Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best Wishes For A Happy And Healthy New Year From Roosevelt Island - Goodbye 2011, Welcome 2012

Best Wishes to all for a Happy And Healthy New Year in 2012.

You Tube Video of Bottle Band Auld Lang Syne Performance

There's no better way to party out the past year then with a traditional last song from Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes together with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band .
We're havin' a party
Everybody's swinging
Dancing to the music
On the radio
So listen, Mr. DJ
Keep those records playing
'Cause I'm having such a good time
Dancing with my baby

You Tube Video of Southside Johnny and Bruce Springsteen Having a Party in 1978 - Lyrics are by Sam Cooke.


Here's the year 2011 in review via Google

and the Best and Worst of Everything 2011 from Fast Company.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Last Day To Pick Up Your Photo From Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Ceremony - At RIOC HQ Until 4:30 and Public Safety Office Until 8 PM

Received this message from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Photos from the Tree Lighting Ceremony are still available for pick up until Friday December 30, 2011 at 591 Main Street from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. & at Public Safety (550 Main Street) from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Community Planning Board 8 Applications Available From Borough President Scott Stringer's Office - Roosevelt Island Residents Encouraged To Apply

Received this message from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office seeking Roosevelt Island residents interested in being considered as candidates to join Community Planning Board 8 (CPB 8).  From Borough President Stringer's office:
The Manhattan Borough President’s office is currently accepting applications to join your local Community Board (CB). Serving on a Community Board is a great opportunity to shape your neighborhood, improve service delivery, and be at the forefront of community based planning.

More information about CBs and a copy of the 2012 application can be found here ( New applications are due by January 13th, 2012.

Prior to applying, it is recommended that you attend an information session to learn more about the process and applying. The next two sessions are taking place on Wednesday, January 4th from 6:30 – 8:00pm and Thursday, January 5th from 6:30 – 8:00pm at One Centre Street, 19th Floor. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Kristen Ellis at Borough President Scott Stringer’s office at 212-669-7877 or
Newly elected CPB 8 Chair Nick Viest discusses how he got involved and what the Community Board does.

More information available from CPB 8 interview program CPB 8 Speaks. Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz is interviewed by CPB 8 Speaks here. Also interviewed by CPB 8 Speaks are Roosevelt Island residents and CPB 8 members Ellen Polivy and Sharon Pope.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stanford Answers Questions On Withdrawal Of Roosevelt Island NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School Proposal - Number Of Students, Faculty, Building Size, Construction Timeline Similar To Cornell Says Stanford But NYC Introduced Additional Unacceptable Requirements After Bid Was Submitted - Was Stanford's Silicon Valley Location An Inherent Conflict?

Stanford University News reports on:

Frequently asked questions regarding Stanford's withdrawal of the NYC campus proposal

What led to Stanford's withdrawal of its New York City proposal?

From the beginning, Stanford expressed an interest in the project with the clear understanding that it had to benefit both Stanford and New York City.

After submitting our proposal at the end of October, conversations with the city began in late November, responding to questions from the city that sought to clarify some specifics in our proposal. In early December, a group led by President Hennessy, and including The City College of New York (CCNY) President Lisa Coico, Stanford faculty members and other campus officials, went in person to New York to meet with staff from the city's economic development corporation, which issued the request for proposal (RFP).

For the next two weeks, a smaller Stanford team continued with more intensive negotiations with the NYCEDC (the New York City agency in charge of the process) that focused on many issues, including the legal agreements that would need to be reached between the campus and the city. During the negotiation process the city introduced additional requirements that increased the risks and costs for Stanford and decreased the potential benefit.

We were very much hoping for a successful outcome, but it became apparent that there were areas where the city and university were not going to agree. Beyond the academic part of the proposal, the project involved numerous land use, real estate, zoning, construction timetables with significant penalties, and other details. In a project of this nature, involving a significant investment by both the city and a much larger investment by the university, both sides need to be willing to accept a certain level of risk. Ultimately, we decided we could not accept the level of risk that the city wanted us to accept.

How was the final decision made?

The trustees were briefed on the status of the negotiations and indicated that they were not comfortable with the city's requests and asked us to continue negotiating. Negotiations continued for several more days, and we concluded that we could not reach an agreement with the city that would assure that a Stanford campus in NYC could be successful.

A final decision was made after President Hennessy spoke to Deputy Mayor Bob Steel and Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the morning of Dec. 16.

If we had concerns about the city's requests, why did Stanford not withdraw sooner? Why did Stanford let it go so far?

We put forward a very serious proposal and we were hopeful up until the last moment that we might be able to reach agreement with the city. Some critical new matters were introduced in the process of the negotiations that were not included in the RFP and not known to us before the StanfordNYC bid was submitted at the end of October. We withdrew when we felt that we could not have a partnership with the city of New York that would make this project successful.

Did Stanford withdraw because it believed that Cornell was going to win or because Cornell had received a $350 million gift for the New York campus?

Neither. Stanford’s withdrawal was the result of our own negotiations and had nothing to do with Cornell’s bid. Prior to our decision, there was no suggestion on the city’s part that Stanford’s bid was not the front-runner in the competition. In fact, all evidence available to us indicated the contrary. In addition, Stanford did not know about Cornell’s $350 million gift until it was announced five hours after our withdrawal. Though these were not factors in our decision, we sincerely congratulate Cornell on their successful proposal and their inspirational gift.

Was the Cornell/Technion proposal really "bigger and bolder" than Stanford's, as the city claimed?

We haven't been able to see their proposal in its entirety. What was revealed publicly before the submission and at their press conference sounded very similar in size and scope to the Stanford proposal, in terms of numbers of faculty, students, building size and square footage. Our construction timelines were also similar. Both projects proposed constructing environmentally sustainable campuses on Roosevelt Island. We had different approaches to community benefits, such as their planned work with K-12 schools and our intention to work with City College of New York. And we had different approaches to creating benefits for start-up corporations, with Stanford proposing incubator space and Cornell proposing grants as incentives for young companies to remain in NYC.

How much money did Stanford spend on the proposal?

In preparing the proposal, responding to questions and through the negotiations, the university spent about $3 million on the proposal, primarily for outside consultants and architects. This was required for the due diligence to fully respond to an extensive RFP for a project that ultimately could have cost $2.5 billion over several decades. Building a project of this magnitude in New York City is complex, and we required outside expertise to help us understand the city's requirements. The NYC RFP required all competing institutions to turn in completed plans, including architectural renderings, as well as numerous legal documents that required the assistance of New York land use and real estate attorneys and experts, as well as labor experts. But much of our proposal was also developed in-house, with considerable input on the academic program coming from our faculty. They had tremendous, creative research program ideas that we were excited to implement in New York.

Why did Stanford suggest this in the first place, and was it worth it to the university to pursue this opportunity?

We believe that the opportunity presented by the NYC initiative could have been transformative for both Stanford and New York City. It presented Stanford with an opportunity to extend our expertise in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship to another part of the country, where we were confident we could generate economic growth and help create another technology hub within the United States. We believe Stanford has made a significant contribution to the U.S. and world economies and this would have allowed us to continue our record of knowledge transfer and job generation. There were also benefits for our California campus. New York provided us a domestic location where we could increase the number of students served by Stanford without further impacting the home campus. It also offered opportunities to recruit stellar faculty who want to remain on the East Coast and new research opportunities in industries that are New York City's strengths, such as finance, arts and media, and urban studies.

Yes, it was worth the effort. We received tremendously positive visibility over the course of almost a year throughout the East Coast. It was gratifying to see the welcome that we received in NYC, not just by the tech industry, but also by the public. There was genuine excitement at the potential for Stanford in New York. The people of New York now have an increased appreciation of the excellence of Stanford, both academically and in terms of our contributions to technology and our ability to generate job growth. Here in California, our participation in this NYC effort was in keeping with our reputation for exploring bold ideas. As is well known in Silicon Valley, not all great ideas work out, but that does not mean it is a mistake to pursue them. Stanford engaged in this selection process because of the project’s great promise, and withdrew when it became apparent to us that this would not be an achievable undertaking for the university.

What happens next? Will Stanford look for other opportunities like NYC?

Great universities need to find ways to continue to challenge themselves, and to reach new levels in the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. We will absolutely continue to look for those opportunities, whether it is through expanding our distance-learning capabilities from California or seeking new partners who can help us advance and innovate. You don't make progress by standing still, and the saying nothing ventured, nothing gained is most apt. Jane and Leland Stanford founded the university on these bold principles, and we will continue that tradition.

Now that Stanford has achieved higher visibility in NYC, will it conduct more activities there?

Our partnership with the City College of New York will absolutely continue. While we won't be co-locating there, we will be moving forward with our joint development of an undergraduate curriculum in entrepreneurship. We are exploring some other ideas as well to continue our engagement, both with CCNY and the NYC tech community.

We also appreciated all the enthusiasm of the alumni in the New York area and those who were supportive of this effort, and we are considering what type of presence Stanford may have in New York in the future.

Will Stanford share its NYC proposal?

We are very proud of the proposal we put forward and will be share it with interested parties both on and off campus. Copies of the proposal will be made available for review at the Green Library.
Wired reports:
... Cornell and Technion beat — or at least outlasted — Stanford University, the school whose marriage of high-tech smarts and entrepreneurial verve in Silicon Valley Bloomberg wanted to reinvent in New York. Stanford unexpectedly withdrew its bid shortly before the results were announced.

“Stanford was inherently conflicted from day one,” Kim told Wired. After all, Mayor Bloomberg didn’t propose that New York would match or follow Silicon Valley or Boston-Cambridge as high-tech hubs. He proposed to make New York City the best in the world.

“If you want to be number one, Silicon Valley has to be number two,” Kim says.

It was harder for Stanford to commit itself and its resources to that vision than Cornell or many of the other bidders. Not without causing serious agita back home in Palo Alto....
and the NY Times adds that Cornell's:
... leaders believed that their plan needed to be clearly better than Stanford’s to win — that if things were roughly equal, Stanford would prevail.

The city asked for at least 250,000 square feet in the first phase, and a million over 25 years. Cornell-Technion proposed 400,000 and 2.1 million, with space for 2,500 students and 280 professors. Others said classes would start in September 2013; Cornell-Technion promised September 2012.

The plan was tailored to New York, focusing on technology for fields in which the city is a leader, like medicine, urban planning, finance and advertising. The schools stressed Cornell’s strong alumni presence in New York, especially its burgeoning technology sector.

They were also determined to be the most agreeable: When the city asked bidders to “mark up” drafts of legal agreements, signaling their objections, Mr. Steel recalled, the edits from Cornell and Technion “were much lighter than those from other institutions.”....
Here's video of the press conference announcing Cornell's selection to build the NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School on Roosevelt Island and my interview with Stanford President John Hennessey during one of his visits to Roosevelt Island last October.

You Tube Video of Stanford President's Visit To Roosevelt Island

New RIOC Policy Allows Open Baby Strollers On The Roosevelt Island Red Bus At The Discretion Of Driver - How Is That Working Out?

Image of Unfolded Stroller On Red Bus During  Rush Hour Earlier This Month

In response to requests from the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA), the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) changed its policy recently regarding allowing open baby strollers on the Red Bus during all hours at the discretion of the bus operator. Here's the new policy from RIOC
Revised Bus Policy

Hand baggage, instrument cases, bundles and parcels may be carried onto RIOC buses by customers provided that these articles can be carried on without inconveniencing other customers and/or the driver and does not obstruct the bus aisle or doors. Persons with unfolded strollers and/or shopping carts are not permitted to board RIOC buses unless the driver, at his or her sole discretion, determines that it will not cause an inconvenience or safety hazard to other customers or the driver. Orthopedic (wheelchair type) strollers for children with disabilities are permitted on buses just as wheelchairs are and must be secured in the wheelchair area. Bus operators must check strollers carefully to ensure that children with disabilities are not denied accessible service.

Updated signage has been posted on buses stating:

"Strollers and Shopping Carts must be folded upon operator’s request".
The policy has been in place for about a month now. How has it been working out for you?

This excerpt from a comment by an Octagon mother describes the problem for parents under previous policy of not allowing unfolded strollers on the Red Bus during Rush Hour:
Manhattan Park or the Octagon are great places to live if you have children...BUT for the whole Red Bus issue.  Let me tell you how fun it is to be 4 weeks post-unintended Cesarean birth, pushing your stroller home from the F train.  A lovely, 20 minute walk in the bitter cold and pouring down rain, pushing the stroller with one hand and holding your umbrella with another, all while worrying that you are doing irrevocable damage to your uterus.  The alternative is sitting in the F train station, waiting until the rain stops (which could take hours) or waiting until rush hour ends five hours later.  (And even then, people will give you dirty looks if you try to squeeze on the bus on a post 8 pm bus.)  Sometimes a mom just wants to get home before her baby wakes up, so she can avoid sitting in the F train station nursing for a solid hour, you know? If you take your sleeping newborn out, lay her on the dirty, wet ground while you fold your stroller, you still have to somehow carry everything on to the bus, and maybe, just maybe someone will give you a seat.  There's about a 50/50 chance on that.  Since I was told to not carry anything heavier than my child for the first 8 weeks, getting around was impossible.  I could basically carry her or the diaper bag, but not both.  So a stroller was necessary.

It seems to be the longtime residents who live in the middle of the island who are the most stroller unfriendly.  I also don't understand how enormous shopping carts (which don't have brakes) can go on the bus, but small children safely strapped into their strollers can't?  I folded my teeny tiny umbrella stroller when I got on to a bus one afternoon several months ago.  My daughter was about 18 months old at the time, and just didn't understand that she needed to stay seated on the moving bus.  I was balancing the stroller between my knees while I held her on my lap.  (And apart from that, I was relatively unencumbered...only had a small tote bag with me, which is not the case most of the time we moms go out.)  Well, my daughter started throwing a fit because she couldn't get down.  I managed to keep her safely on my lap, but she kicked the stroller hard enough that it fell across the aisle and hit a poor man standing there.  I was mortified.  And I only had one child to handle.  What if I'd also had a four year old with me that wanted to stand up on the seat at the same time?  What if I were already pregnant with a second child and having some health issues and walking the 20 minutes was difficult or not advised by my doctor?...
Another reader has a different view:
I agree with you that it would be awesome to have an unfolded stroller on the bus at any time when you need it (but I still wouldn't advocate for it). The problem is, that it can become a problem. Just like the elevators... everybody's got the right to take it and you see what's happening there. Plan your day in a way that the bus and its rules fit in there. Doctor's appointment? Make one at a time where you know you can take the bus. Reschedule if the weather doesn't allow it. Just saying that for most situations there is a plan B. It may not the most convenient one but it will work out just fine.
More on Red Bus baby stroller issue from previous posts.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Roosevelt Island Holiday Lights - Can We Do Better Next Year?

Hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas.

One of the best things about the Holiday season are the brightly colored outdoor lights displayed on streets in neighborhoods all over the City. For an over the top example of a neighborhood Holiday Lights Display, take a trip to Dyker Heights Brooklyn. Here's what it is like.

You Tube Video of Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Unfortunately, Roosevelt Island has a rather limited Holiday Lights display centered around trees surrounding the Blackwell House area and on some Main Street light poles in Northtown and the Riverwalk Commons. Can Roosevelt Island do a better job at displaying Holiday Lights next year?

Julia Palermo of the Roosevelt Island Chamber of Commerce spoke at the December Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) meeting seeking a $275 donation from RIRA for one of the Holiday Light displays that are placed by the Chamber on Main Street Light Poles. Ms. Palermo explained that the Chamber of Commerce currently lights 17 of the 25 Main Street Northtown poles and hopes to have light displays on all 25 in the future.

An annual discussion topic when RIRA discusses the Holiday Lights donation is whether the lights should be purchased or continue the current practice of renting the lights? The cost to purchase is approximately $500 per pole while the rental fee is $275. Ms. Palermo and several RIRA members who researched this question report that renting is a better option because of storage, maintenance, service and theft issues.

Ms. Palermo said that donations for the Holiday Lights come from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) ($1100), building management companies (RY Management of Island House and Westview) as well as individual residents. I am not sure if Rivercross or Roosevelt Landings makes a donation. One RIRA member from the Octagon asked if the Holiday Lights could be spread out across Roosevelt Island to include the Octagon Building. Ms. Palermo replied that the Octagon management has never donated to the Roosevelt Island Holiday Lights but that she hopes to light up the entire Island.

Here's Ms. Palermo's presentation including questions and comments from RIRA members.

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Holiday Lights Discussion

RIRA voted to donate $275 for one Holiday Lights on one pole.

Con Man Reported On Roosevelt Island According To Public Safety Report - No Info Yet If Scam Was A House Of Games

You Tube Video of House Of Cards Con Explanation Scene

According to the 12/23 -24 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Report:
Scheme To Defraud- Anon female reports con man. Searched with negative results.
I asked both RIOC's Public Safety Department Chief and Press Spokesperson yesterday:
Please provide additional details as the nature of the scheme to defraud, where it occurred, any similar incidents and any other relevant details.
Have not received response yet.

An elaborate scam is the subject of House of Games.  It is a very enjoyable movie (an excerpt shown in the video above) about the con game with Joe Mantegna, Lindsey Crouse and Ricky Jay.

Here's a montage of more Con Men movies.

You Tube Video Montage Of Con Men Movies

Also, it's almost January and the November Monthly Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Blotter is not available to the public yet. The last available Public Safety Monthly Blotter is for October.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

RIOC Operations Committee Meeting Tomorrow To Discuss Roosevelt Island Good Shepherd Roof Repair, Will Material Be Original Slate, Fake Slate Or Asphalt - Cost Versus Landmark Preservation Priorities At Issue

You Tube Video Of Good Shepherd Community Center Roof

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Operations Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.

The Committee will meet to discuss the Good Shepherd Community Center Roof Repair Project.
The subject of replacing the landmarked Good Sheperd Community Center Roof was discussed during the November 28 RIOC Operations Committee meeting. As reported in this previous post:
... 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....
Although repairing the roof with the original slate material was approved at a prior RIOC Board meeting, some RIOC directors are becoming increasingly concerned with the higher initial cost of the slate and may wish to use a less expensive material to repair the roof.

Here's the discussion at the November 28 RIOC Operations Committee meeting.

You Tube Video Of Good Shepherd Roof Repair Discussion at November RIOC Operations Committee Meeting

Audio web cast of the Operations Committee meeting is available here.

Authorized Parking For Some Vehicles At Temporary Southtown Lot But Not For Residents - Why Not Turn Space Green and Add Additional Commons Area?

Image of Authorized Vehicle Parking Sign Outside Temporary Southtown Lot

What makes a vehicle "authorized" for parking in certain Roosevelt Island locations such as the Southtown "temporary" lot opposite the Riverwalk Bar & Grill?

Aerial View of Temporary Southtown Lot (on right) Next To NYPD K9 Training Area (on left)

Last week, I sent the following inquiry to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez and Public Safety Director Keith Guerra:
I am doing a story on who is allowed to use the Authorized Parking lot opposite 425 Main Street. My understanding was that parking was supposed to be for Tram personnel. However, I have had reports from residents that some who are not Tram personnel are using that lot.

For instance, I just saw Gina from the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) park in that lot a few minutes ago. It is not the first time I have seen her park there when there were plenty of parking spaces available on the street. Is a representative from FERI considered an authorized user of the parking lot? If so, why should Roosevelt Island residents be prohibited from using that space.

Also noticed that some spaces on West Channel Road across from Starbucks have been turned into commercial parking areas.

Why was that?
 Image Of Commercial Parking Spaces On West Road Opposite Starbucks

RIOC's Press Spokesperson replied:
Tram employees, PSD, and NYPD are authorized to use the lot.  Gina and Sally have also been authorized to park in the lot given the size of the project they are overseeing, their need to be on the Island to both manage and further the project, and because of the impact the project will have on the Island.  RIOC is aware that there has been unauthorized parking in the lot and has stepped up enforcement in response.
Gina and Sally refer to the FERI representatives.

With spring approaching in a few months, some, including myself would like to see that area of Southtown cleaned up and made into a green space continuing the Riverwalk Commons area instead of being used as a parking lot.