Saturday, September 10, 2011

Story Behind 9/11 World Trade Center Tribute In Light And Flashback To Adam Sandler's 2001 Operaman Performance At Concert For NYC

The September 11 World Trade Center Tribute In Lights will be turned on Sunday at dusk and stay lit until dawn Monday. According to the Municipal Arts Society (MAS), the Tribute In Light:

is one of the most powerful and healing works of public art ever produced. The majestic blue twin beams are presented annually by MAS, shining from dusk on September 11, through dawn the next day. Visible within a sixty-mile radius on a clear night, Tribute has become a world-renowned icon of remembrance, honoring those who were lost, as well as those who worked so hard to get our city through that terrible trial.
Here's how it's done

You Tube Video of Tribute Of Light Story

and the story behind it's creation.

You Tube Video of Tribute In Light Creation

I always thought the Tribute In Lights was the most fitting and appropriate memorial to the attack on September 11.

On a lighter note, here's Adam Sandler's Operaman performance at the 2001 Concert For NYC.

You Tube Video Of Operaman at 2001 Concert For NYC

Roosevelt Island Michael Jackson Dancer Strutting His Stuff Outside Riverwalk Bar & Grill Today

You Tube Video of Michael Jackson Dancer Outside Roosevelt Island Riverwalk Bar & Grill

Report From RIOC President Leslie Torres - Roosevelt Island After Hurricane Irene Update, Main Street Retail Survey, Sportspark Young Adult Program & Upcoming Events

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Lesie Torres sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
Hurricane Irene has come and gone and while thankfully no one on Roosevelt Island was injured, there was some damage and flooding around the Island that we are in the process of addressing.

Before I provide a brief update on the preparations and procedures that were taken before, during and after the hurricane, I would like to thank my staff for their tireless work during this emergency. The fact that transportation, Island facilities and utilities were minimally effected and that these key infrastructures were up and running shortly after the hurricane passed through, is a testament to their tireless efforts.

Following Governor Cuomo's declaration of a State of Emergency on Friday, August 25th, RIOC implemented our Incident Command System (ICS) and opened up an incident command post at the 591 conference room, as defined in our Emergency Management Plan. RIOC senior management and staff were on site to manage the Island operations and to monitor the progress of the hurricane throughout the entire weekend.

To communicate with Island residents, RIOC used social media, RIOC's website, RIOC's information hotline, flyers, email alerts and the monitors on the Tram and Red Buses to provide the Roosevelt Island community with information on service disruptions and closures, information provided by the Mayor's Office, and advisories on safety procedures and emergency preparedness. At 3:30pm on Friday, August 26th, the Mayor declared a mandatory evacuation of all Zone A residents in New York facilitated by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM). Thankfully, Roosevelt Island is within Zone B, and residents were not required to evacuate.

At 12:00pm on Saturday, August 27th, the MTA suspended all public transportation services. We, on the other hand, were able to provide Island residents with public transportation via the Tram and Red Buses for many hours following the MTA shut-down. The Roosevelt Island Tram had continuous service until 6:00pmthat day and Red Buses operated until 8:00pm so that residents could get where they needed to before the worst of the hurricane hit. Our Tram and Bus staff remained on site throughout the entire weekend so that service could be restored as quickly as possible.

RIOC Parks and Recreation Department closed all Roosevelt Island Parks and canceled all activities in Sportpark as of 2:00pm on Saturday.

I often think of us as a small town in the big city, and the spirit of this proved true when The Child School stepped up to offer its gymnasium as a potential evacuation center. The gym has a capacity of 300 people and food, water, telephones and internet access were made available. I’d like to thank RIOC Board Member Sal Ferrera, President of the Child School, for his offer to Island residents.

Thankfully the hurricane was not as strong as was predicted when it hit the New York City area. On Sunday, August 28th, Tramway system testing and Red Bus clearance began at 1:30pm and by 2:00pm, limited service had been restored. Service was fully restored at 6:00am the following morning.

Unfortunately, not all parts of the Island fared well. Lighthouse Park took a particularly hard hit, with 23 trees down, damage to the seawall and flooding at various locations. Fortunately, however, Southpoint Park or the FDR Memorial did not experience any damage. Moreover, through the concerted efforts of the entire RIOC staff, we were able to open Lighthouse Park in time for the Labor Day weekend.

I want to note that while Roosevelt Island did not have anyone injured as a result of the hurricane, we did have some people who ignored our safety protocols by venturing into closed off areas. It is important for residents or visitors to heed to the warnings that we put out to the community. Not only do you put yourself at risk, you also risk the safety of those that respond to your aid.

While I believe we did a good job, and certainly that is the feedback we received from many of you, I think this gives us a unique opportunity to discuss our emergency action plans in order to make necessary improvements. Over the next few weeks, we will be reviewing our preparations and procedures to ensure the safety of the Roosevelt Island community and to maintain Island operations during an emergency.

Summer, as always, went by too fast. I wish all our Island kids a successful school year and wish everyone headed back to work, an easy transition.


Retail Survey for the Main Street Commercial Corridor

Hudson-Related is currently conducting a retail survey for the Main Street Commercial Corridor. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey. The feedback is invaluable to the planning of Main Street. Surveys are available on-line and at the RIOC Main office. Also, please be on the look-out for a community meeting on Main Street.


We have several events coming up:
9/11 Memorial Ceremony, Sunday September 11th at 6:45pm Good Shepherd Plaza
Fall for Arts Festival, Saturday, October 1st, 11am- 4pm Southpoint Park
Outdoor Production of Seven Against Thebes and Oedipus Rex 2pm, October 1st and 2nd at the Roosevelt Landing Amphitheater
Halloween Day Parade Saturday, October 29th

Young Adult Program at Sportspark

Beginning on Friday, September 9th, we are trying a new program that will provide recreational activities for young adults. The Sportspark Young Adult Recreation program involves extending the hours of the Sportspark gymnasium every Friday and Saturday from 9:00pm to 12:00am in order to offer constructive activities to Roosevelt Island young adults on weekend nights.

Anyone interested in the program will be required to register and take a photo ID. You will then receive an ID card that will allow you access into the facility. There will be several activities available including free access to the basketball courts, the ping pong room, exercise equipment, Netflix movies, computers with internet access and the Wii gaming system. Public Safety officers will be on hand to patrol the facility during the hours of operation to assure the safety of participants.

The program will run for six weeks after which RIOC will assess participation levels and determine whether or not to continue the program.

Outstanding IT Service and Support Award

Congratulations to GovindBedasie, RIOC’s Senior LAN Administrator, who will be a recipient of the "Outstanding IT Service and Support Award" at the Best of New York Ceremony this month, at the GTC East Conference in Albany. The purpose of this award is to recognize a staff person who has distinguished themselves by exemplary service and support throughout the year. I'd like to take this the opportunity to congratulate Govind and the entire IT Department, under the leadership of Michael Moreo, for raising RIOC’s IT standards to a level worthy of recognition by our State Agency Peers.
A version of the RIOC President's column also appears on RIOC's web site and the 9/10/11 issue of the Main Street WIRE.

Here's a Video of RIOC Post Hurricane Briefing from Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez. and more pictures from Mr. Adib of Roosevelt Island after Hurricane Irene.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Roosevelt Island Tram Now Open After Temporarily Closed Due To Police Investigation of Suspicious Package on Queensboro Bridge - Bridge Now Open Too

A little over an hour ago, the New York City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) tweeted at Notify NYC:

Due to police activity, the Queensboro/Koch Bridge is currently closed. Expect traffic delays in the area.
Shortly thereafter, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) closed down the tram and issued this advisory at 10:03 PM:
Due to police activity on the 59th street bridge. The Tram service is temporarily suspended.
I was at the Tram at approximately 10:20 as Tram service was resuming

and at 10:29 PM a RIOC advisory reported:
The police activity is complete at this time. Tram service is now back to normal service.
Breaking News reported:
Update: NYPD says package with wires on Queensboro bridge turned out to be DOT equipment; bridge being reopened - BNO
Additional information on Roosevelt Island precautions taken during this weekend's heightened security alert from post earlier today.

No Manhattan Bound F Train Subway Service From Roosevelt Island This Weekend, Expect Crowded Tram Cabins and Plan Accordingly - Heightened Security Alert This Weekend For NYC, If You See Something, Say Something

No Manhattan Bound F Train Flyer This Weekend Flyer At Roosevelt Island Subway Station

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
We have been advised by the MTA that there will be no Manhattan bound F Train Service at the Roosevelt Island Station from 12:01 a.m. Saturday, September 10th to 5:00 a.m. Monday, September 12th.

RIOC will provide 24-hour Tram and Red Bus service during the weekend to minimize the inconvenience to Island residents.

There will be two Trams running during the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  At all other times during the weekend, both Trams will run at 15 minute intervals.

For additional information on the F line diversions, visit the MTA website at  For more information on the Red Bus and Tram, visit our website at

Thank you for your cooperation.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Additional information on Roosevelt Island F Train Subway Service Disruption available from the MTA's Planned Service Changes Web Page.

Expect crowded Trams this weekend and plan accordingly.

There is also a heightened security alert for NYC this weekend. 

As the NYC Mayor's Office Tweeted:
Go about your business as normal, but if you see something potentially suspicious, call 311. If it's potentially dangerous, call 911.
UPDATE 6 PM - RIOC issued the following advisory:
Given the announcement by the FBI of a credible terrorist threat, with activities potentially planned for 9/11, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s (RIOC) Public Safety Department (PSD) has taken precautionary measures.  Residents should be aware that there will be an increased PSD and NYPD presence, especially around Island transit hubs.

We ask all residents to be vigilant and to say something if they see something.  Residents should call 212-832-4545, if they see suspicious activity.

Specific actions taken by RIOC include:
 1.  A NYPD Officer from the 19th Precinct will have a post at the Manhattan Tram Station
2.  NYPD Transit will have a presence inside the "F" Train Station, including random container screenings
3.  RIOC's security cameras will be closely monitored by PSD and Tram personnel
4.  PSD Officers will have a post outside the subway station and on the island-side of the Roosevelt Island Bridge and the Tram.

Scavenger Hunt Ends With High Tech Marriage Proposal At Roosevelt Island's Lighthouse Park For Googler

Reported many times before on how Roosevelt Island is a showcase and prototype for the use of advanced technology to improve the delivery of municipal services. Roosevelt Island has the Next Bus GPS system to track our Red Bus, See Click Fix to report problems, wireless street parking system, East River Energy Turbines, AVAC underground garbage removal system and an electricity producing fuel cell with more to come including electric car charging stations and LED Lighting for the Motorgate Garage.

Roosevelt Island is also a place for lovers like Paul and Michelle, and Dave and Stella who were married here as well as other couples who keep on coming here to celebrate their wedding.

Now, you may ask what these two Roosevelt Island characteristics have to do with each other? The answer is simple. Google software engineer Ari Gildner recently used technology, Google Maps and a smart phone app, to take his fiance on an excursion around New York City to places that were important to the couple until she wound up at Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park where he proposed to her.

Mr. Gildner wrote on the Google blog:
I recently decided to propose to my girlfriend, Faigy. I knew I wanted to do something meaningful and —yes—a little over the top, so I decided to put my software engineering skills to work to create the ultimate romantic scavenger hunt. On the road to “The Big Question,” I wanted Faigy to visit places around New York City that were filled with memories of our relationship. My plan was to construct a map of the route and get my girlfriend from one destination to the next,...

... I used My Maps to plan out the route—from the Trader Joe’s we shop at on the Upper West Side, to Magnolia Bakery where we spent part of our first date, to Hudson Bar & Lounge where we enjoyed a night of dancing, to Carnegie Hall where Faigy once surprised me with tickets to a Beethoven concert, all the way to the lighthouse on Roosevelt Island where we went on our second date...
Congratulations to Ari and Faigy. Here's the Scavenger Hunt Map that lead to Roosevelt Island's Lighthouse Park and a wedding proposal.

Just another example of applied technology being used on Roosevelt Island and an additional reason for the New York City Applied Sciences and Engineering School to select Roosevelt Island for it's new campus.

Summer Camp At Island Kids Is Over - Parent Reports It Was A Great Experience For Roosevelt Island Children

Roosevelt Island resident JPH reports on his child's experience this summer at the Island Kids Summer Day Camp which ended August 26.
I have enjoyed reading the blog posts about the great programs for kids on Roosevelt Island and wanted to mention one more: Island Kids. Our son started Island Kids this past summer for the first time and he had a terrific experience.

The camp program was excellent and varied. Our son especially enjoyed the sports activities, which took place on Capobianco Field.

Every week at camp included swimming, sports, arts,


 Image of Acting Activity From Frank Farance

and reading. Wednesday's were Field Trip Day, and the kids have been all over the city, including to a nature preserve, a working farm in Queens, and the Victorian Gardens amusement park in Central Park.

The camp also took advantage of the many great facilities on the Island.

In addition to using Capobianco Field, the kids swam at Westview and used the playground down behind Blackwell House. Best of all the main camp facility was in the basement of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, exposing the kids every day to this wonderful landmark.

We can't say enough about the counselors, who were upbeat, dedicated and really in tune with the kids.

The camp had a great ratio of counselors to kids so there was good coverage and supervision.

Island Kids Summer Day Camp was not free, but very reasonably priced. We looked at other city camps and most were double or more the cost of Island Kids. Nikki Leopold, the camp director, has established a well-run program and we are happy our son  had such a great resource available to him this summer.

Image of End Of Summer Island Kids Picnic From Frank Farance
Mr. Farance adds:
Just like JPH, I have been very happy with Island Kids: the camp has the right mix of activities (sports, cognitive, freeplay, etc.). This is their fourth year, Emilia and David have made new friends and have enjoyed the familiarity of old friends. After camp, many of the kids hang around and play in the plaza. Regardless of the shift in venue and the plaza work, this was really a great summer at Island Kids ... the kids loved it!
More information on Island Kids and their year round programs available here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Roosevelt Island 10th Anniversary 9/11 Memorial Service This Sunday, 6:45 At Remembrance Garden Behind Good Shepherd Community Center

Image From RIRA & RIOC

The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) and Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) are jointly sponsoring a 9/11 Memorial Service on Sunday. According to RIOC:
Please join us this Sunday, September 11th at 6:45 p.m. for the 9/11 10th Anniversary Remembrance Service. The event will be held at the Remembrance Garden (located behind the Good Shepherd Chapel, 543 Main Street). Please bring a candle!

Sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association and RIOC.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Below is the Roosevelt Island Remembrance Garden

Images of Roosevelt Island's Remembrance Garden

and the plaque that honors those Roosevelt Islanders who died in the terrorist attack:
Ed Beyea,
Anthony J. Fallone,
Taimour Khan,
Scott Larsen,
Kevin J. Smith and the firefighters who were based on Roosevelt Island
Deputy Chief Ray Downey,
Deputy Chief Charlie Kasper,
Battalion Chief John Moran, and
Battalion Chief John Paolillo.

RIRA's Social, Cultural and Educational Committee (SC&E) Chairperson Lynn Shinozaki reported to the RIRA Common Council at last night's September meeting on the plans for the 9/11 Memorial Service.

You Tube Video Of RIRA Report on Roosevelt Island 9/11 Memorial Service

America Magazine described how 9/11 impacted Roosevelt Island resident Patty Fallone whose husband Anthony died in the attacks at the World Trade Center:
... Patty waited with the children at her friend’s house until someone could drive them to their home on Roosevelt Island, a thin, two-mile-long strip of land between Manhattan and Queens. The Fallones had been an active part of its diverse, close-knit community. Even in the midst of her mourning, Patty worried about the men who worked at the neighborhood deli, one from Egypt and one from Palestine. She hoped neither was the target of bigotry or misdirected anger. She wanted to make sure that her neighborhood, her “diverse little world” as she called it, didn’t disappear along with her husband.

Roosevelt Island was a place where even the people who Patty didn’t know smiled at her and at her husband Anthony, who had been a kind of larger-than-life presence in the neighborhood. Patrick, their son, had attended public pre-school on the island, and many of the mothers remained close. So in many ways, it wasn’t surprising when a group of these mothers showed up together at Patty’s door in the days following Sept. 11. They sat down, and one of them suggested they all hold hands and say a little prayer. So the women—Jewish, Christian and Muslim—joined together and prayed for healing...
The NY Times has a fascinating and chilling report on the:
The 9/11 Tapes: The Story in the Air
A selection of audio recordings from the Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.), North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) and American Airlines from the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. The recordings, some of which have been published previously, are being released in a multimedia report originally intended to be part of the Sept. 11 Commission’s 2004 report...
Click here to read and hear the transcript and a comprehensive report on the cost and consequences of 9/11.

Image From Main Street WIRE Of Smoke From World Trade Center Attack As Seen From Roosevelt Island by Vicki Feinmel/Linda Heimer

More on 9/11 from previous posts.

Facebook Resident Investigation By Public Safety Department & July Roosevelt Island Public Safety Incident Blotter - Identity Theft, Assault, Tram Station Safety, Public Disturbance and More

Image of Facebook Map From bnet

Residents of Roosevelt Island live in buildings known as Riverwalk,  Rivercross, Island House, Westview, Roosevelt Landing/Eastwood, Manhattan Park and the Octogon. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department (PSD), some of us are also residents of a place called Facebook. From the PSD incident report for 9/7 - 9/8
Investigation- Facebook residents friend sent residents information to unknown individuals with out her consent. Referred to 911.
The Daily PSD Incident reports are listed on blog's middle sidebar.

Below is the RIOC PSD Incident Blotter for July 2011. Included in the July Blotter are these incidents:
  • Identity Theft - Victim stated someone took out a $300 loan in her name. Victim was escorted to 114 Pct for report. NYPD did not file a report. (540 Main Street, 7/13)
  • Reporter came into PSD to make a complaint about there not being enough security on Tram Plaza at the Manhattan side. Matter referred to management. (Tram Station, 7/17)
  • Store manager requested PSD presence for a group of youths in store. Upon arrival youths left the area without incident. (688 Main Street, 7/17)
  • Victim advised unknown subject attempted to disengage the chain lock to his apartment door. R/O escorted victim back to his apartment to find all in order. Victim advised to utilize all three locks at all times. (510 Main Street, 7/31)
  • Victim advised someone possibly entered her apartment and took her wireless router. No signs of forced entry.(580 Main Street, 7/28
  • ARREST Male subject observed defecating in public. Subject was issued summons and released. (500 Main Street, 7/11)
  • NYPD ARREST Subject was apprehended with regard to an outstanding warrant. Subject was transported to PSD to await arrival of NYPD officers for transport to Central Booking. (524 Main Street, 7/22)
  • ARREST Victim advised two male subjects assaulted him and stole his Iphone. Upon investigation along with NYPD victim was in possession of a stolen phone. All three subjects were apprehended and transported to 114 Pct for arrest processing. (400 Main Street, 7/2) and
  • ARREST Three subjects taken into custody after causing a public disturbance, combative behavior towards officers and failing to comply with a lawful order. Two male subjects were transported to 114 Pct for arrest processing and one youth subject released to the custody of his guardian.(500 Main Street, 7/31)
Public Safety Blotter July 2011

Click here for the Roosevelt Island Public Safety statistics for 2011 thru July.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Update To RIOC's Roosevelt Island Hurricane Irene Briefing - Designated Evacuation Center In LIC Is Safe and Clean, Need To Prepare and Plan For Next Emergency Says RIRA Plannng Chair/Cert Team Member Frank Farance

As reported in this prior post, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) held two post Hurricane Irene briefings last Friday, one for RIOC Directors and several Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) members in the morning and another briefing immediately thereafter for the Roosevelt Island media. RIRA Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance attended the first briefing and sends the following report (RIRA President Matt Katz and RIHS President Judy Berdy also attending this briefing and shared their comments here).

Image of 9/1 RIOC Hurricane Irene Briefing at Lighthouse Park From Frank Farance

From Mr. Farance:
I've put my most important point first: it is really important for Roosevelt Island residents to know that our designated evacuation shelter at Newcomers HS in Long Island City is a CLEAN/SAFE facility. Gwen Ryals and I, as CERT members, were helping staff the shelter.

Image Of Frank & Gwen during Lunch Break at Evacuation Center From Frank Farance

It's geared for families, children, seniors, and mobility impaired. They even have a tea set and toys in a children's area to make it hospitable.

 Image of Children's Evacuation Area at Facility From Frank Farance

The food was OK, we can live on school cafeteria food for a couple days.

 Image From Frank Farance

Image From Frank Farance
Mr. Farance noted that one school cafeteria was used for eating and another cafeteria was a sleeping area. The Gym was used for one of the sleeping areas and a family sleeping area was off camera to left.

Mr. Farance continues:
Back to the RIOC presentation ...

Matt Katz, Howard Polivy, and I have been the three residents over the long term to follow RIOC on emergency planning. We've changed hats a couple times, but I think the three of us have been on the same page for a very long while (2005, before CERT?) on this. Over time, we've learned some things from RIOC, PSD, OEM, SEMO, and the managing agents.

At Friday's meeting at Lighthouse, Mr. Katz reminded RIOC that they used to convene quarterly meetings with representatives from all the managing agents, RIOC, and Island institutions to discussed emergency planning. The meetings became less frequent, now they are non-existent. We really need to get back to having this forum on a regular basis.

Here's a brief history:

- In the blackout of 2003, there were a good number of mobility-impaired people who needed help. The Roosevelt Island Search And Rescue (RISAR) came about to address these and similar needs not handled by RIOC, PSD, or EMS. Since then, the managing agents have done a better job of tracking their individual tenant's needs.

- In summer of 2005, OEM came to Roosevelt Island to socialize the city-wide plan for Ready New York. OEM asked residents What Is Your Plan? OEM was surprised that the meeting devolved into the residents turning the tables and asking OEM: What's ***Your*** Plan?

- In 2006, resident volunteers formed the RI CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). Approximately 30 residents were trained over 6 months. We participated in drills through late 2007.

- We learned from RIOC and through our CERT training that NYC OEM is the key coordination point: only the Mayor or the Governor can order an evacuation. In other words, RIOC only has scope to manage/plan certain things: street lights and security for power outage, shoveling for snow, and other small scope issues.

- Like all emergency responders, RIOC has plans and did execute plans for its Incident Comment system (CERT and OEM use similar language and structure).

- Over time, this hole (How To Evacuate Roosevelt Island On Short Notice) in planning has never been resolved. The residents on the RI CERT are aware of this, RIOC is aware of this but defers to OEM, and this is low priority for OEM. Assemblymember Kellner's letter can help, but we need to coordinate this with Roosevelt Island expertise (RIOC, PSD, RI CERT, institutions, managing agents, merchants, etc.).

- Some of the big holes in planning an evacuation include: how to manage traffic flow. In the past year, NYC DOT added these really unhelpful white plastic cones on the RI bridge. If we need to evacuate, they need to be removed immediately so we have a full three lanes of traffic on the bridge (incoming, emergency, outgoing - just like City Island). We need to ***DRILL*** this kind of traffic coordination problem. If you've seen the traffic flow on July 4th events on Roosevelt Island, it's a multiple hour big-mess (understatement). Hospital shift changes are problematic, too. This is just moving a couple thousand people. Now add the emergency vehicles and people bringing cars to load and evacuate -- a much bigger problem.

- Hurricanes aren't easy to predict, so evacuation either comes very early (but useless and disruptive) or late. I've tracked weather on Roosevelt Island for 30+ years and Hurricane Irene was *atypical* in that its storm track 3-4 days in advance varied very little (from Coney Island to Levittown) over the prediction period. So the successes we had on Irene, might not occur on other hurricanes. The hurricane on Labor Day weekend of 2008 comes to mind (Hurrican Hanna?) where it unexpectedly gained speed up the East Cost and arrived sooner than expected: Virginia at 04:00 Saturday morning, NYC around 09:00 that same morning.

- Without DRILLING this evacuation exercise, we have no idea how long it will take and people might die in a real emergency. I can't predict where the glitches will be, but a DRILL helps discover them.

- Many people want an evacuation shelter on RI. As Mr. Chironis pointed out, if you are evacuating from something, you need to go to a BETTER zone than the one you are already at. So PS/IS 217, Sportspark, and The Child School would all be undesirable for those reasons. Yes, it is possible for people on high floors (above 10th) to evacuate, even though the rest of the Island does not. It might be easier to take people to Newcomers HS (a clean/safe facility in Long Island City).

On Friday, RIOC made a presentation on Hurricane Irene After-Action Review. It was attended by a dozen or so RIOC staff, Mr. Martinez led the presentation. Mr. Matt Katz asked about evacuations, Mr. Robert Atterbury of Assemblymember Kellner's office chimed in. Dr. Ferrera, head of The Child School, had graciously offered his space.

I think RIOC and PSD did a great job. The guys clearing the storm drains the days before are geniuses. I was back and forth from the Newcomers HS emergency shelter several times throughout the 48 hours of the storm and from what I saw, things were going OK on the Island.

I've heard some grumbling that RIOC had a separate presentation for the media. The presentation I saw was, I think, just a dry run for the media and RIOC did well. I think RIOC did a pretty good job planning and executing their incident command center, which manages their activities. Mr. Martinez was well prepared.

I've heard some complain that RIOC President Leslie Torres was not on site during the storm. Ms. Torres is a parent with kids' school schedules, family vacations, and such. If the corporation thought Mr. Martinez (RIOC VP of Operations) could handle it, then I think he was the right person to do so. Ms. Torres wouldn't have added any significant help. Everyone that needed to participate was directly under Mr. Martinez' command. This is a different situation than the City where Bloomberg was necessary to coordinate.

Many of us have heard the complaint that RIOC has no evacuation plan. This isn't within RIOC's scope. We need someone at OEM to initiate this planning and they need to contact local experts (RIOC, PSD, RI CERT, managing agents, hospitals, merchants) to help plan this properly. At the Lighthouse meeting, several people noted that Gristedes and M&D Deli should be thanked for providing extra service to residents before and during the storm <-- I agree, they should be thanked.

Some people asked about the phone lines and the loss of PSD's phone service. I spoke to Mr. Mike Moreo about this and how to do this better next time. I'm not blaming RIOC because we've all been told this: cooper phone lines do better. True in most cases, except this one where flooding in the 53rd street tunnel shorted out many phone lines for Islanders.

At the Lighthouse, this led to a secondary topic: how to coordinate among residents with these kind of communication problems. The buildings built to State codes don't require annunciator systems, so there is now PA system to tell people what to do. This is a topic of discussion in the quarterly meetings Mr. Katz had suggested.
I added links to the Kellner letter and OEM Roosevelt Island presentation mentioned in Mr. Farance's report.

The NY Times reported on lessons learned by New York City from Hurricane Irene for future emergencies:
Changes both large and small will be made to the way New York City responds to hurricane emergencies in the future, including how evacuations will be publicized and executed, after officials learned valuable lessons from the unprecedented emptying of the waterfront as Tropical Storm Irene bore down on the five boroughs....
During the Roosevelt Island Hurricane Irene media briefing, I asked RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez what lessons RIOC learned from Hurricane Irene for future Roosevelt Island emergencies. Mr. Martinez replied that there were many. When asked for some specifics he said that a simple example of a lesson learned involved the proper type of chain saw to be purchased for removing downed and damaged tree. When asked for another example he said that would be for another day. The video of this exchange is here at the approximate 26 minute mark.

Come Learn What Is Going On At Roosevelt Island and Add Your Voice To The Process -Roosevelt Island Residents Association Meeting Returns Tonight 8 PM At Good Shepherd Community Center

Image of June RIRA Common Council Meeting

After taking the July and August summer months off, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) monthly meeting returns tonight, September 7, 8 PM at the Good Shepherd Community Center (543 Main Street lower level).  Below is the Agenda for tonight's meeting.

As always, prior to the start of each meeting there is a public session in which any resident can come and address the Common Council Delegates on any issue of concern.

RIRA is composed of members of the Roosevelt Island community elected by their fellow building complex residents every two years. RIRA has no real power or authority other than an advisory role as the voice of the Roosevelt Island community. RIRA's voice of the community role is recognized and encouraged by our elected representatives and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC).

RIRA is not without controversy. Some residents have expressed an opinion that RIRA does not represent them, that it is a closed, insular group of people looking out for only their own interests.

I think that view is wrong. RIRA represents those people who participate in the process, show up to meetings or if they can't attend meetings, just make their concerns known. In this respect, RIRA is just like every political entity in the United States - if you don't show up and participate in the process, it is difficult to have your concerns addressed.

Responding to this comment from a reader of a previous post:
The executives of RIRA - Pres, VP, Treas, Sec'y - are all from WIRE buildings.  Most of the committee chairs - WIRE buildings.  The MTG is composed primarily of WIRE building residents.  There's nothing wrong with WIRE residents disproportionately represented in executive/chair positions - as long as the same people do not keep popping up year after year.  There should be term limits for executive/chair/RIOC board member positions to prevent cliques from forming.
RIRA Communications Chair Vini Fortuna wrote:
You are right about the officers (Pres, VP, Treasurer and Secretary). They are all from the WIRE buildings. (Here is the list

However, that's not true for the chairs anymore. You can find the chair of each committee on their pages in our website ( Here is the list:
Communications: Vini (me) - Southtown
Gov. Relations: Bill Long - Octagon
Housing: Helen Chirivas - Island House
Island Services: Aaron Hamburguer - Southtown
Planning: Frank Farance - Island House
Public Safety: Erin Feely-Nahem - Westview
Social, Cultural & Educational: Lynne Shinozaki - Manhattan Park
Constitution & Bylaws: Dave Evans - Southtown

What I want to say is that I believe things are changing. Slowly. At least, the committees are changing and the relative proportions of the buldings. I agree that it can be frustrating to see the same people over and over again at the head of RIRA. One big problem is that it's not easy to be the president. It takes a lot of time and effort, and requires a lot of experience on the island, which essentially eliminates new blood.

And if you impose term limits, we may end up with no one in the executive positions! Remember that all the members are voluntary. No one receives anything for that and they dedicate their (sometimes little) free time

It seems to me that's a hard problem to solve, but I would love to hear suggestions to solve it.

On another front, I believe RIRA has a huge communications problem. RIRA doesn't communicate with the community well. People don't know what RIRA is doing. People hear about RIRA on Frank's rants. There's a lot misinformation. The lack of communication doesn't help, and that causes the perception of hidden agendas and secrecy. But that's not the case. Unlike some may think, you don't see deliberate efforts to hide information and act behind other people's back. The problem is just that the information doesn't get out there.

As the Communication Chair, I've been spending a lot of effort to fix that. I've already set up the website (, the Facebook (, and Twitter ( to help opening the communication channels with the community. We also have a calendar of RIRA events and meetings ( So the plumbing have been laid out. Now it's time to get the information flowing. My next step is to get RIRA members (specially chairs) to get content online. I want people to know everything that is going on on RIRA. My ultimate (maybe ambitious) goal is to  get residents to trust RIRA, and get more involved. If we are able to make the community more engaged, maybe we'll have more volunteers and candidates for the association, and the extra members and diversity will result in better representatives, solving some of the problems you pointed out.
I think that people like Vini and other RIRA members should be thanked for the time and effort they put in to try and improve the Roosevelt Island community in which they live. Sure, sometimes it's a messy and tedious process, some personalities may be more difficult to deal with than others, but that's how a representative political body functions.

Here's an interesting discussion with RIRA President Matt Katz. Mr. Katz was recently interviewed for the Community Board 8 Speaks program. He talks about the role of RIRA as well as the history, governance and current issues facing Roosevelt Island.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

RIOC Real Estate Committee Meeting Today To Discuss Status Of Island House Privatization/Affordability Plan and Ground Lease Extension - In Executive Session Closed To The Public, What's Going On?

Image of Roosevelt Island's Island House Entrance

Received this advisory from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.


1. Chair's Motion for Executive Session to Review and Discuss the Status of Privatization/Affordability Plan and Ground Lease Extension for Island House
A previous post discussed the circumstances when the RIOC Board can meet in Executive Session. An excerpt:
... 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....
More information on the circumstances under which RIOC is permitted to hold an executive session closed to the public available from the NY State Department of State Committee on Open Government.

It has been extremely difficult to obtain information regarding the privatization/affordability plan and ground lease extension for Roosevelt Island's Mitchell Lama Buildings at Island House, Westview and Rivercross. To date, none of these buildings have been privatized out of the Mitchell Lama program and only the Rivercross Building has received a ground lease extension from RIOC Board of Directors in January 2011. The reason given for Rivercross receiving a ground lease extension from RIOC was so that the Rivercross mortgage could be refinanced at a low interest rate to raise funds for building improvements. According to the January 2011 RIOC Board minutes regarding this issue (Page 9):
... In response to Mr. Kraut’s question, Mr. Leitner noted that, under the proposed agreement, as stated in term sheet item nine, the base ground rent paid to the Empire State Development Corporation (“ESDC”) would remain the same, while the amount paid to RIOC will increase by 4% compounded annually. Mr. Shinozaki noted that the entire building’s rent is less than that of some individual residential units in other buildings on Roosevelt Island. Mr. Kalkin noted that the low rent was consistent with the purpose of Mitchell-Llama properties to create and preserve affordable housing....
Here is the Rivercross Ground Lease Extension Resolution from RIOC and Term Sheet. Some Rivercross residents have expressed concerns that the new mortgage negotiated by the Rivercross Board is a bad deal for residents who plan on staying long term at the building.

None of the 9 RIOC Board members live in Island House or Westview. 4 of the 6 Roosevelt Island resident RIOC Directors live in Rivercross and all 3 current members of the Real Estate Committee live in Rivercross. At the time that the Rivercross Ground Lease extension was granted by RIOC, 2 of the 3 Real Estate Committee members lived in Rivercross.

By noting that 4 Rivercross residents are on the RIOC Board and voted for the Rivercross Ground Lease extension does not indicate in any way whatsoever that anything improper occurred though some residents, not only Mr. Farance, have raised conflict of interest questions concerning this RIOC Board vote.

The conflict of interest question gets asked because so little information is made public to explain what, if any, role the RIOC Board of Directors and Staff have in deciding issues regarding the privatization/affordability plans for the Roosevelt Island Mitchell Lama Rivercross, Westview and Island House buildings, what role New York City and State agencies play in the process and what is the current status of the privatization process?

If anyone knows, please tell.

New Weekend Nightime Program For Roosevelt Island Youth 16 -25 Years Old Starting September 9 At Sportspark - Basketball, Ping Pong, Exercise Equipment, Wii Games & More, Sign Ups Begin Today

Received the following announcement from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Community Relations Specialist Erica Wilder:
Every Friday and Saturday for a 6 week trial period, beginning Friday, September 9, 2011, we will extend the hours of the Sportspark gymnasium in order to provide recreational activities for young adults between the ages of 16 and 25.

Mr. Romano Reid and Ms. Erin Feely of the RIRA Island Services subcommittee met with RIOC to discuss their concerns regarding the level of delinquency and late night disturbances caused by Roosevelt Island youth. The meeting was attended by RIOC board members Ms. Faye Christensen and Mr. Howard Polivy, RIOC executive staff and several directors. The group discussed the idea of providing R.I. youth with options after 8 PM. This is the time when, according to PSD Director Keith Guerra, youth are preoccupied with unconstructive activities. The Sportspark Young Adult Recreation Hours will be held every Friday and Saturday night from 9 PM to 12 AM. All interested youth will be required to register and take a photo ID. They will then receive an ID card that will allow them access into the facility and participate in activities. Specifically, they will have free access to the basketball courts, the ping pong room, exercise equipment, Netflix, computers with internet access and the Wii gaming system. Public Safety officers will patrol the facility during the hours of operation.

At the conclusion of the 6 week trial period, our staff will assess participation levels and determine whether or not we will continue the program.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
A subsequent announcement from Ms Wilder added.
 Mr. Romano Reid and Ms. Erin Feely are members of the Roosevelt Island Resident Association's (RIRA) Common Council.
I inquired of Ms. Wilder:
Thank you for the information regarding this new program for Roosevelt Island young people at the Sportspark.

As a follow up, can you report who or what group (RIOC?) is organizing and running this program, how is it being funded, what is the program budget and what criteria is being used to determine if this 6 week program is a success or not?

Also, is the Roosevelt Island Youth Program involved in this initiative? If not, why is that?
Ms. Wilder replied:
To answer your questions:

1) Who or what group (RIOC?) is organizing and running this program?
The young adult recreation hours will be operated by RIOC. Community groups and residents are welcome to present outreach programs during the Sportspark Evening Adult Hours. Mr. Romano Reid and Ms. Erin Feely of the RIRA Common Council, has expressed interest in coordinating outreach efforts in conjunction with RIOC staff and PSD.
2) How is it being funded, what is the program budget?
Management has budgeted $7,000 as one-time cost for furniture and equipment that will also be used for general use at Sportspark. We have also budgeted 6 hours per week for (1) Sportspark staff attendant and (1) public safety officer.
3) What criteria is being used to determine if this 6 week program is a success or not?
After the (6) week trial period, RIOC management will evaluate the extended hours based on participation and address other issues that may arise if any. We will also be polling participants.
4) Also, is the Roosevelt Island Youth Program involved in this initiative? If not, why is that?
The Sportspark extended hours is geared toward the young adult population on R.I. between the ages of 16-25. The extended hours will be available to this specific age group as another recreational outlet. This program was not intended to compete with the R.I. Youth Center in any way.

If you should have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me.
UPDATE 2:55 PM - Registration information from RIOC:
This Friday, September 9th, will be the opening night of the new "Young Adult Hours" at the Sportspark Gymnasium, located at 250 Main Street, for young adults ages 16-25. Once registered, participants will have free access to the basketball courts, ping pong room, exercise equipment, Netflix, computers with internet access and the Wii gaming system. The Young Adult Hours will be held every Friday and Saturday from 9 PM- 12 AM. Sign-up begins TODAY! Please call Mike Smith, Manager of Parks and Recreation, at 212-832-4559 to schedule a time to sign-up and for more details.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group

Monday, September 5, 2011

Visitors Tour Roosevelt Island This Labor Day Weekend - This Is What They See

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Labor Day Visit

After a trip on the Roosevelt Island Tram, our visitors sample the Trellis Diner Menu (looks like they focused on the Chicken Teriyaki), learned about the Octagon Tower and Rotunda, walked along our waterfront promenade to Lighthouse Park, viewed an exhibit at Gallery RIVAA and before returning to Manhattan on the Tram, checked out the historic Blackwell's House.

Hope they had a good time.

Labor Day weekend is over and so is summer.

Bring on the Fall.