Saturday, September 3, 2011

Roosevelt Island Hurricane Irene Media Briefing From RIOC, Reviews Staff Performance During Storm, Assesses Damage After Storm and Lessons Learned For The Future - Are We Prepared For An Emergency Evacuation?

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Hurricane Irene Briefing From RIOC

 On the afternoon of Friday September 2, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez provided a post Hurricane Irene briefing for the Roosevelt Island media - myself and David Stone of the Main Street WIRE. Mr. Martinez provided a brief statement reviewing RIOC's operations during the storm and it's aftermath. Mr. Martinez then took questions from Mr. Stone and myself. Questions were asked and comments discussed concerning:
  • the existence and feasibility of a Roosevelt Island disaster emergency evacuation plan, 
  • the extent and cost of damage to Roosevelt Island, 
  • damage to the Smallpox Hospital, Lighthouse and Southpoint Park,
  • what lessons were learned,
  • public safety incidents during the storm,
  • problems with the phone and communications systems,
  • retail stores closed prior to storm,
  • red bus and tram operations,
  • where was RIOC President Torres during the storm,
  • use of the RI311 See Click Fix system to report problems,
  • RIOC's use of their social media to distribute information during the storm and
  • damage to RIOC staff personal property.
Earlier that morning, Mr. Martinez and RIOC staff conducted a post Hurricane Irene briefing

Image From RIHS President Judy Berdy

for RIOC Directors Sal Ferrera and Fay Christian as well as Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz, Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance, Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy and Assembly Member Micah Kellner's staffer Robert Atterbury at Lighthouse Park.

Image from RIHS President Judy Berdy

I asked Mr. Katz to comment on the briefing he received. Mr. Katz replied:
While the meeting was very complementary to the RIOC staff, we agreed that questions of how and when to implement safe evacuation procedures remained to be addressed. In addition, the unexpected loss of telephone lines to both RIOC and Public Safety negated the presence of their personnel all weekend in both offices. This was an eventuality that couldn’t be anticipated, but certainly contingency plans for the loss of landlines must be considered prior to the next major weather event.
Both myself and the WIRE reporter were originally invited to attend the morning briefing with RIOC Directors at Lighthouse Park but received emails two hours before it was scheduled to start that the briefing had been rescheduled for later in the day. When I arrived for the rescheduled briefing at RIOC Headquarters, I was advised that the Directors Briefing had already occued and that I was attending a separate media briefing.

UPDATE 9/4 - I asked Ms. Berdy for  a comment on the briefing she attended. Ms. Berdy replied:
I was invited to the 11 a.m. briefing at the Lighthouse where Mr. Martinez recapped RIOC's actions before, during and after Hurricane Irene. The executive staff of RIOC was present, though they were silent. I complemented all the management present and I am happy that they were here to oversee the safety of the Island.

The communications with all residents is an ongoing problem. Between e-mails, facebook and the Internet, many are still out of information. RIOC had to be reminded to post paper notices advising of the situation.

Thanks to Mr. Ferrera for offering the gym of the Child School for sheltering space. (This will be an ongoing project since there are a lot of conditions to follow to become a "shelter."

I am most upset that the "worker-bees" are not recognized. I want to thank the laborers who, moved fallen trees, cleaned storm drains, moved heavy equipment, readied the parks and roadways and were out there getting wet and dirty before, during and after the storm. Thanks to the PSD officers who tried to keep our roving neighbors from walking under dangerous and newly fallen trees.

Thanks to the building staffs of all the housing that stayed here and made sure their residents were safe and sound in their apartments.

Happily, the Tram re-opened before any NYC mass transit on Sunday afternoon, due to the fact that the tram staff was there all night and immediately set about testing and getting the system up on Sunday.

I am most distressed that RIOC President Leslie Torres left on a trip just before the storm. As a President and CEO of a private corporation she would have been expected (and would have) returned to her desk and been on scene for an urgent situation such as hurricane preparation.

There is no excuse for her absence. Her staff performed very well without her, but she is the boss and it is her job to be here.

Roosevelt Island's Lighthouse Park Is Open Today - Hurricane Irene Cleanup Of Park Completed

 Image of Downed Lighthouse Park Tree From Michael Giraud

Roosevelt Island's Lighthouse Park was closed last Wednesday, August 31 due to damage caused by Hurricane Irene. Received this advisory today from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) that it is now open:
The Light House Park is now Open.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Lighthouse Park was almost completely under water from Hurricane Irene early Sunday morning.

No Lawn Chair or Picnic Blanket For Roosevelt Island Outdoor Moviegoers - They Brought Their Own Bed - Last Outdoor Movie For The Year Saturday Night Is The Incredibles

Roosevelt Island 360 reports that watching a film in bed was brought to a whole new level by these 2 couples at last night's Roosevelt Island Summer Outdoor Movie.

Instead of watching a film while leisurely relaxing on a bed at home, these comfort seeking moviegoers brought their bed to watch the Disney/Pixar flick UP at the Roosevelt Island Outdoor Movie showing at Firefighters Field.

Later tonight will be the final film in this year's Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movie Series. It will be The Incredibles.

You Tube Video of The Incredibles trailer

Friday, September 2, 2011

Roosevelt Island Junior Tennis Player DJ Smith Rings NASDAQ Opening Bell Last Week

Roosevelt Island parents Don & Alex Smith share these photos of their son participating in the ringing of the NASDAQ opening bell in Times Square last week adding:
Roosevelt Landing resident Donald (DJ) Smith rang the opening bell on 8/25 for NASDAQ with tennis pros Robin Soderling, Leizel Huber, David Wagner and the President and VP of the USTA Jon Vegosen and Katrina Adams on USTA Day.

DJ was representing the Harlem Jr Tennis & Education Program and is a member of their advance tournament training team.
More info from NASDAQ.

Final Two Roosevelt Island Summer Outdoor Movies Showing This Labor Day Weekend With Double Feature Of Up On Friday Night and The Incredibles On Saturday Night

The Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movie series makes it final 2011 appearance this weekend at Firefighter's Field with films being shown on Friday and Saturday night.

 View of Firefighter's Field Outdoor Movie From Above

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC)
Haven't made plans for this Labor Day weekend? Come to Firefighter's Field this Friday and Saturday for back to back features of Disney Pixar hits. We'll be showing the rescheduled feature of "UP" on Friday, September 2nd. The fun begins at 7 PM with a DJ spinning music for the kids. Then on Saturday, we'll be coming back with the 6th and final movie of the summer with "The Incredibles". Special guest food vendor, "My Father's Kitchen" who will be selling fish and chips (french fries). So, bring your lawn chairs and blankets to mark your spot for the night. The summer is slowly ending, so don't miss out on your chance to watch the final Outdoor Movies under the stars on Roosevelt Island.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Roosevelt Island East River Seawall Not Broken During Hurricane Irene But Queens Seawall Damaged In Long Island City and Astoria

 Image Of Queensbridge Park Seawall Break From RIHS President Judy Berdy via Waterwire

Our Long Island City/Astoria neighbors across the East River were not quite as fortunate as Roosevelt Island during Hurricane Irene.  Although we had some East River Flooding over our seawall, the seawall did not break like it did at Queensbridge Park.

According to the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA)  9/1 issue of Waterwire:
"That doesn't look right," Judith Berdy noted, looking out her window across the East River on Monday, August 29, the day after Tropical Storm Irene blew through New York City. She squinted. Had part of the Queens seawall fallen into the river?

As president of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, Ms. Berdy has connections. She called the office of Dorothy Lewandowski, Queens commissioner for the Dept. of Parks & Recreation. She went downstairs, took photos and emailed them to anyone who could help, including the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance...

Read the entire article here including how other parts of NYC were impacted by Hurricane Irene.

Image of Queensbridge Park Seawall Break From Katie Ellman via Waterwire

No Practical Plan In Place To Safely Evacuate Roosevelt Island Residents In Event Of Emergency Says Assembly Member Micah Kellner - Asks Mayor Bloomberg For Meeting To Create Comprehensive Emergency Preparedness Plan For Roosevelt Island

You Tube Video of Hurricane Irene East River Flooding on Roosevelt Island

Published report earlier this week on Hurricane Irene East River flooding portions of Roosevelt Island particularly at Lighthouse Park

Image of Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park Flood From Hurricane Irene by Michael Girard

and the subway pier.

Images of East River Overflowing Roosevelt Island Subway Pier @ 9:30 AM From Eric Schwartzman

These pictures were taken at approximately 9:30 AM Sunday morning and though it is true that by noon the water was gone, the impact from Hurricane (Tropical Storm) Irene could have been much worse for Roosevelt Island if it had been a more severe storm. (More pictures of Roosevelt Island Flooding here)

Hoping to improve plans for Roosevelt Island emergency disaster preparedness, Roosevelt Island Assembly Member Micah Kellner sent the following letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
I would like to commend you and your staff on a great job preparing New Yorkers for Hurricane Irene. The decisions you made saved lives and showed the world the effectiveness of the City’s disaster response plan. Hurricane Irene has also provided a unique opportunity to see gaps in emergency planning, allowing us to correct them before future disasters occur. Specifically, I am concerned about protecting and evacuating the residents of Roosevelt Island, which is located in my district.

Roosevelt Island requires special consideration when it comes to emergency planning; the Island is home to two acute-care hospitals, Coler and Goldwater, and nearly 14,000 residents, many of whom are elderly or disabled. Further, as the Island looks to expand with the possible location of an applied sciences center, with the accompanying residents and staff, it is more important than ever to focus on emergency procedures. Had the City faced a more severe storm that required the evacuation of Zone “B”, there is currently no practical plan in place to safely evacuate Island residents.

Roosevelt Island only has a single ground access point – the Roosevelt Island Bridge – which connects the Island with western Queens. On Saturday, August 27, 2011 as the City was bracing for Irene’s impending arrival, you warned that the City’s bridges, including the Roosevelt Island Bridge, would be forced to close should sustained wind speeds reach 60 miles per hour. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s subway and bus service was suspended as of 12:00 PM. Also, the Roosevelt Island Tram was forced to close at 6:00 PM due to wind speeds that exceeded 45 miles per hour. Should the Bridge have been forced to close, Roosevelt Island would have been isolated from the rest of the City. While many of the evacuations throughout the City were smoothly executed, I fear that if the storm had been stronger we would be facing an extremely different and deadly outcome on Roosevelt Island.

Despite being a Class “B” Flood Zone, Roosevelt Island was not immune to flooding. During this storm, there was severe flooding in Lighthouse Park, which is located at the northern tip of the Island and adjacent to the Coler Hospital campus. The eastern seawall which runs along to the Goldwater Hospital campus, the future site of the applied sciences center at the southern end of the Island, also flooded. In light of Irene being downgraded to a tropical storm before reaching New York and still causing flooding in close proximity to these to these two acute care hospitals on separate ends of the Island, it is safe to say the situation would have been much more dire should a Class 1 or Class 2 hurricane have touched ground.

I believe we can use Hurricane Irene as a teachable moment to better identify innovative ways to improve disaster preparedness. I respectfully request that the Office of Emergency Management meet with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and local elected officials to discuss creating a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan for Roosevelt Island.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact me at (212) 860-4906.
Mr. Kellner's full letter is here.

I asked several Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Directors and staff as well as Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz for comment on Roosevelt Island emergency preparedness and Mr. Kellner's letter to Mayor Bloomberg.

Mr. Katz replied:
Some years ago, Howard Polivy, Frank Farance and I were allowed to read RIOC’s contingency planning book, but only after we signed a non-disclosure letter. We’ve been told that evacuation orders will come only from OEM and Newcomer High School is our evacuation center. Our CERT team had volunteers in place to prepare the center for use. Given that, as a Zone B community, we would not be evacuated ahead of time, how would we get a threatened population off-Island in the teeth of a storm? Once upon a time, RIOC’s Michael Moreo, a volunteer fireman in his Long Island community and the force behind the creation of our CERT team, convened quarterly contingency planning meetings that included building managers, Public Safety, OEM, SEMO and me. We asked for an evacuation plan to be made public but were turned down. I’ve asked RIOC to consider at least one meeting after the dust settles to do a post mortem on lessons learned. We shall see.
Last night, RIOC Community Relations Specialist Erica Wilder reported that RIOC will be holding a Post Hurricane Irene Briefing to explain
... RIOC's pre-event planning, operations during the storm and how we managed the recovery operation...
I will report back on that briefing.

Mr. Kellner' letter expresed concerns regarding the use of the Roosevelt Island Bridge during a hurricane. I asked RIOC prior to the storm beginning:
 Mayor Bloomberg has stated that Bridges will be closed if winds reach a speed of 60 mph.

I'm getting questions about whether the Roosevelt Island Bridge will remain open.

Does RIOC expect to close the RI Bridge.
Ms. Wilder replied:
The Roosevelt Island Bridge is under the jurisdiction of New York City's Department of Transportation. In addition to the information outlets that we have provided through our advisories, we ask that everyone receive timely alerts on all New York City bridge closures and other significant events related to the storm via local news/ radio stations, 311 or through NYC's 24hr emergency notification system- NOTIFY NYC ( which delivers emergency public information through text, email, or recorded telephone calls.
Mr. Kellner's letter to the Mayor was incorrect in one respect. The Tram did shut down at 6 PM but not because wind speeds were in excess of 45 MPH at that time. Although, RIOC had previously announced they would keep the Tram running until wind speeds reached 45 MPH they shut the Tram down at 6 PM, hours before the Storm arrived. Not sure why they changed their previously announced plan for the Tram.

There was an emergency disaster preparedness meeting that took place on Roosevelt Island in 2006. Here's a video of that meeting and more pictures of East River Flooding of Roosevelt Island from what became Tropical Storm Irene.

Image of East River surge during Hurricane Irene at Roosevelt Island From Duc Le

Image of Hurricane Irene East River Overflowing Roosevelt Island From Duc Le

Image of East River Flooding On Roosevelt Island From W Cruz

Hurricane Irene East River Flooding of Subway Pier From Irina Hage

Hurricane Irene East River Flooding of Subway Pier From Irina Hage

Hurricane Irene East River Flooding of Subway Pier From Irina Hage

Image of East River Flooding On Roosevelt Island From W Cruz

Image of East River Flooding On Roosevelt Island From W Cruz

Image of East River Flooding On Roosevelt Island From W Cruz

Image of Hurricane Irene Flooding Basketball Court From Duc Le

Take A Bike Ride Over The Roosevelt Island Bridge - Not To Worry, No Rain

Previous posts have reported on bicycle riding safety over the Roosevelt Island Bridge:

... It's great that a lane is set aside for cyclists crossing the bridge into Queens. But it would be helpful if the bridge's metal grill were covered by some sort of mat. You may not be aware of this, but -- when it rains -- metal-grill bridges are like sheets of ice if you're a cyclist, especially if you're on a road bike with thin tires....
and the bike riding prohibition signage on the the Roosevelt Island Bridge pathway:
... These signs tell me I can't ride my bike on the path across the bridge...
Here's what it's like to ride a bicycle in the bike lane over the Roosevelt Island Bridge

You Tube Video of Bike Ride Over Roosevelt Island Bridge

and a bike ride tour around Roosevelt Island.
Come share a bicycle ride courtesy of Ride Gotham and You Tube around Roosevelt Island starting on the East Channel facing Queens near the Octagon....

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Roosevelt Island Tree Damage From Hurricane Irene - Picking Up The Pieces

You Tube Video Of Roosevelt Island Hurricane Irene Tree Damage and Removal

You Tube Video of fallen Roosevelt Island Trees from Hurricane Irene

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Hurricane Irene Aftermath

As reported earlier today, Lighthouse Park is closed today and until further notice to allow for clearance of the debris and damaged trees but Southpoint Park is open.

Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park Closed Today Until Further Notice To Clean Up Debris and Damaged Trees Left Over From Hurricane Irene

Image From Michael Giraud

Hurricane Irene knocked down and damaged several trees at Roosevelt Island's Lighthouse Park.

Image of Lighthouse Park Downed and Leaning Trees From Jason Eng

Received this advisory from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) yesterday:
Please be advised that beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, August 31st, there will be a large clean-up crew and heavy machinery inside Lighthouse Park removing debris and damaged trees from the recent Hurricane. Lighthouse Park will remain closed until further notice.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Image of downed Lighhouse Park Tree and another one leaning from John Dougherty

Image Of Downed Lighthouse Park Tree From Olya Turcihin

Image Of Downed Lighthouse Park Tree From Jason Eng
 Image From Michael Giraud

Lighthouse Park was almost completely under water from Hurricane Irene early Sunday morning.

Daily Dish's The View From Your Window Features Roosevelt Island - More Beautiful Roosevelt Island Views Too

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish Blog is one of my constant go to sources for news and opinion. A recurring feature on The Dish is The View From Your Window. On August 28, that view was from a Roosevelt Island Dish reader. Here it is.

From the Daily Dish:

Roosevelt Island, New York City, 9.45 pm, last night.
Our reader adds, "Irene's not here yet, but she's on her way."
Roosevelt Island resident and photographer Olya Turichin shares another nightime view from Roosevelt Island. Last Sunday, with Hurricane Irene gone from New York City, Ms Turcihin snapped this gorgeous picture of the Queensboro Bridge, Roosevelt Island Tram and New York City skyline.

What a beautiful ending to an exciting 24 hours...

Blogger Too Much Glass captures a perfect Roosevelt Island sunrise adding:
Irene came and went with limited impact, and we live in a world filled with beauty. The Roosevelt Island Bridge on a Saturday morning about 2 weeks ago. Happy Monday, good morning, and welcome to the working week.
 Image Of Roosevelt Island Bridge Sunrise From Too Much Glass

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NYC Mayor's Office Thanks RIOC For Assistance During Filming Of Unforgettable On Roosevelt Island - Some Rivercross Residents Tortured By Production's Late Night Intense Beams of Light Shining Into Their Apartments

Accordng to this flyer taped to the Roosevelt Island Tram Station, there will be a film shoot today using one Tram Cabin from 1:30 -2:30 PM which will not interfere with Tram service.

Film production is big business for New York City and Roosevelt Island has had two production crews working here recently - the new CBS Program Unforgettable

and the USA Network Show White Collar.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez shares this letter her received from NYC Mayor's Office.
Hi Fernando,
                         I hope all is well. I just wanted to send you a “Thank You” on behalf of the NYC Film Office for all the assistance you & your team provided to the TV show Unforgettable. It is my understanding there were no stages available for the Sony/CBS show and they needed to film the first three episodes @ Roosevelt Island. Donna Masly and Michael Smith from your team as well as Keith Guerra from Public Safety were extremely accommodating by switching out the summer camp location so that the show could film as scheduled in NYC. The economic impact from each show is very important and creates jobs for individuals during tough economic times. Please pass along a sincere “Thank you” to all of your staff who was instrumental in facilitating the three days of work.
Best to all,

John Battista
Deputy Commissioner 
Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
Mr. Martinez explained the benefits to New York City of films being made here despite problems it caused for some residents in this previous post. An excerpt:
... Currently, NYC is experiencing a boom in film production, fueled largely by a New York State tax incentive program. In fact, New York City is so busy with film productions that many shows are experiencing difficulty in booking into a qualified stage facility or sound studio. The "Unforgettable" experienced this difficulty first hand, and consequently, the pilot was in jeopardy of being pulled back to Los Angeles. By filming the series on Roosevelt Island, it enabled the show to stay here in NYC and thereby preserving its economic impact. Specifically, the production of the "Unforgettable", means that over the course of 12 episodes - 200 jobs will be saved and that $40 million dollars will be pumped into the New York City economy.

Finally, the production company is aware that its presence may be intrusive to some residents, and is willing to work cooperatively with residents to minimize any inconvenience....
Raye Schwartz, one of the Rivercross residents who had problems with the intense light beams being used by the Unforgettable production crew shining into her apartment late at night from across the street responds to Mr. Martinez:

Image From Raye Schwartz

No…I don’t want black cloth covering my windows for two months.
No…I don’t want cloth that’s been in a pile on a dusty truck hanging in my home in the height of allergy season.
No…I don’t want black cloth in my home which may have hung somewhere else with bedbugs.
No…I don’t appreciate lies from RIOC…you said it would be done August 18th, and almost at the end (August 16th) you changed your tune and got around to letting us know it’s at least July and August!

It’s not just a matter of lights in the bedroom: it’s in EVERY room of my home including my living room, kitchen and dining room! See the enclosed photos of tonight’s lights.

Image From Raye Schwartz

If CBS can afford a production company which paid RIOC $88,000 for permits for 2 months, they can surely afford a few hundred dollars to put some shields or covers on those torture lights so they don’t cause ongoing intrusions and suffering for residents. And no, Fernando, their so-called solution is not an indication that they are going to work cooperatively with us.

By the way, their so-called indemnification only covers RIOC: I called several of the insurance companies on the NY City film board list, so even if I let one of the film crew in to hang cloth on my windows, they could fall off a stool or ladder (the tops of the plate glass windows are 7 ½ ft above the floor) and break their neck and then sue me! The indemnification is only for the entity that grants the permits (RIOC), not for nearby residents who are inconvenienced! That means if they break or damage my furniture I’m S.O.L. and if they get hurt hanging or removing that stuff and sue me, I have to in turn sue you and by the time it gets to court there’ll be 2 more governors and RIOC regimes!

Although the shoot actually began on Thursday, July 30th, we received no notification until August 10th in this advisory, and that’s only because a number of us called or screamed, or we still would not have received any notice:...

...  While it’s wonderful that our film industry is flourishing in New York, it’s not wonderful that the folks at RIOC are either so star struck or inept that they are neglecting the welfare of our residents. Just as a reminder, RIOC officers have a fiduciary responsibility, which is not only financial, but as officers of the corporation they must protect our interests. This fiasco is an absolute breach of that fiduciary responsibility!

fiduciary,  in law, a person who occupies a position of such power and confidence with regard to the property of another that the law requires him to act solely in the interest of the person whom he represents. Examples of fiduciaries are agents, executors and administrators, trustees, guardians, and officers of corporations. They may be contrasted with persons in an ordinary business relationship, in which each party is free to seek purely personal benefits from his transactions with the other.

I, too, look forward to more filming and photography, on Roosevelt Island, but not when it’s mishandled the way this was, because in all the 30 years I’ve lived here, I’ve never experienced any film or photo shoot so poorly managed!

Raye Schwartz
Image From Raye Schwartz

Report From RIOC President Leslie Torres - Roosevelt Island Retail Master Lease Developments, Southpoint Park Opens and Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration Begins

Image Of Ms. Torres Shaking Hands With Hudson's David Kramer After Signing Main Street Retail Master Lease. Related's Kim Sherman Stamier is standing next to Ms. Torres.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Lesie Torres sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents. Ms. Torres last report to the community was in early July.
I hope you all had a great summer and had a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather at many of our parks and green spaces. We have had a very busy summer and I am eager to update you on many of the community projects that we are working on.

Main Street Renovation

As you may know by now, we are working with Hudson/Related Companies to improve the vibrancy and appearance of Main Street and help increase the retail services and products offered to the community. We signed the contract for the commercial redevelopment with Hudson/Related in the beginning of August. If their name sounds familiar, it’s because they developed the beautiful buildings and commercial space in Southtown.

Hudson/Related has already begun speaking with residents and community leaders about possible ideas for renovation. They issued a survey to island residents that should conclude in early September and has already garnered an enthusiastic response from over 1,000 residents. While opinions have varied, most people would like to see the addition of retail spaces including a new bakery, an Asian restaurant, a health food store, and a wine/liquor store. Other suggested additions include a new bank branch, book store and yoga/pilates studio. Hudson/ Related is currently talking with potential vendors, many of whom have expressed interest in opening new retail stores. They will continue to collect feedback to make sure that the wants and needs of the community are well represented.

In the meantime, developers are working with architects to discuss improvements to Main Street with the concept of creating a bright, vibrant new look. Some of the ideas in discussion include new lighting and signage for the streets along with new street furniture, bike racks and benches for convenience. This should make the area more appealing to look at and easier to navigate. In addition, developers are working with contractors to cleanout old stores in anticipation of the renovations.

The revitalization of Main Street will be an on-going process but residents can expect to see improvements throughout 2012 with initial construction beginning in the spring. I am truly excited at the prospect of reenergizing Main Street by improving the landscape and by bringing in retail tenants that will offer quality services to the entire community. I will be sure to keep you updated as plans progress.

Southpoint Park

I am so excited to see so many residents enjoying the new Southpoint Park, which officially opened to the public at a ceremony on August 2nd. Since 2003, we have worked very hard with the New York State Homes & Community Renewal (HCR), The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Empire State Development Corporation, and elected officials to raise the necessary funds to bring this project to fruition. I’m particularly thankful to Councilmember Jessica Lappin for securing $4 million for the creation of the park.

At the grand opening event, I had the opportunity to thank everyone who participated. I’d like to again recognize and congratulate RIOC’s Vice President for Operations Fernando Martinez and RIOC’s Engineer Department for a job well done. I was glad to see residents come out with their families to enjoy all the activities that we set up including face painting, balloon art, relay races & games and a kite flying workshop.

The new 7.25 acre park has amazing waterfront views of Manhattan, Queens and downriver toward the Brooklyn Bridge and features the newly renovated landmarked ruins of the James Renwick Smallpox Hospital, which underwent a $5 million stabilization after a major portion of the north wall collapsed in December of 2007. The park is also the gateway to the FDR Four Freedoms Park which is currently under development and will open in late 2012.

Southpoint Park is now open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and I encourage everyone to enjoy the beautiful open space and incredible views that the park offers.

Good Shepherd Community Center

After a delay due to the contracting process, work on the Good Shepherd Community Center plaza began in July.

When completed – which we estimate will be in October – the plaza will be safer and nicer. We’re replacing the unattractive lighting, benches, and repairing all the brickwork, although the pavers design will remain the same. The biggest difference to the plaza will be the replacement of the z-bricks on the sidewalk with concrete. Unfortunately, there are no z-brick manufacturers left that can make the exact type of z-brick that currently serves as the plaza surface. Therefore, we cannot continue to replace all the beautiful, but broken brick we have throughout the Island.

But, perhaps the greatest change to the area will be the replacement of the roof. At the August 3rd RIOC Board Meeting (yes, we meet in August too), the Board approved replacing the asphalt roof with slate. This is a great development. It will restore the center to its original, beautiful look. The work to replace the roof will likely begin in the fall of 2011, and I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll be able to look up at our beautiful landmarked building and see it as it was, as it is meant to be. I’m thankful to the board for their decision.

Coming Up

As fall kicks in, so too will our great community events. Stay tuned for more information about our Fall for Arts event, our Halloween Parade, and much more.

Enjoy the last week of summer and have a great Labor Day.
A version of the RIOC President's column also appears on RIOC's web site and the August 27, 2011 Main Street WIRE.  

If you have not yet taken the Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail Survey, please do so by clicking here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park Under East River Flood From Hurricane Irene - Take Precautions Near Protective Barriers Around Downed Trees and Fallen Branches, Southpoint Park, Lighthouse Park and Capobianco Field Closed Until Cleanup Completed

Image of Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park Flood From Hurricane Irene by Michael Girard

Roosevelt Island resident Michael Girard was out early Hurricane Irene Morning (Sunday) at around 9:30 AM and witnessed the East River flooding of Lighthouse Park at the northern tip of Roosevelt Island. He kindly shares these pictures with us.

Lighthouse Park facing Queens above and Manhattan below
Image of Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park Flood From Hurricane Irene by Michael Girard

I was at Lighthouse Park at about noon on Sunday and the water was mostly gone.

Here's what the Roosevelt Island Subway Pier looked like flooded by the East River Sunday Morning around 9:30 too.

Images of East River Overflowing Roosevelt Island Subway Pier @ 9:30 AM From Eric Schwartzman

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) issued the following Hurricane Irene aftermath advisory today.
For your safety and in order to facilitate cleanup after Hurricane IRENE, please adhere to the caution tape and barricades located in various areas around the island which indicate downed trees, fallen limbs and other hazards.

Southpoint Park, Lighthouse Park and Capobianco Field are closed and will remain closed until further notice. All other fields are open for use. The Sportspark Gymnasium is open with all programming running as scheduled.

We appreciate your patience.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Image of Tape at Lighthouse Park

Image of Tape at Community Garden

Image of tape at Capobianco Park

Image of tape at Capobianco Park

Image of tape at Main Street and Blackwell Turnaround

UPDATE 8 PM- Received the following advisory from RIOC:
Please be advised that Southpoint Park will reopen tomorrow, Tuesday, August 30th, at 6:00 a.m. and return to normal park hours.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Also, a reader of this post asked earlier today:
Does anyone know if there was flooding at 4 Freedoms Park as well?  It looks like the outdoor "room" there is pretty close to sea level as it is.
According to the  FDR Kahnstruction News:
For those worried about the construction site, thank you. The Park weathered Hurricane Irene very well. A picture taken Sunday in the early afternoon as the Room dries out from all the water!
Image From FDR Kahnstruction News

That's too bad, if true. East River flooding from Hurricane Irene might have washed the Kahn Death Box Mausoleum  right off the southern tip of Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park.