Saturday, November 12, 2011

No Manhattan Bound Roosevelt Island F Train Subway Service This Weekend - Crowded Tram Cabins and Only One Cabin Operating In Morning

There is no F train subway service to Manhattan from Roosevelt Island this weekend resulting in crowded Manhattan bound Tram Cabins.

A Roosevelt Island resident reports on crowded tram this morning at about 9:15:

The tram was packed, and they were only running one cabin even though the subway is out - what is the point of having 2 cabins if you won’t run them in these circumstances? Also, a woman fainted or collapsed while the tram was in motion. There was a loud thud. The tram operator was very good in handling it.
I was on the Tram at about 2 PM and both cabins were running though it was still crowded.

You Tube Video of Crowded Weekend Tram Cabin

Black Helicopters Flying Over Roosevelt Island, Why? Dark Knight Rising Filming On Queensboro Bridge Upper Level Today and Sunday Afternoon - Traffic Delays and Headaches

What's was going on with the low flying Black helicopters over Roosevelt Island and the Queensboro Bridge today? According to this Tweet from TraitourousDroog:

I was laying in the grass in a baseball field on Roosevelt Island, and a black helicopter flew over the bridge three or four times.
NYC's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) tweeted at NotifyNYC:
11/12 & 11/13 1AM-8PM movie filming on upper level of 59 St Brdg diverts traffic to lower level. Low-flying helicopter Sat. 4-5PM.
Comic Book Movie reports that the movie being shot this weekend on the Queensboro Bridge is the new Batman movie.
The Dark Knight Rises Will Be Filming on the Upper Level of the 59th Street Bridge
This Saturday and Sunday the upper level of the bridge will be closed while Christopher Nolan films the next Batman movie.

The Queensboro Bridge Upper Level is the best route to use by car/taxi on way back to Roosevelt Island from Manhattan. Today, due to the Dark Knight filming, traffic on and surrounding the Queensboro Bridge was a mess.  Roosevelt Island resident Trevre Andrews shares this picture showing a backed up Queensboro Bridge lower level and an empty upper level except for the movie shoot.

Image from Trevre Andrews

It took one reader almost 90 minutes by car to get back to Roosevelt Island from the East Side this afternoon. The resident sent this email at 5:15 PM:
I've been in car since 3:50. Apparently, between upper level being closed, lane in tunnel closed and street fairs, traffic is horrendous.
Dark Knight filming on the Queensboro Bridge continues tomorrow. Follow tweets on topic here.

Earlier this week, very bright white lights from the Queens based filming of Dark Knight were shining into Roosevelt Island apartments.

UPDATE 10:25 PM - Greg Orsi saw Dark Knight filming on the Queensboro Bridge today. Mr. Orsi shares these photos reporting:
A correctional bus that said "Gotham's Boldest" on the side (it started to drive away as I took the photo). Boldest criminals? There could be a whole heap of trouble on that bus for Batman! 

Image From Greg Orsi

Very hard to see from the photo, but by the time I was making my way back to Queens over the bridge from Roosevelt Island, it looked like the scene was in full swing. Multiple vehicles parked on the bridge with groups of people. The helicopter had a front mounted (IMAX?) camera and made multiple passes over the bridge.

Image From Greg Orsi

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Love Song To Roosevelt Island - The Looney Bin At That Gristedes Store, Julie Sports Bar, Who Could Ask For Anything More

This is perfect for a Friday night.

HeadOverSeales Tweets:

If you love Roosevelt Island as much as I do...

You Tube Video of Take Me To Roosevelt Island

Sing it with me:
Take me to Roosevelt Island, Roosevelt Island that Island of Joy
Take me to Roosevelt Island, Roosevelt Island your sure to enjoy

The Water Taxi's will give you a view
of that wonderful Island ideal For Two

The Loony Bin and the Gristedes Store
Julie's Sports Bar Who could ask for more

Take Me To Roosevelt Island

This Weekend On Roosevelt Island - Friday Night R&R Concert With Roy Eaton, Early Saturday/Sunday Morning NY Junior League Tennis Program For Kids, Sunday Opening Reception At Gallery RIVAA For Arline Jacoby's Made In America and Sunday Football Too

Here's what is happening this weekend on Roosevelt Island.

 Later tonight at 8 PM the Rosemarie and Robin Russell Family Concert Series on Roosevelt Island will be presenting local resident Roy Eaton at the Good Shepherd Community Center, 543 Main Street. From R&R Concerts
I Play for Peace
Roy Eaton, piano

Good Shepherd Center
543 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NY

8:00 PM

Bach, Mozart, Chopin,
Satie, Bill Evans, Arvo Pärt

Admission is FREE
More on Mr. Eaton and listen to him play Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu here.

Early Saturday and Sunday morning there will be a free tennis program for kids. According to the New York Junior Tennis League's (NYJTL) Joyce Mincheff:
The NYJTL will begin our Early Morning Program Saturday, November 12 and ending late March 2012 at the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club (281 Main Street). It's free for all kids 5 to 18 yrs. of age. 6-8 AM on Saturdays and Sundays,  Equipment is furnished, free of charge. We even serve breakfast at 8 AM.  This year we'll feature "10 and Under Tennis" in the new USTA format with minicourts and foam balls.

Also, we will be accommodating PEE-WEES as well, using the USTA 10 and under format. Children may attend from the age of 5 but please know that it's an absolute minimum, 4 years, 10 months is not okay. They really need to wait 'til the child's 5th birthday. Little ones, 5 to 7, start at 7 AM. For all others, the program's hours are 6 to 8 AM.

All children need REAL sneakers.... not just rubber soled shoes. Also, we provide breakfast cereal for the kids at 8 AM.
Sunday afternoon from 1 - 5 PM there will be an opening reception at Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA for resident Arline Jacoby's new exhibit, Made In America.

Image From Gallery RIVAA

According to Gallery RIVAA:
Arline Jacoby presents a mixed-media installation which draws the viewer into a world of American memorabilia with contemporary meaning. She has created a complex assemblage of gleaned and crafted work that invites the spectator to explore their own interaction - mentally and emotionally - with American culture.

The artist uses painting, sculpture, collaging – raiding images of sports, symbols and sacred cows that compose the messages that quilt a collective consciousness.

Jacoby is one of the prime movers in the arts on Roosevelt Island, founder of the Island’s first artist run gallery, art instructor all over the world and widely exhibited painting, sculpture, ceramics.
The Made In America exhibit will be at Gallery RIVAA from November 12 - December 11.

There's also Sunday Football at the Riverwalk Bar & Grill, Jet versus Patriots. GO PATRIOTS!!!! and special football menu with 35 cent wings.

Enjoy the weekend but remember there is no F Train subway service to Manhattan from Roosevelt Island this weekend.

It's Veterans Day 2011 - Thank You To All Members Of The Military For Your Service

You Tube Video From Department of Veterans Affairs

 Today is Veteran's Day. According to
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as "the Great War." Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
If you know a Veteran or see one on the street today, please take a brief moment to thank them for their service to our country. Actually, thinking about this, don't just thank them today but do it throughout the year and thank our active duty soldiers as well.

You Tube Video of Norah Jones American Anthem

UPDATE 11:30 PM - Here's President Obama's Veteran's Day remarks at Arlington Cemetery and Michell Obama on new resources available for veterans and their families.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grandpa Al Lewis Playground Emergency Repairs Completed, Now Open

Image Of Grandpa Lewis Playground Taped Off

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) advises that the emergency repairs to Grandpa Al Lewis Playground announced last Thursday have been completed. According to RIOC:
Please be advised the Al Lewis Playground has been re-opened. 

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group

The Manhattan Skyline and 59th Street Bridge Vanished - Where To? A Very Foggy Roosevelt Island Morning Captured By Photographer Tatiana Muzica

Roosevelt Island's Special Rain Photographer Tatiana Muzica sends in these pictures of a very foggy Roosevelt Island morning. From the waterfront promenade, Manhattan and the 59ths Street Bridge vanish

Image From Tatiana Muzica

until the fog begins to dissipate and they gradually emerge in view.

Image From Tatiana Muzica
Image From Tatiana Muzica

Below is the Roosevelt Island Tram Tower in fog

Image From Tatiana Muzica

as the Tram makes it's Journey across the East River through the Fog.

Image From Tatiana Muzica

Update On Roosevelt Island Manhattan Tram Station Elevator - RIOC Reports It Is Now Working

Updating this previous post, received the following advisory from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

Be advised the lift and elevator on the Manhattan side tram is back in service.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
UPDATE 11:05 AM - OOOPS - Announcing that the elevator was back in service may have been premature. The previous RIOC advisory that the Tram lift and elevator was back in service was issued at 1:54 AM this morning. At 10:52 AM RIOC advised:
Please be advised the Manhattan Plaza Tram Elevator and Lift are temporarily out of service. 

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
UPDATE 5:10 PM - Received this latest advisory from RIOC at 3:50 PM regarding the Manhattan Tram Station elevator and lift:
Please be advised the Manhattan Plaza Tram Elevator and Lift are back in service.
The Tram elevator was working at 4:30 PM this afternoon

but repair work was still be done on the lift at that time.

UPDATE 6:20 PM - Well, the elevator and lift are out of service again. From a 6:08 PM RIOC advisory:
The Tram elevator and Handicap Lift is out of service.
UPDATE 11/11 - At 8:11 PM yesterday RIOC sent out this Tram station elevator advisory:
The Tram Elevator is now in service. The Handicap Lift is still out of service.

Roosevelt Island Public Safety/Youth Center Connect Basketball Game

Image From Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department

Received the following message from Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra:
On Tuesday, November 8th, the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department hosted it's 3rd Annual PSD~Youth Center~Connect Basketball Game. The game was held at the Child/Legacy School Gym from 6:00pm-8:00pm.

Players on the Purple Team were represented by Public Safety Officers, an employee from the Child/Legacy School and a Superintendent from Roosevelt Landings.

Players from the Beige Team were young men from the Roosevelt Island community, ranging between the ages of 17-21, all of whom participate in the Young Adult Sports Program at the RIOC Sportspark Facility.

The Beige Team was victorious in a well played game by the score of 65-58. Players from both teams mingled over some food & refreshments after the game. It was nice to see the young adults interacting with the Officers from PSD in an informal environment.

Thanks go out to RIOC Board Member Sal Ferrera for his hospitality in providing the venue. Thanks also go out to RIOC Vice Presidents Fernando Martinez and Donald Lewis who were in attendance.
More information and pictures from previous Public Safety/Youth Center Connect Basketball games from earlier posts.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Frank Farance on Why Roosevelt Island Finances, Elections and RIRA Matter

Below is a guest post from former Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President and current Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance.

Why All This Matters

To some residents, RIRA sounds like intramural squabbling: cranky residents with strong personalities fighting over petty stuff. However, there are some topics of real and long- term consequence that affect all residents. One topic is the long-term finances of the Island. Roosevelt Island was built in the 1970's with hundreds of millions in bonds. I've heard that as much as $400 million is due, of which RIOC's "profits" will pay it down.

In other parts of the State, benefits from taxes, etc. flow from multiple sources, e.g., curbs and road repair from the village, parks from the township, traffic lights and sewage from the county, and major highways from the State and Federal governments. For geographically isolated Roosevelt Island, it seemed convenient to consolidate the money flows into a single State budget line item and to dispense them through the single agency RIOC. It was convenient until the Pataki administration took aim at Roosevelt Island and, with a single pen stroke, knocked out the money flow. Circa 1995, we went from $6 million annual "subsidy" to zero dollars quickly. The word "subsidy" was a contentious term because Roosevelt Island, a much smaller community then, didn't have the revenues to sustain itself.

What happened over the next half decade was: significant lapses in capital spending (e.g., seawall in need of serious repair), several attempts to reduce operating costs (e.g., eliminate third shift of Tram), increases in public safety fees (gets more revenue to RIOC), a sell-off of the Island parks and other land to raise money (Southtown, Octagon), a refusal to accept monies (e.g., seawall and Blackwell House repair), and so on. So one can imagine the frustration of Island residents back then. Circa 2005, as Pataki's gift to State Senator Olga Mendez who switched to the Republican Party, we now have the requirement that 5 of the 9 members of the RIOC Board must be Island residents, which allows our voices to be heard better.

However, we are still making bad financial decisions, regardless of resident or "elected" resident involvement on the RIOC Board. In summary, we had a $6 million negative cash flow in 1995 and twenty years later (according to RIOC's budget) we're back to a $6-8 million negative cash flow if Southtown 7-9 are not built, and we run out of cash around 2020. Negative cashflow, out of money, $400 million debt -- Not Good.

What has paid for the high spending in the past handful of years is the lump sum payments (soon they will be exhausted). Octagon made an $11 million lump sum ground lease payment, which translates to $48,000 per year ($4,000/month) contribution to the Island's operations (excludes the $110,000 annual payment for extra red bus service), i.e., Octagon building's several hundred market rate units pay less than one apartment's rent for all of RIOC's services. Ditto for Southtown 1 and 2 and their low contributions. Ditto for Southtown 3-6, whose contributions are now lower than originally forecast. Please understand, this is not any criticism of Octagon and Southtown residents (who had nothing to do with this), this is a criticism of the RIOC Board.

In September 2008 we experienced the financial meltdown, so the RIOC Board was well aware of future financial risk, including the increased possibility that Southtown 7-9 would not be built, yet RIOC "bet the farm" with large expenses in the hopes of Southtown 7-9 being built. In December 2008, we had "elected" members on the RIOC Board, such as Jonathan Kalkin, who were in favor of such excess spending (Mr. Kalkin likes technology). The 2008 Tram upgrade could have spent only $15 million (from the State), but the RIOC Board chose the dual system at an extra cost of $10 million (from RIOC's lump sum payments).

Now let's roll forward to December 31, 2012 when Hudson-Related is supposed to have started building Southtown 7-9, or pay a $1.5 million de-designation fee. The contours of this negotiation are: the developers have RIOC over a barrel because RIOC will be desperate for money (without it RIOC goes bankrupt), RIOC is already in a cash poor situation (because of the extra $10 million spent on the Tram), which puts RIOC in the worst negotiating position -- much of this was understood in September 2008. The possible high-tech center at Goldwater won't significantly help RIOC (City-owned land), RIOC doesn't have $6-8 million in services to sell the universities, and the developers can wait on collaborating with Stanford/Cornell until after the de-designation deadline to maximize their negotiating position against RIOC.

So we keep getting these bad real estate deals where the developers/owners win and the Island loses. Oh there is another deal: Rivercross privatization deal for market rate conversion. The Wall Street Journal's article confirmed prior estimates: apartments would be sold at $500/sq-ft, with $150/sq-ft transfer fee back to the building, i.e., $350/sq-ft profit, which means about $200-400 million profit in the transaction. The RIOC Board determines the ground lease and determines what portion (zero to $350/sq-ft) of those sales come to RIOC, which 4 of 7 appointed directors come from Rivercross.

Former RIOC President Steve Shane has pointed out: those living in Mitchell-Lama buildings have already consumed their benefits via reduced rates, maintenance, ground leases, taxes, etc.. In other words, if you've had a $2000/month benefit for 35 years ($840,000), then you deserve very little of that $350/sq-ft profit and RIOC should have the rest. (Note: These are back of envelope numbers, not actual numbers.) Mr. Shane, while maintaining the State's concerns, got himself fired last year by this unbalanced board with a significant conflict of interest. In follow-up E-mails with RIOC Board Member Margie Smith, Matt Katz, Sherie Helstien, and other Maple Tree Group members just after the firing, Ms. Helstien says on June 30, 2010, "Perhaps I should forget about updating our signage for this coming Fall's plebiscite [election]? Shall we just call off any further voting?". Thus, discussion of cancelling the RIOC Board nominee elections was a result of (1) the Shane firing (now MTG has all their people on the board), (2) MTG legislation that would further restrict the Governor's involvement in RIOC (see full E-mails below).

This matters to all of us because we are all greatly affected by the Island's finances. The issues above are part of the subtext that drives these kinds of disagreements among residents on RIOC and in RIRA.
Click here for the emails referenced by Mr. Farance in next to last paragraph.

Make Sure To Stop When Flashing On The Roosevelt Island Bridge - Do You Get Some New Orleans Style Beads Too?

Has New Orleans Bourbon Street flashing tradition found another home at the Roosevelt Island Bridge?

Roosevelt Island Bridge Stop Flashing Sign

A Roosevelt Island resident exiting the Motorgate Garage on way over the Roosevelt Island Bridge to Queens reports yesterday:
Today, as I was driving around the bend from the garage to leave the island, the bridge was about to open. I was the first car in line when traffic stopped and while I was waiting I realized the absurdity of the sign in the enclosed photos. I wonder what genius or grammarian authorized it...maybe that person was in a college fraternity and thinks he still is?

I wonder if the man walking toward the sign in the second photo was about to flash.

Seriously, I know that the sign was put up by DOT, but can't they do a better job with our tax dollars?


What Type Of Use For Roosevelt Island's 504 Main Street Second Floor Space? Master Leaseholder Hudson Related Considering Freelance Work Space, Child School, Place Of Worship, Gallery RIVAA So Far - Any Suggestions?

Image of 504 Main Street

What's going to happen to the first and second floor of the long vacant 504 Main Street (click here for 360 degree view) on Roosevelt Island. There is a consensus among residents that the first floor should be used as the new home for the Roosevelt Island Public Library. The new Main Street Master Leaseholder, Hudson/Related, has expressed a willingness to rent the first floor of 504 Main Street to the Library, the Library has expressed a desire to rent that space but there is still an open question as to how such a deal will be financed. Estimates have been $10-15 million dollars to build a library at 504.

Image of 504 Main Street

What type of tenant leases the second floor at 504 Main Street is another question and there are competing visions for that space. Among those seeking the second floor space is the Child School, whose Executive Director Sal Fererra is also a recently appointed, and controversial Director of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), the Sub-Landlord to Master Leaseholder Hudson Related. Mr. Fererra has publicly announced his desire to develop an Arts Center for the second floor of 504 Main Street.

Last Friday, a very reliable source reported to me that Mr. Fererra said that the Child School had rented the second floor of 504 Main Street. I sent the following inquiry to Hudson/Related's David Kramer:
It has been reported to me by a very reliable source that Sal Ferrera of the Child School is telling people that the Child School has rented 504 Main Street from Hudson/Related.

Has 504 Main Street been rented to the Child School? If not, is Hudson Related close to renting the first or second floor space to the Child School or anyone else?
Mr. Kramer replied:
... it’s all speculation. We’re talking to Sal, we’re talking to New York Public Library, but it’s all talk so far....
I sent a similar inquiry to the Child School's Mr. Fererra. Mr. Fererra replied:
...we are negotiating the lease. When we agree I will contact you
A question was asked during the Main Street Retail Town Hall Meeting last month about the potential uses for the second floor space at 504 Main Street and how it's use would be consistent with the hoped for Public Library on the first floor. Mr. Kramer indicated that among the uses being considered for the second floor space was:
  • green office/desk/ conference space for freelance workers,
  • the Child School proposal, 
  • a place of worship for the Roosevelt Island Islamic Society and 
  • space for the Gallery RIVAA. 
 Mr. Kramer also indicated that the portion of 504 Main Street occupied by the Roosevelt Island Youth Program is not part of the Master Lease.

Below is video of the question and answer regarding 504 Main Street. (the audio/video is not in perfect synch but you can understand the discussion.)

You Tube Video of Retail Town Hall Meeting discussion of 504 Main Street

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NYPD Officer Answers Questions From Roosevelt Island Residents Association - More Info on Recent Robbery and 9 Arrested For Trespassing and Smoking Marijuana in Roosevelt Landings Stairway

Received the following report from Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department (PSD) Director Keith Guerra regarding these two incidents in response to my inquiry:

Robbery/ Harassment- Subject arrested by PSD (11/05/11).
Incident occurred on 9/15/11 at 6:13pm in the rear of 500 Main Street (East Seawall). Subject arrested was the last of 3 subjects wanted in connection with the above Robbery. The other two had already been apprehended, arrested & charged. Both victims in the original incident sustained injuries.

Trespass- Nine subjects arrested by PSD in Roosevelt Landings (11/06/11).
Incident occurred on 11/06/11 at 3:31pm at 580 Main Street. Resident called about a group smoking Marijuana in the Stairwell. 9 subjects were apprehended. Summonses were issued to those over 16 yrs old. Those under 16 were released to their parents. No injuries.
I am glad RIOC and I were able to resolve how to inform the Roosevelt Island community about providing additional information regarding Public Safety incidents.

During the November Roosevelt Island Residents Association Meeting, the new NYPD officer assigned to Roosevelt Island, Officer Sitaras, spoke and answered questions from RIRA members. Officer Sitaras spoke about his experience as being "old school" and growing up nearby in Queens. He indicated that Public Safety does a good job, that he has a good relationship with PSD and that hopefully he can take care of problems that PSD can't take care of. Officer Sitaris also noted that he has seen some issues with PSD Officers not being respected by some younger people, who may not even live here, and that a PSD officer was run over by a vehicle during a recent car stop. I was later told that the officer is now OK.

In response to one comment from RIRA's Jim Bates (also the President of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association) regarding RIOC and Housing management vehicles driving recklessly on the the street, Officer Sitaris indicated that he will follow up on the matter.

Unfortunately RIRA President Matt Katz ended the question and answer period with Officer Sitaras after only 10 minutes because, in his view, there were other pressing matters for RIRA to discuss. Here is the video of Officer Sitaris speaking at the November RIRA meeting.

You Tube Video of NYPD Officer Addressing RIRA November Meeting

No Late Night F Train Subway Service To Manhattan From Roosevelt Island November 8 Thru 11 - No F Train Weekend Service To Manhattan From Roosevelt Island Either

F Train Arriving At Roosevelt Island Subway Station

Received the following F Train Subway Advisory from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Please be advised that there will be no Manhattan bound F trains from 12:01 AM to 5:00 AM Tuesday, November 8th to Friday November 11th.

Please also note that there will be no Manhattan bound F trains from 12:01 AM to 5:00 AM Saturday, November 12th to Monday, November 14th.

For service, take the Queens - bound F train to Roosevelt Ave and transfer to a Manhattan bound F train.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
According to the MTA:
F Coney Island-bound trains run via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts
Nights, 12:01 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Nov 8 - 11

Trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza.

No Coney Island-bound  service at 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island,
Lexington Av-63 St and 57 St.

What's Happening With Roosevelt Island's Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration - RIOC President Explains The Delay

Image of Good Plaza Shepherd Restoration Work Being Done Last Saturday

A Roosevelt Island resident sent the following message to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Leslie Torres:
I was flabbergasted to see in the "In Briefly" column in the November 5th WIRE that the new completion date for the renovation of Good Shepherd Plaza has been moved 8 months to May of 2012.  I then went to "The RIOC Column" looking for an explanation and expecting apologies to the community for exposing them to 8 more months of inconvenience, dirt and dust.  As you know, there was no word about it there. 

The delay on this project certainly looks like RIOC mismanagement. Don't the residents of Roosevelt Island deserve an explanation?
Ms. Torres responded:
I am sorry you are being inconvenienced by the construction of the plaza and want to assure you that we at RIOC are cognizant of the need to get the plaza completed and fully committed to managing the project to completion.

As you may know, the process for RIOC to undertake any construction project is set by statute. It starts with an RFP (Request For Proposals) from several construction bidders.  Once bids are received the RIOC Board decides on which bid to accept (usually the lowest qualified bidder), while also taking into consideration the requirements that minority and women owned businesses be favored, and a review of the contractor's construction history.  The contractor for the plaza had done work successfully on other island-related projects in the past, including z-brick repairs which is similar to the installation at the plaza.   All of these considerations were fully reviewed by RIOC staff for the plaza project and presented to the Board.

Once the Board decides on a bidder at a public meeting, RIOC staff then enters into a contract with the bidder to complete a project.  For the plaza project, we entered into a contract with the construction company to reconstruct the plaza, install new light fixtures, and install an effective storm drainage system.  The contract provided for a start date of July 7th and completion by October 5th.  Unfortunately the company did not start construction until August due to their employees' vacation schedules, and the initial materials submitted by the contractor for plaza construction being rejected by RIOC's Engineers due to poor quality.  Despite these delays, the contractor assured us that the project would be completed on time.  However, upon starting the project, the company did not provide sufficient qualified manpower to perform the work correctly.  For instance, the contractor installed the trench drains and concrete substrate poorly and such installation was consequently rejected by the RIOC project engineers.  As a result, the contractor's staff was replaced and the trench drains were ripped out and reinstalled correctly, at the contractor's expense.

The project has also experienced certain unforeseen conditions.  For example, upon excavating the site, we discovered that water had been infiltrating the chapel's foundation, causing a deterioration of the foundation. We also found that some of the plaza's concrete substrate had collapsed.  We decided to address these conditions by installing a concrete band around the building perimeter, and to replace the concrete substrate.  These tasks were added to the contractor's scope of work which entitled him to additional time to complete the project.   An additional 36 calendar days were added and the contract completion date was revised to November 10th, a date which will unfortunately not be met.

We also note that since the plaza work is weather sensitive it must be suspended during the winter months.  When the project shuts down for the winter, the entire plaza will be opened to the public except for a small staging area in the north west corner of the plaza.  The contractors will come back in March to compete the North side of the plaza and the sidewalk in the front of plaza.  We also note that the contract has a liquidated damages clause of $200 per calendar day (which in effect means, if the completion date is missed, the contractor is liable to RIOC for $200 penalty for each day the project goes over schedule).  However, the impact on the community use of the plaza will be that the entire plaza will soon be opened for the winter months and then a portion (approximately 1/3 of the plaza) will be closed in the spring.

As you may know, RIOC has worked with many contractors on many projects and some have come in on time and/or early (soccer field) and some have not (the plaza). We considered the possibility of replacing the contractor due to his initial poor performance, but found this would not be cost efficient and would prolong the completion of the plaza project even further.  We too lament that this project has not gone according to its intended time line and we apologize to the community for the delay.

Thank you for your email.

Very truly yours,
Below is the original schedule of work for the Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration Project.

As reported in this July 27 post:
The Roosevelt Island Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration Project is scheduled to begin on Thursday, July 28. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
  • Phase 1 covering the Southern portion of the Plaza will take place from July 28- September 6
  • Phase 2 covering the  Northern portion of the Plaza will take place from September 6 - 23
  • Phase 3 covering the Eastern sidewalk will take place from September 26- October3
I asked RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez what work will be done during these various phases but have not received a response yet. According to RIOC's Request For Proposals for the Good Shepherd Plaza Renovation Project, the scope of work for the project includes:
  • Removal and disposal of existing concrete and brick pavers, light poles and trench drains. 
  • Excavation and disposal for installation of new pavement sub-base. 
  • Installation of new precast concrete unit pavers and concrete curbs and sidewalks 
  • Installation of new trench drains with connection to existing storm drainage system 
  • Relocation of existing planters, benches and signs 
  • Installation of new light poles and extension of existing electrical service
Good Shepherd Plaza as of last Saturday looked like this.

UPDATE 11 PM - Roosevelt Island resident David Bauer asks:
Why would a capable contractor agree to a July 7 start if employees were on vacation in July? How could the basic drainage work have been put in place without being noticed by RIOC inspectors? Based on what RIOC has contracted for, at what point will the $200 per day damages take effect? The project excavation along the Good Shepherd foundations was less than one foot deep; where did the new indications of water infiltration appear that were not evident by an inspection of the interior?

As a side note, it is counter intuitive that in a period of high unemployment a contractor's forces take vacation in the middle of what is the normal peak work period.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Roosevelt Island Community Outreach Basketball Game With Public Safety Department And Youth Program Tuesday November 8, 6 PM - Great Initiative, Come Out And Lend Your Support

Image From RIOC

Received the following message from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Please be advised the PSD/Youth Center Connect Basketball Game for tomorrow, November 8th from 6-8 p.m. has been moved to the Child Legacy High School Gymnasium located at 566 Main Street.

All are welcome to attend.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra reported on last year's game:

Pre Game Pep Talk By Chief Guerra (holding Basketball)To Both Blue & Grey Teams
On Thursday, November 11th, the Public Safety Department and the Youth Center hosted it's 2nd Annual Connect  Basketball Game.  The game was held at the Roosevelt Island Sportspark Complex and featured some of the neighborhood's most talented ball players.  Players from the PSD merged with those from the community to play a very balanced and exciting game.  The Gray team was victorious by a score of 62-59 over the Blue Team....
Roosevelt Island Youth Program Executive Director Charlie DeFino added:

Mr. DeFino Standing On Far Right Next To Chief Guerra
... Once again the Roosevelt Island Youth Program and Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department collaborated by bringing young adults, youth center staff and public safety officers to attend our second special get to know each other basketball game at Sportspark on Thursday November 11th followed by some good old fashioned getting to know each other over refreshments and food provided by RIOC.

This program will be on-going and will evolve to other areas outside of basketball to continue it's mission of "Connecting" the community, public safety and youth center....
Come on out to the Child School Gym Tuesday at 6 PM and cheer on the Roosevelt Island Youth Program and Public Safety Department Basketball players.

More information and pictures from previous Public Safety/Youth Center Connect Basketball games from earlier posts.

Roosevelt Island Tram Manhattan Plaza Station Elevator Out Of Service Until Further Notice Advises RIOC

If you use the Manhattan Tram Plaza elevator to access the Roosevelt Island Tram, you are out of luck for a while. According to this advisory from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

Please be advised the Manhattan Tram Plaza elevator is out of service until further notice.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
UPDATE 11/10 - Received the following update yesterday from RIOC spokesperson:
the main elevator is out of service. Replacement parts have been ordered and repairs will be made as soon as they arrive.

There is another elevator located at the station that people are using.
UPDATE 11/10 - Received the following advisory from RIOC:
Be advised the lift and elevator on the Manhattan side tram is back in service.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
UPDATE 5:10 PM - More here.

Manhattan District Attorney Roosevelt Island Presentation On Criminal Justice System & Arrest To Sentencing Process Wednesday Evening - RIOC Makes It More Difficult To Obtain Timely and Accurate Information About Roosevelt Island Public Safety Incidents

The Manhattan District Attorney's office and Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) will be conducting a joint informational meeting Wednesday November 9 on the:
Criminal Justice System & Arrest To Sentencing Process
 RIOC President Leslie Torres described the event in her last Report to the Community:
...New York County District Attorney's Office Community Meeting

The New York County District Attorney's Office, in partnership with the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department, will be hosting an informative community meeting on the Criminal Justice System and Arrest to Sentencing Process at the Good Shepherd Community Center (546 Main Street) on Wednesday, November 9th from 7pm to 9pm. Attendees will get information on the following:
• The PSD's role in the community and their initiatives
• Why the Manhattan District Attorney's Office has the authority to prosecute and
investigate crimes on Roosevelt Island
• An explanation of the criminal justice process in New York County
• The differences between a violation, misdemeanor and felony
• What is the arrest to sentencing process for adult offenders
• The role of Family Court in the criminal justice system
• The Manhattan District Attorney's new re-entry and juvenile justice initiatives

I encourage you all to come out. Light refreshments will be served....
The meeting will be at the Good Shepherd Community Center from 7-9 PM at 543 Main Street (not 546 Main Street). Among the items on the Agenda is:
The PSD's role in the community and their initiatives 
The Public Safety Department's role in the community, particularly RIOC's method of distributing information regarding their actions is very topical at the moment.

For the past several years, beginning with the approval of former RIOC President Steve Shane, the Public Safety Department would include the Roosevelt Islander Blog on the email distribution list for the daily Public Safety Incident Report which would then be posted on the Blog for the community to be able to view and be aware of. The practice of including this Blog on the email distribution list stopped soon after Mr. Shane's departure.  Mr. Shane's successor,  RIOC President Leslie Torres, promised that instead of my being on the Daily Public Safety report email distribution list she would send me a copy of the report after it was reviewed that same day. That practice did not last long and stopped too.

RIOC does post the daily report on it's web site, though only for that specific day other than weekend reports which generally appear the following Monday. On occasion there are reports on RIOC's web site of an assault, robbery, burglary, fight, shooting or other incident impacting the safety or quality of life for Roosevelt Island residents. When I see those types of incidents I ask RIOC for additional information such as the location and time of day of the incident, was anyone injured, what was stolen and whether Roosevelt Island residents were involved.

I believe information regarding these type of incidents is news and that the Roosevelt Island community should be made aware of these incidents in a timely and accurate manner. I do not ask for, nor publish, any information that would reveal specific identities of those involved or ongoing investigations. As reported in this October 18 post:
... In the past, I could ask Public Safety Director Keith Guerra about a particular incident and in most cases Mr. Guerra would reply promptly with an explanation as to what occurred. That is no longer the case because Mr. Guerra is not permitted to respond to press/blogger inquires. All inquiries regarding Roosevelt Island issues must be funneled through RIOC's Community Relations Office. In consultation with the appropriate RIOC staff, the Community Relations Office will determine if and to what extent a response is provided....
During a subsequent meeting with RIOC President Leslie Torres and RIOC's new lawyer last week, I was advised that from now on neither Mr. Guerra nor the Community Relations Office will respond to press/blogger requests for additional information on Public Safety Report information. Any request from the Roosevelt Island Blog for Public Safety Incident information must be made through a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) filing - a process that could take 2 weeks or longer for RIOC's legal department to review. Just a ridiculous, cover your ass requirement.

The type of information requested is generally available in the Monthly Public Safety Blotter. However, that information is not made public for 6-8 weeks after an incident occurred.

Below is the September Roosevelt Island Public Safety Blotter. Here are how some of those incidents are described:
  • Dog was left unattended in a vehicle with windows slightly opened. Owner was located and advised his dog cannot be left unattended in a vehicle. (outside 425 Main Street, 9/12),
  • Victim advised male subject (contractor) began using profanity towards him telling him and his workers to move out of the way while subject was in a vehicle. Subject then attempted to force victim out of the road with his vehicle. R/O on scene and spoke to subject's employer. All in order. (opposite 100 Main Street/9/19),
  • Bed bug infestation at residence. Tenant was placing items in the hallway. Tenant advised to cease. Condition is being treated. (580 Main Street/9/21),
  • Victim stated unknown male approached her and asked if he could urinate in front of her. Search of area for subject yielded negative results. (686 Main Street, 9/4),
  • Victim advised on a previous date an unknown male seemed to be following her at various locations island wide. Victim was advised to report any future incidents right away and was provided with PSD phone number. (10 River Road to 455 Main Street, 9/8),
  • Three male subjects observed taking pictures of bridge and power plant. NYPD on scene to run an identification check. All in order. NYPD advised subjects to delete the pictures. Subjects were released. (500 Main Street, 9/10),
  • Reporter advised three unknown individuals were loitering in hallway of location making a hand to hand exchange. Upon arrival subjects were not on scene. Search of area for subjects yielded negative results. (595 Main Street, 9/11),
  • Report of suspicious male looking into vehicles at location. Search of area yielded negative results for subject. (688 Main Street, 9/20),
  • Male observed in hallway and upon being seen fled to the stairwell. Search of area yielded negative results. Male left behind a small bag of marijuana, a lighter and a rolled up cigar. (560 Main Street, 9/29),
  • ARREST Male subject observed at location unlawfully. Upon search of subject one bag of marijuana, a screwdriver, two GPS Systems and several metro cards were in his possession. Subject was transported to 114 Pct for arrest processing. (546 Main Street,9/10)
  • ARREST Male subject observed attempting to conceal illegal substance. Subject was taken into custody for possession of marijuana and transported to the 114 Pct for arrest processing. (500 Main Street, 9/12)
  • ARREST Female subject taken into custody after being seen involved in sexual misconduct with a male youth. Subject transported to 114 Precinct for arrest processing. Youth's parent notified and on scene. (888 Main Street, 9/26)
  • Victim advised two male subjects forcibly took her handbag from her. Handbag contained $600 in cash and various forms of ID. Victim found handbag in stairwell with all contents except for cash. Search of area for subjects yielded negative results. NYPD on scene for report. (540 Main Street, 9/11)
  • ARREST Male and female victim assaulted and robbed by three male subjects known to victim. Both victim's sustained injuries and treated by EMS. NYPD on scene for report. Search of area for subjects yielded negative results. Ongoing investigation. Update - 9/17/11 Three male subjects arrested by PSD Officers in connection with robbery of 9/15/11 and transported to Manhattan Central Booking for arrest processing. (500 Main Street, 9/15) and
  • Victim advised three males approached her and attempted to take her Iphone. Victim resisted and one male subject grabbed her by the shoulders and took her headphones. Search of area for subjects yielded negative results. NYPD notified. (888 Main Street, 9/23)
There is no valid reason why the type of specificity in the Monthly Blotter cannot be provided in the Daily Public Safety Report. After all, as Ms. Torres reported in her recent Community Report, RIOC recently won an award;
... given by the State Chief Information Officer and Office for Technology (CIO/OFT) in recognition of a state or local government entity that has demonstrated innovative use of web 2.0 technology to advance their organizations core mission, serve citizens and foster open government and civic engagement.

Communicating and exchanging ideas with the Roosevelt Island community is a top priority for us...
Let's see RIOC's commitment to open government and communicating to the Roosevelt Island community applied to the Public Safety Reports and not hide behind bureaucratic cover your ass legalisms.

I have had several long discussion with senior RIOC staff about this issue. I still hope to resolve this issue so that the Roosevelt Island community is informed about Public Safety Incidents in a timely and accurate manner.
RIOC September Public Safety Blotter

UPDATE 5:15 PM -Was advised today during a phone conversation with RIOC President Leslie Torres and a subsequent email from a RIOC spokesperson that:
In response to your request for additional Public Safety Report information, RIOC will provide the time, location, and information about whether or not someone was injured.

... RIOC will generally not comment further.
For the most part, I think that is fair. More information is better but let's see how it works out.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Interested In Becoming A Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Board Of Director? - Find Out How and What It Entails At Question and Answer Session Monday Night 7:30 PM At Westview Lower Community Room

Are you interested in serving your community by becoming a Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Board Director (RIOC). If so, you should attend the Question and Answer session for potential RIOC Board nominees that will take place in the Westview lower community room (625 Main) at 7:30 p.m. this coming Monday, November 7.

The purpose of the Q and A is to provide interested residents with information about the Board's role and responsibilities, the nitty-gritty of service, the requirements (U.S. citizen, 25 years or older, Island resident for at least 6 months), the NY State vetting process, campaigning, and whatever else you may want to know.

Current and former elected RIOC Board members will be there to explain what the position entails and answer your questions.

The election is on Tuesday, February 7, 2012. The deadline for nominations (notarized) and petitions (50 signatures of Island residents 18 years or older) is January 22, 2012.

Click here for more information.