Saturday, April 16, 2011

FDR Hope Memorial Committee Thanks Those Who Made Unveiling of Wheelchair Sculpture a Success - Learn More About FDR Hope and Please Make a Donation

Image of FDR Hope Memorial Model (FDR, Girl, Desk & Benches) with 3 Visitors (not part of Memorial)

Received the following message from FDR Hope Memorial Committee Chairperson/Roosevelt Island Disabled Association President Jim Bates:
THE FDR HOPE MEMORIAL COMMITTE wants to thank all who made our unveiling of its sculpture design a great success

We want to thank Gallery RIVVA and its staff for making available their gallery. We want to thank Nonno's Pizzeria and The Riverwalk Bar and Grill for supplying the Refreshments, and The WIRE and The Roosevelt Islander for its many articles of this event.

We also want to thank all who came to the unveiling and we look forward to the time when Roosevelt Island will have a world class memorial of an enabled FDR seen in a wheelchair
Here's what the FDR Hope Memorial is all about.

More on the FDR Hope Memorial unveiling at the Gallery RIVAA from prior post.

For more information about the FDR Hope Memorial and to make a donation please click here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Video Presentation On Stanford University's Proposed Roosevelt Island Site - Stanford Selected Roosevelt Island by Process of Elimination and Find the Tram to be Odd

Image of Stanford's Proposed Roosevelt Island Site Plan From Presentation Below

Updating post from earlier today, I just received the video below of the presentation made by Stanford University President John Hennessy and other Stanford officials on the proposed Roosevelt Island site for a Stanford New York City campus.

Stanford's Vice President of Land, Buildings, Real Estate, Robert Reidy, spoke specifically on the advantages for developing a Stanford Campus on Roosevelt Island and the problems associated with the other three sites proposed by NYC at Staten Island, Governor's Island and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  According to Stanford University News, Mr Reidy:
... used charts, photographs and maps to take the audience on a "visual journey" of Stanford's proposal to build a New York campus. One location offered by New York City that Stanford is considering is on 2-mile-long Roosevelt Island, located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens and home to about 12,000 people.

"It is a unique place, mainly used for housing, hospitals and recreation," Reidy said. "It is a special place in that it's oddly apart from the city, but very closely adjacent."

Reidy said some existing buildings would be demolished, creating a 10-acre site for the new campus.

"Think about 10 acres in close proximity to Manhattan," Reidy said. "That's really hard to come by. From that perspective it is a great opportunity. But it does have its challenges."

Reidy said the university's preliminary proposal included residential towers and academic buildings – roughly 200,00 square feet each – centered around an open green space, with cafes, retail shops, an auditorium and gym on the edge of the river....
The comments concerning Roosevelt Island begin at about the 18 minute mark.

You Tube Video of Stanford University's Roosevelt Island Presentation

I particularly liked Mr. Reidy characterization of Roosevelt Island's transportation issues - the subway is good, car and bus are challenged and the Tram is just odd.

By a process of elimination, Stanford University wound up at Roosevelt Island - kind of like many of us already here.

How this turns out is going to be very interesting and exciting!

More information on the proposed Stanford Campus and New York City's plans for an applied research and engineering school at these prior posts.

Update 4/17 -  A way to insure that Roosevelt Island residents object to Stanford University or any other institution taking over the Goldwater Hospital site is if done with the mindset of "colonizing" Roosevelt Island as indicated in this blog post by the Stanford Review.
... So how will Stanford graft itself on to New York City?  Roosevelt Island, located on the East River sandwiched between Manhattan and Queens,  has been tentatively selected for the campus site, and is a clever choice due to its proximity to Manhattan (two minutes by subway) and relative isolation from traditional NYC freneticism.    The island is inhabited by about 12,000 people, is about two miles long and has a width of approximately 800 feet.  Stanford is looking at a ten acre site on which to build residences, parks, gyms, stores, restaurants, and facilities.   In short, we’re colonizing Roosevelt Island.  How will the city and more importantly, the residents of the island, feel about this?  NYU has faced several protests when renovating historical buildings into dorms, and I imagine that Stanford’s plans to build 20-story residences in the middle of a tiny island will be met with some resistance....
Stanford, New York City or any other institution will be making a big mistake if they plan on, or give the impression of, creating a gated enclave with fences to keep the community separated from a new university campus on Roosevelt Island like that which exists at Rockefeller University on York Avenue

View Larger Map

and Columbia University on Broadway/ Amsterdam Avenues in Morningside Heights.

View Larger Map

My understanding is that a gated enclave is not what is intended for a Roosevelt Island campus by Stanford but using words like "colony" can create unnecessary anxiety, even if they were not made by a Stanford official.

Update On Stanford University Proposed Plan for Applied Research & Engineering School on Roosevelt Island - Staten Island Remote, Governors Island Bad Infrastructure, B'klyn Navy Yard Industrial, Roosevelt Island Works Well

Here's an update on Stanford University's proposal to to build a state of the art engineering and applied research school at Roosevelt Island's Goldwater Hospital site. 

According to SF Gate:
Graduate students seeking a prestigious business or technology degree from Stanford University may no longer have to come only to Silicon Valley to get it - that is, if New York City officials select Stanford from 27 universities vying for the chance to build a campus there.

University President John Hennessey discussed details on Thursday of his proposal for a New York satellite campus that would offer graduate degrees in engineering, business and computer science....
Below are the prepared remarks of Stanford University President Hennessey regarding the proposed New York City Applied Sciences Research Center Campus on Roosevelt Island. He notes that Stanford is particularly interested in Roosevelt Island as the site for the campus but also says that other sites are being explored. In a panel discussion following President Hennessey's remarks. the Stanford Vice President for land, buildings and real estate Robert Reidy says of Roosevelt Island:
... “It is a special place in that is oddly a place apart to the city but closely adjacent,” Reidy said of the 10-acre Roosevelt Island location.

He added that the University was “quietly trying to pursue a Manhattan location” for an alternative site. The process of “comparing and contrasting opportunities” is important, Reidy said....
Here's an excerpt from President Hennessey's speech.
Expression of Interest: New York City Applied Sciences Research and Educational Campus

... As you have all heard, we are also exploring another opportunity, the possibility of establishing an engineering and technology research and graduate education campus in New York City.

In mid-December, New York City's Economic Development Corporation announced plans to attract an institution to create an applied sciences research and educational campus. New York's goals range from raising the capability of institutions in the city in technology and applied science to creating more talented graduates in these fields in support of a growing high-technology sector, to increasing economic growth and diversification through high-technology innovation and entrepreneurism. Stanford was one among 27 institutions that responded. Our interest has been informed by broad consultation over a series of months with the faculty, university leadership and trustees.

Like many other institutions, we have received many invitations to consider setting up campuses and programs throughout parts of the world, especially in Asia. While we are engaged as consultants and partners with a number of institutions around the world, we have so far chosen not to set up another full-fledged Stanford campus, primarily because we were concerned that we could not establish a permanent presence with a cohort of faculty and students whose quality matched that of our home campus.

New York is different: We can attract great faculty and great students committed to Stanford and a New York campus. Thus, we believe this is a great opportunity for us to team up with a dynamic partner, New York City, to create a high-quality institution, which could become the nucleus for a major center of innovation, just as has happened in the Bay Area. New York has its own culture and strengths, which are quite different from those of our present location, and fusing that culture with the technical capabilities and entrepreneurial culture of Stanford could produce a remarkable new center for research, education and innovation. Such a campus is also an opportunity to increase our visibility on the East Coast, and perhaps connect with new sources of philanthropic support.

A New York presence also provides us the opportunity to master multi-site operations – something I believe is essential for the 21st-century university. We already have a strong foundation in distance education, and this would enable us to further refine and expand that foundation. It offers a supportive setting for creating a world-class model for the multi-campus university: Setting up operations in the same country just three time zones away, where there are no issues about academic freedom, is much more manageable than establishing a campus in a different country six or eight time zones away.

Our plan is to create a strong research program, a vibrant graduate education program with both master's and PhD students that provides both technical education as well as education in entrepreneurial and innovation skills. Our engineering school is among the best in the country, and we are a leader in applied sciences. We have an incredible entrepreneurial culture, and we understand how to partner with industry and successfully transfer research advances to the marketplace. Stanford researchers and alumni have established thriving companies that employ thousands of people – companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Netflix, eBay and many others.

 Our plan would be to develop a New York program that is integrated with the programs on the main campus, distributing people and talent and sharing courses and research activities, rather than replicating existing activities at a smaller scale. Rather than have two computer science departments, for example, we envision one department with perhaps 25 percent of its faculty at the New York campus. The School of Engineering, the Graduate School of Business, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program would all play key roles from the beginning, with other activities added over time.

Of course, the site of the campus will be a critical component as well, and that has not yet been decided. In its Request for Expression of Interest, New York City suggested four potential sites. Of the four sites, we looked at Roosevelt Island in particular and considered how it might be developed, and Bob Reidy will talk about this in a few minutes. At the same time, we are exploring other sites as this process unfolds.

If we pursue this opportunity, it would develop in several phases. In Phase 1, the first five years of the project, we envision about 25 faculty, including visiting faculty from the Palo Alto campus; 150 doctoral students; and 300 master's students. The focus of the first phase would be on information technology – EE and CS – with special attention given to entrepreneurship education and research. Executive education both in technical fields and in management would also be featured. As we plan the first phase and contemplate a formal proposal, I have asked Dean Plummer [of the School of Engineering] and Dean Saloner [of the Graduate School of Business] to appoint a faculty advisory committee to provide guidance and counsel.

Succeeding phases would expand to include approximately 100 faculty and 2,000 students. There would also be opportunities to take advantage of all that New York City offers, especially in new media and cultural opportunities, and I can see broadening the base of subjects offered to include green technology, biomedical engineering, new media, financial mathematics and urban studies, just to name a few. There would also be opportunities to host other visiting undergraduate and graduate programs: perhaps an academic quarter in New York, similar to our Stanford in Washington program, as well as opportunities to host students in the business school or other disciplines. The succeeding phases would develop over as long as 20 years, allowing for extensive exploration of opportunities as we gain capability in making a distributed program work.

We are at the beginning of a very long process, and we are not alone in recognizing the opportunities in New York. Eighteen proposals were submitted by 27 schools and include responses by Cornell University, Columbia University, New York University, Carnegie Mellon and several international institutions. Final proposals will be due in the summer, with selection by the end of the year....
The full text of Stanford President Hennessy's address to the Academic Council is here. 

The Stanford Daily reported on President Hennessey's speech and the panel discussion afterward:
...  Hennessy’s address was followed by a panel featuring School of Engineering Dean Jim Plummer, Computer Science Chair Jennifer Widom and Robert Reidy, vice president for land, buildings and real estate.

According to Plummer, there are three questions to address at present: whether a 21st century university can have multiple locations, whether telepresence systems work well enough and whether Stanford’ entrepreneurial spirit can be replicated elsewhere.

There is one challenge, however, that seems to take precedence.

“The biggest part will be making the New York campus look, feel and be part of us,” Plummer said.

Widom noted that it would take her department “a while to ramp up” for the transition to NYC, especially with respect to hiring additional faculty members. She said the computer science department “will not lower its threshold to hire faculty” for the Big Apple center and that many CS professors have expressed interest in teaching there.

Reidy took the Academic Council on a “visual journey” of the potential Roosevelt Island site for the NYC campus. The other sites offered by the city of New York were located in Staten Island, Governors Island and the Brooklyn Naval Yard.

“It is a special place in that is oddly a place apart to the city but closely adjacent,” Reidy said of the 10-acre Roosevelt Island location.

He added that the University was “quietly trying to pursue a Manhattan location” for an alternative site. The process of “comparing and contrasting opportunities” is important, Reidy said.

According to Hennessy, the opportunity to try to recreate Silicon Valley in New York is one that cannot be passed up.

“New York is the cultural capital of the United States,” he said. But there’s more to the city, too.

“As a native New Yorker, I’m looking forward to the pizza,” Hennessy added.
The Stanford Review Blog adds:
... Vice President for Land, Buildings, Real Estate Robert Reidy offered a more detailed view of how a campus in New York might actually look. First, he briefly outlined why Stanford preferred a Roosevelt Island out of four possible sites: Staten Island, Governors Island, Brooklyn Naval Yard, and Roosevelt Island. Staten Island was remote, Governors Island has bad infrastructure, and the Brooklyn site was industrial zoned, but the Roosevelt site worked well, since it was close to both Manhattan (center of NYC) and Queens (place for cheap expansion and start-ups).

Roosevelt Island would have a 10 acre site in close proximity to Manhattan, with the Queensboro Bridge going over it. It has good subway connection and an interesting tram system, but poor car access.

What would the actual island look like? Ultimately, there would be two 20-story housing facilities, one at either end of the campus, as well as academic buildings surrounding a green. The academic facilities might reach eight or so stories in order to capitalize on the space.

When faced with a question about whether this was the best use of Stanford’s resources, President Hennessy stated that the city has indicated it would make a commitment, so we could mobilize extra resources. However, this project cannot not be achieved without significant new fund-raising. If Stanford can’t attract new philanthropic support (such as from New Yorkers and New York-based donors), this expansion cannot occur.

Why New York? New York is the cultural/media capital of the US. We can fuse NY’s “new style” ideas with our strength in new technology....
... Ellie Titus ’11, former Stanford Daily editor-in-chief asked about what other, non-financial challenges Stanford might face in setting up this campus, especially political. The direct response was that Stanford needs vested rights before Mayor Bloomberg leaves office in 2013 or else the deal will likely fall through. Stanford has at least received assurances that this will be a merit-based process, not a political boondoggle, so that is why Stanford remains involved.
Perhaps Stanford would consider the proposed Trilogy skyscraper project, lovingly referred to as the Roosevelt Island Tower of Death by our friends at Curbed, that was developed by some Italian students as part of it's campus on Roosevelt Island. Though only an academic study, the Trilogy skyscraper included a pedestrian bridge from Southpoint Park over the East River to Manhattan. Watch the video and see for yourself. Pretty Cool!

Or maybe this pedestrian bridge from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan that was proposed by Hunter College Students (Page 63 of Roosevelt Island Accessibility Study) could be considered by Stanford?

 Just kidding, but ....

The Roosevelt Island community is obviously very excited over the possibility of being the site of a world class engineering and applied science center such as the one proposed by Stanford and desires to be part of the process in bringing the project to fruition.  The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) sent the following letter to NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC) expressing that view
Rioc Letter to Nycedc

and the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) sent a similar letter to those interested academic institutions and the NYEDC. 
Goldwater Site Development RIRA Letter

I am advised by RIRA representative Denise Shull that:

I received reply emails from Stanford, and NYEDC saying they were very glad to receive the letter and basically feel free to comment, question etc over the process.
Here's what the pathway in front of the Goldwater Hospital Campus 

and possible future home to Stanford University

looked like yesterday

with the beautiful Roosevelt Island Cherry Trees blossoms.

More information on the proposed Stanford Campus and New York City's plans for an applied research and engineering school at these prior posts.

UPDATE 6:25 PM - Video of Stanford's presentation on proposed Roosevelt Island campus is now available here.

Decrepit and Broken State of Roosevelt Island's Meditation Steps - Will RIOC Repair Before Nice Weather Returns? Before the End of Summer, Before the Next Snowstorm?

Roosevelt Island's Meditation Steps Image From Roosevelt Island 10044

Roosevelt Island's Meditation Steps is a great place to sit by the East River and watch the boats go by, have a bite to eat, get some sun, think, read a book or just relax.

Except when it looks like this,

with holes where wooden boards should be.

Spring is here and Summer rapidly approaching.  I hope the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) starts work on repairing the broken and decrepit state of the Meditation Steps soon so they can be enjoyed by Roosevelt Island residents and visitors as soon as the warm weather arrives.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

View From Roosevelt Island Tram if Patrolled By Miami Vice's Crockett & Tubbs - Questions on Tram Safety Strap, Tower Bump & Recent Outages Answered

Here's the view from the Roosevelt Island Tram if it was patrolled by Sonny Crocket and Ricardo Tubbs from Miami Vice.

The Tram would go much faster if Crockett and Tubbs were patrolling it.

Some tram riders, though they appreciate the great views of NYC waterfront and skyline, just want to be able to hold on and not fall down during the ride.

 Image of Some Tram Riders Stretching to Hold on to Bar

Received this message from a reader explaining:
there really does need to be straps, metal or leather...if the red bus can have straps, the Tram can for sure...hope they get on that soon, it is like the Tram cars are not finished or they just forgot to make sure 100 people had somewhere to hold onto while in the air?
Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Director Jonathan Kalkin has some answers on safety straps, the tram bump near the towers and recent outages:
The other day I had the opportunity to be on the Tram with our VP of Operations Fernando Martinez and RIOC President Leslie Torres. I had mentioned during previous meetings that I had gotten several emails or comments that there were not enough places to hold onto currently. I'm 6 feet tall and the rack on the top was still high over my head. I told Fernando that we should either lower the current poles on the top, add some kind of retractable strap to hold onto that doesn't hit people in the face, add extra vertical poles, or some combination of the three. There may be alternative solutions so I asked that we have an expert look at it again to figure out a fix.

I also have seen, read or experienced myself movement on the Tram while it approaches the towers. The Tram is different from the old Tram in that it uses a fixed cable system and therefore can be used in higher winds because the cables are fixed and don't move. Therefore the Tram cable can't swing on the trip in high winds. It remains fixed. However, when approaching the towers the Tram will center itself which is why you feel that nudge. This is very similar to a speed bump. If the operator moves quickly through it, it is more severe and during high winds, the correction is bigger. I have asked during several operations meetings that we develop a procedure for this during regular operations and high wind situations. If we have to go slower when approaching the tower in order to give a more comfortable ride, I think we should. It just makes sense.

Finally, there has been a lot of confusion during Tram outages. We haven't had many, but they have been mostly due to the fact that our Tram has so many sophisticated sensors that detect the smallest issue. This is a good thing. We don't have to rely only on inspections or deal with failures once they happen. We can get that data immediately years before they even start to be an issue. One of the reasons I held back the vote for the Tram when I first got on the Board was I wanted to examine every case where a Tram had failed. I wanted to know why because safety is always the number one concern when dealing with transportation. Since most Trams are built outside this country, I had the court documents translated into english so the RIOC staff, Board and I could review them. We found two major factors to be the issue: improper maintenance and old safety mechanisms. In almost all cases it was a combination of both. Our previous Tram had 1970's technology and the same safety equipment and standards of that decade with some modifications. Our new Tram has redundant safety systems and computer safety sensors in place that simply didn't exist during that period. This is good. I have asked that if we know specifically if there is an issue, that we get the message out, but we make sure it is the right information. So we can better address these issues and questions during our next Operations Meetings, I placed a question on Quora. I look forward to hearing your responses.

We Are New York English as a Second Language Program Being Offered Again By Roosevelt Island Youth Program - Tell a Friend, Neighbor or Relative Who May Be Helped By ESL Classes

Image From Roosevelt Island Youth Program Inc. and We Are New York 

Here's the latest update on the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program being offered by the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) and New York City's We Are New York. From RIYP:
The Roosevelt Island Youth Program ESL Classes continues with a second semester which started earlier this week.

The Roosevelt Island Youth Program ESL class in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education has begun its second semester on Tuesday April 12th at the Youth Center at 506 Main Street.

The first session was a major success with over a dozen students speaking over 10 different languages.

This semester we have over 30 members speaking at least 17 different languages ranging in ages from 25 to 80. The program is still open for anyone interested in participating, please call 212-935-3645 for additional information.

So, if you know a friend, neighbor or family member who could benefit from an English as a Second Language class, please let them know of this RIYP and We are New York program.

More information is available from these previous posts.

Thursday Night Free Classical Music on Roosevelt Island - J.S. Bach: The Goldberg Variations Presented by the Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series

Later tonight, Roosevelt Island's own local Rosemarie & Robin Russell Family Concert Series (R&R Concerts) will be presenting a free evening of classical music with J.S. Bach: The Goldberg Variations at the Good Shepherd Community Center (543 Main Street) starting at 7:30 PM. Performing will be Salley Koo and Ralph Allen on violin together with Iris Jortner on Cello.

A small taste of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations with Julian Rachlin & Friends courtesy of You Tube.

More information on the R&R concert series from previous posts. All reports from previous concerts are that if you go, you will have a great time.

R&R Concerts were awarded a Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Fund grant from RIOC this year. Enjoy the music and come see why?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

President Barack Obama's Speech on Budget Reduction and Spending Priorities - Rebuilding, Refurbishing and Restoring America

In case you did not see President Barack Obama's speech today on federal budget reduction and spending priorities, here it is.

You Tube Video Of President Obama's April 13 Speech on Spending and Deficit Reduction

Some excerpts from President Obama's speech:

... From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free markets and free enterprise as the engine of America’s wealth and prosperity.  More than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government. 
But there’s always been another thread running through our history -– a belief that we’re all connected, and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.  We believe, in the words of our first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. 
And so we’ve built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens.  We’ve laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce.  We’ve supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire new industries.  Each of us has benefitted from these investments, and we’re a more prosperous country as a result.
Part of this American belief that we’re all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security and dignity.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff may strike any one of us.  “There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves.  And so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, those with disabilities.  We’re a better country because of these commitments.  I’ll go further.  We would not be a great country without those commitments.        
Now, for much of the last century, our nation found a way to afford these investments and priorities with the taxes paid by its citizens.  As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally borne a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate.  Everybody pays, but the wealthier have borne a little more.  This is not because we begrudge those who’ve done well -– we rightly celebrate their success.  Instead, it’s a basic reflection of our belief that those who’ve benefited most from our way of life can afford to give back a little bit more.  Moreover, this belief hasn’t hindered the success of those at the top of the income scale.  They continue to do better and better with each passing year....
... But that starts by being honest about what’s causing our deficit.  You see, most Americans tend to dislike government spending in the abstract, but like the stuff that it buys.  Most of us, regardless of party affiliation, believe that we should have a strong military and a strong defense.  Most Americans believe we should invest in education and medical research.  Most Americans think we should protect commitments like Social Security and Medicare.  And without even looking at a poll, my finely honed political instincts tell me that almost nobody believes they should be paying higher taxes.  (Laughter.)
So because all this spending is popular with both Republicans and Democrats alike, and because nobody wants to pay higher taxes, politicians are often eager to feed the impression that solving the problem is just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse.  You’ll hear that phrase a lot.  “We just need to eliminate waste and abuse.”  The implication is that tackling the deficit issue won’t require tough choices.  Or politicians suggest that we can somehow close our entire deficit by eliminating things like foreign aid, even though foreign aid makes up about 1 percent of our entire federal budget. 
So here’s the truth.  Around two-thirds of our budget -- two-thirds -- is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security.  Two-thirds.  Programs like unemployment insurance, student loans, veterans’ benefits, and tax credits for working families take up another 20 percent.  What’s left, after interest on the debt, is just 12 percent for everything else.  That’s 12 percent for all of our national priorities -- education, clean energy, medical research, transportation, our national parks, food safety, keeping our air and water clean -- you name it -- all of that accounts for 12 percent of our budget.
Now, up till now, the debate here in Washington, the cuts proposed by a lot of folks in Washington, have focused exclusively on that 12 percent.  But cuts to that 12 percent alone won’t solve the problem.  So any serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to put everything on the table, and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget. 
A serious plan doesn’t require us to balance our budget overnight –- in fact, economists think that with the economy just starting to grow again, we need a phased-in approach –- but it does require tough decisions and support from our leaders in both parties now.  Above all, it will require us to choose a vision of the America we want to see five years, 10 years, 20 years down the road....
The closing remarks of President Obama's speech:
... This larger debate that we’re having -- this larger debate about the size and the role of government -- it has been with us since our founding days.  And during moments of great challenge and change, like the one that we’re living through now, the debate gets sharper and it gets more vigorous.  That’s not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s a good thing.  As a country that prizes both our individual freedom and our obligations to one another, this is one of the most important debates that we can have. 
But no matter what we argue, no matter where we stand, we’ve always held certain beliefs as Americans.  We believe that in order to preserve our own freedoms and pursue our own happiness, we can’t just think about ourselves.  We have to think about the country that made these liberties possible.  We have to think about our fellow citizens with whom we share a community.  And we have to think about what’s required to preserve the American Dream for future generations. 
This sense of responsibility -- to each other and to our country -- this isn’t a partisan feeling.  It isn’t a Democratic or a Republican idea.  It’s patriotism.
The other day I received a letter from a man in Florida.  He started off by telling me he didn’t vote for me and he hasn’t always agreed with me.  But even though he’s worried about our economy and the state of our politics -- here’s what he said -- he said, “I still believe.  I believe in that great country that my grandfather told me about.  I believe that somewhere lost in this quagmire of petty bickering on every news station, the ‘American Dream’ is still alive…We need to use our dollars here rebuilding, refurbishing and restoring all that our ancestors struggled to create and maintain… We as a people must do this together, no matter the color of the state one comes from or the side of the aisle one might sit on.”
“I still believe.”  I still believe as well.  And I know that if we can come together and uphold our responsibilities to one another and to this larger enterprise that is America, we will keep the dream of our founding alive -- in our time; and we will pass it on to our children.  We will pass on to our children a country that we believe in. 
Thank you.  God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
The full text of President Obama's speech and fact sheet.

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee responds to President Obama's speech.

Commentary on the speech from Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish

Roosevelt Island Underground Nuclear Reactor Was Proposed By Con Ed - In Late 1960's

This earlier post described a:

... proposed Con Ed Nuclear Power plant in Long Island City across the East River from Roosevelt Island...
Well, it gets worse. The NY Times City Room Blog reports today:
... Con Ed was not done trying to build a nuclear plant in the city, though. In 1968, it floated a plan to build an underground reactor — “because it would provide the nth degree of safety” — beneath an abandoned hospital site at the south end of Welfare Island, now Roosevelt Island, a few hundred feet from the Ravenswood plants and that much closer to the East Side of Manhattan. It went nowhere....
Sounds like a crazy idea, doesn't it. Well, the idea is coming back, but not thankfully for Roosevelt Island. According to New Scientist:
... Nuclear power is going to be a tough sell going forward given the ongoing radiation leaking from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant, but what if future reactors were buried underground?

It may sound like a crazy idea, but Singapore, a tiny island country whose population would have no place to go in the event of a wide-scale evacuation, is giving buried nukes a closer look.

The thinking is that you could bury a small reactor in a shallow layer of bedrock, perhaps 30-50 meters underground. Then, if things at the plant go south for any reason, the granite will provide natural containment; simply cement in any access tunnels going down to the facility and walk away....
 Image of underground mini nuclear reactor from New Scientist

Free Mammogram Breast Cancer Screening Available Tomorrow From Project Renewal But Make an Appointment ASAP Says Roosevelt Island Assembly Member Micah Kellner

Image of Project Renewal Scan Van Mammogram Room

Received the following message from Assembly Member Micah Kellner:
Last Chance to Schedule Your Free Mammogram Screening
This year my office, in partnership with Project Renewal, is coordinating a free mammography screening program this Thursday, April 14, 2011, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, at 331 East 70th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the United States. While there are treatments, early detection is the best way to prevent the worst consequences. By providing this service, women who were unable to get a mammogram in the past can now obtain breast screening services.

This service is available for any woman over 40 years of age who has not had a mammogram in the past 12 months, regardless of whether or not she has health insurance. Space is limited to a first- come, first-serve basis and appointments are necessary, so women who would like to take advantage of this opportunity should schedule their appointments as soon as possible by calling 1-800-564-6868. If you have any difficulty or require assistance with scheduling an appointment, please call my office at (212) 860-4906.

It is recommended that women who make appointments wear a two-piece outfit, and refrain from using any oil, powder, deodorant, or perfume. If you have Medicare, Medicaid or other health insurance, you must bring your card with you, although you will not be charged any co-payment fees. If you do not have health insurance, the mammogram will be paid for by the Columbia University Cancer Services Partnership.
Image of Project Renewal's Mammogram Scan Van

More on Project Renewal is available at their web site:
The Women’s Outreach Network Mobile Mammography Program is now operating as Project Renewal Scan Van Program.  The program provides mammography and clinical breast exams to women on board the Scan Van, a mobile mammography office.   Uninsured women are provided with free exams due to the generosity of contributors; Colgate Palmolive, Avon Foundation, Komen Greater New York, Judges and Lawyers Against Breast Cancer, Henry Schein Corporation, Cummings Foundation, Richmond County Savings Foundation, and others.

Women that are 40 and older should have an annual clinical breast exam and mammogram. If you have not had a mammogram in the past year, you are welcome to contact us for an appointment or for information.

Women with a strong family history of breast cancer should consult with their doctor regarding at what age it would be appropriate to begin screening mammography...
In the past there has been free Mammogram testing during Roosevelt Island Health & Fitness Day usually held in May. No word yet whether free Mammogram screening will be available again at this year's Roosevelt Island Health & Fitness Day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Difficulties With Roosevelt Island Tram North Cabin Appears Fixed This Evening - On a Cold Rainy Night Tram Station Heat Lamps Were Off But Then Turned On

How was your commute home tonight? Roosevelt Island 360 reports on his:
Despite the reflection of light in the attached picture the heat lamp lights on the Manhattan platform were off this cold damp evening on a night where the even neglible warmth they provide would be a blessing.  Why ?
A few minutes later:
For some reason they just came on.... Assuming the temp hit the required degree for them to come on... Was cold and wet w-thout them.
No screams but south cabin is swinging tonight due to winds.
Whatever difficulties the Tram's North Cabin was experiencing last night and earlier today seem to have been fixed. No word yet on what the problem was.

UPDATE 4/13, 12:40 PM-  Received this advisory from RIOC at 12:35 AM:
Per Tram Supervisor Bob Kelly, due to severe weather and lightening, tram service will be temporarily interrupted until further notice.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
According to this tweet, Markie had a scary Tram ride.

Island House Privatization/Affordability Plan and Ground Lease Extension To Be Reviewed by Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Real Estate Committee Later Today - In Closed Executive Session

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York. AGENDA

1. Chair's Motion for Executive Session to Review the Proposed Privatization/Affordability Plan and Ground Extension for Island House
The Public is not permitted to attend an Executive Session.

Additional information, though limited, is available on Island House privatization at this earlier post on previous RIOC Real Estate Committee executive session on Island House.

Following the April 6 RIOC Board meeting, Island House owner David Hirschorn (in blazer and white pants) spoke with RIOC Directors, Staff and Island House representatives. I asked but was not permitted to join the conversation.

What are the circumstances under which RIOC is permitted to hold an executive session closed to the public? According to the NY State Department of State Committee on Open Government:
... The law provides for closed or "executive" sessions under circumstances prescribed in the law. It is important to emphasize that an executive session is not separate from an open meeting, but rather is defined as a portion of an open meeting during which the public may be excluded.

To close a meeting for executive session, the law requires that a public body take several procedural steps. First, a motion must be made during an open meeting to enter into executive session; second, the motion must identify "the general area or areas of the subject or subjects to be considered;" and third, the motion must be carried by a majority vote of the total membership of a public body.

Further, a public body cannot close its doors to the public to discuss the subject of its choice, for the law specifies and limits the subject matter that may appropriately be discussed in executive session. The eight subjects that may be discussed behind closed doors include:

... (h) the proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities, or sale or exchange of securities held by such public body, but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof.

These are the only subjects that may be discussed behind closed doors; all other deliberations must be conducted during open meetings.

It is important to point out that a public body can never vote to appropriate public monies during a closed session. Therefore, although most public bodies may vote during a properly convened executive session, any vote to appropriate public monies must be taken in public.

The law also states that an executive session can be attended by members of the public body and any other persons authorized by the public body....
Will provide an update if information on the Island House privatization discussions becomes available.

Community Planning Board 8 Meeting on Roosevelt Island Wednesday April 13

Image of New York City Community Planning Board 8 Logo

Roosevelt Island is represented by Community Planning Board 8 (CPB 8). A Full CPB 8 Board Meeting will be held on Roosevelt Island this Wednesday, April 13. Below is the Agenda.
Land Use-Full Board Meeting
Meeting Date:
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - 6:30pm
Meeting Location:
Chapel of the Good Shepherd, Roosevelt Island
545 Main Street
New York, NY
1. Public Session – Those who wish to speak during the Public Session must register to do so by 6:45 pm
• Public Hearing: BSA Calendar No. 307-81-BZ; 50 East 69th Street –An application has been filed with the Board of Standards and Appeals for an Extension of the term of a previously approved and extended variance, pursuant to Section 72-21 of the Zoning Resolution, which permitted, in an R8B district, in a five story and penthouse building, medical office use on all floors except the owner’s residential penthouse. The building has been continuously occupied since 1981 by the Center for Specialty Care which has its plastic surgery practice in the building.
2. Adoption of the Agenda
3. Adoption of the February Land Use-Full Board Minutes
4. Manhattan Borough President’s Report
5. Elected Official’s Reports
6. Chair’s Report – Jackie Ludorf
7. Committee Reports and Action Items:
• Rules and Bylaws Committee-Helene Simon and Hedi White, Co-Chairs
• Street Life Committee-Cos Spagnoletti and Nick Viest, Co-Chairs
• Transportation Committee-Jonathan Horn and Charles Warren, Co-Chairs
• Parks Committee-Margaret Price and Barbara Rudder, Co-Chairs
• Landmarks Committee-David Liston and Jane Parshall, Co-Chairs
• Youth and Education Committee-Jim Clynes and Judith Schneider, Co-Chairs
• Budget Committee-Roy Carlin and Barbara Chocky, Co-Chairs
8. Old Business
9. New Business
More on Community Planning Board 8 from earlier posts.

There is also a Roosevelt Island committee of CPB 8.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Difficulties With Roosevelt Island Tram North Cabin During Rush Hour Today - Limited Number of Riders Permitted to Board

Just received this advisory from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

Due to the North Cabin having difficulties the rush hour tam schedule will be effected, a limited amount of passenger will permitted per trip until further notice.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
and this one just came in as I was about to post:
Due to the North Tram cabin having technical difficulties, the rush hour schedule will be affected.  Only a limited amount of passengers will be permitted to board per trip until further notice.
Will provide updates as they become available.

UPDATE 4/12, 7:50 AM-  Received this update from RIOC at 7:34 AM:
The Tram is in service but with some minor delays on the north cabin.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Still no word on the cause of the difficulties.

UPDATE 6:20 PM - At 6:06 received this advisory update from RIOC:
The tram is running normally on rush hour schedule


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Still no word on the cause of the difficulties.

No Late Night Queens Bound F Train Service From Manhattan to Roosevelt Island Monday Thru Friday from 11 PM - 5 AM - Will Tram Be Running During Late Night Subway Disruption? Update, Answer is Yes

Image of Blurred, Moving F Train From Venus in Furs

More late weeknight's without F train service to Roosevelt Island from Manhattan starting later today. The MTA is reporting that there will be no Queens bound F trains from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island starting at 11:00 PM - 5 AM beginning Monday April 11 through Friday, April 15  From the MTA:
 F Jamaica-bound trains are rerouted via the  M from 47-50 Sts to Queens Plaza

Nights, 11 PM to 5 AM, Mon to Fri, April - Apr 15

...  For service to Roosevelt Island and 21 St-Queensbridge, take the  F to Roosevelt Av

and transfer to a Coney-Island bound F.

For service from 57 St, Lexington Av-63 St, Roosevelt Island and 21 St-Queensbridge,

take a Coney Island-bound  F to 47-50 Sts and transfer to a Jamaica-bound F .
Last time this happened at the end of March, a reader asked:
... My SO works nights and this disruption badly affects his commute home as he can’t get the Tram which stops working at 2 am, so he has to take F train to Queens and then to Roosevelt Island which adds additional 30-60 minutes to the commute because F trains run very infrequently at night. He inquired whether RIOC plans to operate the Tram at night this week and was said, NO.

But a train operator said that last week RIOC did operate the Tram the WHOLE NIGHT on days there was no F train service from Roosevelt Island.

So why does RIOC run the Tram all night if there is no Manhattan-bound F train at nights, but not at nights when there is no Queens-bound F train???

This is very unfair for RI residents returning home at night.
No official word yet from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) if the Tram will be operating  during the hours when there is no late night F Train Service to Roosevelt Island. This past weekend when there was no F train service from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, the Tram did operate on a 24 hour basis.  

UPDATE 3:30 PM - Just received this announcement from RIOC:
During the week of April 11, Tram and Red Bus service will be extended until 5 AM 
Click on image to enlarge.

NY Post Reports On Reassignment Of Roosevelt Island's Only NYPD Officer - No Sherrif In Town Says the Post

The New York Post reported today on the reassignment of Roosevelt Island's only NYPD officer. The Post's story headline was:
No Sheriff in town
Roosevelt I.'s only cop transfers amid complaints
According to the article the officer:
... worked the [night] shift that's the heaviest hours for criminal mayhem: muggers, robbers and just kids who shouldn't be on the street," said Joyce Mincheff, a council member on Roosevelt Island Residents Association

"His presence of patrolling here, based on the statistics showing lack of crime, would be an indicator that he did a great job," she said...
... But Erin Feely-Nahem, chairwoman of the residents association, said some residents complained that "he tended to be overzealous, that he targeted black youth. Some people felt that he stopped-and-frisked unnecessarily."...
... NYPD spokesman Paul Brown added: "Officer Fernandez's transfer has nothing whatsoever to do with the unfounded complaints you cited. To the contrary, he is a highly regarded officer, and he would not have been considered for transfer to a special unit if he wasn't so good."
Click here for the full article.

Here's how the issue was discussed during portions of the April Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) meeting.

You Tube Video of April RIRA Meeting on NYPD Officer's Reassignment

More on the April RIRA meeting here.

No Roosevelt Island Easter Egg Hunt or Bunny This Year

A reader asked if the Roosevelt Island Easter Egg Hunt was going to take place this year. I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez who advised that there will not be a Roosevelt Island Easter Egg Hunt this year. Lack of resources was cited as the reason the Easter Bunny will not be making a Roosevelt Island appearance this year.

More scenes from last year's Roosevelt Island Easter Egg Hunt from previous post and from RIOC.

Mommy Poppins has a list of Easter Egg Hunts in New York City.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

FDR Hope Memorial Sculpture Design Concept Depicting President Franklin D Roosevelt as a Disabled Person Unveiled Last Night at Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA

The FDR Hope Memorial initial design concept was presented for the first time to the public last night at Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA. The design depicts President Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in his wheelchair at his desk greeting a young disabled girl wearing braces on her leg and is

based to an extent upon this photograph.

Image From The Roosevelt Doctor (more info on photo here)

The FDR Hope Memorial will be located in Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park just north of the Renwick Ruins up a small hill on the West (Manhattan) side

in this spot.

Image of Future Home of FDR Hope Memorial From Meredeth Bergmann

Below is a press release from the FDR Hope Memorial Committee:

Artist Meredith Bergmann Selected as Sculptor and Site Artist;
Initial design to be unveiled April 9

A sculpture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in a wheelchair, interacting with a disabled child, is planned for Roosevelt Island in New York City. The FDR Hope Memorial will be located at Southpoint Park, just south of the hospital where survivors of polio, the disease that disabled Roosevelt, benefited from the pioneering use of ventilators that freed them from the constraints of “iron lungs.”

The goal of the FDR Hope Memorial Committee (FDRHM), a sub-committee of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, is to celebrate President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the inspiration for all who strive to overcome challenges. According to the memorial’s mission statement, “Roosevelt Island was so named to reflect a commitment to an integrated community where the disabled move freely, live independently and develop to their fullest potential. The FDR Hope Memorial will educate future generations about FDR and about Roosevelt Island, a vital community of ‘enabled’ residents.”

Jim Bates, President of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, said the memorial will be “a place of comfort, hope, understanding and inspiration.”

Dr. Jack Resnick, internist on Roosevelt Island, notes that “Roosevelt spent much of his adult life in a wheelchair. The polio virus, which infected him in 1921 at the age of 39, left him with almost no use of his legs. Twelve years later, following a term as Governor of New York, he became President of the United States and went on to save the country from economic calamity, and the world from Hitler.”

Following a search, New York–based artist Meredith Bergmann was selected to design the FDR Hope Memorial. Bergmann’s public works, such as Marian Anderson and the Boston Women's Memorial, address challenging topics with social concerns. The committee believes her public art experience, her substantial research and thoughtful approach, and her potential to develop and communicate the mission of the FDR Hope Memorial will help to bring about a work of art that will inspire generations.

Bergmann notes that the nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, designed in 1974 by architect Louis Kahn, and now under construction just to the south of the memorial’s future site, will include a portrait head of FDR. “Four Freedoms Park will be both beautiful and contemplative, but because of its idiom and the era of its design it will not depict the human body, and the human body is an important part of our subject. Until the 20th century, sculptors routinely turned to the human body when they wanted to evoke inspiration. Here in the Hope Memorial we are not only allowed to use the human body to inspire, we are joyfully required to do so.

“For me, an artist who believes in the power of figurative sculpture to represent people as well as abstractions, it is inspiring to sculpt a leader who was so inspiring. FDR never wanted his disability to have a place in his presidency, but he led our nation into some of the most important reforms ever enacted, reforms which allowed us as a community to benefit from what the vulnerable members of our community have to offer.”

Bergmann’s presentation of her concept for realizing FDRHM's mission in three dimensions was received by the committee with great enthusiasm. The design will be presented publicly for the first time on Saturday, April 9, 6 PM to 7 PM at Gallery RIVAA, 529 Main Street, on Roosevelt Island.

Initial funding for the FDR Hope Memorial comes from a generous grant from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, a special project of the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

For more information or to make a donation, visit fdrhopememorial.
Here are some scenes from last night's FDR Hope Memorial initial design concept unveiling.

The design waiting to be unveiled:

welcoming and introductory remarks by Marc Diamond of the FDR Hope Memorial Committee:

Assembly Member Micah Kellner explaining that the FDR Hope Memorial is important to him both because of his admiration for President Roosevelt and the recognition this Memorial will give to disabled people, noting that he himself has Cerebral Palsy:

Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) President and FDR Hope Memorial Chair Jim Bates spoke of how he thought just as the election of America's first African-American President, Barack Obama, inspired African-American children to believe that they could accomplish great things, so could the FDR Memorial inspire children with disabilities that they too could accomplish great things as well.

Here's the sculptor Meredith Bergmann just before the unveiling.

Many more pictures from the FDR Hope Memorial initial design concept are here.

Here's how the Memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt depicting him as a disabled person began.

UPDATE 6 PM - ... With a protest by RIDA against this.

Image of Louis Kahn/FDR Memorial  at Southern End of Southpoint Park From Untapped New York

UPDATE 7:15 PM - From the FDR Hope Memorial Committee. This says it all.

You Tube Video of FDR Hope Memorial