Friday, June 24, 2011

A Foggy and Rainy Roosevelt Island Day

Another dreary day but Roosevelt Island's special Rain Photographer Tatiana Muzica finds the beauty of a foggy view of Manhattan from Roosevelt Island

and the rain falling on the Tram.

More pictures of today's rain and fog from Ms. Muzica and from earlier posts.

Roosevelt Island NY Junior Tennis League Tournament And Awards On Saturday, Summer Program Starts July 5 - No Equipment Needed, Just Bring Your Shoes

Received the following message from Joyce Mincheff of the New York Junior Tennis League (NYJTL);
This Friday, June 24th, will be the last day of the Spring program. There will be a tournament for 6, 7 and 8 year olds on Saturday 6/25 from 1-4 PM.

We will have an awards presentation for all the children on Friday. Parents are welcome and encouraged to bring cameras and all children are encouraged to bring snacks to share.

The NYJTL summer program will begin on July 5th. Our hours this summer will be
Mon- Wed- Fri, 9-12 AM, ages 7 to 18
Wed- 9:30-11, Pee-Wees, 5,6,7 (for 45 minutes only- must be accompanied by a parent)
Tuesday and Thursday, 1-4 PM, ages 10 to 18
It has truly been a pleasure to see the joy and improvement in your children as they develop their skills. On behalf of my staff and I, we look forward to working with them over the summer months.
The Roosevelt Island NY Junior League Tennis Program takes place at the Octagon Tennis Courts.

More information from previous post.

Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movies Return To Firefighter's Field Saturday Night At Dusk With Iron Man 2

Image from RIOC

Outdoor Summer Movies return this Saturday to Roosevelt Island's Firefighter's Field. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
This year's theme is Family Night! Bring a blanket, a chair and the whole family to Roosevelt Island's Outdoor Summer Movie Series and enjoy feature films under the stars. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

All shows are free! Movies begin at 8 pm on the following Saturdays:

6/25/11 - Iron Man 2 (Rain Date: 7/3/11)
7/9/11 - The Goonies (Rain Date: 7/17/11)
7/23/11 - Star Trek (Rain Date: 7/31/11)
8/6/11 - Up (Rain Date: 8/14/11)
8/20/11 - Tron (Rain Date: 8/28/11)
9/3/11 - The Incredibles (Rain Date: 9/4/11)

See you there!
Saturday's Roosevelt Island Outdoor Movie is Iron Man 2.

Of course Southpoint Park is a much better place to experience outdoor movies but that's a whole other story.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not A Good Start For NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's Ethics Reform and Good Government Plan - It Stops At Roosevelt Island With Appointment Of Conflict Ridden, Non Resident, Non Elected New RIOC Board Member, Shame, Shame Shame

You Tube Video Of Governor Cuomo's Clean Up NY Politics Plan - but Not Roosevelt Island

I had a brief telephone conversation yesterday with Roosevelt Island's Assembly Member Micah Kellner regarding the appointment of the new conflict ridden, non-resident, non-elected Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Member Sal Fererra, the Executive Director of the Child School/Legacy High School .

Mr. Kellner said that Sal Fererra was officially confirmed to fill the vacant RIOC Board Seat formerly held by Jonathan Kalkin and the Governor plans on removing all of the current RIOC Directors as their terms expire. Mr. Kellner addresses this issue in his June 2011 newsletter:

RIOC Steps Backwards
In an 11th hour appointment over my objection, the Governor, along with the Senate Republicans, decided to roll-back democracy on Roosevelt Island with the removal of Jonathan Kalkin from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s Board of Directors.

I’m extremely disappointed that the gains in representation that Island residents have fought for have been ignored. Residents need to have a greater say in Roosevelt Island’s decision-making process and appointing a non-resident to the RIOC Board is not the way to do that. RIOC’s decisions impact Island residents more than anyone else, and the needs of those who live on the Island should outweigh Albany politics.

I will not stop fighting to make RIOC more accountable to the residents it serves. Jonathan’s energy and ingenuity brought terrific innovation to Roosevelt Island and there’s no way that he can be replaced. This is a great loss for everyone who cares about Roosevelt Island. 
A very reliable source who I will call Deep Motorgate, adds:
Think about it:  When the Governor's office takes the stand that they'll be removing our elected representatives as their terms expire, it's making the point that they're taking control of this process.  What else could they have meant?  It can only mean that they're planning to replace them with people selected by them, not re-appointing the people the community elected.  There is however one section of the law that the Governor must follow which requires that 4 of his 5 direct appointees must live on Roosevelt Island.  The community MUST let it be known that anyone who wants to sit on the RIOC Board in the future MUST first run for the seat or they will not be welcomed.
This appointment and the way it was done has really pissed off alot of Roosevelt Island residents. Even those who have not been involved in  Roosevelt Island governance issues in the past. From Roosevelt Island resident Bill Long:
The cause of self determination on Roosevelt Island suffered a severe setback last week when Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Senator Martin Golden, along with the rest of the Senate Finance Committee, approved Governor Cuomo's appointment of a new RIOC Director. I sent the following message to a number of state officials. I hope other Roosevelt Island residents will join in the effort to protest this usurpation of our rights. Contact your RIRA Common Council representative, or me at for further information.

As a Roosevelt Island resident, I strongly object to the way in which Dr. Salvatore Ferrera was appointed to the Board of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp.

Roosevelt Island residents have fought for years for the basic right of having a say in who runs an organization that affects our lives as deeply as RIOC does. We reached agreements with multiple Governors, including the Paterson, Spitzer and Pataki administrations, that resulted in two elections of nominees for that Board.

With this latest appointment, which took place without any input even from our own elected leaders, all those efforts have been swept aside.

We insist that future appointments abide by those prior agreements and that Island residents have a say in who is appointed to those positions.

Bill Long
The Octagon

Roosevelt Island Residents Association President (RIRA) Matt Katz calls for action:
Call for action: Our democracy is being challenged

Dear Fellow Resident of Roosevelt Island:

There may be nothing I do as President of your Residents Association that is more important than this request.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has violated Roosevelt Island’s newly established tradition of community elections to nominate members of this community’s Board of Directors.

Both his Democratic predecessors honored the collective voice of residents and appointed members of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s Board of Directors from a roster of residents nominated by residents. This was an important forward step toward rule of Roosevelt Islandby the voting of residents, not the confused decisions of outsiders.
Governor Cuomo ignored this tradition recently, and – without consultation of any kind – put a non-resident on the RIOC Board.

We don’t know whether he did this out of ignorance of the established tradition of local elections, as part of a political deal, or specifically and directly to offend every resident of Roosevelt Island.

We must tell Governor Cuomo, in no uncertain terms, that this kind of high-handed dealing with the Roosevelt Island community is completely unacceptable.

Please contact the governor. Put it in your own words if possible. If you cannot, just mail the enclosed editorial from The Main Street WIRE, with your signature and your name and address.

  • Write a letter:

  • The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York

Please do this today to help us avoid a return to the bad old days when off-Islanders made bad decisions without regard to the needs of Roosevelt Island residents.

Thank you.
I sent the following inquiry to Hudson/Related Developer David Kramer whose company has extensive real estate interests on Roosevelt Island:
Has there been any impact from the recent appointment of Child School  Executive Director Sal Fererra to the RIOC Board and Jonathan Kalkin's replacement as RIOC Director on executing Roosevelt Island Main Street Master Leaseholder agreement?

Any comment on Jonathan Kalkin's replacement from the RIOC Board and the new unelected, non resident who works for an organization with extensive real estate holdings on Roosevelt Island with plans for developing more projects on Roosevelt Island?
Mr. Kramer replied:
I was sorry to learn that Jonathan Kalkin wasn't reappointed to the Board since he's been such a great resource for the island and was the main catalyst for the Master Leaseholder RFP. We're proceeding to finalize our agreement with RIOC, which shouldn't come as a surprise since the vote of the entire RIOC Board was unanimous. I hope Sal Fererra also serves with distinction, and I look forward to working with him as a RIOC Board Member and also at the Child School. 
I responded:
As a follow up, do you think it would be proper for an employee of Urban American or other real estate owner/lessee on Roosevelt Island to be appointed to the RIOC board as well?

Why do you think there is no conflict of interest on Mr Ferrera's appointment or does it just not matter because for whatever reason the Governor wants him.

 I don't really expect Mr. Kramer to reply.

 Roosevelt Island resident Judy Berdy sent the following message to Mr. Fererra:
Mr. Ferrera,I fully respect you as the leader of the Child School and wish you full success with the school.

However, I feel that your appointment to the RIOC Board of Directors is inappropriate and would present numerous conflicts of interest.  You also lack knowledge of the island and its community.

I suggest that your refuse the nomination and use your talents in administering the Child School.

RIOC Board Members have been and should only be residents of this community.  We are sure that you were appointed as  an outsider seeking political favors appointments.  This is not how the island is to be administered.
Mr. Fererra replied:
Thanks you for your input
Roosevelt Island resident Raye Schwartz sent this message to Mr. Fererra:
Dear Sal,

Please recuse yourself from this appointment, generated by a nomination from a state senator who is not even a representative of our election district.

If you accept it this community will work to block every effort and deal you attempt to make to help the kids of The Child School. It’s not that we don’t want to work with you, but rather, we have worked for over a decade to earn the right to elect residents to this board.

If you support this right by not accepting the governor’s appointment, then the person we could elect will surely have the backing of our community to help further the needs and growth of the school. Keep in mind that this community is comprised of 12,000+ residents and still growing!
To Governor Cuomo:
Your appointment of Sal Ferrera to the RIOC board is an affront to every bit of decency we thought you stood for, and must be rescinded immediately so we can rightfully elect a resident of our choice. Be reminded that this community of over 12,000 people worked hard to get you elected and we will remember your action the next time around!
and to Brooklyn State Senator Martin Golden:
Your nomination of Sal Ferrera to the RIOC Board is an example of the obvious misuse of power. You have nothing whatsoever to do with this community and thus have no right to meddle in our affairs! I urge you to rescind that nomination immediately.
The anger over Mr. Fererra's behind the scenes Albany power broker's closed door stealth appointment to the RIOC Board replacing Mr. Kalkin is only growing as more people learn of this abuse of the Roosevelt Island community by Governor Cuomo and Sal Fererra. This is just starting.

Additional information available at previous posts including video of Roosevelt Island residents organizing to reverse Mr. Fererra's appointment.

UPDATE 6/30 - Roosevelt Island residents and RIOC Directors urge Mr. Ferrera to resign during June RIOC Board Meeting (includes video of statements)

Update On June 22 Early Morning Shooting At Roosevelt Island's Roosevelt Landings Building - Security Improvements Need To Be Made By Residents and Landlord Urban American

Image from Roosevelt Landings Residents Association

Updating post from yesterday on the shooting that occurred at Roosevelt Landings (formerly known as Eastwood), Joyce Mincheff of the Roosevelt Landings Residents Association comments:
I've just learned of a shooting in the hallway of 540 Main Street today. Enough is enough! The lax security for Roosevelt Landings has got to stop!

Doors are left wide open for hours at a time. Front door locks are frequently broken for weeks on end. It's not okay. It's an invitation for trouble. Anyone with half a brain can get access to any Roosevelt Landings corridor from any Roosevelt Landings entrance. One door can make the difference.

We are lucky that a child was not injured by a stray bullet. It's irrelevant what the cause. Access to the building by non-residents has got to stop. The safety of tenants is not an option!

When locks break, it's imperative that you station a private security guard at that entrance until it can be secured or place one of your staff to serve that function! If the Public Safety Dept. can spare the manpower, that would be wonderful, but frankly, security of the building is the responsibility of Urban American. No matter how you do so, you need to handle it.

Doors can not be left wide open by your staff, for any reason! Not back doors, not side doors.... none of them. And all intercom systems must be functional throughout the building, 24/7.

I'd like to meet with you and Director Guerra tomorrow AM to discuss this further. Please advise.
Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Keith Guerra describes what happened:
...While walking through the 4th floor corridor, the victim was confronted by two males wearing hooded sweatshirts. He was shot twice in the arm and hip (not life threatening) with a small caliber round, and transported to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Thus far, there have been no arrests. It is unknown at this time if the incident is Gang related. NYPD is currently involved in an ongoing investigation. 
Joshua Eisenberg, General Counsel for Urban American (Landlord for Roosevelt Landings) states:
We are working closely with NYPD and PSD to determine how the assailant gained access and will identify and address any and all security improvements that we can make. At the time of the incident all doors and locks were functioning. It appears that the shooter may have been invited to the building or given access by another tenant, as no forced or unauthorized entry was apparent.
As Director Guerra reports it is unknown if this shooting is gang related, but there is a Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Gang Awareness Summit For Adults taking place tonight at Good Shepherd Community Center (6:30 PM) which may provide more information on this incident as well as provide valuable assistance and knowledge on the issue of gangs.

UPDATE 2:05 PM -  Roosevelt Landings Residents Association President Joyce Mincheff adds:
Last night at 2:30 AM (actually morning), I toured the building with the Public Safety Dept. to determine whether doors were functioning, locking and locked. The Officers and I detected 6 doors that were either completely ajar and/or had broken locks and were not locking. I was told some of those doors had been reported to Management over a period of many weeks. For Josh Eisenberg to claim that all the doors were locked is just plain inconsistent with documentation that the Public Safety Department indicated they have on file.
Unlocked and open doors have long been an issue for residents in our building. It took management several months to fix the locks at 540 and 580 Main St. During this time, management, including Josh Eisenberg, failed to even give me the courtesy of responding to my emails when I requested that they post Security at the unlocked doors.
Today, I investigated the door status in the building again. Right on Main Street I detected 3 entrances where management's own staff had propped the doors open. They had cleaned the location and left the lobbies completely unguarded. No one was posted at the door. Anyone could walk right in.
I know of at least one law suit that is currently pending that accuses management of being lax in their security practices. In this case, a woman was badly beaten and paralyzed in her home in Roosevelt Landings. 
The state of lawlessness that exists in Roosevelt Landings is enhanced by Management's failure to practice what rational people would find perfectly normal security, and I don't see how Mr. Eisenberg could possibly be correct in his sense of the building's security at the time of the incident.
As a precautionary measure, the residents association in the building has hung up signs, (many in the very same places that managment currently has signs about far less important issues), that alerts our tenants to the problem and advises them to contact managment and 311 in the event the problem is not fixed. The maintenance staff promptly removed our signs.

More Parking Spaces To Become Available Around Perimeter of Goldwater Hospital For Roosevelt Island Residents and Visitors - Is That A Good Thing?

 Image of East Channel Road Adjacent to Goldwater Hospital

A post from October 2009 reported:
Some Southtown residents living in Roosevelt Island's Riverwalk buildings are not very happy with the lack of parking spaces close to their apartments. They complain of very few street parking spots and being too far from the Motorgate Parking garage for it to be convenient.

As a result, they have been parking on the Queens side street adjacent to Goldwater Hospital on weekends, when the street is nearly empty of employees and visitors, but have recently been advised of a decision by Goldwater to prohibit weekend parking on the that side of their facility....
A post from February 2010 reported:
... RIRA President Frank Farance spoke with RIOC VP of Operations Fernando Martinez about the parking situation at Goldwater. Mr. Farance wrote in his October 9 RIRA message: ... Martinez is working with the Coler-Goldwater hospital to make some of the south campus employee parking available, which mostly benefits Southtown, Sportspark, and the tennis bubble....
In March 2010 former Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Steve Shane wrote:
... We are checking back with the hospital about weekends on the east side and will advise....
Since the request for parking on the street adjacent to Goldwater Hospital was made, 30 additional spots

 Image of Southtown West Channel Road Parking Spots

on the West Channel Road in Southtown have been created but it appears that RIOC is moving ahead to make available the parking spaces on the street adjacent to Goldwater Hospital to the public not affiliated with the Hospital.

Image of Empty Street Around Goldwater Hospital Perimeter

At the June 16 Transportation Town Hall Meeting, RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez made a brief reference to the Goldwater parking spaces.

The next day I asked Mr. Martinez:
During last night's Transportation Town Hall Meeting, you mentioned that the Goldwater Hospital area would soon be open for Roosevelt Island resident and visitor metered parking.

Can you provide any additional information on the matter - where will the parking be, what times, when will it be made available etc.
Mr. Martinez responded:
We are in very preliminary discussions with Goldwater.  But the idea will be to continue hospital parking along the perimeter of Goldwater, while also allowing for resident and visitor parking.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Roosevelt Island Gang Awareness Summit For Adults Thursday June 23 at Good Shepherd Community Center - Gang Recognition and Awareness Presentation By Ron "Cook" Barrett

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra reports:
As part of our pro-active Community Outreach program, the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department will be hosting it's second Gang Summit on Thursday, June 23rd from 6:30pm-8:30pm.

We will be bringing in renowned gang expert Ron "Cook" Barrett, who will put on a fantastic presentation on Gang Recognition and Awareness.

Please pass the word regarding this summit, as we feel that everyone in attendance will get something out of this very informative program.

Thank you and hope to see you on 6/23.
The Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department:

Presents: a Summit on gangs for Adults

THURSday, JUNE 23rd 
6:30 PM-8:30 PM
Good Shepherd Church

 Gang Expert, Ron “Cook” Barrett

This Summit is a must see.  Not only will it teach gang awareness, but it will also help answer the following questions:

Do we have a Gang issue here on r.i.?
Do we have a gang problem?
Do you think your child or neighbor is in a gang?
What are indicators your child may be
being recruited by a gang?
Is your child associating with
gang members?
How can that affect your child?
What is gang graffiti?
And much, much more …

Refreshments will be served at 6:00 PM.

NYPD Officer Now On Permanent Roosevelt Island Assignment Reports 114 Precinct Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi - The Inspector Made A Promise To Roosevelt Island and Kept It!

 Image From NY Daily News

What's the latest on efforts to again have a New York Police Department officer permanently assigned to Roosevelt Island?

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz shares this email he received yesterday from 114 Precinct's Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi:
Hi Mr. Katz:

I have assigned a permanent Police Officer to Roosevelt Island to replace Police Officer Fernandez two weeks ago. His name is Police Officer Manuel Diaz. He is a young and ambitious officer. I have instructed Police Officer Fernandez to bring him around and introduce him to the key people on the island. He will be working the same hours and days that Police Officer Fernandez did. Any further questions please let me know
Here's the background on how Roosevelt Island lost it's previous NYPD officer and eventually got a new one.

Inspector Cirabisi At Speaking at April RIRA Meeting

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Keith Guerra reports:
On Tuesday, June 21, 2001 at 3:15 a.m. at 546 Main Street 4th Floor (Roosevelt Landings Housing Complex) a 20 year-old male black (known to the Public Safety Department) was the victim of an Assault in the first degree.

While walking through the 4th floor corridor, the victim was confronted by two males wearing hooded sweatshirts.  He was shot twice in the arm and hip (not life threatening) with a small caliber round, and transported to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.  Thus far, there have been no arrests.   It is unknown at this time if the incident is Gang related.  NYPD is currently involved in an ongoing investigation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Roosevelt Island Residents Plan Revolt Against Albany Colonial Master In NY State Government - Reject Non Elected, Non Resident, Conflict Ridden Appointment By Governor and Want Return of Effective RIOC Director

Roosevelt Island residents gathered together last night to devise a strategy that would prevent Child School/Legacy High School Executive Director Sal Fererra from serving as a member of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors. The reasons expressed during the meeting for opposing Mr. Fererra's appointment as RIOC Director were not personal against him or out of any antagonism towards the Child School but are based upon the following facts:

  • he is not a resident of Roosevelt Island,
  • did not participate in the election process for RIOC Board Nominees which was only recently established after more than 15 years of hard work by the Roosevelt Island community. Mr. Fererra's appointment and acceptance of the RIOC Board position will kill any hope for Roosevelt Island residents to be governed on a local basis by elective representatives. Instead, Roosevelt Island will once again be controlled by appointees of our Albany Colonial Masters in New York State Government. Roosevelt Island will again be a dumping ground for political cronyism and hacks,
  • the enormous conflict of interests that will be set in motion by having a RIOC Director who also works for an organization that leases more than 50 thousand square feet of space from RIOC and is seeking even more real estate on Roosevelt Island. Also,
  • Mr. Fererra is replacing Jonathan Kalkin as RIOC Director who is an extraordinary public servant for Roosevelt Island devoting many hours of his time to bring innovative ideas for the benefit of our community and individual residents.
There was a remarkable collection of Roosevelt Island residents present in this meeting, many of whom have had past disagreements with each other, but all united on this issue - Sal Fererra and anyone else must not be appointed to the RIOC Board without going through the Roosevelt Island community nomination election process and Jonathan Kalkin must be returned to the RIOC Board. It was really quite extraordinary to observe the passion and determination of this group of Roosevelt Island residents.

Roosevelt Island resident Denise Shull was present and shares these thoughts:
It is clear from the attendance, the ideas expressed and even how late the meeting went, that a whole new group of Island activists came together to retain our emerging right to elect the people who have so much influence on our lives. New and young voices from both ends of the Island joined those who have fought this fight for 14 years.

This group will not stand for backroom, late-night deals that can impact our lives - particularly in light of the June 7 announcement from the Governor's office the "Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011". This is a new Roosevelt Island and neither Governor Cuomo, nor the republicans in Albany nor anyone who circumvents our move towards democracy should think that can do so without an enormous community response.

This is in contrast to where a similar group - the Southern Development committee - is planning to work with NY City on the re-development of the Goldwater Hospital site.That group is thrilled with the way the city is moving forward and looking forward to a joint furtherance of the island's progress.

In short, if you care about Roosevelt Island and/or you care about democracy, stay tuned! 
What is the current status? Well, as reported earlier, Mr. Fererra had previously promised to inform the community whether he intends to remain on the Board by Monday June 20. However, he has not yet made a decision advising yesterday in an email to RIRA President Matt Katz:
 I did tell you I would let you know my decision re: my appt to RIOC however I have received many phone calls and emails. I need some more time to consider
The consensus of the meeting was that residents should continue to send him emails and phone calls politely informing him that he should resign from the RIOC Board. RIRA President Matt Katz writes to me:
... you might include his phone number (212-223-8276 and ask people to call Monday morning requesting his resignation from the Board.  I intend to ask the Common Council to do the same...
If you have not already called, do so today or tomorrow.

Another idea was to call the Child School Board of Directors to encourage them to ask Mr. Fererra to remove himself from the RIOC Board for all the reasons stated before.

Here's some of what happened at the meeting.

Replaced RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin explains what the consequences of Mr. Fererra's appointment to the RIOC Board may entail.

Here is the link to the video Mr. Kalkin describes showing how the NY State Senate Finance Committee made various appointments last June 15. Note the video shows at approximately the 31 minute 15 second mark, that Mr. Fererra's appointment was withdrawn to be dealt with at a later time according to the Committee Chair. Nothing else was mentioned about Mr. Fererra for the rest of the meeting. Later that night, he somehow got appointed to the RIOC Board - imagine that.

Roosevelt Island residents express their opinion on what to do next below

and here as well.

RIOC Director Doctor Kathy Grimm describes the non-elected appointment of Child School's Mr. Fererra to the RIOC Board and the removal of Mr. Kalkin from the RIOC Board as a "travesty".  RIOC Dirctor Doctor Grimm said that Mr. Kalkin always goes the extra mile and that losing him on the RIOC Board is a major loss to the Roosevelt Island community. Doctor Grimm wonders, as do many of us, whether there is something else going on in Albany that is behind all of this due to Mr. Kalkin's effectiveness as a RIOC Director. Doctor Grimm also offered to resign her position if she would be replaced with Mr. Kalkin who she feels was stabbed in the back by somebody. Bottom line from Doctor Grimm:
We don't know what is going on behind the scenes. We don't know if money is being placed in one pocket into another pocket. We don't know what deals are being made.

The events surrounding Mr. Fererra's appointment to the RIOC Board are a disgusting abuse of power.

Roosevelt Island Sing For Hope Pop Up Piano Concert Yesterday Evening In Front Of Blackwell House With Benjamin Rosenblum Jazz Fusion Duo - Art Sanctifies Humanity

Contributor Francine Lange reported yesterday on the Sing For Hope Pop Up Piano in front of Roosevelt Island's Blackwell House:

... Roosevelt Island just received its very own pop-up piano, plunked down next to Blackwell House on Main Street. If you haven't heard, it's a supercool project of Sing for Hope, a nonprofit that brings together artists with communities to carry art into New York City neighborhoods...
Anyone can stage an impromptu concert or sing-along, play a few pieces or just admire the art work. The piano, one of 88 pianos placed across all five boroughs, will be available until Saturday, July 2. You can learn more about this project at
The Benjamin Rosenblum Jazz Fusion Duo, local residents, performed last night at the Roosevelt Island Pop Up Piano and were very good.

The Duo emphasize the importance of art in the public schools and one member of the duo shared his personal motto of "Art Sanctifies Humanities".

It was a very nice event in partnership with RIOC - only wish it had started a little later, been better publicized and lasted a bit longer.

Masonry, Window and Roof Repairs At Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 Causing Health Hazard To Adjacent Building Residents - Breathing and Coughing Problems Develop From Construction Dust

Image of PS/IS 217 Under Renovation

 Jim Bates, Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) representative for 2-4 River Road and President of the Disabled Association reports:
... air pollution at 2-4 River Rd due to PS/IS 217 on going construction. Due to the dust and dirty screens, tenants are forced to keep windows shut and use our AC units causing high electrical bills.

Will the construction company pay for our electrical charges
Mr. Bates shares this message he sent to the offices of Assembly Member Micah Kellner and State Senator Jose Seranno, Manhattan Park representatives, RIOC and RIRA. From Mr. Bates:
For the past several weeks construction on the school adjacent to 2-4 River Rd has caused breathing and coughing problems for the tenants of 2-4 River Rd,

Our screens are grey from the dust and I am personally having breathing and coughing problems daily

I am asking for your help in seeing how this health hazard can be taken care of,

We need clean air for breathing, and closing our windows is not the answer, nor putting on our AC which draws outside air into our apartments and also cauises families higher electric rates

Last night I was up all night coughing and choking and spitting up phlegm

I thought I was having a asthma attach and gave my self a breathing treatment

This is serious

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to remedy this health hazard
Responding to an earlier inquiry regarding the destruction of some Trees behind PS/IS 217, the school's Principal explained the reason for  the construction currently being undertaken:
The school was informed by the Department of Education that our school building would require extensive masonry work, along with window and roof repairs, and that this work would begin during the 2010-2011 school year. It was estimated that the project would last a minimum of two years, and would require that scaffolding be erected around the school’s perimeter.  This work has been mandated by the NYC Department of Buildings, and is completely out of the school’s control.  However, during both a formal meeting in November and an informal one in September, we received a complete overview of the project and relayed such information to all parties concerned, including custodial staff and the Living Library. We were given assurances at that time from the School Construction Authority that damage done as a result of the construction would be repaired by them, to our specifications. We are committed to ensuring that such restoration takes place, in partnership with the School Construction Authority and PS/IS 217 custodial staff.

Mandana Beckman
PS/IS 217

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sing For Hope's Pop Up Piano Comes To Roosevelt Island - Free Benjamin Rosenblum Jazz Fusion Duo Tonight Next To Blackwell House

A Tweet from yesterday:
Kids playing on the public piano on Roosevelt Island
Today I received this message from Roosevelt Island resident Francine Lange:
Pop-Up Piano Comes to the Island
Roosevelt Island just received its very own pop-up piano, plunked down next to Blackwell House on Main Street. If you haven't heard, it's a supercool project of Sing for Hope, a nonprofit that brings together artists with communities to carry art into New York City neighborhoods.
Artist Rodrigo Quiroz worked on the Island piano and calls it “Impro Paint.” His artistic vision for the piece: “I made the lines go crazy and then I jammed over the piano with colors.
Anyone can stage an impromptu concert or sing-along, play a few pieces or just admire the art work. The piano, one of 88 pianos placed across all five boroughs, will be available until Saturday, July 2. You can learn more about this project at
Stop by tonight, Monday, June 20, from 6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m, to hear the Benjamin Rosenblum Jazz Fusion Duo. (This is a free performance.)  
Ms Lange adds:
This Island resident took a break from his shopping to tickle the ivories on this pop-up piano.
Image From Francine Lange

UPDATE 11:55 PM -Roosevelt Island 360 shares this image from tonight's Pop Up Piano

and Janet Falk this view.

Image From Janet Falk

New Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Director Asks For A Few More Days To Decide If He Will Accept Governor's Appointment or Follow Wishes Of Many In Roosevelt Island Community To Step Down

 Image of Maple Tree Group Meeting With Mr. Fererra (hand on chin) last Thursday

As reported here last Saturday on the meeting between newly appointed Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Director and Child School/Legacy High School Executive Director Sal Fererra with members of Roosevelt Island's Maple Tree Group opposing his appointment:
... The meeting ended shortly thereafter with Mr. Fererra saying that he would think about what was said during the meeting and provide an answer on Monday as to whether he would stay on as a RIOC Director.

Let's see what happens on Monday and hope that Roosevelt Island can avoid what could be a very nasty and unnecessary fight....
Earlier today, I sent this inquiry to Mr. Fererra:
Just following up on Thursday's meeting to see if you have decided whether to accept or resign form your appointment to the RIOC Board.

You had promised during the meeting an answer to that question by today.

As you know, I oppose your appointment to the RIOC Board but want to make sure that I present contrasting views regarding this subject on Roosevelt Islander Blog so, if you wish, please feel free to comment.

Any comment you make will be published in full.
Mr. Fererra replied by forwarding this email he sent to, I believe Matt Katz, but mistakenly called him Michael.
Hi Michael I did tell you I would let you know my decision re: my appt to RIOC however I have received many phone calls and emails. I need some more time to consider
Here is the email sent from Matt Katz to which Mr. Fererra was replying:
Dear Sal,

            My colleagues and I appreciate the time you spent with us today to discuss our concerns about the damage to democratic precedents represented by your appointment to the RIOC Board of Directors.  None of us has any doubt that, under the right circumstances, and as a resident, you would make a valuable contribution as a Board member.  But we believe strongly that your institution's positive elements, and your exciting ideas, can be implemented cooperatively whether or not you are on the RIOC Board, and the likelihood of those positive results is not at issue.  There is no doubt that the Child School/Legacy High School, under your tutelage, has become a valuable part of the community. 
            What is at issue is the damage this does to the community's decade and a half struggle toward democratic selection of the members of the RIOC Board.  Over the course of fourteen long years, with small steps taken carefully and sometimes painfully, we have arrived at the point where community-wide nominating elections are just a step away from true direct democracy.  By appointing you without such a nominating election, without consultation with our elected representatives in the State Legislature, and without even a hint of community consultation, the Governor has ignored and destroyed all the fruits of that long struggle. 
            Without intending to harm the community's cause, you have inadvertently become the instrument of its destruction.  By stepping down -- resigning the appointment in favor of a continuity of the effort toward democracy -- you will be doing this community a great service.  You'll consolidate many friendships, and avoid the inadvertent risk of damaging the good work you've done already in building a strong relationship with the community. 
            Again, thank you for your time.  We look forward to knowing your decision. 

Matthew Katz
President, RIRA

Roosevelt Island Day Body and Soul Evening Concert Review - Singing, Dancing, Conga Line, Best Deal In Town Says Resident

 Image of Roosevelt Island Day Concert From Jonathan Kalkin

Better late than never, here's an update on Roosevelt Island Day post from last week, Dave Evans shares his unique take on the Body & Soul concert which took place later that evening. From Mr. Evans:
We invited guests onto the Island for our special Roosevelt Island Day. They came with their children, no matter the rain and left impressed - - even questioning why they had not moved here. Then, there was the Concert and thanks to Charlie for handing me the flyer while dining with family and guests at the Trellis Restaurant. Lots of Body and Soul - - a long Conga line, other dancing, finger popping, profiling, just enjoying at no personal cost the wonderful entertainment. Attendees were on canes, in wheelchairs, just feet - - ranging from young to older. Best deal in town, without a doubt and we get a lot of these deals on the Island. I was personally touched observing an Urban America Staff gentleman helping lift a kind lady from her wheelchair, she standing using her right leg and he strongly and carefully supporting her weight due to a not so supportive left leg - - she danced without fear. Twisting, shouting, swinging to Billy Jean, Ain't No Stopping Us Now and more from the band - - this very mixed crowd seemed without any worries. Thanks Charlie deFino, Ms Doreen and all for making us want more next year.
Have not received any other pictures or video from the concert but Mr. Evans improvises:
Yes, the below is a sample of a Conga line dance taken from San Diego's "Island Fever Kids Dance Show Zoo Conga Line".  Our "Island" line was just, if not more exciting and well executed.

Roosevelt Island Tram Safety Straps Placed In Cabins, Shorter People Now Able To Hold On To Bars - Less Wobble Near The Tram Tower But No Air Conditioning For Cabin

Tram Safety Strap Unveiled at Transportation Town Hall Meeting

During last Thursday's Roosevelt Island Transportation Town Hall Meeting,

Image of Roosevelt Island Town Hall Meeting

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez announced that safety straps will soon be in place on the Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin holding bars. Soon arrived on Saturday as the Safety Straps were installed and being used by Tram Passengers.

Another issue involving the Tram was asked by this reader recently:
I just realized last week that the Tram does not have A/C because we were sweating buckets. Do you know why they did not decide to add A/C to the new Tram? Was it just a matter of cost?
I replied:
I think it was a function of cost as well as the limited time of the trip - approximately 4 minutes
Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Director (or perhaps former Director?) Jonathan Kalkin answers the reader's question:
Really has to do with weight and the amount of passengers we would have to lose each trip. The new tram with an AC unit would have held less people and the battery to charge the AC wouldn't have enough time to charge at the station. However, I noticed that they haven't opened up all the windows when I was on it. All windows should be open which should really cool it down. I took pictures, sent it to Ops, and they are talking with the Tram team to make sure they open all the windows.
How often do any of the other RIOC Directors ever answer resident questions like Mr. Kalkin does on a regular basis? Just another reason to keep Mr. Kalkin on the RIOC Board.

Also, have you noticed any change in the Tram shaking when it nears the Towers on it's trip over the East River? I certainly have noticed much improvement recently after RIOC made mechanical and electrical improvements to the Cable suspension

UPDATE 11:55 AM - Mr. Kalkin adds:
Very happy to see the Tram straps and stabilization systems starting to work that I ordered to have studied and fought for on the Operations Committee . Many residents including myself had noticed these issues and I thought the best way to highlight them was to have RIOC President Leslie Torres and Fernando Martinez RIOC VP of Ops ride with me on the Tram awhile back to see it firsthand. Additional poles were discussed as well however that is probably something that has to examined more closely to see if these improvements are the only possible or sufficient ones.  It is great to see ideas from the people of this Island translate into real action.
Here's how the process of community input to RIOC Board action began.

Readers Comment On Governor Cuomo's Controversial New Appointment to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Board Of Directors - Will He Decline Appointment/Resign or Accept - Decision Promised For Later Today

Roosevelt Island resident Denise Shull shares this message she sent to Sal Fererra, Executive Director of the Child School/Legacy High School whose recent appointment to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors has generated great controversy and opposition by many members of the Roosevelt Island community.

From Ms. Shull:

 Dear Sal,

As we discussed in our phone call the other day, I was very impressed by your energy, enthusiasm and vision improvements on Roosevelt Island. I was really looking forward to having committee meetings and joint projects with The Child School.

Unfortunately, as I know you have now been informed, the process of your appointment flies in the face of long hard years of work by this community to simply have the same rights and benefits that our country was founded on - one man/one vote and no taxation without representation. This is a tragedy. And to us, it is like a death on two counts - the setting backwards of our liberty and the loss of a man who was working very hard (and succeeding) to make the community better for everyone.

The only reasonable event that can occur now, in my opinion, is your refusal to accept the appointment unless the person you are replacing is the other appointee David Kraut. This puts you on the board, retains a very popular and reasonable board member and while it doesn't move our democratic cause forward, it at least doesn't reverse it.

As you can imagine, this would put your in much better standing in the community while still putting you in a position to accomplish your goals. I would like to be your supporter and I would like to see this community become all that it can be. Others may not agree and I am speaking simply as a private citizen who has lived here for five years and relates to your "Garden of Eden" discovery.

I am sure you agree however that history has taught us that no such thing can happen when the people are not represented by elected officials. Only you can step up now and do the right thing.
I replied to Ms. Shull that I thought it was a mistake to link Mr. Fererra's appointment as a RIOC Board Director to the removal of any RIOC Director including David Kraut because that would re-establish the practice of RIOC Directors being appointed without any Roosevelt Island community input and again make Roosevelt Island a dumping ground for political hacks. Also, I pointed out that David Kraut, though not elected in the recent RIRA elections, was first appointed to the RIOC Board because he was the elected President of RIRA so David Kraut makes the argument that he was elected to the Board of Directors too.

Another Roosevelt Island resident, Vicki Feinmel, shares her thoughts on Mr. Fererra's appointment to the RIOC Board as well:
As a member of the Maple Tree Group, from the first day, I can't express enough what an outrage the appointment of Sal Ferrera to the RIOC board is. So much of the information on the blog is incorrect and, of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but wait until you see what it is like to have a board that is appointed, without an election, and made up of people who don't live here. We will be going back to the old days of 15 years ago when no one had a say, when the board totally ignored the entire community because they were too busy doing favors for their friends or just wanted to please the Governor. There has been criticism of RIRA and the RIOC Board. Of course people aren't going to agree with all decisions, but at least these people have been elected by the community and if you are not pleased you don't have to elect them again and that's the difference.

Don't think for one minute that we haven't been had. This is ugly politics at it's best and don't think for one minute that Mr. Ferrera is not aware of it. Not only is he aware of it, he is part of it.

It is time for this community to unite. The decision may not change but at least the Governor will see how outraged we are. In the next week there will be many strategy meetings and people will be asked to send letters, emails, phone calls, petitions, etc. Join in and help your neighbors in this fight.
Ms Feinmel added that the incorrect information on the blog she is referring to are some of the comments.

Mr. Fererra was offered an opportunity to present his views as well but declined to add to what he said during last Thursday's meeting with the Maple Tree Group. During that meeting, Mr. Fererra promised that he would let the Roosevelt Island community know by today, if he will accept the appointment to the RIOC Board or resign.