Saturday, December 17, 2011

Be Very Careful - Con Ed Reports Stray Voltage Coming From Roosevelt Island Street Lights and Parking Meters Between Tram And Subway -Southeast Corner of 405 Main Street Too Advises RIOC

You Tube Video of Con Ed Search For Stray Voltage

Just received this advisory from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
We have been informed by Con Edison of stray voltages coming out of the street lights and parking meters at the following locations. West Side between the subway and the tram roadway, and southeast corner of Building 6, 405 Main Street. Con Edison and RIOC personal have the areas conned off and secure and are currently working to correct the situation.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
More on Stray Voltage from Con Ed and these previous posts.

UPDATE 12/18 - According to RIOC:
Con edison has temporarily disconnected several lights on the Westdrive between Riverwalk buildings 405 and 425. RIOC has placed emergency generator lights at this location until the street lights are fully restored.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stanford University Has Withdrawn Its Application To The City Of New York To Construct An Applied Sciences And Engineering Campus On Roosevelt Island.

Just received this breaking news from Stanford University:

Stanford University withdraws its bid for a NYC campus

Stanford University has withdrawn its application to the city of New York to construct an applied sciences and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island.

After several weeks of negotiations with New York City, university leaders and the Stanford Board of Trustees have determined that it would not be in the best interests of the university to continue to pursue the opportunity.

"I applaud the mayor's bold vision for this transformative project and wish the city well in turning that vision into a reality," said Stanford President John Hennessy. "Stanford was very excited to participate in the competition, and we were honored to be selected as a finalist. We were looking forward to an innovative partnership with the city of New York, and we are sorry that together we could not find a way to realize our mutual goals.

"Stanford put forward an ambitious and serious proposal and worked hard to see that vision fulfilled," Hennessy said. In the end, Hennessy said, the university could not be certain that it could proceed in a way that ensured the success of the campus. He said that the university decided to withdraw so that the city can move forward with its selection process and meet its tight timelines for the completion of the project.

"I appreciate the tremendous effort put forth at all levels of the university and the city. We are grateful for the enthusiastic support of the tech community both in New York and in Silicon Valley, the efforts of our alumni and the welcome we received throughout New York and from residents of Roosevelt Island in particular," Hennessy said. "We gained through this process a fruitful partnership with our colleagues at the City College of New York, a partnership that will strengthen both of our programs and will continue to benefit New York City students for many years to come.

"We learned much from this process and know there will be exciting opportunities in the future to explore the issues that were at the forefront of this effort—the challenge of expanding our ability to deliver Stanford's high-quality education to more outstanding students," Hennessy said. "Great universities need to continue to take risks, to innovate and to explore new opportunities where we can make contributions to supporting economic growth and expanding knowledge.  Stanford will continue to follow this path."
No further information available at this time. This is very disappointing news.

More information on the NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School from previous posts.

UPDATE 5 PM - The Stanford Daily reports:
... Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said that negotiations between the University and New York were still ongoing as of this morning....
In a speech at MIT in late November, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called both Stanford and Cornell “desperate” for the NYC campus and added that the city would “go back and try to renegotiate with each one.”
The NY Times City Room Blog adds:
... Stanford officials were frustrated by the city’s attempts to negotiate new terms after the university submitted its proposal in October, according to people briefed on the matter, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal private discussions....
Cornell Tech NYC Tweets:
BREAKING: Cornell receives $350 million dollar gift from anonymous donor to support #appscinyc bid - largest in Univ. history!
The NY Times City Room Blog adds:
New York City’s contest to build a science graduate school took a startling turn on Friday, as Cornell University announced that it had received a $350 million gift, the largest in its history, to help pay for a new campus on Roosevelt Island, moments after Stanford University, the other leading contender, dropped its bid, partly because Cornell had taken the lead in fund-raising....
Roosevelt Island elected officials NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin and NY State Assembly Member Micah Kellner issued the following statement:
With today’s news that Stanford is withdrawing its bid, we urge the city to choose Cornell University to build an applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island. It’s exciting to have a hometown school take the lead in our city’s economic future. Not only is Cornell a world-class academic institution, but it chose the perfect location for the school on Roosevelt Island.
UPDATE 12/17:- According to the NY Daily News:
... talks between the city and Stanford broke down in recent weeks after university officials refused to sweeten their proposal, sources close to the talks said. A deal could be announced as soon as next week.

“It was getting down to the very end of the negotiations, where the city is trying to get the best deal it can, and Cornell was offering a better deal in terms of money, in terms of other commitments . . . and Stanford couldn’t keep up,” said a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

Stanford officials hold a starkly different view of the dealings.

After submitting an ambitious plan for a $2.5 billion campus on Roosevelt Island, Stanford was taken aback by the city’s “unexpected” and “unreasonable” demands, sources said.

In a series of tense talks, a source said, city officials asked Stanford reps to agree to: move forward even if the $100 million in promised public funding dries up, sustain penalties for project delays — even those caused by the city — and indemnify the city against any costs associated with environmental problems on Roosevelt Island.

“They feel it was a bait-and-switch,” said a source familiar with Stanford’s thinking....
UPDATE 12/18 - Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the MIT Entrepreneurial Center Tweets:
 Stanford withdraws bid for NYC Roosevelt Island Campus - that is a surpise after Mayor's comments here 2 wks ago
The NY Post reports that environmental conditions on the Roosevelt Island Goldwater Hospital site may have played a part in Stanford's withdrawal. According to the NY Post:
... The nation’s No. 2 engineering school was outbid by Cornell, which was willing to pay more to build on a Roosevelt Island site that required toxic cleanup. Stanford, meanwhile refused to agree to a bill for remediation that wasn’t capped, sources said....

... “Cornell was willing to agree to everything and anything,” one source said. “Stanford was a much tougher negotiator, and they and the EDC [the city’s Economic Development Corp.] just couldn’t get on the same page on a number of issues.”...

... Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin told The Post last night, “There was a level of risk and liability involved that our attorney and board could not agree to.’’...
UPDATE 9:50 PM -The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on Stanford withdrawing its proposal under the headline:
Stanford's Dream of 'Silicon Valley II' Dissolves Into Angry Recriminations
According to the article:
... Now come the recriminations: Did Stanford pull out because it took on bit off more than it could handle and didn't want to face an embarrassing loss? Or did New York City pull a bait-and-switch on an unsuspecting partner?

Neither side is saying much publicly. But through intermediaries, both sides are letting it be known that they're deeply unhappy and puzzled after more than a year of high-stakes lobbying and negotiating over what once loomed as a prestigious opportunity for a front-line research base in one of the world's showcase cities....
... Over the weekend, sources sympathetic to each side sketched out for The Chronicle largely competing versions of events in the final days before Stanford's withdrawal.

New York City officials, speaking on condition they not be identified by name, essentially questioned Stanford's commitment. The New York Times had described one such official speaking in especially disparaging terms, saying Stanford "could not or would not keep up."

Stanford officials regard such comments as political spin, said one person familiar with the university's position. Stanford was fully committed to its application, the person said, but the city kept backing off its promises. One especially troublesome failure, the person said, involved the city's unkept promise to fully assess the extent of contamination from medical waste dumped at the proposed site on the southern end of Roosevelt Island.

The city instead demanded Stanford accept full liability for any problems from whatever waste is there, the person said. The city also demanded contract language requiring Stanford to stick with the project even if the city doesn't come up with the $100-million contribution it had been offering, the person said.

A New York City official disputed Stanford's understanding on each of those key points. The official, who declined to be identified by name, said a study of the proposed site found no contamination, medical or otherwise.

The city also made clear the $100-million was merely the outside range of what it might provide, not a guarantee, and that universities were expected to compete on the amount they would contribute to the project, the official said...

... Cornell's president, David J. Skorton, and a university spokesman, Thomas W. Bruce, sidestepped several questions about the dispute, giving no firm indication of whether the university also would accept full liability for any toxic waste that might be found at the Roosevelt Island site or whether it would accept the plan without any guarantee of $100-million in city money....
The Applied Sciences Facility In New York City July 19, 2011 Request For Proposals had this to say about hazardous materials at the Roosevelt Island Goldwater Hospital campus site (Page 52):
Haz Mats
AKRF performed a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment at the RI Site in order to identify contamination issues that could affect future development (see Site File for Phase I). Initial analysis indicates that there may be lead in the topsoil on the RI Site and that the buildings will require lead and asbestos abatement. NYCEDC has commissioned Phase II testing on the RI Site, the results of which will be released in August 2011.
UPDATE 11:55 PM - Cornell wins. Will build school on Roosevelt Island.

Syfy Channel Haunted Collector Reality TV Program Looking For Your Roosevelt Island Haunted Ghost And Paranormal Experiences - Care To Share Your Octagon, Smallpox Hospital or Anyplace Else On Roosevelt Island Ghost Stories?

 Image  of Ghostly Acitivity At Subway Pier? From Tatiana Muzica

Reported previously of haunted and ghostly activity experienced by some on Roosevelt Island. According to Ghost Stories and Haunted Places:
... In addition to the horrible asylum and prison that marred blackwell island, the island was also the site of a Smallbox Hospital, which housed small pox patients from 1856 until 1886.   The intense suffering that went on in this building added to it's ruined state have built numerous rumors about it's ghostly activity...
... These two facilities are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Blackwell, later turned Welfare, later turned Roosevelt Island's dark history, but these facilities ruins are the most notoriously haunted.    The Octagon has been renovated and turned into an apartment building. The residents of the building have reported numerous unexplainable incidents.  Ghost hunters have taken pictures of ghosts lurking in the hallways of this building and even the pets refuse to walk up the stairs of this once "human rat-trap"

I was lucky enough to visit my aunt on this island last year.  She lives in one the large high rises that have consumed the once forlorn landscape of this island.  She reports that she felt ill at ease when she visited the octagon and that it's atmosphere conveyed a sense of old sorrow....
Have you had experiences being haunted by ghosts or any type of paranormal activity on Roosevelt island? Is so, folks at the Syfy Channel's reality TV program Haunted Collector would love to speak with you about your story and sent me the following message:
I'd actually love to hear about stories anywhere on Roosevelt Island!


A world-renowned paranormal investigator may be able to help, and your case could be documented on a hit reality show.

Please detail the threatening phenomena, the location (home, business, or other), and any relevant history. Please include your location, name, and contact information. If possible, please also include photos of yourself and the location. Submissions should be sent to:
So, if you have a haunted story to tell, share it with the folks at Haunted Collector and the rest of us on Roosevelt Island as well.

Here's a small snippet from Haunted Collector

and a visit to Roosevelt Island from another Ghost Hunter.

You Tube Video Of Ghost Hunter Visits Roosevelt Island Small Pox Hospital (Part 1)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

PBS Newshour Visits Roosevelt Island To Consider Whether Higher Or Lower Historical Federal Tax Rates Impact Economic Growth

 Image of PBS Newhour Interview on Roosevelt Island from PBS

The PBS Newshour program recently visited Roosevelt Island to illustrate a segment on whether federal tax rates have historically impacted economic growth. While traveling to Roosevelt Island on the Tram to a spot in Southtown right across from the FDR Drive, the Newshour  reporter Paul Solomon interviewed Columbia Law School Tax Professor Alex Raskolnikov about President Franklin D. Roosevelt's tax policy during the Great Depression. Here's an excerpt of the conversation that took place on Roosevelt Island.
...ALEX RASKOLNIKOV: There were many factors going into Depression. Tax policy was only one of them, so it's hard to know.

PAUL SOLMAN: Many factors, the vexing problem with trying to pin economic growth on tax rates, as the raised rates of President Roosevelt make clear. We airlifted to an island named after him across New York's East River.

So, next stop, Roosevelt Island, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive over there. What happens under Roosevelt?

ALEX RASKOLNIKOV: Two big things happen under Roosevelt. One, the top marginal rates increase even more. They go up all the way to 94 percent, very high top marginal rates.

And, two, the income tax, our income tax, changes from a class tax to a mass tax. The percentage of potential taxpayers who are actually paying taxes goes from just 6 percent to 34 percent. So now it's around 50 percent.

PAUL SOLMAN: Why was there suddenly a need for so much revenue?

ALEX RASKOLNIKOV: Revenue was needed to fund The New Deal, to build public projects like the FDR Drive and highways and dams and public works.

PAUL SOLMAN: And the rich mainly paid for them.

ALEX RASKOLNIKOV: Not only the marginal rates were very high. Average rates for the top 1 percent of income earners went from 20 percent to 40 percent, one year to 60 percent. So this is a very high average rate.

FORMER PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT: You may have heard that I was driving the nation into bankruptcy, and that I breakfasted every morning on a dish of grilled millionaire.


PAUL SOLMAN: Conceivably, high taxes on the rich prolonged the Great Depression, but, then, how to explain the postwar boom, right through the Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower, when the top marginal rate remained in the 90s? And when President Kennedy cut the top rate, growth didn't exactly soar.

President Reagan? Cut rates drastically, as advisers like Arthur Laffer urged.

ALEX RASKOLNIKOV: Two big tax cuts, one in '81 and another one in '86. The top rate came down from 50 percent to 28 percent, and that's the lowest it's been since Andrew Mellon.

PAUL SOLMAN: What was the rationale for that?

ALEX RASKOLNIKOV: That if you cut taxes, you will stimulate growth and that growth will trickle down from the top all the way to the bottom of the income distribution.

PAUL SOLMAN: And what happened?

ALEX RASKOLNIKOV: Not a whole lot of trickling down.

PAUL SOLMAN: So does that refute the notion that, if you cut taxes, you stimulate growth?

ALEX RASKOLNIKOV: It's not exactly clear, but -- but there's no strong support for the proposition that trickle-down works....
Click here for the entire text of the interview.

Here the entire PBS Newshour segment.

You Tube Video of PBS Newhour visit to Roosevelt Island to Explain Tax History

Roosevelt Island Food Vans, Finances, Motorgate Parking, Access To Information Among Items Discussed During RIOC Board Public Session Last Night - Child School Director Reports On Student's Gun Threat This Week

The Public Session that is held before the start of every Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Of Directors meeting was very interesting last night. Here's what happened.

Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) President Judy Berdy thanked RIOC and it's engineering department for restoring and opening to the public once again most of Good Shepherd Plaza and urging that the Good Shepherd Roof be replaced with a slate roof.

You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 1)

Nonno's Focacceria and Riverwalk Bar & Grill owner Alphonse DiCioccio then expressed objections to mobile food vendors, such as the recent Luke's Lobster and the Domino's Pizza car at the Farmers Market, being allowed to sell food on Roosevelt Island asserting that it was unfair to existing store owners who pay rent. This issue will be addressed at the next Real Estate Committee meeting to be held in a few weeks.

You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 2)

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance followed and asked these question concerning RIOC's finances which he has written about at these previous posts.

You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 3)

Mr. Farance's written text follows:
December 14, 2011

Good Evening Mr. Chairman, Board Members, Madam President, and Staff

I am very concerned about RIOC's finances.  At present it appears that RIOC owes approximately one billion dollars in debt and liability.  Board Member Mr. Polivy, as Audit Committee Chair, has stated that RIOC does not plan on paying this down, and Mr. Polivy rationalizes why this debt/liability should not be on RIOC audited financials.

This really doesn't seem right.  There will be 20 billion dollars owed in 2068.  However, this can affect current residents now because of uncertainty about RIOC's paying back the money owed.

I've asked several questions, I will ask them again.

(1) When your Board Chairman and CEO signs a document on behalf of the Corporation that enshrines certain amounts owed as debt/liability, a defined interest rate, a schedule of payback priorities, and a method of payment, how does that signing transaction NOT show up on your audited financials?

(2) What policies does the board have for choosing which debts and liabilities show up (or not) on audited financials?

(3) What other RIOC debts and liabilities are not listed in RIOC's audited financials?

(4) Mr. Polivy states "When deducting all capital expenditures there are no expected excess funds to be shared through to 2068".  Based upon the that statement, it is fair to say that, although the RAA1988 identified several priorities in revenue allocation and a UDC Account for depositing these revenues, it is the RIOC Board's position that it has no intent to pay back this debt/liability, right?

(5) Mr. Polivy states "RIOC's annual budget and financial statements properly restrict themselves to its own direct receipts, expenses, assets, and liabilities", but this RIOC debt/liability and revenue allocation, were signed by RIOC's Board Chairman and CEO.  Under which financial documents would we expect to find this RIOC debt/liability if not its audited financials?

(6) Mr. Polivy states "So, bottom line, there’s no big groundswell of debt piling up ready to swallow up the Island".  I've cited the provisions that point to the continued growth with interest.  Considering that the RIOC Board does not intend to make payments towards these debts/liabilities through 2068, yet there is a well-defined interest rate on the unpaid debt/liabilities, I ask: Can you point to a provision in the document that stops the accrual of interest on the debt/liability?  (Without citing that provision, the debt will be piling up, i.e., about $20 billion by 2068.)

(7) Can you state, in writing, that Roosevelt Island residents (now and in the future) will never be responsible for paying directly/indirectly on this debt/liability?  If RIOC can assure us this will never affect us (in higher ground leases, rents, transfer fees, profit sharing, flip taxes, PILOT/tax payments, assessments, etc.), then it should stay so.  I'm guessing that RIOC cannot assert that we will never have to pay for this debt/liability.
RIOC Chair Darryl Towns responded to Mr. Farance that RIOC CFO Steve Chironis will look over the questions and get back to Mr. Farance with answers. Later in the RIOC Board Meeting during the Audit Committee Report, RIOC Director Howard Polivy also indicated that Mr. Farance's questions would be answered.

RIRA President Matt Katz spoke about the saving of the Roosevelt Island Post Office, RIRA sponsored RIOC Board of Directors Nominee elections and improving communications between the RIOC Board members and the community.

You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part4)

Roosevelt Island resident Trevre Andrews spoke about the Motorgate Garage, Motorcycle Parking, Public Access To RIOC Information, Mobile Food Vans and appreciation for good things RIOC does.

You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 5)

Mr. Andrews provided these notes of his remarks:
I would like RIOC to seriously consider the following comments about their operations:

I am advocating for a more open information policy.  While I believe RIOC has made strides is providing data I believe more could be done including:

-The regular release of red bus and tram ridership data
-the regular release of detailed psd data

While I don't fully understand the interaction of RIOC and the motorgate operators it seems RIOC has some leverage of its operations.  The following problems exist at motorgate:

-restriping of the garage is controversial and does not improve the facility
-pricing of the garage is not optimizing the usage of space at motorgate, particularly motorcycle and short term parking.
-there are significant amounts of underutilized curb space at the island which could be used by motorcycles with little effort.

Many residents are concerned with the impact the Hudson lease will have on the farmers market and the ability of food carts to operate on the island.  We are also unhappy with the pace at which storefronts are being filled.  The agreed upon schedule was embarrassing and RIOC should apply pressure to speed up the schedule.

The recent handling of the food cart visiting the island was unacceptable.

There are still bicycle signs up indicating no overnight parking.

The implementation of the smart parking has been to slow and to expensive with little benefit.

What is the status of compensation for the tram construction delays?
Also, Brice Peyre from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's office spoke about the Roosevelt Island Post Office being saved from closing though I do not have video of that.

During the RIOC Board Meeting, RIOC Director and Child School Executive Director Sal Ferrara described some of the events that occurred last Tuesday involving the massive NYPD and Public Safety Department response to the possibility that a Child School student possessed a gun and threatened to use it.

You Tube Video Of RIOC/Child School Director Responding to Gun Threat Incident

Following the RIOC Board meeting, Mr. Ferarra explicitly denied that the student had a gun while on Roosevelt Island before his arrest by NYPD.

The December RIOC Board meeting itself was mostly taken up with approving the 2012 -13 Budget, contracts  for gasoline and oil, a RIOC Mission Statement, dates for future Board Meetings, Z Brick purchase allocations and a resolution facilitating 1/2 million dollar Federal Government Funding to the FDR Four Freedoms Park.

A web cast of the RIOC Board meeting will be available within a few days after the meeting.

You can sign up to speak at the next RIOC Board Meeting Public Session here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Roosevelt Island Good Shepherd Plaza Opened For The Most Part - Here's A Tour

The Roosevelt Island Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration Project has completed about 2/3 of the work and today the eastern sidewalk

and  southern portion of the Plaza are open to the public.

During the November 28 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Committee meeting (audio webcast here), RIOC VP Of Operations Fernando Martinez reported on causes for delay in the Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration Project including drainage installation problems by the contractor that were corrected and weather delays.

Also discussed was the replacement of the Good Shepherd roof - whether the roof will be a slate roof as was it's original condition or some other less expensive material such as fake slate or asphalt.

Here is the Operations Committee discussion on subject.

You Tube Video Of Ops Committee Discussion of Good Plaza Restoration Project

Mr. Fernandez took me on a tour of the Plaza recently and discussed the restoration project

You Tube Video of Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration Tour

including the possibility of moving the Farmers Market to Good Shepherd Plaza.

Work on the northern portion of the Plaza will stop for the winter and start in the Spring.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Of Directors Meeting Today 5:30 PM At 8 River Road - Approval Of 2012 -13 Budget Among Items On The Agenda

 Image of September 2011 RIOC Board Of Directors Meeting

Below is the Agenda for today's Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors Meeting.


DECEMBER 14, 2011
5:30 P.M.

I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call
III. Approval of Minutes
1. September 21, 2011 Board Meeting (Board Action Required)
IV. Old Business
V. New Business
1.  Approval of the Proposed RIOC Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13 (Board Action Required)

      2.  Presentation of the FY 2011-2012 QTR 2 Procurement Report
      3.  2012 Meetings of the Roosevelt Island Operation Corporation Board of Directors (Board Action Required)
      4.  Authorization to Amend the Corporation Mission Statement (Board Action Required)
      5.  Authorization to Enter into Contract with Sprague Energy Corporation to Purchase Gasoline (Board Action Required)
     6.   Authorization to Enter into Contract with Metro Fuel Oil Corporation to Purchase Biodiesel Fuel (Board Action Required)
     7.   Authorization to Amend Contract with Steve DiSisto General Contractors, Inc. for Resetting Z-brick Pavers (Board Action Required)
      8.  Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park Project: Authorization to Implement and Fund in the First Instance 100% of the Federal-aid and State "Marchiselli" Program-aid Eligible Costs of a Transportation Federal-aid Project, and  Appropriate Funds Therefore (Board Action Required)
      9.  President�s Report
    10.  Committee Reports
            a. Audit Committee
            b. Governance Committee
            c. Operations Advisory Committee
            d. Real Estate Development Advisory Committee
11.  Public Safety
VI. Adjournment
The RIOC Board Meeting will commence following a public comment period, which is not a part of the RIOC Board Meeting. 
A web cast of the RIOC Board meeting will be available within a few days after the meeting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Roosevelt Island Post Office Saved - Will Not Be Closed Down Reports Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

Image of August 18 2011 Roosevelt Island Post Office Protest Rally (Congresswoman Maloney at Podium)

Received the following statement from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's office:

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney today announced that the New York District of the United States Postal Service (USPS) has removed the Roosevelt Island Station post office from the Postal Service’s discontinuance list.  She received the notice today from the USPS’ headquarters in Washington, DC, which wrote to her office, “The New York District has removed the Roosevelt Island Station from the Post Office discontinuance list.  After careful evaluation of the data, it was determined that it would not be feasible to close the office at this time.”

This summer, the USPS revealed that it was studying the possibility of closing Roosevelt Island Station and moving the services provided to postal customers on the Island to other post offices. Islanders responded to the possible closure with an outpouring of support.  All of the local elected officials representing Roosevelt Island – Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, NYS Senator José Serrano, NYS Assembly Member Micah Kellner, and City Council Member Jessica Lappin – issued a letter opposing the closure (see below), and thousands of residents signed petitions which Congresswoman Maloney delivered to the Postmaster. 

“Roosevelt Island’s residents, businesses, and community and government leaders knew all along that Roosevelt Island Station provides critical services to the growing community on the Island, but we had to send that message special delivery to the Postal Service.  This summer, USPS officials began making a list – but thankfully, they checked it twice, and took Roosevelt Island Station off the chopping block!” said Congresswoman Maloney.

“I thank the Postal Service for hearing our concerns and keeping this important local institution of the federal government open for business.  Above all, I’d like to thank the countless residents and business owners of Roosevelt Island who organized effectively and outspokenly in the finest tradition of the Island. This win is a tribute to them and the entire community.”
More information on threat of Roosevelt Island Post Office closing and protests at previous posts.

UPDATE 7 PM - Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Leslie Torres adds:
I was very happy to learn that Congresswoman Maloney was able to persuade the United States Postal Service (USPS) to keep the Roosevelt Island Station post office open and remove the site from the discontinuance list.  The post office represents a key Island service, especially for the elderly and disabled residents that use the station for their everyday postal needs.

Roosevelt Island Versus South Street Seaport In Curbed Neighborhood Of The Year Contest - Cast Your Vote For Roosevelt Island But Please Only Vote Once This Year

Roosevelt Island is up against the South Street Seaport in the first round for the 2011 Curbed Neighborhood of the Year Contest.

Click here to cast your vote for Roosevelt Island but please only vote once this year.

NYPD Police Activity This Morning On Roosevelt Island - Reports of As Many As 25 Police Cars Involved

I have received reports this morning of ongoing police activity in the area of Roosevelt Island's Motorgate Turnaround/ 2-4 River Road and PS/IS 217. One report has as many as 25 police cars on scene.

Received this advisory from RIOC at 10:15 AM
Due to a police investigation, traffic has been disrupted/delayed and will be resume to normal as soon as possible.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Have not received a reply yet as to what is happening.  Will report back when I can confirm what is going on.

UPDATE 1:20 PM -  Just received this update from RIOC:
At 8:55 AM, the Public Safety Department was notified by the Child Legacy High School that one of their students had made a statement regarding possessing a gun. The 18 year-old student fled the school. A search ensued between PSD and the NYPD. Subsequent to the search, Officers were dispatched to the Tram, the Subway and the ramp to the bridge. Unfortunately, this activity caused traffic congestion. The student was apprehended safely and transported to the 114th Precinct. He was not found in possession of a gun, and was cooperative during the apprehension. Further questions should be directed to the 114th Precinct.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
UPDATE 2:30 PM - A resident reports:
It looked like Obama's visit: police cars, fire trucks, ambulance and a helicopter. I hope children will think twice next time before doing something stupid.
Update 1/17/12 - More here including denial by Child School that a gun was involved thought some reports claim otherwise.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Roosevelt Island Doctor Jack Resnick On Keeping and Treating Patients At Home - Improves Quality Of Care, Saves Lives and Reduces Costs, Urges Support For Independence At Home Initiative

Image of Dr. Resnick From Independence at Home via Sevenload

Roosevelt Island's Doctor Jack Resnick has been a long time champion of treating patients at home. Doctor Resnick published this op-ed in the December 4 NY Times headlined "Bring Health Care Home" Here's a longer version of the article from Dr. Resnick:
Why Won’t Hospitals Let Doctors Fix Healthcare?

I practice general internal medicine on Roosevelt Island, a unique community in the East River that had been, until 1971, Welfare Island. Many of my patients are homebound. They live in 50 apartments specially designed to accommodate people who had spent years as inpatients at Coler and Goldwater Hospitals, two chronic disease facilities on Roosevelt Island.

This homebound population has taught me what is wrong with the health care system.

Vinny was a 48 year old man who became a quadriplegic after being shot during a robbery in the hardware store he had owned and operated for many years. When he called me with high fevers, shaking chills and dropping blood pressure, I told him I was going to call an ambulance to take him to the hospital. He begged me not to do that. We argued back and forth, but he finally relented and I admitted him to the hospital. We successfully brought his urinary tract infection under control, and he survived the crisis. But he didn’t survive the hospitalization. There wasn’t sufficient staff in the hospital to turn him every two hours as was done routinely at home by aides. A bedsore developed, the wound got infected with a bacterium that breeds in hospitals and is resistant to almost all antibiotics. It killed him. Ever since then, I have struggled to keep my frail, elderly and disabled homebound patients out of the hospital.

It’s not easy. The healthcare system battles me every step of the way. The City’s ambulances insist on taking people to the nearest emergency room, not to the one where their own doctor is on staff. The State’s laws make it difficult to administer simple treatments in the home. Emergency rooms want to admit patients rather than send them home. Hospitals want to discharge people to nursing homes, not to the community.

Luba, 83, had emigrated from Russia in the early 1990s.Her arthritis kept her from moving around much, but she loved to talk about her career as a rocket scientist; working on weather rockets, not military ones. One day, a well-intentioned neighbor dropped by and, when she found Luba feverish and dehydrated from diarrhea, she called 911. After that, Luba disappeared. It took me two months to track Luba down to the nursing home to which the hospital had transferred her.

Luba, like many elderly people, became confused and disoriented when she got sick. This delirium, a condition that can improve when the underlying condition is removed, looks very much like dementia, a permanent change in a person’s brain. The staffs at the hospital and the nursing home had assumed that Luba was a demented old lady. They had sent her to live out her days in an institution, where her engagement with the world ended and her life would have been shorter. And she would have cost Medicare and Medicaid a great deal of money. Fortunately, when I arrived at the nursing home, Luba recognized me. I had to fight the bureaucracy for several months to get Luba home. But ultimately Luba’s personality and intelligence returned in full. It was crucial that I knew Luba and her mental status well, that I could differentiate hospital-imposed delerium from permament dementia. Being in familiar surroundings with well-known attendants, friends and family keep people well, sane, and happy.

Ruth was 93 when I became her doctor. Dementia had set in several years earlier and, like most people in their 90's, her blood sugar and blood pressure were a little high. A cardiologist had put her on three blood pressure medications, two drugs to lower her cholesterol and a daily aspirin. An endocrinologist was trying to control her blood sugar “tightly” with three diabetic pills. A neurologist prescribed two drugs for her dementia, a sleeping pill and two antidepressants. Each of these three assumed that her decrease in her energy and increasing fatigue could be ascribed to the problems they were treating. None of them spoke to any of the others. When I met Ruth, it seemed likely that much of her problem was overmedication. I cut her down to three drugs from her previous fifteen and, three weeks later, she was back in action.

The mantra of American healthcare is "more is better," more medications, more specialists, more tests. We have built enormous institutions -- hospitals, health systems, insurers, the drug industry -- and, like any institution, their primary mission is their own growth and survival. For forty years we have been asking these systems to rein in their growth before they choke the rest of the economy. They have given us health maintenance organizations, integrated delivery systems, case managers and, coming soon, accountable care organizations. None of these changes has or is likely to work. It's simply not in the nature of institutions to find ways to shrink.

Our healthcare institutions provide fine products and services. They work hard to convince us to use too many of them even when that’s not in our own best interests. We need to give the job of controlling health care to someone else.

In 2010 the American Academy of House Call Physicians successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Independence at Home Act (IAH).

IAH allows physicians to create organizations that will improve the care of the country’s sickest people - - the homebound, nursing-home eligible segment of the population -- while also decreasing its cost. It is scheduled for implementation January 1, 2012.

Independence at Home Organizations are founded on two underlying principles.

First, each patient must have a personal physician who knows him intimately and is available 24/7. Secondly, these people should be cared for in their homes -- not in offices, hospitals or nursing homes - - whenever possible. This change of the locus of care will dramatically decrease the infections, mistakes, deconditioning and delirium which are the inevitable attendants of institutional care.

Unlike other components of the Federal health care reform, the IAH approach has a long and dramatically successful track record. Hundreds of programs across the country have been providing care in the home to our frailest patients for decades. The largest of these programs is the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Home Based Primary Care Program. In existence for 30 years, the program serves tens of thousands of veterans spread over every state in the country.

The VA has cut hospital utilization by 54%, nursing home utilization by 82% and total health care cost by 24%. Comparable or better results are reported by most organizations using this approach, organizations that range in size from solo practitioners to small group practices to academic medical centers.

Technology is what makes it possible for individual or small groups of physicians to provide complex care at home.

The Obama Administration has aggressively promoted electronic medical records. A physician with an IPad has more information available about a given patient than any institution. That IPad’s internet access also allows him to rapidly search for the best answer to any urgent question - much more rapidly than awaiting the arrival of a hospital-based consultant.

With just a few drops of blood, a physician at the bedside can now get crucial test results in seconds. Waiting hours for staff to draw the blood, transport it to the lab, perform the test and report the results are things of the past.

Similarly, portable X-ray and ultrasound equipment are wheeled into a patient’s home in suitcase- sized containers. Images are fed digitally hundreds or thousands of miles away where a report is generated and returned in minutes -- not in hours or days. Even CT scanners can be rolled up to the patient’s front door. Sophisticated remote monitors measure every imaginable parameter of a patient’s status and notify the physician remotely. Audio visual equipment can even allow nursing personnel to watch over many people dispersed over a neighborhood. Consultants are already seeing many complicated patients from a distance over webcams. And their consultations are much more productive when conducted in the virtual presence of the patient’s personal physician.

The role of hospitals will change. Acutely ill patients will still be brought to an emergency department for evaluation and stabilization. Those people who need an operating room or an intensive care unit will be hospitalized. Anyone else will be returned home to the care of a personal physician and a dedicated nursing staff who know them intimately and who have at their disposal technology’s tools.

Physicians who make themselves available 24/7 to these complicated patients will be well compensated. Doctors in IAH organizations, who provide measurable high quality care and save Medicare money, will share in those savings, and those savings should be considerable. Conservative calculations suggest that these doctors will earn as much as today’s most highly paid specialists. This will quickly change the calculus of health care economics and end the shortage of primary care physicians.

IAH has the potential to do wonders for the national economy. Cutting Medicare’s cost dramatically will make the work of the Congressional budget supercommittee much simpler. And moving much of health care into the home will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the country.

Applications to form IAH Organizations have not been issued. Medicare has, instead, been focusing on other portions of the Obama Healthcare Reform that will encourage and reward hospitals and other large institutions for once again rearranging the deck chairs on their sinking ships. Through IAH, doctors have the means to address and solve the healthcare crisis.

Let us move healthcare into the home where it is safer, cheaper and more effective.

(The writer is a general internist in solo practice on Roosevelt Island. He spends half of his time making house calls to 50 homebound patients. He has been working for several years with the American Academy of House Call Physicians on getting the Independence at Home Act enacted and implemented. You can meet some of his homebound patients in a 15-minute video on
More information on Independence at Home Organizations available here.

Learn more about Doctor Resnick and some of his Roosevelt Island patients from this video.

Link: Independence at Home: The Roosevelt Doctor

Update On Roosevelt Island Development Bond Debt - RIOC Has No Obligation To Repay Original Bonds To NY State According To RIOC Audit Committee Chair

Image of Bond Debt From Painependant

In previous posts last November, Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance questioned whether there were long term bond obligations owed by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) to agencies of the State of New York. Mr. Farance wrote:
In the prior issue of the WIRE and on the Roosevelt Islander Blog, my letter suggested as much as a $400 million liability for RIOC. I was wrong. I've looked into the supporting paperwork and it appears that almost a BILLION dollars are due to UDC (Urban Development Corporation, now named Empire State Development Corporation - ESDC). According to the Revenue Allocation Agreement of August 3, 1988:...
Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Member and Audit Committee Chair Howard Polivy answered Mr. Farance:
There are some very basic misunderstandings in Mr. Farance’s recent letter to the Wire. Let’s start at the beginning. The New York State Urban Development Corporation (UDC) was conceived in 1968 primarily to build state-subsidized housing projects. UDC is now doing business as Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).

The bond debt belongs with ESDC, not RIOC. By statute, RIOC cannot take on any debt....
Roosevelt Island resident Trevre Andrews followed the discussion between Mr. Farance and Mr. Polivy and asked Mr. Polivy:
Dear Mr. Polivy,

I appreciate the information you provided to the Roosevelt Island blogger but I believe we need some more clarification particularly in light of the numerous failing municipalities across the country and questionable financial practices that continue to be ongoing inside and out of New York City. The issue of the island budget is immensely important to homeowners and residents on the island and without our scrutiny and attention to detail many of us are not convinced there are enough checks and balances on RIOC and the state to give everyone a clear picture of the finances.

If the bond debt used to develop the island doesn’t belong to RIOC why is RIOC making any effort to pay it back?

Can you direct me to where I would find the specific terms of the bonds used to improve the island?

Would residents who have bought condominiums on the island retain ownership after the RIOC lease of the island is up and if so what is their responsibility to pay off any remaining RIOC obligations?

Thank you, I appreciate your time in answering my questions.
Mr. Polivy responded to Mr. Andrews, Mr. Farance and the rest of the Roosevelt Island community in this message I received last Friday.
The debt created when Roosevelt Island was developed was issued by, and remains the responsibility of, the Urban Development Corporation (now ESDC, the Empire State Development Corporation). RIOC financial responsibilities to its related state agency, ESDC, are strictly limited, and specified in the Revenue Allocation Agreement. Specific "taxes" and "rents" are designated by mutual agreement to flow directly to ESDC and do not appear on RIOC's books. The only funds payable from RIOC arise as surplus after normal Operations are provided. This means that RIOC is, first and foremost, responsible to serve the development and operating needs of Roosevelt Island. Only after funds are not needed to serve its community operations is it permitted to send funds off to ESDC. Since no one can be sure that an operational surplus actually exists until after the responsibility to provide the enumerated community services is discharged, no net payments are anticipated until the Master Lease terminates.

RIOC, an independent political subdivision of the State of New York, does not have any portion of the original UDC debt. Since RIOC's limited responsibility to ESDC is contingent, both as to amount and timing, it does not appear on the balance sheet.

Howard Polivy
Member, Board of Directors, RIOC
Chair, Audit Committee
Links to the supporting documents are provided in this post.

A webcast of the most recent RIOC audit committee meeting is here.

UPDATE 12/13 - Audio webcast of RIOC Audit Committee December 7 meeting is below.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A View From A Roosevelt Island Window Shows A Beautiful Sunday Morning Moonset

Last Thursday's moon over Long Island City is followed by a Sunday morning moonset over Roosevelt Island.

You Tube Video Of Roosevelt Island Moonset