Saturday, October 23, 2010

RIRA President's Final 2008-2010 Term Report On RIRA Common Council Candidates, Contributions From Current Members, Election Status & More

 Image Of October 2010 RIRA Meeting

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Frank Farance sends the following final report of the 2008-2010 RIRA Term to Roosevelt Island residents. From Mr. Farance:
1. Please consider running for RIRA Common Council, please VOTE on November 2. The 2008-2010 term has been one of the most productive in RIRA history with the closest working relationships with RIOC and all its departments. We need your help for the next term and we need broad representation from ALL the buildings.

2. Contributions from RIRA Common Council Members on 2008-2010 Accomplishments. The following members report:

Russell Fields, RIRA Secretary: I joined RIRA in 2008 as an Eastwood Representative to address a variety of concerns by myself and my neighbors. I joined the housing committee and worked on a committee creating a motion supporting a moratorium on sub metering till the building had sufficient greening to justify this step. I was later elected the treasurer and transferred the bank accounts from New York National to Amalgamated bank the Islands new successor bank. I learned that reports were submitted monthly before meetings. I also participated in a fundraising event, Roosevelt Island Day Breakfast, a blood drive, the get acquainted meetings with the new RIOC President, and the opening dedication of Four Freedom Park. I am looking forward to another term of being involved in activities helping build the Islands’ community.

Aaron Hamburger, Chair - Island Services Committee:
• Successfully advocated MTA to install a ramp at the platform for easy wheel chair entry to the F train.
• Resolved illegal parking on Main St. by vehicles with lapsed parking stickers or expired and unauthorized parking permits.
• Worked with RIOC to eliminate long-term storage of bikes at the bike racks near the subway station.
• Advocated RIOC & NY Public Library for substantial improvements in the RI branch library. • Worked with RIOC on the plan for the Red Bus route thru Southtown during the Tram outage.

Jim Bates:
• Assisted to get repairs done in a reasonable amount of time, both inside and outside of our building.
• Making myself available not only to listen but to act on behalf of my apartment house extended family.
• Providing quality food at discounted price to all Island families with Angel food.
• Providing leadership in all areas of accessibility for all Island families.
• I also serve as President of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Assoc.

Helen Chirivas: I was a RIRA Councilmember representing Eastwood from November '08 until I moved out of Eastwood in July '09. I was on the RIRA Housing Committee, which met several times to discuss housing issues including the Eastwood sub-metering issue. I was also a member of the RIRA Planning Committee and attended several meetings of this committee. I participated in the writing of a resolution regarding Tramway Park. I participated in discussions at RIRA meetings and voted on resolutions.

Ava Dawson: Advocated for student/quiet study space in the library; worked with the Island services Committee on Island issues such as the Red Buses, traffic patterns and bike path recommendations; organized the bake sale portion of the summer 2010 RIRA fundraiser, which brought in about $150 in additional in funds.

3. RIRA Elections. Aaron Hamburger, RIRA Nominations Chair, reports that we have candidates from all buildings, but some of them don't yet have a full slate. There were some stumbles, but the nominations form has been make wide available, including on the internet. In my prior column, I learned of a possible misunderstanding: my criticisms were pointed towards the Nominations Committee, which did not hold meetings, nor coordinate and communicate with the Elections Committee, and which was reluctant to make the nominations form widely available to residents. Meanwhile, the Elections Committee (Joyce Mincheff, Chair), did hold meetings, informed itself, communicated with others, and followed the rules. I believe everything is on-track for the upcoming RIRA Election.

4. Response to Matt Katz' letter to the WIRE. Katz raises a difference without distinction: his efforts were renting machines, rather than purchasing machines. I guess I should have made it clear that his efforts were for purchasing election machine services. The main fault here is that Katz misunderstands the RIRA Constitution: as a presidential candidate, he is not permitted to be involved in the elections committee work regardless of the fact that the Elections Committee Chair said it was OK. Katz engages in the dangerous and faulty thinking that just because a chair says so, any provision of the RIRA Constitution can be nullified. In fact, even if the Common Council voted unanimously, that still wouldn't relieve them of their obligation to follow the rules (they can use the constitution amendment process to change the rules). Katz reports that, since my disclosing his activities, he has given all materials over to the Elections Committee. Katz doesn't believe it should be so but he did learn the lesson and makes my point: transparency and making things public gets people to behave better.

5. Thank You For Allowing Me To Be Your RIRA President. I very much enjoyed this term, especially all the Common Council members I had the opportunity to work with, the RIOC staff, the RIOC Board, our elected officials, and Island organizations. My children Emilia and David thank the WIRE for seeing my picture in the newspaper every two weeks.
A version of the RIRA President's message is also published as the RIRA column in the 10/23/10 Main Street WIRE.

Roosevelt Island On The Web Links

Roosevelt Island on the Web Links as appearing in the October 23, 2010 Main Street WIRE.

Roosevelt islander - RIRA Election Coverage
Roosevelt islander - Overnight Bike Rack Storage Allowed
RIRA Election - Fortuna Family Candidate's Page
RI School G&T Class Blog - October PTA Newsletter
RI School G &T Class Blog - PTA Board Meeting With Teachers
NYC10044 - RIRA Election Nomination Form
RIOC - October 2010 Board Of Directors Web Cast
RIOC - Proposed 2011-2012 Budget
RIOC - August/September Public Safety Blotter
RIOC - Jan - Aug Public Safety Statistics
RIOC - Halloween Safety Day
Judith's Gallery - Tram Test Photos
Duc Le Photography - New Tram Photos
Eater - Fake Lobster Bisque At Trellis
NY Times - Flying Buses To Return Soon To Roosevelt Island
Curbed - RI Tram Has Liftoff
NY Daily News - RI Resident Teresa Scott Runs Boxing School
Flikr - 1923 Air Mail Plane Over Roosevelt (Blackwell's) Island
DNA Info - Roosevelt Island Resident Sees No 2010 Excitement For Democrats
Avoiding Regret - FDR Memorial Construction Photo Essay
Modell's - Helps Build PS/IS 217 Playground
NY Portraits - View From Roosevelt Island
Girlbomb - Bloomingdales A Respite From RI Childhood
NYC Salt - WNYC Student Radio Project on Roosevelt Island
You Tube - Tram Being Tested
You Tube - "Different Tastes", Marymount Student Film
You Tube - Tour Of Octagon Studio Apartment
You Tube - Red Bus On 57th Street
You Tube - Writer's Block Trying To Make Movie At Starbucks

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why Is That Giant Squirrel Eyeing The Roosevelt Island Tram? 2nd Tram Cabin In Station Undergoing Testing

Did anyone else see that giant squirrel towering over Upper East Side Manhattan buildings staring hungrily at the new Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin as it was making test runs over the East River this morning?

Or did you see the singing Knights of the Round Table taking a spin on the Roosevelt Island Tram?

Perhaps Spider Man looking for the Green Goblin?

You may have missed these wondrous sights but you can see these and other cool Roosevelt Island Tram pictures at Fark which is holding a Roosevelt Island Tram Photoshop contest. Go vote for your favorite.

Back to our world now with some more good news that the second Tram Cabin made it's way this morning to join

You Tube Video of Tram Cabin 2 Being Moved To Station from Vini Fortuna

it's twin at the Tram Station


and is now up on the track cable and taking test runs while undergoing emergency preparedness drills.


The new Tram Station doors for the North Cabin berth have also been installed.

An early November resumption of Roosevelt Island Tram service is still expected. RIOC President Leslie Torres latest Tram report stated:
Aerial Tramway Modernization – Engineering work is virtually completed. We’ve all seen the north cabin zipping back and forth as it undergoes extensive testing. The State Department of Labor and City Uniformed Services will be here soon to inspect the north side. Work hanging the cabin on the south side is about to commence. Once all the testing is completed and DOL signs off, we will have a fully operating system. Thank you for your patience as RIOC undertakes the steps necessary to assure a safe and efficient aerial tramway service.
UPDATE 3:45 PM - Both cabins in Tram Station.

UPDATE 4 PM - New Tram Cabins meet at last this morning.

Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy took these pictures of Roosevelt Island Emergency Rescue Drills earlier today.

More Roosevelt Island Emergency Rescue Drill pictures from Ms. Berdy here.

Roosevelt Island Special Operations Fire House Wins 3rd Place In 4th Annual Firefighters Cook Off - Recipe Of Pernil & Pina Colada Rice

Image From DNA Info which firefighter chefs will battle it out with their favorite firehouse dishes to earn the title of Best FDNY Chef.
Roosevelt Island Firemen did very well in the Cook-Off. According to DNA Info:
 Paul Rut took home third place with his pernil (pulled pork) and piña colada rice recipe from Cuba.
"It’s like goin’ to the islands," boasted Rut, a 13-year veteran at the FDNY's Special Operations Command unit based in Roosevelt Island. "It’s like a little vacation in your tummy."
Sounds very tasty. Maybe the guys at the Riverwalk Bar & Grill can try it out on their menu.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Candidate Nominees Listed - Presidential Candidate Katz Not Running For Westview Delegate - Still Time To Throw Hat In Ring

 Image of RIRA October 2010 Meeting

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Nominations Committee Chairperson Aaron Hamburger sends the following message:
Attached is the list of candidates as of 12 noon, Oct.20.

We now need at least 1 more candidate from Manhattan Park, 2 more from Roosevelt Landings, and 3 more from Octagon.
All other residential areas have full or over-filled slates.

I'll keep you informed as more Nomination Forms come in. Next time we check the Collection Box is Thursday afternoon. As you know, the deadline for Forms is Sunday night, Oct. 24, 8 PM.
It appears that as of now, Mathew Katz, who is challenging current RIRA President Frank Farance for that position, will not be seeking to retain his long held position as a Westview Common Council Delegate. Is it either RIRA President or nothing for Mr. Katz?

Mr. Katz is a thoughtful and valuable member of  RIRA so I hope he changes his mind regarding the Westview delegate position and will be a RIRA Council Member if he wins the election for President or not. I have asked Mr. Katz for a comment on this and will update if any new information is made available.

Below is a list of the RIRA Candidates supplied by Mr. Hamburger.

RIRA ELECTIONS – CANDIDATES (as of 12 noon, Oct. 20)

Frank Farance
Matthew Katz

Ellen Polivy


546 Main: 2 (# of positions - 2)
Dolores Green
Anthony Moran

Roosevelt Landings: 5 (# of positions - 7 )
Cynthia Ahn
Linda Maynard-Hall
Joyce Metcliff
Romano Reid
Lorraine Williams

Rivercross; 4 (# of positions – 3)
Marilyn Atkins
Sharon Pope
Ethel Romm
Don Semenza

Island House: 3 (# of positions – 3)
Helen Chvivas
Frank Farance
Russell Fields

Westview: 3 (# of positions – 3)
Erin Freely-Nahen
Sherie Helstien
Susan Marcus

2 River Rd.: 1 (# of positions – 1)
Steve Heller
4 River Rd.: 1 (# of positions – 1) Jim Bates

Manhattan Park:__7 (# of positions 8)
Barbara Allen
Marc Jonas Block
Ava Dawson
Ahmad Darwish
Alex Fletcher
Ilonka Salisbury
Joe Terranella

Southtown: 10 (# of positions – 9)
Peter Digilio
Dave Evans
Lorena Fortuna
Vinicius Fortuna
Aaron Hamburger
Tommy Nodland
George Ohring
Alfred Plastino
Mona Sen
Steve Silverstein

Octagon: 2 (# of Positions – 5)
Bill Long
Denise Shull
There is still time for other candidates to get in the race. Nominations for RIRA President, Vice President and building delegates are open until October 24. RIRA nomination forms are available online here and at the Public Safety Office, the Public Library and many of the residential buildings. More information on the RIRA election available here.

Also, remember that there can be more nominees than slots allotted for a building. That's what makes it an election. In the event that there are more nominees than slots for a particular building, the candidates with less votes become alternate delegates.

UPDATE 5:20 PM: Mr Hamburger adds:
As of 4 PM today, Thursday, we have one additional candidate:

Lisa Knox from Roosevelt Landings.
and Mr. Katz confirms that he will not be continuing as a RIRA Westview Delegate:
I am running exclusively for RIRA President.  I’m running because I was unhappy and frustrated with the inattention to detail, the sidelining of the elected RIRA delegates to the Common Council, the lack of compliance with the RIRA Constitution and the paucity of innovation that I encountered over the last two years.  I am not anxious to repeat that experience and so, I’m just running for President.  As a RIRA volunteer for thirteen years, and having served the RIRA Common Council and the community in a variety of capacities, I get to do that.

UPDATE 4/23 - Latest RIRA Candidate Nominee Status before October 24 Deadline from Nominations Committee Chairperson Aaron Hamburger:



Frank Farance

Matthew Katz


Ellen Polivy


546 Main: 2 (# of positions - 2)

Dolores Green

Anthony Moran

Roosevelt Landings: 7(# of positions - 7 )

Cynthia Ahn

Ahmad Darwich

Lisa Knox

Linda Maynard-Hall

Joyce Metcheff

Romano Reid

Lorraine Williams

Rivercross; 4 (# of positions – 3)

Marilyn Atkins

Ellen Polivy

Ethel Romm

Don Sememza

Island House: 3 (# of positions – 3)

Helen Chvivas

Frank Farance

Russell Fields

Westview: 3 (# of positions – 3)

Erin Freely-Nahen

Sherie Helstien

Susan Marcus

Manhattan Park:__7 (# of positions 8)

2 River Rd.: 1 (# of positions – 1)

Steve Heller

4 River Rd.: 1 (# of positions – 1)

Jim Bates

Manhattan Park: 7 (# of positions – 8)

Barbara Allen

Marc Jonas Block

Ava Dawson

Alex Fletcher

Neha Kaul

Ilonka Salisbury

Joe Terranella

Southtown: 10 (# of positions – 9)

Peter Digilio

Dave Evans

Lorena Fortuna

Vinicius Fortuna

Aaron Hamburger

Tommy Nodland

George Ohring

Alfred Plastino

Mona Sen

Steve Silverstein

Octagon: 2 (# of Positions – 5)

Bill Long

Denise Shull

Report From RIOC President Leslie Torres To Roosevelt Island Residents - Sportspark Activities, Tram Almost Ready, Radio Rookies, Halloween, Tree Lighting & More Project Updates

Image Of RIOC President Leslie Torres At Bike Sharing Demo

RIOC President Lesie Torres sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
Date: October 20, 2010
The nip in the air should not dissuade Roosevelt Islander’s from team sports and individual exercise. All the good health habits inspired by our beautiful outdoor spaces needn’t be shelved till spring. Sportspark has been upgraded and refurbished. Teams and individuals alike can take advantage of the new pool, gym and ping pong areas as well as participate in special activities such as wheel chair basketball and water aerobics! Check the RIOC website for hours of operations. Indeed, Sportspark is now so attractive, an exhibition hung by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society in conjunction with RIOC archivist Mark Rothman, is on display. Culled from the RIOC archives are images of historic Welfare Island, the early days of constructing the Roosevelt Island community as well as projects imagined, but not (yet?) built. Come see the model of the 1995 Calatrava designed Visitors Center for Southpoint Park. Does it remind you of the new transportation center he has designed for the World Trade Center site? Rediscover Sportspark. It’s got something for everyone.

Projects Underway :

Aerial Tramway Modernization – Engineering work is virtually completed. We’ve all seen the north cabin zipping back and forth as it undergoes extensive testing. The State Department of Labor and City Uniformed Services will be here soon to inspect the north side. Work hanging the cabin on the south side is about to commence. Once all the testing is completed and DOL signs off, we will have a fully operating system. Thank you for your patience as RIOC undertakes the steps necessary to assure a safe and efficient aerial tramway service.

FDR Memorial - Phase I construction is on schedule, and construction of phase II is starting ahead of expectations. Thank you to our City and State legislators and to the Mayor and the Governor for increased funding for this exciting and long awaited project.

Southpoint Open Space (Green Rooms Wild Gardens) - Paving of the east drive near Strecker Lab has begun. Fall planting is near complete and opening date is scheduled for spring 2011. A new curb and sidewalk is being installed to insure handicap accessibility. We are working closely with the FDR Memorial developers to create a smooth transition between the two areas.

AVAC - Installation of the first of two new compactors has been completed. Delivery of the second compactor is expected shortly.

Motorgate Roof Waterproofing & Stairwells - The stairwell work has been completed. Waterproofing of the rooftop and the exterior of the stairwell bulkheads is 70% finished with estimated completion at the end of November. The majority of 7th floor parking will be restored to customers this week. Temporary lighting is being installed until the permanent lighting project is completed.

Good Shepherd HVAC –The installation of the new equipment is in progress and on schedule to be completed by end of November. RIOC regrets the continuing inconvenience to residents using this Community facility and looks forward to a long and healthy useful life for our new HVAC system, once installation is finished.

Projects in the Pipeline:

Good Shepherd Plaza – Plaza restoration work is expected this spring. The trench in front of Good Shepherd was opened to accommodate the utility lines for the HVAC restoration project. Trench work should be completed this week.

Octagon Field Border Landscaping – ADM Landscaping was awarded the contract for the project which should begin in about two weeks.

Good Shepherd Roof Replacement – Thomas A. Fenniman Architects was identified as a designer for the project. The replacement work is anticipated to start in spring 2011.

Blackwell House Interior Renovation and Disabled Accessible Ramp – A contractor has been identified and is undergoing City Vendex review. Value engineering is continuing.

Events and Recreation:

Radio Rookies – Don’t be startled if you’re asked for an interview on Main Street over the next six weeks. Radio Rookies has come to Roosevelt Island! Since 1999, Radio Rookies, a New York Public Radio initiative, has been conducting workshops across New York training young people to use words and sounds to tell real stories. Eighteen students are participating to produce four audio slideshows. Final stories will appear on WNYC’s Radio Rookies website as well as the Mapping Main Street project website, which collects stories from all the Main Streets in the United States.

Sportspark Activities - Sportspark Activities have been expanded again. Please see the RIOC website for last minute changes to expanded pool, ping-pong and basketball hours.

Field Rentals – It’s not too early to think about renting one of the four athletic fields for spring sports! Roosevelt Island residents get first preference and a deeply discounted rate when applying for field permits. Residents can apply for the spring season beginning January 1, 2011, so get a group together and request a time slot. For more information please contact Donna Masly at 212 832 4563.

Upcoming Events:

Halloween Safety Day – The Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department is co- sponsoring a Halloween Safety Day with Safe Kids NYC on Wednesday October 27th from 5:30 -6:30 at the Public Library on Main St. Safety tips, reading to the children and treats will be available.

Roosevelt Island's Annual Halloween Parade - On Saturday, October 30th, in partnership with Urban America, managers of Roosevelt Landings, the parade of ghosts and goblins begins at Blackwell House at 12 P.M. and continues on to Capobianco Field. Everyone is encouraged to come dressed in a Halloween costume. More fun and festivities are planned for immediately after the parade at Capobianco Field. In the event of rain, festivities will be held inside PS 217.

Annual Tree Lighting – Celebrate the holiday season with our Annual Tree Lighting event at Blackwell House Plaza on Friday, December 3rd at 7 PM. Bring an appetite for holiday treats and warm up with hot chocolate and cider. Santa may drop in again with special little gifts. Have your children ready for a photo with Santa!
A version of the RIOC President's column will also appears on RIOC's web site and the October 23, 2010 Main Street WIRE.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RIRA Seeking Help At The Polls For Roosevelt Island Residents Association Elections & Announces Schedule For Communty Meeting Candidates

Image of RIRA Presidential Candidates Farance & Katz At Riverwalk Candidate Night Yesterday. (Dave Evans in middle ably moderated event)

Can you help give a few hours for the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council election? RIRA Elections Chairperson Joyce Mincheff explains how you can help:
One day out of every 2 years, Roosevelt Islanders get to actually vote for the folks who express the community’s needs and opinions! You can make a meaningful contribution to this grass roots process by helping out at the polls on that day!! If you can devote an hour or more anywhere between 6 AM and 9 PM on Election Day, Nov 2, contact Joyce Mincheff, Election Chair at or simply show up at:
Poll Workers’ Training
7 PM on Thursday, 10/21 Westview Community Room 625 Main St.
 Also, Ms Mincheff provides the following schedule for RIRA Common Council Candidate Nights
  • Meet your Southtown Common Council Nominees - 405 Main St, Party Room, 7 PM, Tues, 10/26
  • Meet Your WIRE Common Council Nominees - Good Shepherd Church @ 7 PM, Wed. 10/27
  • Meet Your Manhattan Park & Octagon Common Council Nominees - 2-4 River Road, Comm. Room, 7 PM, Thurs. 10/28
  • For All!! Good Shepherd Church 8 PM October 27th
The For All Night is for the Island Wide President and Vice President Candidates.

Photographer Stopped And Told Permit Is Needed To Use Tripod On Roosevelt Island - A Mistake Says RIOC, Issue Resolved, Policy Clarified

Tripod Image From Camera Talk

Using a Tripod to take a photograph on Roosevelt Island? If so, you need to get a permit to do so according to one Roosevelt Island Public Safety Officer.

Here's what happened. Last Friday, on the same day that I posted this story about a Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Staff person's attempt to embargo publishing of Roosevelt Island Tram photos,  a resident photographer was told by a Public Safety Officer that he needed a permit to use a tripod when taking pictures. According to the photographer Duc Le:
I had an experience this afternoon that is related to your blog post today ("Embargo Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin Test Run Photos Instructs RIOC Staffer - No Way, Information Wants To Be Free"). I set up my camera and tripod to take long exposure shots of the Roosevelt Island Bridge. Before I could take one shot, a PSD officer pulled up in his SUV and asked if I had a permit to use a tripod. Being unaware of such a "requirement", I informed the officer that I did not have a permit. He went on to tell me that a permit is required for use of a tripod "anywhere on Roosevelt Island," but that I was free to use my camera to take photos. The officer continued by saying that these were rules that were meant to mitigate threats from terrorism, especially since I was facing east in the direction of the Con Ed plant.

Needless to say, I was a bit confused by the correlation between use of a tripod and terrorist threats (but I was free to use my camera). When I asked the officer how using my camera was ok but the tripod somehow posed a security threat, he said he didn't know but simply reiterated the fact that the rule was to reduce a terrorism threat. I then asked him about the requirements to obtain a tripod permit. He stated that he didn't know and that I should go to "591 Main Street" to get a permit. Being a new resident, I had no idea what 591 Main Street was. So, I put away my gear and walked to the address given to me. At 591 Main Street, I found the RIOC office. I entered the office and inquired as to how to obtain a tripod permit. The woman at the front desk (her name is Karlene, as I recall) told me that I did not need a permit to use my tripod. She told my story to another gentleman who was walking by (I believe his name is Fernando), who then asked me what I was photographing, at which time I told him I was shooting the Roosevelt Island Bridge. He then told me (and Karlene) that it was ok. At this time, Karlene called PSD and told them that it was ok for me to use a tripod on the Island.

So, from this story here are my thoughts:

- How are tripods a threat? As I told Karlene, I have no problem following regulations that will truly mitigate terrorist threats but no one, not the PSD nor anyone at RIOC, could tell me how such a regulation against tripods would make us more secure. In the absence of a logical foundation based on rational thought, any regulation against tripods or the use of "professional" equipment is purely arbitrary. As I said to Karlene, unless you can tell me the basis for such a regulation, you might as well ban blue shirts (Karlene was wearing a blue shirt). Arbitrary laws is a slippery slope.

- PSD needs to know the regulations that they have been hired to enforce. In this case, I want to thank Fernando and Karlene for clearing up the issue with PSD and allowing me to use my tripod. To be honest, I'm still not sure what the law is regarding the use of tripods on RI, but I don't think anyone else does either.

In any event, I've seen plenty of people using tripods here and, either amateur or professional, I see them as photographers simply looking to capture great photos. It's a backward world we live in when a PSD officer looks at someone using a tripod and the first thought is of a security threat. Common sense and logic are in a losing battle to blind fear and irrationality.

Ok, this rant is over:)
The "Fernando" referred to is RIOC VP Of Operations Fernando Martinez. Good job by Mr. Martinez in quickly resolving this matter.

This is the photo Mr. Le was using his tripod to take.

Mr. Le writes:
... the light was better when the officer stopped me but I lost 30 minutes due to my detour. This was a 25 second exposure, so a tripod was a must to shoot this.
With Mr. Le's permission I then forwarded his message on to RIOC Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra and asked:
... Can you please clarify what RIOC's photography policy?

Also, how do you insure that each Public Safety Officer is familiar with the policy.
Mr. Guerra indicated that he would look into the matter and asked if I would hold off publishing the post until he found out what happened. I agreed to do so. Mr. Guerra also said it was not the regulation to require permits for using a tripod.

Mr. Guerra now reports:
I have been able to inquire about the incident in which you emailed me about. What I can say is that there was a communication issue with regard to the information that was given to Mr. Duc Le.

Last year, I attended a Shield Conference and the topic of photographs - as they relate to Anti-terrorism - came up. In these days and times, Law Enforcement entities are charged with trying to protect the communities in which we serve, while trying to preserve their rights. I had the Officers trained in this and several other topics of Homeland Security.

The general consensus was that if anyone is seen taking photos that could be considered potentially dangerous, these persons should be questioned. Potentially dangerous photographs included, but were not limited to, photos of bridges & tunnels, photos of power plants, photos of airplanes, photos of transportation systems, etc. The purpose of the inquiry is not meant to badger the photographer, but to try to insure safety for everyone. Officers were instructed to merely obtain ID from anyone taking such photos on the island, and to ask the purpose of the photography. If not Commercial in nature, then they were free to continue. If Commercial in nature, then a Permit must be secured from RIOC.

The use of a tri-pod has no bearing on either of the two scenarios described above. It is considered by some to be a tool used by Commercial Photographers, although a non-commercial photographer may own and utilize one. The Officer was a bit confused with the information that he had obtained from the training session. Rest assured that the Officers will receive more training in this area. The key is that they are attempting to insure the safety of this community, and the cooperation of the community is appreciated.
The NY Times reported earlier this week on a settlement reached regarding taking photographs of Federal buildings while standing on public streets. From the NY Times:
The right of photographers to stand in a public place and take pictures of federal buildings has been upheld by a legal settlement reached in New York.

In the ever-escalating skirmishes between photographers and security agencies, the most significant battlefield is probably the public way — streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas — which has customarily been regarded as a vantage from which photography cannot and should not be barred.

Under the settlement, announced Monday by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Federal Protective Service said that it would inform its officers and employees in writing of the “public’s general right to photograph the exterior of federal courthouses from publicly accessible spaces” and remind them that “there are currently no general security regulations prohibiting exterior photography by individuals from publicly accessible spaces, absent a written local rule, regulation or order.”

[The full text of the settlement.]

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bicycles Can Now Be Stored Overnight On Roosevelt Island Bike Racks - RIOC Suspends Previous Late Night Bike Rack Ban Upon Further Review

Image Of A Southtown Bike Rack

In May 2009, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) initiated a policy banning the use of all bike racks during the hours of 2 AM - 5 AM. Any bike found at the racks would be removed by the Public Safety Department.

The idea was to open up more space for bicycles by getting rid of abandoned bikes at the racks, clear up any unsightly mess they caused and to prevent the bike racks from being used as overnight storage. After complaints were made from many bike owners including late night bicycle users, the Public Safety Department set up a system for Pre-Registering the bikes so they would not be removed during those hours.

Roosevelt Island Bicycle owners have been very unhappy with this policy from the beginning. As these two comments to Bike Sharing post explain:
The problem is that it is not allowed to park a bicycle over night anywhere in public on this island. You have to bring it into your home at night. Manhattan Park, for example, does not have a bike room in any of its building. For people like me who take the bicycle serious as commuter vehicle it is incomprehensible why this is. I use my bike every single day, rain or shine, and I am forced to bring it into my apartment at night. Who is going to clean that place? Who has the room to store 2 or 3 bicycles?

I really hope Public Safety is going to revisit this. You cannot take something away (overnight parking outside) and not offer an alternative.
I am very angry about this new policy to ban overnight bike storage, especially after reading a letter in the most recent Wire (local newspaper). The person who wrote the letter owned a bike and stored it at the rack. When he returned from vacation, his bike was gone. He inquired Public Safety and was told that all bikes were removed to enforce no overnight storage ban. Public Safety didn’t have his bike because if bikes are not claimed by owners after a short period of times, Public Safety gives them to the Thrift Store has it. The man went to the Thrift Store to find out that his bike was not there. The Thrift Store has sold it! The owner wasn’t offered any compensation!
Well, Roosevelt Island Bike owners should be happy to learn that RIOC has suspended it's Bike Rack Parking policy until further notice. From RIOC:
Please be advised that the Roosevelt Island Bicycle Rack Parking Policy has been suspended until further notice. We are carefully reviewing our current policy with the NYC Department of Transportation and Transportation Alternatives for short and long term bicycle parking solutions. We are seeking ways to discourage long term storage of unused bicycles so that bicycles actively used for recreation and transportation are given precedence.  As a commitment to sustainable forms of urban transportation, it is in the Roosevelt Island community's  best interest to encourage bicycling as a legitimate means of commuting to and from school or work, and as a recreational activity. We are reviewing bicycle parking in that context.
RIOC VP Of Operations Fernando Martinez adds:
For the present time, we are allowing bikes to be parked overnight.
More on Roosevelt Island Bike Racks here.

RIOC should be commended for revoking the overnight bike rack ban policy and seeking new solutions to the problem of abandoned bicycles.

UPDATE 3 PM - From RIOC Board Director Jonathan Kalkin:
As the new Chair of the Operations Committee, I strongly pushed for this overnight bike parking policy change. As a strong advocate of Green Projects, I believe we should be encouraging the use of bicycles on Roosevelt Island. Therefore, at our last committee meeting we requested a review of these policies and solutions to enhance the use of bicycles on Roosevelt Island. We have approved a bike sharing RFP and a bike path RFP in the coming months. Some cities have opened their parking facilities for bike overnight parking and we are reviewing this as well. There is a large area in the center of Motorgate with the broken escalator that is not being used. We have been using many transportation consultants to review the Island to make sure our policies encourage transportation alternatives.  RIOC's staff has done a great job working on this and I am really excited to see this progress.

RIRA Presidential Candidate Schedule For Roosevelt Island Election - Farance Versus Katz But Still Room For More

 Matt Katz Campaigning at Roosevelt Island Farmers Market

The campaign for the Presidency of the Roosevelt Island Resident's Association (RIRA) has started. I am aware of two announced candidates so far - current RIRA President Frank Farance and challenger Mathew Katz, a former RIRA President and current Chair of the RIRA Planning Committee.

Mr. Katz sends in his upcoming campaign schedule:
FYI, here’s what I’ll be up to from now until Election Day:

I will be at the Farmers Market every Saturday and now have campaign stops scheduled from one end of the Island to the other:

1. Roosevelt Landings/Eastwood – Monday, October 18 @ 8 P.M. – Jim Luce’s apartment

2. Southtown – Tuesday, October 19 @ 7:30 P.M. – 455 MS Party Room

3. Island House/Westview – Wednesday, October 20 @ 8 P.M. – Westview Lower Community Room

4. Rivercross – Thursday, October 21 @ 8 P.M. – Community Room

5. Presidential Debate – Wednesday, October 27 @ 8 P.M. – Chapel

6. Octagon – Saturday, October 30 @ 3 P.M. – Home of Elle Erickson

7. Manhattan Park – Monday, November 1 @ 8 P.M. – Manhattan Park has, so far, insisted that I pay a fee to use their community room in 4 River Road. This is the only building complex requesting a fee for a community activity. We are in negotiations.

I expect to be heartily sick of the sound of my own voice by Election Day. Cheers,

Mr. Farance reports on his campaign plans:
Regarding a campaign schedule, I plan on going to the one's posted in the nominations forms: I'll be at all three candidates meetings (because that is where the public is meeting). I do plan on campaigning at the subway, farmers market, and other places ... but no particular schedule. If someone wants to invite me somewhere, then I'm happy to respond.

There will be a Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate's night on Wednesday, October 27 at the Good Shepherd Community Center.

There is still time for other candidates to get in the race. Nominations for RIRA President, Vice President and building delegates are open until October 24. RIRA nomination forms are available online here and at the Public Safety Office, the Public Library and many of the residential buildings. More information on the RIRA election available here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Statement From Frank Farance In Support Of His Candidacy For Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President - Honest Ethical Intelligent, He Says

Current Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Frank Farance sends in the following statement in support of his candidacy for re-election as RIRA President.
Candidate Statement for Frank Farance

To the Residents:

The 2008-2010 term could be considered one of the most successful in the history of RIRA. Accomplishments include:

— Achieving Best Working Relationship with RIOC in History of RIRA. Includes all departments: Martinez works with RIRA's Chair of Island Services (Hamburger), Guerra works with RIRA's Chair of Public Safety (Feely-Nahem), Abramson works with RIRA's Chair of Planning (Katz), etc.. I personally have a good working relationship with all RIOC staff and our elected officials.

— Convincing RIOC: Increase Budget Horizon from 5 to 15 Years. This is important: we now have better information about the Island's finances, including how our finances are heavily dependent upon the completion of Southtown buildings 7-9. I strongly advocated for this long- term financial projection and RIOC has responded.

— Achieving the best relationship with the Public Safety Department. Although not perfect, the RIRA Town Meeting I called last summer on PSD helped voice the community's concerns, and PSD collaborated on a better working relationship -- the best in Island history. PSD complaints have gone from 10 in 2008 (Guerra's first year), to 7 last year, to 3 this year. Through Guerra and RIRA's Feely-Nahem, residents' concerns are heard promptly and addressed quickly.

— Establishing Regular RIRA Town Meetings. A success experiment I started. Over two years we've had a dozen Town Meetings (a RIRA record!) for the community to interact/Q&A with RIOC. In fact, the DHCR Commissioner has stated the these RIRA Town Meetings are THE place for RIOC Board directors to interact, discuss, and engage with the community.

— Establishing Regular Public Purpose Grant Review Process. Our first attempt in 2009 suffered from concerns about apparent conflicts of interest. We could have swept this under the rug (as Mr. Katz had suggested), but instead I insisted that RIRA hold ourselves to the same standards we expect from others: we investigated, honestly reported our mistakes, and changed our process. That summer, 1000 children benefitted from the timely approval of Public Purpose Grants (whose summer programs would have been lost otherwise). This year, our new process went smoothly. We expect to continue with the improved process.

— Creating Template forCommunity Review Process--Used for Blackwell Park Master Plan. Initially there were glitches, but with my persistent public advocacy and resident committee, co-chaired by Mr. Katz and Ms. Berdy, we arrived at a community-endorsed master plan and set the process for ongoing review in Blackwell Park design and construction. Our process will now be used for community review of other RIOC projects. Because of RIRA's successful collaboration with RIOC, Urban America held a symposium on design ideas and elements for the future playground.

My Ideas For The 2010-2012 Term

— Rethink Self-Governance. Stagnant for 13 years, the same positions, and only self- selected 9 people claiming to represent the Island. As confirmed at the September 2010 meeting, Maple Tree Group (a RIRA subcommittee) has violated the RIRA Constitution and By-Laws. We need to reformulate this effort. Yes, I am for self-governance and democracy. These principles are not practiced within the present MTG and Ms. Barfield now promises an open committee. I propose a series of RIRA Town Meetings in 2011 so to better inform the community of the issues and past successes/failures, followed by common direction that represents the whole community consensus. Ditto for any proposed legislation. Our legislators (who do good work for us) cannot be misled by proposing legislation that has not been vetted by the community.

— Formal, Regular RIOC Director Nominee Election Process. This year, the process was a closed-discussion by a self-selected few in MTG and members were excluded from voting. It is likely the Governor will fill positions without resident input. The recently vetoed legislation was misguided: it took all the directors away from the Governor, and did not respect the State's important financial stake in this community — the legislation was naive. As any negotiator will tell you, we need something that is good for the Island and attractive for the Governor to sign. I propose RIRA Town Meetings to involve the community and build Island- wide consensus.

— Rethink Island Budget. Southtown 7-9 construction (or not) will greatly affect the Island's finances. The privatization of remaining WIRE buildings (exiting Mitchell-Lama program just as other M-L buildings in the state/city) can affect the Island's finances and its resident mix. We should consider requesting revenue flow back from Albany. Did you know: virtually all your City and State taxes go off the Island and don't return? The RIOC budget line was zeroed during the Pataki Administration -- something we need to start thinking about now, especially with serious financial concerns in the 2021 time frame.

— Revise General Development Plan. The privatization of several buildings and new Island mix, we require revising the GDP (an agreement between the State and the City about Roosevelt Island). This involves long-term planning and much discussion. RIRA Town Meetings and the now-established RIOC-RIRA community meetings should do the trick.

— Inclusion/Outreach on All Fronts. Example: Octagon needs to be integrated better. I've provided additional rationale for RIOC to schedule the buses consistently: if the red bus arrived on a regular schedule, then residents could easily go back and forth among the building complexes with little time lost: facilitates more on-Island shopping, socializing, youth/ senior/disabled services, etc.. If Octagon and the middle of the Island were only a reliable 5 minutes and 25 cents away, there would be more interaction. Right now, there are potentially 30 minute bus waits, which discourage this kind of cohesiveness.

Why Farance over Katz?

First, I'm an executive with significant experience (Katz is not). A main reason RIOC's relationship with RIRA has worked well: I treat RIOC staff as executives, I put myself in their shoes, and thus my suggestions carry more weight because I've thought about them deeper.

Second, I firmly support the principles of Openness, Fairness, and Transparency -- even when RIRA has made mistakes. Openness: anyone can participate. Fairness: we are all treated as equals. Transparency: you can examine RIRA decision-making/discussions, which should be following our rules.

Katz, although well-meaning, is expedient and is unwilling to follow the procedures that assure these prime principles -- following the rules is especially important when people disagree. Katz oversaw the 2004 reformulation of the RIRA Constitution and By-Laws, so he should know them best, but Katz still continues to violate those rules and doesn't understand them. Katz advocates exclusivity for the self- selected few rather championing these prime principles (you'd expect differently from a former RIRA President).

Third, Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk. Katz cannot do the latter. If Katz does not like my public browbeating, why didn't he get the job done himself to get RIOC cooperating better on the Blackwell Park committee? Katz is unwilling to champion these issues and speak truth to power. Example: I reported numerous parking problems in 2007. Katz was unable to stand up to RIOC/PSD and, thus, I took my concerns to the WIRE (publicity got PSD to change).

I have the honesty, ethics, intelligence, and conviction to champion the residents' needs. My 14-year track record in RIRA demonstrates that. Residents should ask themselves: when us RIRA officials do our work, sometimes out of immediate public view, who do you trust to represent ALL the residents fairly? There is a clear bright line in openness, fairness, and transparency, and a clear choice among the candidates.
Mr. Farance is being challenged by former RIRA President and current RIRA Planning Committee Chair Mathew Katz. If others are interested in running for RIRA President, nominations for the position are open until October 24.

The Roosevelt Islander Blog is open to any RIRA candidate who wishes to submit a statement.

UPDATE 10/24 - Mathew Katz statement in support of his RIRA President candidacy is here.

Crab Meat In The Lobster Bisque At Trellis Diner Ticks Off Roosevelt Island Resident - Doesn't Like Being Called Sweetheart Either

Image of Trellis Diner from lenglekim

So you walk into a New York City Diner on a Friday night and order the Lobster Bisque from the menu.

Lobster Bisque Image From ChowTown

What do you expect coming back from the kitchen to eat? Crab Meat? Not this Roosevelt Island resident who describes what happened when she ordered Lobster Bisque at the Trellis Diner last Friday night:
Menu Scam at Trellis : On the menu tonight is Lobster Bisque soup. I ordered a cup. It had no lobster in it and was not a bisque. It was fake crab meat in a cream soup. I ate it anyway. I asked the manager why he calls it Lobster Bisque. "Sweetheart, All diners use fake crab meat in their Lobster Bisque in NYC". Being not his "Sweetheart" I told him that was not true and that I was going to tell all of Roosevelt Island what he said. I have never come across this soup scam before in a food serving establishment, ever. Is everyone at the Trellis being fooled?
I don't know if serving crab meat in a lobster bisque is common New York City diner practice or not. If it is, Trellis should at least label it's menu accurately so that patrons know they are getting crab meat instead of lobster.

UPDATE 4 PM - Seinfeld's Elaine likes Lobster Bisque too, Yada, Yada, Yada.