Saturday, March 26, 2011

Roosevelt Island On The Web Links

Roosevelt Island on the Web Links as appearing in the March 26, 2011 Main Street WIRE.

Roosevelt Islander - Stanford U Proposes Hi Tech Campus for RI
Roosevelt Islander - Red Bus Route Q & A
RIOC - January Public Safety Blotter
RIOC - February Public Safety Blotter
RIOC - January/February Public Safety Stats
RIOC - Black History Month Swing Dance Celeb
RIOC - Roosevelt Island Bridge Testing Thru Mid April
PS/IS 217 PTA - Upcoming Events
Roosevelt Island School G&T Class Blog - March PTA Newsletter
Mercury News - Stanford Proposes Graduate Engineering School For Roosevelt Island
Stanford News - Rendering of Proposed Roosevelt Island Campus
NY Times - Universities Compete For NYC Engineering School
NY Times Economix Blog - Cost/Benefit Analysis for New University
See Click Fix - Water Leaking at Roosevelt Island Subway
See Click Fix - Roosevelt Island Flag Torn, Later Fixed
Murmurs of Earth - 1963 Con Ed Plan for Nuclear Reactor Near Roosevelt Island
Untapped New York - Behind the Scenes at FDR memorial
Curbed - FDR Memorial Gets Rocked
NY Post - Assembly Member Kellner on Public Corruption
Micah Kellner - Stamp Out Corruption
You Tube - Super Moon Over Roosevelt Island
Green Car Congress - NYSERDA Grants for Octagon Fuel Cell
Average Allergy Mom - Fight With Cabble to go to RI
You Tube - From Astoria To Lighthouse Park Journey
You Tube - Parkour Free Running Returns to RI
You Tube - Roosevelt Island Purim Party
You Tube - Ping Pong Lessons From the Chief
You Tube - Video Game Flyover Roosevelt Island Lighthouse

Friday, March 25, 2011

Roosevelt Island's Former NYPD Officer Says Good Bye To Roosevelt Island Residents Having Served the Community for Over 13 Years

 Image From NY Daily News

As reported last Wednesday, the sole NYPD Officer assigned to cover Roosevelt Island has been transferred and his position will not be replaced by the NYPD's 114th  precinct. Officer Fernandez, who has served Roosevelt Island residents as a Public Safety Officer and then as a NYC Police Officer sends the following message:
After over 13 years of dedicated service to the community of Roosevelt Island, I regret to inform you that I will no longer serve as the 114 Pct. Roosevelt Island Post. This decision was made by me after a series of calls were made to my command requesting a change of scenery. Apparently, two members of the RIRA Public Safety Committee felt they represented the entire community when they stated that there was a need for some "New Blood" on the island. Despite the recent events, it has been a great experience for me, with many friends and memories I will always cherish.

I started as a Public Safety Officer in June 1997. In January 2005, I joined the New York City Police Academy. In July 2005, I was assigned the 114th Pct, working evenings and midnights. By the end of September 2006, two positions opened up at the 114th Pct for the Roosevelt Island Post. I was the only person to actually apply for the spot. Another officer was also assigned as my partner, even though he wasn't seen too often on the island. As they say, it has been history ever since.

I was lucky enough to work alongside some great officers over the years. As a rookie in Public Safety, I learned to take bits of advice from each officer. Jimmy Knapp taught me a lot, but one of his best lessons for me was to treat everyone equally. Alan Wright taught me that everyone was allowed one bad day. He taught me not to take things personally if someone acted out, that they may just be going through a very difficult set of circumstances on that particular day. Alex Sefakakis taught me how to patrol the buildings diligently. These were all lessons to help me do my job correctly. I have always felt I learned the fundamentals for being a good Community Police Officer as a Public Safety Officer.

Over the last 13 years there have only been 6 officers sporadically posted on Roosevelt Island. In the mid 90s, it was Officer Sinnott, now a retired detective. In the late 90s it was Officer Muster, who could usually be seen riding a small NYPD Yamaha scooter. He is now a Sergeant. In the early 2000's, it was Officer Flippen, who transferred to the 111th Pct. Some time later in the early 2000s, for a brief time, it was Officer Luizzo, who could be seen patrolling on a bicycle on the seawalls or on foot in the buildings. Several years passed until Officer Sydlo and I were posted here in late September, 2006. I remained constant, and my productivity and supervisor’s evaluations reflect that.

It was a pleasure to be given the opportunity to work on Roosevelt Island all these years. I have tried to do my job to the best of my ability. I feel James Fry put it best in March 2002; “He always tried to do a simple, straightforward, conscientious, professional job, with no fanfare and no publicity.” Roosevelt Island residents that consider me a friend; know that I have always been quite approachable and a good listener. I have always gone above and beyond to help others with their problems.

I have completed six years of service with the NYPD and now have enough “time on the job” to move my career in a different direction. I will be accepting a position within the 114th Pct, which will further my career in the path I have decided to take it in. It is not likely that my position here will be filled, as every precinct in New York City is experiencing a staffing shortage. There is also the belief that working alone is a safety concern. Roosevelt Island will, and always has been covered as a sector of the 114 Pct.

So, to those who made the phone calls containing false allegations, I say, “Your malicious attempts to taint an officer’s career ended up doing a disservice to the community you were supposedly representing.” To those that appreciated me being here, I say “It was a pleasure to serve you.” Good luck in the future. In closing, I’d also like to thank the members of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department, Director Keith Guerra, and Deputy Director Renee Bryan for their hospitality, camaraderie and support. I will sincerely miss you all. 
I wish Officer Fernandez the best of luck in his new assignment and thank him for his service.

Roosevelt Island Red Bus Questions and Answers From RIRA Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance - Will One Red Bus Route Be Eliminated During Morning Rush Hours?

Image Of Octagon Express/Local Bus Bunching During Morning Rush Hours

 Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance continues his Red Bus Question & Answer dialogue with residents. From Mr. Farance:
The Roosevelt Island red bus service can be summarized by one resident's comment: ""RIOC, It's not rocket science. It's a bus, one street, and passengers. It's not like were running a whole city.". Residents have sent comments to me (, the Main Street WIRE, and the Roosevelt Islander Blog. Here's a summary of issues.

Issue: The schedule has problems: buses don't arrive on time; too long waiting; leave earlier than expected.

The 15-minute schedule existed for about 30 years because it was always synchronized with the tram. Once Octagon was added to the route, the schedule was always off.  RIOC continues to believe that 30 minutes is enough time for a trip around the Island, but this is not enough time, both in rush-hour and non-rush-hour, so sometimes the schedule slips.  When the schedule slips, buses start to bunch, which provides even worse service.

Issue: Why not have the buses run continuously?

It is counterintuitive, but continuously running the buses creates worse service.  Visualize a circle with two dots: one at 12 o'clock and the other at 6 o'clock -- these are the two stops on a counterclockwise bus route. Start with a bus at each stop and start the buses running. When they reach the next stop, assume that the same number of passengers arrive at each stop to board the bus. The two buses would stay synchronized and the same distance apart. which means they are each pick up 50% of the passengers.

Now, give the first bus at 12 o'clock more passengers than the second bus at the 6 o'clock stop. The first bus has a longer wait because more passengers are boarding, meanwhile the second bus has already departed. The second bus continues, but picks up less of than 50% of the passengers (because it is closer behind the first bus) meanwhile the first bus picks up more than 50% of the passengers the next time around, which causes a snowballing effect: eventually the first bus picks up 100% of the passengers while the second bus trails behind picking up no passengers.

When buses trail like this, the average passenger waiting to goes up to double the time and the bus utilization goes to 50% (the second bus becomes a wasted effort). When there are more buses in the route, average waiting time can triple or quadruple.

Because Roosevelt Island has uneven passengers in its route (more southbound passengers in the morning, more northbound passengers in the evening), this kind of *twice-daily imbalance* creates the bus-bunching and schedule variability on continuously running buses.

Both bus bunching and longer waits were observed directly and daily when the red buses ran continuously.  By establishing route synchronization points (a waiting period at start and end), the buses serve the residents more consistently and more regularly.

Issue: So what if we miss a tram/bus, there's always another one, right?

Here's an actual example that typifies the problem: a couple months ago I was waiting at Octagon for a red bus (7:00 on a weeknight). Given the frequency of the schedule, one would expect a bus within 7.5 minutes, but no bus arrived for 45 minutes. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the tram and then, oops, a missed tram so you wait for the next one.  So instead of taking 30 minutes door-to-door (from apartment to 60th Street and 2nd Avenue), it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. Not many of us would accept a frequent hour-delay in our transportation, nor would we reschedule our lives to leave an hour earlier and arrive home an hour later, two wasted hours a day, especially living so close to Manhattan. Or said differently, what's the point of paying higher price rents when your commute is as long as Kew Gardens?

The GPS system doesn't help because you don't know you needed to leave enough time in advance until it is too late.  It has been reported that the GPS system is not always turned on.

This isn't just a problem for Octagon, it is a problem for all the residential buildings, including Southtown. The red bus service gives the Island its cohesiveness, which is a Good Thing for the community, and an important service for residents.

Issue: What about a 20-minute schedule?

RIRA reps Matt Katz, Aaron Hamburger, and I met with RIOC in December and made these recommendations to RIOC VP of Operations Fernando Martinez and his bus management staff.  All agreed that this would work.  We all agreed that regularity and reliability of the red bus service was the highest priority.  When RIOC implemented the new schedule experiment, they choose to do something different than what we all agreed to, including the ill-placed kiosk bus stop.  RIOC chose a 15-minute schedule.  Matt and Aaron said we should give RIOC a chance with the new schedule, but the problems are the same problems we've had for 6 years. The experiment is over and it has failed.  RIOC should try RIRA's suggestions.

Issue: What about the bus stops?

RIRA wanted the tram stop across from the turnaround to be THE stop for the tram for pickup and dropoff, i.e., on the same side of the street as the tram.  RIRA did NOT ask for the Kiosk stop, which is harder for elderly/disabled passengers.  The Kiosk stop was added by RIOC because Southpoint Park will be built (in several years) and at time there will be a new route for the southern end. That makes no sense for today, and probably won't when the park is completed.

The bus stops were affected by another RIOC choice counter to the RIRA's suggestions.  RIRA preferred the west service road to be two-way for buses only (bus pickup/dropoff at subway station), which would allow red buses to line up on the east-west transverse road next to the tram. This would also allow for parking on both sides of Main Street in Southtown, it would be more convenient for Southtown residents (rather than schlepping packages around the block), and would have spent approximately $2000 (repaint yellow line and a couple street signs) rather than the $100K+ for the high-tech parking system (doesn't save any fuel or add convenience).

Issue: Can't the red bus take Metrocards?

Metrocards are not practical for the red bus because of the transaction fees and the installation/operations cost.

Issue: Why not make the red bus fare higher/lower/free?

Mass transit systems are not profitable merely by user fees. For example, subways, railroads, etc. get some of their money from user fees, some of their money from a regional tax (whether you use the system or not), and other sources. The 25-cent fare is a nominal fare, with the remaining costs paid for by building ground leases (our rents/maintenance).

Raising the bus fare doesn't help. For example, a $1 fare might decrease riders and might make the buses even LESS profitable. Less riders, means less flow of people between buildings, which diminishes the value of the buildings because there is less cohesiveness among building complexes, which translates into lower rents/etc., which has a serious impact on Island finances.

Probably, a better solution would be a free bus (rather than a more expensive bus) because passengers could enter through both doors and decrease loading time (as they did years ago when the red bus was free).

Issue: Why can't the Octagon Express, if not full, pick up passengers at other stops?

The Octagon Express bus doesn't make local stops, just like subways/MTA-buses don't make local stops, even if they aren't full. The Octagon Express bus has its own schedule and staffing cost and changing the route would affect them.

Issue: It's difficult for Octagon residents to know whether they are on the local or express bus, especially if they depart at the same time.

Having the Octagon Local and Octagon Express take off at the same time makes no sense from a scheduling and queuing perspective. The drivers could help by making sure the side LED sign says "Octagon Local" or "Octagon Express".

Issue: Various complaints about drivers closing doors, not picking up, not stopping at the right spot, etc..

These represent a small portion of the problems.  We report them and, so far, the drivers seem to be responsive.

Issue: What are the real problems?

RIOC has had this problem for 6 years, including prior to Mr. Martinez' tenure.  RIOC seems unwilling to acknowledge the limitations to the 15-minute schedule.  Look at the recent red bus schedule that RIOC put out when this was announced: it was a colorful spreadsheet, but their schedule projects the bus takes the same time around the Island, whether rush hour or midnight, and that doesn't reflect reality.

If the LIRR or the airlines are late, they don't need the customers' reporting, they know there is something wrong, they self-assess, and they are proactive about managing their own schedules. One gets the impression that if the residents weren't complaining, there would be no proactive management of the buses. For example, does RIOC (like other transportation systems) publish a monthly self-assessment of bus scheduling? No, because they aren't even doing this internally. There would be a lot more talking among the dispatchers and drivers if RIOC were self-assessing their performance.
RIOC is in the process of hiring two new transportation employees - one will be responsible for managing the Red Bus operations and the other to coordinate all Roosevelt Island transportation systems. I am advised that the new Red Bus Manager is an experienced NYC Transit Authority Bus manager. Any changes in the Red Bus or other transportation issues will wait the for these new RIOC staff members and presumably, their analysis of Roosevelt Island transportation issues.

A possible change to the Red Bus service is the elimination of one bus during the morning rush hours. There are currently 5 buses operating for the morning rush hours. During the March 21 RIRA Island Services Committee meeting, RIRA Octagon representative Bill Long remarked that he did not think there would be much objection to the elimination of the Octagon express by Octagon residents although he added that the rest of the Island population might not be happy with the increased ridership on the remaining buses as they make their way south on Main Street from the Octagon to the Subway and Tram Stations.

Report From RIOC President Leslie Torres - Roosevelt Island Environmentally Friendly Green Initiatives Include Fuel Cell, AVAC Recycling Integration, Hybrid Electric Buses, Wireless Parking Meters, Motorgate LED Lighting, Solar Power, Electric Car Charging Stations & More

You Tube Video Of Parking Garage LED Lighting

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Lesie Torres sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents. 
A few weeks ago, as I was preparing to interview with NY1 News about the new fuel cell technology at the Octagon, the city’s first residential LEED certified building, I found myself thinking about all of Roosevelt Island’s green initiatives.

The fact is, environmentally friendly and sustainable innovation has been a major focus of Roosevelt Island’s development since the start. Today, we remain committed to identifying ways to harness innovation to make Roosevelt Island a great place to live, work and visit.

Green initiatives on the island started with the concept of making this a car-free Island. While that vision hasn’t been realized, we have managed to keep many cars and trucks off the roads through our sanitation and public transit infrastructure systems. We are building on these initiatives with new efforts, such as electric vehicle charging stations, smart parking, and bicycle sharing. And we are exploring other ways to green the island.

Since 1975, the Automated Vacuum Collection System (“AVAC”) has been transporting the majority of Roosevelt Island’s solid waste through tubes connecting the residential buildings to a sanitation facility located by the Roosevelt Island Bridge. Because of this system, we are able to reduce the number of NYC Department of Sanitation trucks that ride our street by 18 trucks a month.

Now, we are exploring new technologies that will allow for the integration of source-separated (recycled) and commercial waste into the system. Additionally, it might be possible for access points to be located in key areas of the district, eliminating the need for curb-side pickup. CUNY’s Urban Transportation Research Center for Region 2 has been awarded a grant from NYSERDA to investigate the feasibility of integrating such a system into the Island’s facility.

After AVAC, the next big green development on the Island was the Tram, which has been in operation since May, 1976. The old tram was replaced last year by a significantly more energy efficient system. The new tram, according to the tram’s developer, is estimated to consume 60 watts per hour to transport each passenger from one side to the other, the equivalent of using a light bulb for an hour.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation has also provided “green” buses for island transit for many years. Our current fleet of hybrid-electric buses utilizes ultra-low-sulfur-fuel that reduces the emissions of dangerous particulate matter by 90 percent, nitrous oxide by 40 percent and greenhouse gases by 30 percent.

For residents and visitors driving on the island, we are employing innovation to put the “quick” back in quick trips by helping people avoid having to circle the streets looking for a parking spot. Over the next few months, data from sensors embedded in the street will begin providing occupancy information for parking spaces. Technologies such as dynamic street signs and mobile applications will use the information from the parking sensors to alert drivers to available spaces — creating greener streets by reducing congestion and emissions. To make an even greater dent in car emission, we are developing a new pilot program to provide car charging stations at the Motorgate garage.

There are additional green programs planned for Motorgate. We have submitted an application with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to include the Motorgate Garage in the Solar 100 program, which seeks to install solar panels across the State. If selected, Motorgate is projected to produce 300 kilowatts of energy, approximately 33% of RIOC’s annual usage.

Also, this past week RIOC’s Engineering Department visited the Hudson River Park Trust management office to discuss their LED lighting conversion plan. They are in the process of converting all facilities (garage, office and street lighting) to LED, and we at RIOC are considering making the move too. With an estimated 15 year life for LED bulbs, the long term cost savings is quite substantial, and LED bulbs are also great for the environment because they use substantially less energy than traditional bulbs.

For those who wish to enjoy the spectacular waterfront views without being dependent on a vehicle, the best ways are walking and bicycling. Efforts to facilitate bicycle sharing are currently being planned.

Finally, we are also working to make our green spaces – our lawns, parks and sports fields – more environmentally friendly and safer for residents, including children and pets. Starting this spring, we will be using organic lawn products throughout the island that are phosphorous free and free of other ingredients deemed hazardous by the US EPA.

With all our green programs, Roosevelt Island might be one of, if not the most environmentally friendly neighborhood in New York City. And that’s great news for all the island residents and businesses.

Until next time,

Leslie Torres
A version of the RIOC President's column also appears on RIOC's web site and the March 24, 2011 Main Street WIRE.   

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Roosevelt Island Music and Memory Guitar Recital With Matt Katz at the RIVAA Gallery Saturday, March 26

Image From Gallery RIVAA

 Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz will be performing a Music and Memory Guitar recital this Saturday, March 26 at the Gallery RIVAA (527 Main Street) starting at 4 PM. Admission is free. From Gallery RIVAA:
Matt Katz will offer a variety of songs, guitar music and reminiscences at a 4:00 P.M. recital on Saturday, March 26 at Gallery RIVAA. Katz, a twenty-two-year Roosevelt Island resident, has played the guitar for over fifty years.

He started playing as a twelve-year-old, after attending a summer camp at which Pete Seeger, a Beacon, New York neighbor of the camp, led the kids in al fresco songs. Matt, a piano student at the time, was relegated to playing castanets on the lawn, a role he found “unsatisfying.” He studied basic guitar technique at Brooklyn College and much later, classical guitar at the Guitar Study Center, operated by Paul Simon’s younger brother, Eddie.

He has performed in a variety of venues including the Lake Tarleton Club in Pike, New Hampshire, a summer resort that catered to a New York, Boston and Montreal clientele, where his primary job was lifeguard. He also has performed on cruise ships where his duties included squiring single young ladies in the evenings.

Katz began teaching guitar during his U.S. Army tenure (our of sheer boredom, he says) and this continued with his return to civilian life in New York, teaching privately, at community centers and settlement houses and at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in Park Slope. While he adored teaching, he gave it up for, as he says, “a job that actually would support me.”

While stationed in Honolulu, he and a young Navy chaplain wrote and produced a service with an environmental theme and presented it at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base synagogue, a Quonset hut that the rabbi shared with the Seventh Day Adventists. Katz attributes the success of the program to the mountain of music with an ecological theme sent to him by Pete Seeger.

Katz has performed in an assortment of contexts here on Roosevelt Island. He presented a solo recital at Gallery RIVAA several years ago, and has played during the Fall for Arts Festival and during the RIRA 9/11 memorial observances. He participated in making the Roosevelt Island film, A Necessary Music, and contributed a guitar solo to the sound tract. In addition, and with Chris Fuller and Howie Leifer, the other two-thirds of the Bearded Bards, they have presented a half-dozen folk music concerts under the auspices of the Roosevelt Island branch of the New York Public Library. In their group bio, Matt claimed that the trio had been born in a Louisiana canebrake and were raised by wolves.

Matthew holds his opportunity to perform with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary, at Peter’s home during a fundraiser for Island-based Orphans International, as a supreme highlight of his musical career. “For a baby-boomer folkie, it was a fantasy moment,” he said.

Saturday’s two-hour program will include folk, blues, classical, and ragtime music and of course, a large helping of his beloved Tom Lehrer songs. The concert is free and everyone is invited.

You Tube video of Matt Katz and Peter Yarrow playing for Orphans International benefit

Roosesvelt Island Residents Meet With The President - The Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer - Perhaps The Next Mayor Of New York City in 2013?

Yesterday morning, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer sat down with a group of Roosevelt Island residents for breakfast at the Trellis Diner for a discussion of Roosevelt Island issues. Mr. Stringer is pictured at top of image in suit and tie next to Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz.

Image Of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer With Roosevelt Island Residents At Trellis Diner

The group of residents and Mr. Stringer were brought together by Mr. Katz. Mr. Katz writes:
... this meeting was at the behest of Stringer, who has been more attentive to Roosevelt Island than any of his predecessors.  My goal in selecting the small group was to represent most of the building complexes, to include both veteran and first-term RIRA representatives as well as resident RIOC Board Members as well as Island media.  I was very happy with the quality of the questions and the responsiveness of the Borough President to our concerns.
RIRA Southtown Common Council Delegate and relative Roosevelt Island newcomer Dave Evans attended the meeting with Mr. Stringer and shares his thoughts on yesterday's:

Well, I did not eat my breakfast this morning and it is his fault. I lost interest in eating as soon as Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, in response to the very first question, said that Roosevelt Island IS a part of Manhattan. I believe I properly sensed similar pleasure in Matt Katz's face and among the other Roosevelt Island Residents Association and RIOC attendees. But, they ate while I couldn't contain my note-taking.

Mr. Stringer answered every question thoughtfully and appropriately and when there was an action to be taken, he turned to his well-prepared community liaison officer Kristen Ellis, who gladly took note of her homework. There remains much for me to learn about the key issues of Roosevelt Island, especially those with so many implications for the future.

Mr. Stringer seems to know the issues and was very receptive to discussing them within the limited time availed. He addressed questions associated with future development, e.g., what is envisaged when the Island's southern hospital goes away and made us all feel even warmer when he cited the need for our community's involvement in this future land use matter. He adeptly handled other questions dealing with signage on the Island, and those in and around the city that require improvement so folks can get to the Island; the importance of us having a uniformed "real" (my word, not his) police officer presence; sensitivity to the needs of the physically challenged by acknowledging that Manhattan can do a better job with the curb cuts necessary for their safe movement around the city; the inclusion of our Island in discussions of the Manhattan grid (200th anniversary) and those involving potential future ferry service and waterfront planning; and the challenges of emergency evacuation. He promised to continue to practice his belief of getting the community involved and of being an advocate for Roosevelt Island.

No wonder he is such a promising, albeit unannounced but he certainly did not rule it out, candidate for Mayor. And, no pun intended, there were no strings attached to all the good words he directed our way - - no wonder I am now hungry - - there is so much good food on the plate.
Mr. Stringer also received questions regarding:
  • Roosevelt Island not being part of New York City's 311 reporting system - he was told by residents of calls made to 311 Operators who had no idea where Roosevelt Island was or that it was part of NYC,  
  • the proposed development of Coler Goldwater campus into a University advanced research center - he pledged to do all he could to make sure that any plan not make the site an exclusive enclave and to protect the interests of current Roosevelt Island residents through NYC's Land Use Process (ULURP) and 
  • problems with the Roosevelt Island F Train Subway Station - during the meeting I received this blog comment about problem with water leaking at Manhattan bound platform. I read the comment to Mr. Stringer which led to a discussion of other subway problems including the broken doors and pigeon poop. Mr. Stringer directed his Community Relations Aide to contact the MTA and get these problems fixed.
The Editor of the Main Street WIRE followed up on my question to Mr. Stringer regarding the plans for the Coler Goldwater site asking if the Roosevelt Island community, through RIRA or some other entity, could be involved in the development process to represent the interest of the residents stating that RIOC was not competent to do so. At that point RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin, who was present for the breakfast, spoke up describing his and RIOC's active participation in providing New York City with information and feedback on Roosevelt Island as a possible site for a new Applied Research and Engineering University campus.  Mr. Stringer answered by indicating that all Roosevelt Island viewpoints would be listened to in the land use approval process.

The final question of the hour long meeting was asked by our hungry correspondent Dave Evans who wanted to know of any 2013 Mayoral aspirations by Mr. Stringer. The Manhattan Borough President responded that he is not an announced candidate though he is exploring that option. Mr. Stringer emphasized  that New Yorkers are seeking a more collaborative government and, according to Mr. Stringer, a Mayor that doesn't tell them what to do but who will forge compromise and move issues forward.

I think the consensus of those Roosevelt Island residents attending the meeting was that Mr. Stringer was well prepared, knowledgeable about Roosevelt Island issues and that he will be a candidate for Mayor in 2013

Image Of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer With Roosevelt Island Residents At Trellis Diner

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Roosevelt Island's Loses Sole NYPD Officer and Position Will Not Be Replaced By 114th Precinct - January/February Public Safety Statistics Available

 Image From NY Daily News

Earlier this week I learned that Roosevelt Island's only assigned NYPD officer would no longer be patrolling our Island and that another NYPD officer would not be assigned as a replacement. During Monday's Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Island Services Committee meeting, RIRA President Matt Katz reported that it was his understanding that this was true.

I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) for comment on Monday but have not yet received a reply though earlier this morning, RIOC VP of Operations Fernando Martinez indicated that he would be providing a statement on matter soon. In the past, statements regarding Roosevelt Island Public Safety issues would have come from Public Safety Department Director Guerra but I have been advised that from now on all public statements issued from RIOC staff will be coming from Mr. Martinez.

RIRA Public Safety Committee Chair Erin Feeley-Nahem provided the following information on the matter:
Director Guerra informed me that Officer Fernandez, the Officer assigned by the 114th precinct to patrol Roosevelt Island, had requested a transfer and has now been reassigned. Chief Guerra also informed me that because of our low crime rate Officer Fernandez will not be replaced. A couple of months ago when I discussed this possibility with a Lieutenant from the 114th I was assured that although Officer Fernandez' choice of vehicle made him an ideal fit for patrolling Roosevelt Island, the 114th would continue to patrol Roosevelt Island as part of Sector Robert.

In the event that we find that adequate coverage is not provided by the 114th, endangering the continued safety of Roosevelt Island residents, RIRA's President Matthew Katz and myself will voice the Island's concern to those in a position to assist us. We will continue to advocate for a police presence on Roosevelt Island as we have in the past. I am confident that Chief Guerra and our 38 Public Safety Officers will continue to maintain law and order on the Island, but I am also aware of how important Officer Fernandez was to their team and to this community. The Public safety Committee would like to thank and express our appreciation to Officer Fernandez for his years of dedicated service in our community, and wish him success in all his future endeavors.
Below are the January/February 2011 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Call for Services/Responses and Index Crimes statistics.

Feb Public Safety Stats

Roosevelt Island is in Queens 114th NYPD precinct.
The 114th Precinct is located in the northwestern portion of Queens patrolling the neighborhoods of Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside, and Jackson Heights. A very large Greek community resides within the confines of this precinct. There are single and multiple family homes, including four housing developments. The primary commercial locations are Steinway Street, Broadway, Ditmars Blvd, 30th Avenue and Northern Boulevard.
The most recent crime statistics for the 114th are here.

UPDATE - 3/24 - Officer Fernandez sends a message to the Roosevelt Island community.

Roosevelt Island Donates To Japanese Earthquake Relief Fund

Nikki Leopold, the President of Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 PTA provides the following report:
On Saturday, March 19, the Japanese community on the island called for donations. This is to help the people of Japan in the aftermath of massive earthquake, followed by a tsunami and nuclear power plant crisis. The half-day drive, supported by the RIOC, Mr.Hirsch (PS/IS 217 ESL teacher) and PS/IS 217 PTA, raised almost US$3360 which will be sent to Japan through Japan Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund.
Here's a dramatic You Tube video showing people running away from the tsunami:
A local Japanese news team have filmed the moment they attempted to run for safety, just before the tsunami hit Sendai.

The reporter and his team are filmed climbing the stairs of a house just as the tsunami hits and the local roads and paths are flooded. Moments later debris including cars and houses float past.
The team then attempt to rescue a woman trapped in a tree with a fire-hose...

And a dog looking out for his injured friend.

Yahoo News has an English translation of the video 

According to Global Animal:
... CNN and The Telegraph UK are reporting that both dogs received medical attention. The injured dog is currently at a veteranarian in Mito and the loyal white and brown spaniel friend is at a shelter with vet services in the same town. Everybody is hopeful for their full recovery....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No Manhattan Bound F Train From Roosevelt Island Tuesday Thru Friday from 12:01 AM - 5 AM - Plan Accordingly

The MTA is reporting that there will be no Manhattan bound F trains from Roosevelt Island starting at 12:01 AM - 5 AM beginning Tuesday March 22 through Friday March 25. From the MTA:
F Coney Island-bound trains are rerouted via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts

Nights, 12:01 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Mar 22 - 25

Trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza.

Trains skip the 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av-63 St, and 57 St Stations.

For service to these stations, take the F to 47-50 Sts and transfer to a Jamaica-bound F

For service from these stations, take Jamaica-bound F to Roosevelt Av and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.

Roosevelt Island Community Meeting on the Renovation of Good Shepherd Chapel and Plaza Thursday March 24. 7 PM - Come Learn What Is Happening, Comment and Ask Questions

Image From RIOC

Commenting on an earlier post regarding the Red Bus, Roosevelt Island resident Gregor suggested:
I think there should be a RI residents open forum with Mr. Martinez making a presentation on exactly how the red buses are run, especially with regard to meeting the tram and picking up tram passengers ...
Well Gregor, there will be an open forum this week for Roosevelt Island residents to learn from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) staff not about the Red Bus, but about the Good Shepherd Chapel and Plaza restoration status. According to RIOC:
Members of the RIOC Staff will be presenting an update on the renovations of the Good Shepherd Community Center Chapel and Plaza 
All members of the Roosevelt Island community are welcome to come, learn what is happening, comment and ask questions. The meeting will be held Thursday, March 24, 7 PM at the Good Shepherd Community Center lower level. Yesterday,  I asked RIOC's VP of Operations Fernando Martinez for some information about the renovation update prior to the meeting so that members of the community could come prepared with comments and questions.  Have not received a reply yet but if I do, will include that as an update to this post.

A previous Town Hall meeting on the Good Shepherd renovation was held last March 25.  A brief summary by Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President (then Planning Committee Chair) Matt Katz from an earlier post follows:
... Turcic, RIOC Chief Engineer, presented the plan. He said there was little change involved, and that the proposed HVAC upgrade was the only element that requires approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The cooling tower in the Chapel belfry is to be replaced by a ground-level condenser just west of the side entrance that will be covered by a wooden barrier. The red slate pavers are to be replaced, drainage will be reconfigured, bench locations are to be reconsidered and the tall lights will be replaced by ten-foot lights similar to the ones on Main Street and with new eight-foot lights at the west entrance doors. Russem said the Plaza is dim and asked if three lights each on the north and south sides would be sufficient to make the area brighter.

Turcic indicated that subsidence has caused drainage problems. The north-south-running drains on the east and west sides of the Chapel will remain, but the other north-west-running drain, located near the back of the Chapel, would be replaced by east-west-running trench drains where the concrete stripes now break up the red tile pattern. In addition, the squared-off concrete apron at the eastern (apse) end of the structure would be rounded to conform to the shape of the building. Chirivas asked if there would be any interior Chapel work and Turcic responded, “No.”...
 Click thru for the entire report.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Con Ed Proposed Building Nuclear Reactor Next Door To Roosevelt Island At Ravenswood Power Plant in Long Island City, Queens

Image Of NY Times Article From Murmurs of Earth

The  proposed Con Ed Nuclear Power plant in Long Island City across the East River from Roosevelt Island was projected to generate a capacity of 1 million kilowatts.

OK - stop freaking out - the proposal was made in 1963 and rejected. Read more about the plan from 1963 articles in the NY Times and Village Voice.

According to the NY Times:
... If New Yorkers will accept fission for profit as a neighbor, most city-dwelling Americans may expect to do so one day. But if New Yorkers banish it to the countryside, the cities of tomorrow may be bypassed by the industrial development of the atomic age Which risk should a city take?...
Via patrickdijusto tweet:
1963 New York Times story on the proposed nuclear power plant in New York City.
The Ravenswood power plant is now known as Big Allis. More about Big Allis from previous posts.

What To Do With Your Discontinued 30 Day MTA Metro Card and When Will Roosevelt Island F Train Subway Entrance Ever Be Fixed?

Image Of Metro Card Machine From Pixel Punchout

Did you buy a 30 day MTA Metro Card before the price hikes went into effect at the end of 2010 only to discover when trying to use it for the first time recently that the Metro Card would not work? Roosevelt Island resident Trevre reports (on March 17) what happened to him when he tried to use such a card:
March 1st as I went to swipe my monthly metrocard the meter said “see agent”. I went to see the agent and told me I needed to send in my card for a claim. Apparently because the card was purchased prior to 12/31/10 via wageworks (a paycheck program that automatically deducts and purchases your metrocard), it was no longer usable.

First I thought this was deceiving of the MTA to sell 30 day cars prior to the end of 2010, which wouldn’t work in 2011, when their expiration data is not until the end of 2011, and second what am I supposed to do while I send in my card in the mean time. I had to purchase another 30 day card. I submitted the claim on 3/1/2011. I called the MTA today and spoke with Anthony Samuel a supervisor who indicated the claim has not even been entered and the soonest it would be addressed is 4/1/2011. I asked him if he thought this was acceptable to which he responded it is what it is. I asked him who was responsible and he said, “I guess the president of the MTA.” I would go after him, but I doubt he would respond.

Apparently thousands of other customers are in this same predicament. I bet I don’t get a refund until early summer.
The Daily News reported a time limit in which Metro Cards purchased in 2010 could be used in 2011:
 A 30-day MetroCard, which will rise from $89 to $104, is valid until Feb. 8.
Second Avenue Sagas reported on February 8:
... To remind customers of this sunset date, the MTA sent out a press release yesterday with information on refunds. The authority says that customers still holding 30-day cards can get a pro-rated refund by mailing cards along with a questionnaire back to New York City Transit. The forms are available at subway station booths — if you can find one with a station agent — and on buses throughout the city. They’re also available as a PDF right here. For those who want to take care of their return in person, head to the MetroCard Customer Service Center at 3 Stone Street in Manhattan. I wonder how many people will find their remaining fare cards inactive tomorrow morning....
Trevre also emailed the MTA's F line General Manager Dwayne Anglero:
The street level door at the Roosevelt Island F train station has been broken for more than a year now.  Could we please have it fixed?  Thanks.

See below, it looked about the same this morning.
Image Of Roosevelt Island F Train Subway Broken Door Entrance

The photo was not part of Trevre's message to F Train Line General Manager. The "See below" was referencing the link.

Super Moon Over Roosevelt Island and New York City East River Waterfront Last Saturday Night- Learn About the Super Moon From NASA

You Tube Image Of Super Moon Over Roosevelt Island & NYC East River

Did any of you happen to see the Super Moon over Roosevelt Island last Saturday night/Sunday morning? If not, you can thank debnewman who uploaded a short video to You Tube for this view of the Super Moon over Roosevelt Island and reports:
Short video of the "Super Moon" taken at 9:30pm on March 19, 2011 on the footbridge at 71st Street and the East River in NYC. Taken with a shaky Flip camera facing east towards Roosevelt Island, with a pan up the river to the Triboro bridge, and back down again to the super moon

NASA's Science News explains a Super Moon:
... On March 19th, a full Moon of rare size and beauty will rise in the east at sunset. It's a super "perigee moon"--the biggest in almost 20 years.

"The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993," says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC. "I'd say it's worth a look."

Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon's orbit. It is an ellipse with one side (perigee) about 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other (apogee): diagram. Nearby perigee moons are about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the Moon's orbit

"The full Moon of March 19th occurs less than one hour away from perigee--a near-perfect coincidence1 that happens only 18 years or so," adds Chester....

You Tube Super Moon Video From NASA

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Testing On Newly Rehabilitated Roosevelt Island Bridge Begins Monday, March 21 Thru Mid April - Daily Intermittent Full Closings For Up To 15 minutes, Will Emergency Vehicles Be Stationed On Island During This Time?

Image Of Raised Roosevelt Island Bridge

Be advised that there will be traffic disruptions driving to and from Roosevelt Island via the Roosevelt Island Bridge beginning tomorrow until mid April. According to RIOC:
As a reminder, per the attached notice, the DOT will be performing test openings of the Roosevelt Island Bridge between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., weekdays, from Monday, March 21st to Friday, April 15th.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group

The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) adds:
The New York City Department of Transportation Division of Bridges will begin testing the newly rehabilitated Roosevelt Island Bridge on Monday March 21st at 10:00 a.m. The bridge will be fully closed for up to 15 minutes. All testing will be concluded daily by 2:00 p.m. The testing program is expected to be completed on or before April 15th. Testing requires intermittent closures of the bridge to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The work is weather sensitive and inclement weather may cause the work to be rescheduled or delayed. Should this occur, additional notification of the revised schedule will be provided. Variable message boards will inform motorists and pedestrians of the closures. NYPDC Traffic Enforcement Agents will assist with traffic control at Vernon Blvd and 36th Avenue. During the bridge testing, NYPD, NYFD and EMS units will be available to Roosevelt Island residents and visitors by dialing 911.

Questions regarding the bridge closure may be addressed to Fred Herschkowitz, Community Liaison at 212-839-6307 or You may also call the New York City Government Services and Information Hotline at 311.    Please be prepared to give your name, your borough, and the project number, HBM1117, to be routed to the project management team.
Does the DOT's notice characterizing the Roosevelt Island Bridge as:
 ... the newly rehabilitated Roosevelt Island Bridge...
 mean that the rehabilitation of the Bridge is completed except for testing?

No word yet on whether the DOT's Roosevelt Island Reconstruction $86.5 million project will  include a pedestrian safety barrier for the Queens side of the Bridge as reported on in this earlier post.

Also, with testing being done on the Roosevelt Island Bridge and vehicle access denied during this time, will emergency service vehicles be stationed on Roosevelt Island in case they are needed? I hope RIOC, the DOT or whoever the appropriate authority is will be ready for the possible need of an ambulance, FDNY or NYPD response to Roosevelt Island during the time the Bridge is not passable. The DOT notice states that such service will be available by dialing 911.