunk Tank

Roosevelt Island Rivercross Mitchell Lama Cooperative Residents Meet Again To Discuss Issues Of Common Concern & Solve Problems

Image of Rivercross from Adventures of a Goodman

Are you a resident of Roosevelt Island's Rivercross Mitchell Lama Cooperative and interested in learning more about what is going on in your building? If so, consider joining with some of your neighbors as they meet to discuss common interests of concern and find solutions to existing problems.

Rivercross resident David Bauer sends the following report of such a meeting held yesterday. Mr. Bauer writes:
Folks --

At the meeting last evening --

1) Shareholders were encouraged by the several moves made by our cooperative recently:
a) the start of the Board open conversation sessions with shareholders
b) establishment of a window screen maintenance policy
c) raising the temperature setting for the common spaces
d) the active search for a window washer
e) starting the creation of a book exchange center
f) clarifying the process for reporting/correcting the transmission of odors between apartment.

It was noted that at the first Board Conversation session some shareholders with matters to raise were not able to do so before the session was brought to a close. As a result, not presented was the Forum suggestion that given the fact that windows have not been washed for three years, the three year non expenditure of the former $25,000 per year window washing would pay for a $75,000 'new rule' contractor at the indicated price of $75,000 and that a three year cycle might be considered.

2) Judith had stepped aside from Forum consideration of pets since the 'dogs in Rivercross' idea has been taken up once more by ARDOR (Alliance for Responsible Dog Ownership in Rivercross) who will give full attention to the matter.

3) Word from Harriet, who was unable to attend the meeting, that delving into co-generation has been referred to Mitchell Hammer, Building Manager, who will feel the pulse of the Board on the further investigation.

4) Arline raised the question of procedure in looking further into the green roof idea.

5) Ekaterina reported further efforts on the surcharge matter.

6) The bulk of the evening was devoted to a review of the report 'Main Street Ramp'. Vicki will present the proposal -- convert the six foot wide stairs into a ramp from Main Street -- to the next Board Conversation session. Coming out the discussion was a second proposal -- that benches be provided under the shelter of the Main Street overhang -- for the benefit of persons who are waiting for Access-A-Ride or other transportation and must be on the street when the transportation arrives.

Meeting adjourned at 8:35 to meet again on Tuesday August 24 at 7:30
Mr. Bauer's report from earlier meeting is here.

Former Roosevelt Island Octagon Residents Report Their Dog Mingus Recently Died

Image of Mingus

Received the following message from former Octagon residents Craig and Stephanie:
some older octagon residents may remember mingus, who moved in shortly after the building opened.

he died this month, after a long and happy life... sniffing the salt air in his octagon backyard was one of his favorite pasttimes.

ps - hope things are going well (well, as well as possible... it IS roosevelt island after all!). we miss it a lot.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Roosevelt Island's Not A Utopia But An Experiment To Keep Middle Class In New York City Says RIOC Board Director

Responding to yesterday's NY Times City Room blog post on Leslie Torres first day as RIOC President that described Roosevelt Island as:

... the East River urban experiment that never achieved its utopian ideals,...
RIOC Board Director David Kraut writes:
To state that Roosevelt Island has never achieved its utopian ideals is to make several assumptions. The original goal was not to create a utopia, but to find a way to keep the middle class — however loosely defined — in New York at a time when it was fleeing to the suburbs, leaving Manhattan to the rich and to the poor. In the years since, Manhattan has become richer and poorer and much less middling, while Roosevelt Island continues to search for ways to maintain a middle class existence within a few subway stops of midtown.

I wouldn’t say we’re there yet, by any means, but I wouldn’t use the word “never”: I would say, “not yet”.

Here's a You Tube video of Roosevelt Island - An Island Place, showing what the Roosevelt Island Experiment was like for some of the first residents to move here in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

More on Roosevelt Island affordable and market rate housing from previous posts.

Update On Roosevelt Island Historical Society Visitor Kiosk Renovation - Looking Good!

Received the following update and pictures from Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy on the renovation of the Historical Society's Visitor Kiosk located in front of the Tram Station. From Ms. Berdy:

Enjoy the photos of the kiosk progress.

Our old roof was removed.

The copper cupola is being restored and will return to the building. New copper roofing will be installed on the rest of the roof.

The new wood roofing is in and the waterproof membrane has been installed.

All 27 window panes have been cleaned of 5 coats of paint and their original copper is now gleaming. Most have been reinstalled along with the original copper stops.

6 side windows will be made operable and will be transom windows. They will have an old fashioned window hook to open them. (Remember window hooks on poles from public schools?)

This is the only solution we could find for short people trying to open windows mounted high on the walls.

Soon we will complete painting the exterior and all the interior details.

Stop by to admire our gem. Also, come see the progress at the Tram station!!!

Thanks to Dino and Gus from Promo-Pro who are artists and making the project come out so beautifully.

All of the images are from RIHS's Judy Berdy.

More on RIHS Visitor Kiosk from earlier posts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Leslie Torres First Day As Roosevelt Island Operating Corp President/CEO - She's Welcomed By NY Times Take On Her Appointment

Image of New RIOC President Leslie Torres After Being Appointed By RIOC Board of Directors

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) new President/CEO Leslie Torres started her first day on the job today. She was welcomed to her new position by a story in today's NY Times City Room Blog. Here's the NY Times take on the recent RIOC President/CEO change.
... Leslie Torres, a deputy state housing commissioner, has been appointed president of the island’s operating corporation, replacing Stephen H. Shane, whom the board abruptly ousted in June....

... Mr. Shane, who was appointed in 2007 by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, was kicked off the board in a back-room deal that took many, including him, by surprise....

... And while the post had long been viewed as a repository of Albany cronyism, Mr. Shane was not a crony or even a career civil servant. His successor, Ms. Torres, does have a long history in government service...
The NY Times City Room Blog previously published a story about former RIOC President Steve Shane's departure from the RIOC Board which included a statement from Mr. Shane as to why he believed he was removed as RIOC President.

UPDATE 5 PM - Ms. Torres comments on her first day as RIOC President:
What a great first day to join the RIOC team. Everything on Roosevelt Island looks so verdant. I look forward to working with the Board, staff and residents to continue to maintain and improve the Island.

Confusing Parking Rules, Poor Street Signage And Unfair Tickets Make Roosevelt Island A Banana Republic Say Riverwalk Resident's Friends!

Roosevelt Island East/West Channel Road South of 405 Main Street

Received the following message from a Roosevelt Island Riverwalk resident last Monday, August 2, regarding friends who received parking tickets despite their being no signage warning them that parking was not permitted at the East/West Tram Station Road.
Some friends decided to visit Roosevelt Island this weekend, and parked their cars on the the east-west cross street directly south of 405 Main (the new Riverwalk Crossing rental building). This street has absolutely no signage concerning parking; attached are several photos as proof.

Image of South Side Of East/West Tram Station Road South of 405 Main St

My friends were shocked to have each found $115 parking tickets upon returning to their respective cars a few hours later.

Image of South Side Of East/West Tram Station Road South of 405 Main St

Can you please post this item on your blog, and ask both the RIOC Board and the PSD if it is appropriate to ticket automobiles parked on streets that have no signage.

Image of South Side Of East/West Tram Station Road South of 405 Main St

Unfortunately, my friends now seem to believe Roosevelt Island is some sort of "banana republic" in which the normal laws of society do not apply.

For your reference, here is an excerpt on signs from the Frequently Asked Questions section of the NYC DOT web site

New York City Traffic Rules state that one sign per block is sufficient. Please check the entire block and read all signs carefully before you park.
I inquired of Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) VP of Operations Fernando Martinez and Public Safety Director Keith Guerra:
I received the email message below from a Riverwalk resident who had friends ticketed for parking their cars on the east/west street just south of 405 Main Street this past weekend. They say that there is no signage prohibiting parking in this area and that they should not have received any tickets.

Can you clarify what the parking rules are for that street and if you wish, comment on the reader's email message?
Following the August 4 RIOC Board Meeting, Mr. Martinez told me that he is looking into the matter and will respond soon.

I informed the Riverwalk resident of my conversation with Mr. Martinez. The resident adds:
I wholeheartedly agree with ticketing (and, if necessary, towing) vehicles that are illegally parked. However, there needs to be adequate signage indicating exactly what the regulations are. In my 2+ years living on Roosevelt Island, I myself am still uncertain about the parking regs due to lack of adequate signage.

Another example is the metered parking along East Channel Drive down by Riverwalk. None of the signs indicate the time slots for which metered parking is in effect; only the Municipal Parking Meter itself lists the hours (24 Hour Lot, Monday - Saturday), and that tiny font on the meter is not easy to read in the dark. And I have absolutely no idea what this means for Sundays: does this mean "Free Parking on Sundays" or "No Parking on Sundays"? Does RIOC expect drivers (who are not familiar with RI) to stop by the Municipal Parking Meter, temporarily double-park, get out and read the tiny font on the Municipal Parking Meter to determine the regs, and then decide if they should look for a parking space based on a vague interpretation of the regs? If residents don't even know the regs, what hope that does leave for the new visitor or occasional driver?

In general, the Roosevelt Island parking signage needs to upgraded to NYC standards. We are most definitely not at that level.
I checked. There is no parking signage on the East/West Channel road but there is a visible sidewalk red stripe, driveway cutout and fire hydrant on the East Side (closest to Queens) of the road

and a sign in front of 405 Main Street that says no parking from the sign to the corner of East/West Channel Road. It is clearly confusing to residents and visitors alike whether parking is permitted in this area or not.

More on Roosevelt Island parking problems from previous posts.

UPDATE 8/10 - A Reader advises:
If a stranger parks by the tram station, where the bus stop sign is covered by a black plastic bag, they will be ticketed for parking in a construction zone.

The only problem is, there is not one sign saying construction zone.

The solution is to go directly to Keith Guerra, Director at Public Safety and insist that the ticket be voided. Do not bother to deal with anyone else at PSD.

You cannot invent parking rules.

Name withheld
UPDATE 8/16 - Mr. Martinez responds:
The north side of East/West Channel Road is designated as a delivery area for building 6. Unfortunately, the contractors for Riverwalk did not install the proper signs or sidewalk markings. I will have it done early next week by RIOC staff. I have instructed PSD not to issue any tickets until we have the proper signage.

Roosevelt Island Tram Scheduled To Resume Service on September 25 - Tram Station Improvements Approved By RIOC Board Of Directors

Image Of August RIOC Board of Directors Meeting

During their August 4 meeting, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors approved the proposed improvements to the Manhattan and Roosevelt Island Tram Stations. Below is the latest presentation made to the Board describing the improvements which include:
  • additional metro card turnstiles
  • increased waiting area space
  • platform canopy for rain and cold weather protection
  • restored concrete surfaces
  • repainted exterior
  • improved station lighting and
  • ADA Compliant restrooms
Tram Station Board Presentation

Questions were asked by Board Members concerning the planned change in the placement of the Roosevelt Island Station turnstiles by removing all of them from the middle of the entry way and instead installing 2 turnstiles each on the north and south sides of the entry way.
Image of Roosevelt Island Tram Station Floor Plan From RIOC

RIOC VP of Operations Fernando Martinez indicated that after consulting with the MTA, RIOC staff concluded that tram passenger circulation flow will be more efficient with turnstiles placed in this manner, particularly with RIOC's presumed increase in Roosevelt Island visitors once the Southpoint Parks are completed. Others are concerned that the new turnstile placement will lead to overcrowding at the north entry way and are skeptical of efficiencies from this set up. I question any significant increase in visitors from the new parks.

Mr. Martinez also reported that September 25 is the scheduled date for the resumption of Roosevelt Island Tram service with one new cabin and the second cabin should be in operation a week later.

Work on the Tram Station improvements will not start until after the Tram is back in operation.

No improvements in the elevator or lift during these improvements.

The web cast of the August 4 RIOC Board Meeting is available here.