Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best Wishes For A Happy And Healthy New Year From Roosevelt Island - Goodbye 2011, Welcome 2012

Best Wishes to all for a Happy And Healthy New Year in 2012.

You Tube Video of Bottle Band Auld Lang Syne Performance

There's no better way to party out the past year then with a traditional last song from Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes together with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band .
We're havin' a party
Everybody's swinging
Dancing to the music
On the radio
So listen, Mr. DJ
Keep those records playing
'Cause I'm having such a good time
Dancing with my baby

You Tube Video of Southside Johnny and Bruce Springsteen Having a Party in 1978 - Lyrics are by Sam Cooke.


Here's the year 2011 in review via Google

and the Best and Worst of Everything 2011 from Fast Company.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Last Day To Pick Up Your Photo From Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Ceremony - At RIOC HQ Until 4:30 and Public Safety Office Until 8 PM

Received this message from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Photos from the Tree Lighting Ceremony are still available for pick up until Friday December 30, 2011 at 591 Main Street from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. & at Public Safety (550 Main Street) from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Community Planning Board 8 Applications Available From Borough President Scott Stringer's Office - Roosevelt Island Residents Encouraged To Apply

Received this message from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office seeking Roosevelt Island residents interested in being considered as candidates to join Community Planning Board 8 (CPB 8).  From Borough President Stringer's office:
The Manhattan Borough President’s office is currently accepting applications to join your local Community Board (CB). Serving on a Community Board is a great opportunity to shape your neighborhood, improve service delivery, and be at the forefront of community based planning.

More information about CBs and a copy of the 2012 application can be found here ( New applications are due by January 13th, 2012.

Prior to applying, it is recommended that you attend an information session to learn more about the process and applying. The next two sessions are taking place on Wednesday, January 4th from 6:30 – 8:00pm and Thursday, January 5th from 6:30 – 8:00pm at One Centre Street, 19th Floor. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Kristen Ellis at Borough President Scott Stringer’s office at 212-669-7877 or
Newly elected CPB 8 Chair Nick Viest discusses how he got involved and what the Community Board does.

More information available from CPB 8 interview program CPB 8 Speaks. Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz is interviewed by CPB 8 Speaks here. Also interviewed by CPB 8 Speaks are Roosevelt Island residents and CPB 8 members Ellen Polivy and Sharon Pope.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stanford Answers Questions On Withdrawal Of Roosevelt Island NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School Proposal - Number Of Students, Faculty, Building Size, Construction Timeline Similar To Cornell Says Stanford But NYC Introduced Additional Unacceptable Requirements After Bid Was Submitted - Was Stanford's Silicon Valley Location An Inherent Conflict?

Stanford University News reports on:

Frequently asked questions regarding Stanford's withdrawal of the NYC campus proposal

What led to Stanford's withdrawal of its New York City proposal?

From the beginning, Stanford expressed an interest in the project with the clear understanding that it had to benefit both Stanford and New York City.

After submitting our proposal at the end of October, conversations with the city began in late November, responding to questions from the city that sought to clarify some specifics in our proposal. In early December, a group led by President Hennessy, and including The City College of New York (CCNY) President Lisa Coico, Stanford faculty members and other campus officials, went in person to New York to meet with staff from the city's economic development corporation, which issued the request for proposal (RFP).

For the next two weeks, a smaller Stanford team continued with more intensive negotiations with the NYCEDC (the New York City agency in charge of the process) that focused on many issues, including the legal agreements that would need to be reached between the campus and the city. During the negotiation process the city introduced additional requirements that increased the risks and costs for Stanford and decreased the potential benefit.

We were very much hoping for a successful outcome, but it became apparent that there were areas where the city and university were not going to agree. Beyond the academic part of the proposal, the project involved numerous land use, real estate, zoning, construction timetables with significant penalties, and other details. In a project of this nature, involving a significant investment by both the city and a much larger investment by the university, both sides need to be willing to accept a certain level of risk. Ultimately, we decided we could not accept the level of risk that the city wanted us to accept.

How was the final decision made?

The trustees were briefed on the status of the negotiations and indicated that they were not comfortable with the city's requests and asked us to continue negotiating. Negotiations continued for several more days, and we concluded that we could not reach an agreement with the city that would assure that a Stanford campus in NYC could be successful.

A final decision was made after President Hennessy spoke to Deputy Mayor Bob Steel and Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the morning of Dec. 16.

If we had concerns about the city's requests, why did Stanford not withdraw sooner? Why did Stanford let it go so far?

We put forward a very serious proposal and we were hopeful up until the last moment that we might be able to reach agreement with the city. Some critical new matters were introduced in the process of the negotiations that were not included in the RFP and not known to us before the StanfordNYC bid was submitted at the end of October. We withdrew when we felt that we could not have a partnership with the city of New York that would make this project successful.

Did Stanford withdraw because it believed that Cornell was going to win or because Cornell had received a $350 million gift for the New York campus?

Neither. Stanford’s withdrawal was the result of our own negotiations and had nothing to do with Cornell’s bid. Prior to our decision, there was no suggestion on the city’s part that Stanford’s bid was not the front-runner in the competition. In fact, all evidence available to us indicated the contrary. In addition, Stanford did not know about Cornell’s $350 million gift until it was announced five hours after our withdrawal. Though these were not factors in our decision, we sincerely congratulate Cornell on their successful proposal and their inspirational gift.

Was the Cornell/Technion proposal really "bigger and bolder" than Stanford's, as the city claimed?

We haven't been able to see their proposal in its entirety. What was revealed publicly before the submission and at their press conference sounded very similar in size and scope to the Stanford proposal, in terms of numbers of faculty, students, building size and square footage. Our construction timelines were also similar. Both projects proposed constructing environmentally sustainable campuses on Roosevelt Island. We had different approaches to community benefits, such as their planned work with K-12 schools and our intention to work with City College of New York. And we had different approaches to creating benefits for start-up corporations, with Stanford proposing incubator space and Cornell proposing grants as incentives for young companies to remain in NYC.

How much money did Stanford spend on the proposal?

In preparing the proposal, responding to questions and through the negotiations, the university spent about $3 million on the proposal, primarily for outside consultants and architects. This was required for the due diligence to fully respond to an extensive RFP for a project that ultimately could have cost $2.5 billion over several decades. Building a project of this magnitude in New York City is complex, and we required outside expertise to help us understand the city's requirements. The NYC RFP required all competing institutions to turn in completed plans, including architectural renderings, as well as numerous legal documents that required the assistance of New York land use and real estate attorneys and experts, as well as labor experts. But much of our proposal was also developed in-house, with considerable input on the academic program coming from our faculty. They had tremendous, creative research program ideas that we were excited to implement in New York.

Why did Stanford suggest this in the first place, and was it worth it to the university to pursue this opportunity?

We believe that the opportunity presented by the NYC initiative could have been transformative for both Stanford and New York City. It presented Stanford with an opportunity to extend our expertise in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship to another part of the country, where we were confident we could generate economic growth and help create another technology hub within the United States. We believe Stanford has made a significant contribution to the U.S. and world economies and this would have allowed us to continue our record of knowledge transfer and job generation. There were also benefits for our California campus. New York provided us a domestic location where we could increase the number of students served by Stanford without further impacting the home campus. It also offered opportunities to recruit stellar faculty who want to remain on the East Coast and new research opportunities in industries that are New York City's strengths, such as finance, arts and media, and urban studies.

Yes, it was worth the effort. We received tremendously positive visibility over the course of almost a year throughout the East Coast. It was gratifying to see the welcome that we received in NYC, not just by the tech industry, but also by the public. There was genuine excitement at the potential for Stanford in New York. The people of New York now have an increased appreciation of the excellence of Stanford, both academically and in terms of our contributions to technology and our ability to generate job growth. Here in California, our participation in this NYC effort was in keeping with our reputation for exploring bold ideas. As is well known in Silicon Valley, not all great ideas work out, but that does not mean it is a mistake to pursue them. Stanford engaged in this selection process because of the project’s great promise, and withdrew when it became apparent to us that this would not be an achievable undertaking for the university.

What happens next? Will Stanford look for other opportunities like NYC?

Great universities need to find ways to continue to challenge themselves, and to reach new levels in the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. We will absolutely continue to look for those opportunities, whether it is through expanding our distance-learning capabilities from California or seeking new partners who can help us advance and innovate. You don't make progress by standing still, and the saying nothing ventured, nothing gained is most apt. Jane and Leland Stanford founded the university on these bold principles, and we will continue that tradition.

Now that Stanford has achieved higher visibility in NYC, will it conduct more activities there?

Our partnership with the City College of New York will absolutely continue. While we won't be co-locating there, we will be moving forward with our joint development of an undergraduate curriculum in entrepreneurship. We are exploring some other ideas as well to continue our engagement, both with CCNY and the NYC tech community.

We also appreciated all the enthusiasm of the alumni in the New York area and those who were supportive of this effort, and we are considering what type of presence Stanford may have in New York in the future.

Will Stanford share its NYC proposal?

We are very proud of the proposal we put forward and will be share it with interested parties both on and off campus. Copies of the proposal will be made available for review at the Green Library.
Wired reports:
... Cornell and Technion beat — or at least outlasted — Stanford University, the school whose marriage of high-tech smarts and entrepreneurial verve in Silicon Valley Bloomberg wanted to reinvent in New York. Stanford unexpectedly withdrew its bid shortly before the results were announced.

“Stanford was inherently conflicted from day one,” Kim told Wired. After all, Mayor Bloomberg didn’t propose that New York would match or follow Silicon Valley or Boston-Cambridge as high-tech hubs. He proposed to make New York City the best in the world.

“If you want to be number one, Silicon Valley has to be number two,” Kim says.

It was harder for Stanford to commit itself and its resources to that vision than Cornell or many of the other bidders. Not without causing serious agita back home in Palo Alto....
and the NY Times adds that Cornell's:
... leaders believed that their plan needed to be clearly better than Stanford’s to win — that if things were roughly equal, Stanford would prevail.

The city asked for at least 250,000 square feet in the first phase, and a million over 25 years. Cornell-Technion proposed 400,000 and 2.1 million, with space for 2,500 students and 280 professors. Others said classes would start in September 2013; Cornell-Technion promised September 2012.

The plan was tailored to New York, focusing on technology for fields in which the city is a leader, like medicine, urban planning, finance and advertising. The schools stressed Cornell’s strong alumni presence in New York, especially its burgeoning technology sector.

They were also determined to be the most agreeable: When the city asked bidders to “mark up” drafts of legal agreements, signaling their objections, Mr. Steel recalled, the edits from Cornell and Technion “were much lighter than those from other institutions.”....
Here's video of the press conference announcing Cornell's selection to build the NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School on Roosevelt Island and my interview with Stanford President John Hennessey during one of his visits to Roosevelt Island last October.

You Tube Video of Stanford President's Visit To Roosevelt Island

New RIOC Policy Allows Open Baby Strollers On The Roosevelt Island Red Bus At The Discretion Of Driver - How Is That Working Out?

Image of Unfolded Stroller On Red Bus During  Rush Hour Earlier This Month

In response to requests from the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA), the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) changed its policy recently regarding allowing open baby strollers on the Red Bus during all hours at the discretion of the bus operator. Here's the new policy from RIOC
Revised Bus Policy

Hand baggage, instrument cases, bundles and parcels may be carried onto RIOC buses by customers provided that these articles can be carried on without inconveniencing other customers and/or the driver and does not obstruct the bus aisle or doors. Persons with unfolded strollers and/or shopping carts are not permitted to board RIOC buses unless the driver, at his or her sole discretion, determines that it will not cause an inconvenience or safety hazard to other customers or the driver. Orthopedic (wheelchair type) strollers for children with disabilities are permitted on buses just as wheelchairs are and must be secured in the wheelchair area. Bus operators must check strollers carefully to ensure that children with disabilities are not denied accessible service.

Updated signage has been posted on buses stating:

"Strollers and Shopping Carts must be folded upon operator’s request".
The policy has been in place for about a month now. How has it been working out for you?

This excerpt from a comment by an Octagon mother describes the problem for parents under previous policy of not allowing unfolded strollers on the Red Bus during Rush Hour:
Manhattan Park or the Octagon are great places to live if you have children...BUT for the whole Red Bus issue.  Let me tell you how fun it is to be 4 weeks post-unintended Cesarean birth, pushing your stroller home from the F train.  A lovely, 20 minute walk in the bitter cold and pouring down rain, pushing the stroller with one hand and holding your umbrella with another, all while worrying that you are doing irrevocable damage to your uterus.  The alternative is sitting in the F train station, waiting until the rain stops (which could take hours) or waiting until rush hour ends five hours later.  (And even then, people will give you dirty looks if you try to squeeze on the bus on a post 8 pm bus.)  Sometimes a mom just wants to get home before her baby wakes up, so she can avoid sitting in the F train station nursing for a solid hour, you know? If you take your sleeping newborn out, lay her on the dirty, wet ground while you fold your stroller, you still have to somehow carry everything on to the bus, and maybe, just maybe someone will give you a seat.  There's about a 50/50 chance on that.  Since I was told to not carry anything heavier than my child for the first 8 weeks, getting around was impossible.  I could basically carry her or the diaper bag, but not both.  So a stroller was necessary.

It seems to be the longtime residents who live in the middle of the island who are the most stroller unfriendly.  I also don't understand how enormous shopping carts (which don't have brakes) can go on the bus, but small children safely strapped into their strollers can't?  I folded my teeny tiny umbrella stroller when I got on to a bus one afternoon several months ago.  My daughter was about 18 months old at the time, and just didn't understand that she needed to stay seated on the moving bus.  I was balancing the stroller between my knees while I held her on my lap.  (And apart from that, I was relatively unencumbered...only had a small tote bag with me, which is not the case most of the time we moms go out.)  Well, my daughter started throwing a fit because she couldn't get down.  I managed to keep her safely on my lap, but she kicked the stroller hard enough that it fell across the aisle and hit a poor man standing there.  I was mortified.  And I only had one child to handle.  What if I'd also had a four year old with me that wanted to stand up on the seat at the same time?  What if I were already pregnant with a second child and having some health issues and walking the 20 minutes was difficult or not advised by my doctor?...
Another reader has a different view:
I agree with you that it would be awesome to have an unfolded stroller on the bus at any time when you need it (but I still wouldn't advocate for it). The problem is, that it can become a problem. Just like the elevators... everybody's got the right to take it and you see what's happening there. Plan your day in a way that the bus and its rules fit in there. Doctor's appointment? Make one at a time where you know you can take the bus. Reschedule if the weather doesn't allow it. Just saying that for most situations there is a plan B. It may not the most convenient one but it will work out just fine.
More on Red Bus baby stroller issue from previous posts.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Roosevelt Island Holiday Lights - Can We Do Better Next Year?

Hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas.

One of the best things about the Holiday season are the brightly colored outdoor lights displayed on streets in neighborhoods all over the City. For an over the top example of a neighborhood Holiday Lights Display, take a trip to Dyker Heights Brooklyn. Here's what it is like.

You Tube Video of Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Unfortunately, Roosevelt Island has a rather limited Holiday Lights display centered around trees surrounding the Blackwell House area and on some Main Street light poles in Northtown and the Riverwalk Commons. Can Roosevelt Island do a better job at displaying Holiday Lights next year?

Julia Palermo of the Roosevelt Island Chamber of Commerce spoke at the December Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) meeting seeking a $275 donation from RIRA for one of the Holiday Light displays that are placed by the Chamber on Main Street Light Poles. Ms. Palermo explained that the Chamber of Commerce currently lights 17 of the 25 Main Street Northtown poles and hopes to have light displays on all 25 in the future.

An annual discussion topic when RIRA discusses the Holiday Lights donation is whether the lights should be purchased or continue the current practice of renting the lights? The cost to purchase is approximately $500 per pole while the rental fee is $275. Ms. Palermo and several RIRA members who researched this question report that renting is a better option because of storage, maintenance, service and theft issues.

Ms. Palermo said that donations for the Holiday Lights come from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) ($1100), building management companies (RY Management of Island House and Westview) as well as individual residents. I am not sure if Rivercross or Roosevelt Landings makes a donation. One RIRA member from the Octagon asked if the Holiday Lights could be spread out across Roosevelt Island to include the Octagon Building. Ms. Palermo replied that the Octagon management has never donated to the Roosevelt Island Holiday Lights but that she hopes to light up the entire Island.

Here's Ms. Palermo's presentation including questions and comments from RIRA members.

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Holiday Lights Discussion

RIRA voted to donate $275 for one Holiday Lights on one pole.

Con Man Reported On Roosevelt Island According To Public Safety Report - No Info Yet If Scam Was A House Of Games

You Tube Video of House Of Cards Con Explanation Scene

According to the 12/23 -24 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Report:
Scheme To Defraud- Anon female reports con man. Searched with negative results.
I asked both RIOC's Public Safety Department Chief and Press Spokesperson yesterday:
Please provide additional details as the nature of the scheme to defraud, where it occurred, any similar incidents and any other relevant details.
Have not received response yet.

An elaborate scam is the subject of House of Games.  It is a very enjoyable movie (an excerpt shown in the video above) about the con game with Joe Mantegna, Lindsey Crouse and Ricky Jay.

Here's a montage of more Con Men movies.

You Tube Video Montage Of Con Men Movies

Also, it's almost January and the November Monthly Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Blotter is not available to the public yet. The last available Public Safety Monthly Blotter is for October.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

RIOC Operations Committee Meeting Tomorrow To Discuss Roosevelt Island Good Shepherd Roof Repair, Will Material Be Original Slate, Fake Slate Or Asphalt - Cost Versus Landmark Preservation Priorities At Issue

You Tube Video Of Good Shepherd Community Center Roof

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Operations Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.

The Committee will meet to discuss the Good Shepherd Community Center Roof Repair Project.
The subject of replacing the landmarked Good Sheperd Community Center Roof was discussed during the November 28 RIOC Operations Committee meeting. As reported in this previous post:
... Also discussed was the replacement of the Good Shepherd roof - whether the roof will be a slate roof as was it's original condition or some other less expensive material such as fake slate or asphalt....
Although repairing the roof with the original slate material was approved at a prior RIOC Board meeting, some RIOC directors are becoming increasingly concerned with the higher initial cost of the slate and may wish to use a less expensive material to repair the roof.

Here's the discussion at the November 28 RIOC Operations Committee meeting.

You Tube Video Of Good Shepherd Roof Repair Discussion at November RIOC Operations Committee Meeting

Audio web cast of the Operations Committee meeting is available here.

Authorized Parking For Some Vehicles At Temporary Southtown Lot But Not For Residents - Why Not Turn Space Green and Add Additional Commons Area?

Image of Authorized Vehicle Parking Sign Outside Temporary Southtown Lot

What makes a vehicle "authorized" for parking in certain Roosevelt Island locations such as the Southtown "temporary" lot opposite the Riverwalk Bar & Grill?

Aerial View of Temporary Southtown Lot (on right) Next To NYPD K9 Training Area (on left)

Last week, I sent the following inquiry to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez and Public Safety Director Keith Guerra:
I am doing a story on who is allowed to use the Authorized Parking lot opposite 425 Main Street. My understanding was that parking was supposed to be for Tram personnel. However, I have had reports from residents that some who are not Tram personnel are using that lot.

For instance, I just saw Gina from the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) park in that lot a few minutes ago. It is not the first time I have seen her park there when there were plenty of parking spaces available on the street. Is a representative from FERI considered an authorized user of the parking lot? If so, why should Roosevelt Island residents be prohibited from using that space.

Also noticed that some spaces on West Channel Road across from Starbucks have been turned into commercial parking areas.

Why was that?
 Image Of Commercial Parking Spaces On West Road Opposite Starbucks

RIOC's Press Spokesperson replied:
Tram employees, PSD, and NYPD are authorized to use the lot.  Gina and Sally have also been authorized to park in the lot given the size of the project they are overseeing, their need to be on the Island to both manage and further the project, and because of the impact the project will have on the Island.  RIOC is aware that there has been unauthorized parking in the lot and has stepped up enforcement in response.
Gina and Sally refer to the FERI representatives.

With spring approaching in a few months, some, including myself would like to see that area of Southtown cleaned up and made into a green space continuing the Riverwalk Commons area instead of being used as a parking lot.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Claus Is Making His Way Around The World Tonight, Track Him With The Aid Of NORAD - Is That Santa Flying Over The Queensboro Bridge On His Way To Roosevelt Island With His Reindeer Leading A Tram Sled Again?

Reports are coming in of Santa Claus sightings from all around the world. You can even track him with the aid of NORAD.

Santa will arrive on Roosevelt Island in a couple of hours. When he does, it may be on his specially designed, reindeer powered, Roosevelt Island Tram sled using one of the old Tram cabins.

Roosevelt Island Reindeer Driven Tram (more info here)

Hope you've taken Bruce Springsteen's advice and were good this year.

You Tube Video of 1978 Springsteen Version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Earlier this week, Santa's helpers at the Roosevelt Island Starbucks had a Christmas Party for local kids.

There were hot drinks, gifts, storytelling, carols

 and a visit with the Santa Claus.

Nice job by our local Starbucks staff.

Don't forget to leave some cookies out for Santa tonight. MERRY CHRISTMAS - Ho HO Ho!!!!!!!!

How Cool Is This - Central Park Harlem Meer Floating Christmas Tree

The Harlem Meer is a wonderful part of Central Park. Go there and explore.

View Larger Map

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Coming On Christmas - There's No Skating On The East River For Sarah McLaughlan But You Can Listen To A Beautiful Irish Fairytale Of New York With The Pogues - What's Your Favorite Christmas Song?

It's coming on Christmas, very, very soon. Here are two of my favorite Christmas songs. Sarah McLaughlan's version of River

You Tube Video of Sarah McLaughlan's River

and the beautiful Fairytale of New York from the The Pogues, as only the Irish can do.

You Tube Video Of The Pogues Fairytale Of New York

Here's the story behind The Pogues Fairytale of New York.

For something completely different, the Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy on the Glass Harp.

Some Chanukah songs are here.

What's your favorite Christmas/Holiday Song?

Roosevelt Island Youth Program Celebrates Holiday Season At Build A Bear, With Alvin & The Chipmunks Movie, Tram Sleigh Ride and Dinner At Trellis - Good Times

The Roosevelt Island Youth Program report on their Christmas Party outing.

Roosevelt Island Youth Program Inc. Celebrates the Holiday Season

The Roosevelt Island Youth Program Inc. held its 32nd Christmas party for member of their afterschool program and over 100 youth, staff and volunteer parents attended. The day started bright and early with everyone going to “Build a Bear” on 46th Street and Madison Avenue,

then they were treated to the critically acclaimed “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie

at Clearview Cinema on 62nd and 1st avenue.

They were then taken on a magical Tram Sleigh Ride

to “Lovely Roosevelt Island”

by RIOC and finished the day with dinner at Trellis,

This wonderful day was made possible by Executive Director Charles DeFino and of course funding provided by Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. The Roosevelt Island Youth Program, its Board of Directors and the youth we serve wishes everyone a Happy Holiday and Healthy New Year.
More pictures from the Roosevelt Island Youth Program Christmas outing available here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mobile Food Truck Service Still Not Allowed On Roosevelt Island Says RIOC Real Estate Committee But Policy Guidelines Being Developed For Next Real Estate Committee Meeting

You Tube Video of Food Truck Frenzy

As reported previously, the issue of Mobile Food Trucks such as Luke's Lobster being allowed to operate on Roosevelt Island was an agenda item at today's Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors Real Estate Committee meeting (audio web cast of the meeting will be here within a few days). Here what happened:

You Tube Video Of Roosevelt Island Mobile Food Cart Discussion During RIOC Real Estate Committee Meeting

More information on NYC mobile food truck service available at New York Street Food.

UPDATE 12/23 - The answer to the question previously posed whether RIOC believes it has the right to ban food trucks on Roosevelt Island public streets which have all appropriate licenses from NYC and can provide service to any other NYC neighborhood is yes, at least according to the Real Estate Committee. The Committee was unsure where that authority came from though RIOC's attorney believes that the RIOC NY State enabling legislation provides for that power. The attorney noted he would check to see if his impression is correct.

RIOC Real Estate Committee chair Howard Polivy hopes to have a Mobile Food Truck policy established by the January RIOC Board meeting.

Gothamist reports on problems with Food Truck vendors in Hoboken and New York Street Food reports on the Roosevelt Island Food Truck Controversy and shows us what we are missing by banning Luke's Lobster.

Luke's Lobster Roll Image From New York Street Food

FDNY Boat Water Cannons Spraying On East River By Roosevelt Island Last Sunday - Quite A Sight

Image From W. Cruz

Roosevelt Island resident W. Cruz shares these photos and reports:
Early Sunday afternoon an FDNY ship passed by the island with a nice water display.  I took a few pictures
Image From W. Cruz

Last summer members of the FDNY Fireboat Bravest rescued a man in the East River:
Just days after it was put into service, firefighters aboard the new fireboat Bravest rescued a man in the East River on July 10.
"Everybody did their jobs and did a great job," said Capt. Louis Guzzo. "It was a good feeling."

Members of Marine 6 - including Capt. Guzzo and Firefighters Pete Demetropolis, Barney Duffy, Bill Hannan, Jim Mare and Gene Nickola - were called to the scene of a person in the East River, near 23rd Street, at around 7:30 p.m.

They quickly made their way to the area. Capt. Guzzo added, "We were able to make a much quicker response because of the speed of the new boat."

As they made their way up the river, Firefighter Duffy donned the mustang suit - a wetsuit that also is buoyant.

Firefighters on land were on scene when the boat arrived and helped direct the members aboard the fireboat to the victim, who was slipping below the surface of the water....
Click here for interesting video from CNN on FDNY's new, state of the art fireboat.

Update To Cornell Technion Roosevelt Island Engineering School Selection - Mayor Bloomberg Interview, Transportation Infrastructure Questions, Why Not Stanford, Academic Program and Graffiti Clean Up Called For

Here's a follow up to post on Tuesday reporting that Cornell Technion partnership was selected to build the NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School on Roosevelt Island.

Mayor Bloomberg and Cornell President David Skorton appeared on Good Day New York Tuesday morning to discuss the new graduate engineering school and its impact on New York City. Mayor Bloomberg also categorically denied any intention to run as an independent candidate for President in 2012.

2nd Avenue Sagas Blogger asks, as do those of us living here, what is the future for Roosevelt Island transportation infrastructure improvements with the arrival of the Cornell Technion campus?
 ... In a post yesterday, Cap’n Transit wondered how Roosevelt Island would remain relatively car-free. The infrastructure on the island can’t really support a huge influx of cars as it is even as the current hospital areas near where the campus will go up are relatively car-heavy. “Let’s hope,” the Cap’n writes, “that the Cornell and Technion designers have more vision than they showed in that lame fly-through, and that they build something urban and scholarly, with really narrow streets, like in Paris’s Latin Quarter....
One potential “right thing” could involve exploring a new subway stop for the island. The 53rd St. tunnel passes directly underneath what will be the southern end of the Cornell campus. There’s no station right now, and I have no idea if one is even technically or economically feasible. But it would serve to anchor the campus and would nearly eliminate the need to drive to Cornell-on-Roosevelt. Currently, while the F train itself at Roosevelt Island is very crowded, the station is only the 180th most popular. That figure is a bit deceptive though as the 37.6 percent increase in ridership from 2009 to 2010 was the second highest in the city. Over 2.5 million riders a year use the station, and that number will jump considerably with the campus....
During Monday's Press Conference, I asked Mayor Bloomberg and Cornell President Skorton that very question regarding transportation infrastructure improvements for Roosevelt Island and received a general reply that they were very aware of the issue and it will be addressed but no specifics at that moment. After the press conference I asked NYC Economic Development Corp President Seth Pinsky about Roosevelt Island transportation infrastructure and he indicated that discussions will be underway with the MTA on this issue. Also nothing specific at that moment.

There were some interesting comments to the 2nd Avenue Sagas post on Roosevelt Island transportation infrastructure including:
The proper grading for a stop in the 53rd St tubes is simply not there. You need essentially a level grade for about 600 ft, or as close as possible to 600 ft. Besides there is ample capacity at the Roosevelt Island stop. Ample train capacity would be achieved by putting the “F” back in 53rd St, where it belongs, and routing the much more lightly loaded “M” into 63rd St. In so doing you’d eliminate all the ridiculously slow and delay generating switching moves at Queens Plaza & 36 St. Nights & weekends when the “M” quits the “F” could be be rerouted to 63rd St. For reliability a railroad should be straight railed to the maximum extent possible. Eliminate all unnecessary switching moves.
the Queensboro Bridge Roosevelt Island elevator idea returns:
Perhaps adding a mid-bridge station on the Queensboro? Is it not true that trolley service over the bridge featured a Roosevelt Island stop?
... Is there any word on expanding ferry service to the new campus? I imagine such service would be very convenient for those coming from LIC or Brooklyn....
What about constructing a new tram from the Cornell campus to the new development at the former Con Ed site just south of the UN? That has to be cheaper than a new subway stop. Add in the Vision42 proposal (hey, we’re dreaming here, right?) and you’ve got a pretty quick route into Midtown.
Click here for the entire 2nd Avenue Sagas post and additional comments.

The NY Observer Beta Beat has an excellent article headlined:
Safety School? As Stanford Says ‘See Ya!’ Bloomberg Hops in Bed with Big Red
How New York City got a better deal by going with the less prestigious choice.
regarding the competition between Cornell and Stanford to be selected to build the new school. According to Beta Beat:
...  Part of the difficulty of understanding where negotiations broke down is a silence clause stipulated in the request for proposal (RFP). But numerous sources, who spoke under condition of anonymity, painted a picture of tense discussions and onerous demands that left several schools wary, including Stanford.

Cornell, eager to increase its presence in New York City, was more compliant at the negotiating table and better versed in what it took to get city approval, including fundraising before commitments were made. Sources said the $350 million gift, for example, had been secured for months. “We need to expand beyond Ithaca,” President Skorton said plainly from the podium.

“Cornell needed it more. But NYC Tech needs Stanford more,” tweeted New York City–based venture capitalist David Pakman, alluding to the latter’s prestige within tech circles and facility with spinning out successful startups. (There’s a reason China and Russia are trying to build their own Silicon Valley.)
In the end, it seems the city got a better deal for taxpayers by going with the one that wanted it more, rather than the one it was supposed to want.

A university source familiar with the negotiations said Stanford’s decision to drop out wasn’t based on any one issue, but rather due to “a whole host of things that held them liable for factors outside of [their] control,” such as big-ticket penalties for missed construction deadlines and the city’s desire “to indemnify themselves for any toxicity” at the Roosevelt Island site. Although a Phase II study was commissioned this year, a full scale analysis of the medical dump under the hospital cannot be done until the building is razed. Should serious hazards be uncovered, the school will be on the hook not only for the clean-up but also potentially for resultant delays.”You had a lot of institutions that wouldn’t even apply because of the terms, and they got even more severe in the negotiation process,” said the source.

City officials counter that such stipulations are par for the course. “If we didn’t include these types of commitments, there would be a chorus of people saying: How could the city write a blank check to a university that in five years could just decide it wasn’t into it?!” one official said. “It’s standard in any kind of long-term land lease or land sale that the city would ask the recipient to agree to certain benchmarks.”....
Click here for the entire Beta Beat article.

Tech Crunch interviewed Cornell Dean Daniel Huttenlocher on the new Roosevelt Island school:
... Academically, we’re looking at shifting away from traditional university campus disciplines. There’ll be key disciplines involved — computer science, electrical engineering, operations research, applied math — but those disciplines need to be in the context of other disciplines where tech is being applied…. hubs that combine tech and other fields. In media, for instance, there are relevant areas of the social sciences, like sociology and psychology.

It’s about building interdisciplinary groupings that focus on these domains — Connective Media, Healthier Life, and the Built Environment. That second one isn’t just health care, but things like lifestyle types of apps. The third is about smart building technology, green buildings.
If you look at startup companies in New York, there’s certainly media. That’s a big, active area in the city’s economy.

For health, you’re seeing some startups there. But I’d say it’s the leading edge of the startup world. Then with green tech, that’s the bleeding edge, and there are relatively few companies. There’s a lot of growth potential in all these areas from a jobs perspective, and we see the academic areas that support them are not pure tech....
Click here for the entire Tech Crunch interview.

What impact Cornell's huge presence on Roosevelt Island will have in the future is unknown but it will be immense. Someone, perhaps associated with Cornell using the name Cornell Tech, is trying to have an impact by reporting this graffiti issue to RI 311 See Click Fix system.
HUGE HUGE gang tagging on the sea wall, all in Queens can see it

this thing is huge and been there a long time..would be nice if it was covered up, painted, sandblasted off. You can see it from Queens and it is very large, had to take a long time to do.
Let's see how fast the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) jumps to clean up the graffiti mess pointed out by Cornell.

This is just the beginning of a very long and exciting process for the Roosevelt Island community. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Chanukah From Roosevelt Island and The Shlomones, Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, The Maccaabeats and Matisyahu - Let's Do The Rocky Hora Chanukah Dance

Happy Chanukah from Roosevelt Island. The Roosevelt Island Chanukah Menorah joins the Roosevelt Island Christmas Tree and Holiday lights to brighten up Blackwell House Plaza.

Enjoy some Chanukah songs from The Shlomones,

Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert,

YOu Tube Video of Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert Sing Hanukkah Songs

The Maccabeats and

You Tube Video of The Maccabeats - Candlelight - Hanukkah


You Tube Video of Miracle - Matisyahu Hanukkah Song

If you want more Chanukah songs take a look at these oldies but goodies from Adam Sandler and the Dreidel Song with a Texas twist.

Roosevelt Island West Road Floodlight Shining Into Riverwalk Apartment Window - Is Con Ed Emergency Generator Lights The Cause?

A Roosevelt Island resident asks:

Do you know who we should contact to ask about the floodlight on W Rd next to 465 Main St?  I just want to know how long it will be up, because it shines ridiculously brightly into our apartment.  If it’s going to be there for quite a while, we might have to invest in drapes. 
Image of West Road Floodlight This Evening

As reported in this post last Saturday, I believe the floodlight has to do with Con Ed shutting off the streetlights on West Road due to a stray voltage situation over the weekend.
... Con edison has temporarily disconnected several lights on the Westdrive between Riverwalk buildings 405 and 425. RIOC has placed emergency generator lights at this location until the street lights are fully restored....

The street light shut off extended to 465 Main Street as well. I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) for an explanation earlier today but have not received a reply yet and also suggested that the resident report the issue to RI 311 See Click Fix. Will update when and if RIOC responds.

Mobile Food Van Service For Roosevelt Island On Agenda For Tomorrow's RIOC Board Of Directors Real Estate Committee Meeting - Bring Luke Lobster and Other Good Mobile Food Trucks To Restaurant Starved Roosevelt Island

Previous post reported on the Luke's Lobster Mobile Food Van being chased off Roosevelt Island despite having all required New York City permits and Licenses. As Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez explained:
Yes, a food vendor will have to provide RIOC with the appropriate NYC licences and copies of insurance.  We will then issue a RIOC permit.  However, please keep in mind that we are not currently accepting any applications for street food vending.
and a subsequent response from the RIOC Board of Directors:
... the Board has placed the issue of mobile food vendors on the agenda for the next Real Estate committee meeting to develop a procedure for handling them in a uniform, and fair way.
The issue of Mobile Food Trucks will be discussed in public at tomorrow's RIOC Board of Directors Real Estate Committee meeting along with an Executive Session closed to the public on the status of Island House privatization and ground lease extension. According to RIOC:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 3:00 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.

1. Discussion of Street Vending Licenses on Roosevelt Island;
2. Chair’s Motion for Executive Session to Review and Discuss the Status of Privatization/Affordability Plan and Ground Lease Extension for Island House.
Good mobile food trucks, and Luke's Lobster is an excellent one, are a great amenity  and should be allowed to operate on Roosevelt Island under the same rules and regulations as they do in any other NYC neighborhood.

Readers commenting on the Luke's post had this to say:

From Mark:
This is terrible.  If anything, we should be encouraging food trucks to make RI their evening dinner stop.
It's so aggravating to be a part of NYC and yet not. Food trucks are an awesome idea to help spice up the food options here on the island. All summer the ice cream truck parks here, why not allow more options. RIOC, you really really are missing the boat on this one...
Seriously! The RIOC need to get a life and give us all one too. A permit? Unbelievable! RI is the perfect place for food trucks and if the RIOC were smart, they would run events with the trucks every single weekend to draw more tourists to the island. I have lived here since 1979 and I cannot think of one thing the RIOC did to better the life for the residents without trying to squeeze a buck from someone. ARGH!!!!
Roosevelt Island: we must preemptively lower the quality of life.
This is terrible. Luke's is one of the best food trucks in the city. It's more upscale, and high quality than anything currently on the island, without interfering with real estate.
Roosevelt Island Residents Association Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance commented:
... I recognize that RIOC may control permitting on its properties, such as the sidewalk near the subway.  However, a food truck on a public street (Main Street), I believe, is outside of RIOC's control.

If a mobile food vendor complies with the NYC licensing and permitting requirements:


AND, Roosevelt Island's Main Street is *not* on the list of restricted streets for mobile food vendors:


THEN, under what authority does RIOC/PSD have the right to ask the food vendor to leave?...
There are more comments here.

During the December 14 RIOC Board of Directors meeting,  Nonno's Focacceria and Riverwalk Bar & Grill owner Alphonse DiCioccio expressed objections to mobile food vendors, such as Luke's Lobster and the Domino's Pizza car at the Farmers Market, being allowed to sell food on Roosevelt Island asserting that it was unfair to existing store owners who pay rent. Here's what he had to say.

You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 2)

Commenting on this post, theohiostate writes:
 ...the Food Vendor's should also pay some kind of rent or permit fee.  They shouldn't get to sell here for free.  If that happens, our local businesses - the few that we have - will close, and we will have nothing....
I replied:
The Mobile Food vans should be allowed on Roosevelt Island under the same circumstances and permits that exist in any other NYC neighborhood.

The more food choices Roosevelt Island residents have the better. If residents decide to spend their money at food vans rather than existing restaurants, the answer is for the restaurants to improve their offerings, not work to ban the mobile food vendors.
An audio web cast of the RIOC Board Of Directors Real Estate Committee public session should be available a few days after the meeting. The Executive Session on Island House Privatization will not be made public.

Christmas Day Roosevelt Island Volunteer Opportunity To Serve Dinner For Seniors and Disabled - Donate Your Winter Coat To New York Cares At Public Safety Department Today

Are you interested in volunteering to help serve Christmas Day dinner to Roosevelt Island Seniors and Disabled from 1 - 5 PM on December 25? If so, please contact Roosevelt Island Disabled Association President Jim Bates. Contact here - fdrhopememorial (at) gmail (dot) com

Also, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department is participating in the NY Cares Winter Coat Drive.Today is the last day coats are being accepted at the Public Safety Department.

According to the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department:


FROM 12/2/11 THRU 12/21/11




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Roosevelt Island Sportspark Facilities Open During School Holiday Vacation Except For December 24 -25 and January 1

A reader of this post asks:
About the Basketball facilities, schools will be on holiday vacation for the next couple of weeks (12/17/11-1/2/12), any plans to maintain the Sportspark basketball court open during the holiday vacation so that island resident children can enjoy some indoor activity? I am a R.I. resident and have two boys (12 & 14) who would love to play basketball during their school vacation. Please send some information or whom to contact. Thanks!
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) answers:
Please be advised the Sportspark sports complex will be closed for the Holidays December 24th - 25th, and January 1st.  On December 31st, we will be open on our regular Saturday schedule closing after the evening open swim.  Please visit the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation website for pool hours.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
More information on Roosevelt Island's Sportspark facility here.