Friday, March 30, 2012

RIOC Real Estate Committee Meeting Monday To Discuss Roosevelt Island Kayaking And Rowing Proposal - Will They Also Discuss Obligation Of RIOC Directors To Disclose Relationships With Permit Applicants - Does It Matter?

You Tube Video of March 21 RIOC NY Rowing Association Presentation

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Monday, April 2, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.


1. Review Leasing/Licensing Requirements under RIOC Property Disposition Guidelines.

2. Discuss Proposal for the Use of West Channel Promenade.

3. Discuss Proposal for Roosevelt Island Rowing and Kayaking Site Presented by New York Rowing Association

4. Chair�s Motion for Executive Session to Review and Discuss the Status of Privatization/Affordability Plan and Ground Lease Extension for Island House.
The Open Meetings Law of the State of New York requires that all public bodies conduct meetings, convened for the purpose of officially conducting public business, in a manner open to attendance by the general public to observe and listen.
Agenda Item #3 - the NY Rowing Association proposal for a boating facility below the Queensboro Bridge was discussed during the March 21 Operations Committee Meeting. (Video of Discussion above and audio webcast here.). The RIOC Directors present for the NY Rowing Association presentation expressed approval for the concept but also concern that they did not have adequate time to evaluate the proposal and asked to receive answers to some additional logistical questions at their next meeting.

After advocating for a Roosevelt Island boating facility for several years, I thought this was a great idea.  Unfortunately, the next day an issue arose over the possible undisclosed relationship between RIOC Director Sal Ferrera, also the Executive Director of the Child School, and the NY Rowing Association. As reported in this March 22 post:
...I sent the following inquiry to RIOC Director Sal Ferrera, President Leslie Torres, VP of Operations Fernando Martinez and the other resident RIOC Board Directors:
I am preparing a post on the March 21 NY Rowing Association presentation at RIOC OPS meeting.  The NY Rowing Association web site indicates that Sal Ferrera is a member of their Board of Trustees. Click here for info. Is that true?

If so, was that ever disclosed to RIOC Staff or Directors. I don't recall that it was mentioned during the meeting?

Is Sal being a member of the organization's Board of Trustees relevant to RIOC whether or not to approve the NY Rowing Association permit/license/lease?

Please let me know if anyone wishes to comment for Roosevelt Islander Online.

Thank you.
RIOC Director Sal Ferrera responds:
In response to your email, I am a member of the NYRA board and Vince Paparo is a member of The Child School board.

The Rowing association has been a wonderful addition to our co curricular program, when they wanted to relocate to RI , I felt the community and the Child School will benefit. Issuing a one year provisional permit will allow our board to evaluate the program.

I remained silent during the presentation and discussion and did not try to curry favor. Our Operations committee did a fine job in asking relevant questions
UPDATE 11:15 PM - Received the following response from RIOC's spokesperson:
The discussion and presentation about a potential rowing launch site under the Ed Koch bridge was at an Operations subcommittee meeting and Sal is not on that subcommittee.

Additionally, if any Board vote is taken concerning the NYRA, Sal intends to recuse himself from voting on the issue.
So far, no response from RIOC on whether Mr. Ferrera disclosed his relationship with NY Rowing Association to RIOC Staff or Directors prior to the Operations Committee meeting....
On March 23 I sent the following reply to RIOC's Press Spokesperson and RIOC Directors:
Thanks for the response but will RIOC answer the question whether RIOC staff and/or directors were aware that RIOC Director Sal Fererra was a Trustee of the NY Rowing Association and that the NY Rowing Association official making the presentation at Operations Committee is a member of the Child School Board of Directors?
On March 26 I sent this follow up to Ms. Torres, Mr. Martinez and the RIOC Directors:
I am following up on inquiry from last Friday (message thread below) regarding whether RIOC Directors and Staff had prior knowledge before the March 21 Operations Committee meeting that RIOC Director Sal Fererra was a Trustee of the NY Rowing Association and that the NY Rowing Association official making the Boating/Kayaking presentation at March 21 Operations Committee is a member of the Child School Board of Directors? Can you confirm whether RIOC Directors and Staff had such knowledge? Is such information relevant to the RIOC Board and staff?

Also was the RIOC Board and Staff made aware of the circumstances regarding the NY Rowing Association leaving their former site at the Peter Sharp Boat House on the Harlem River. There appear to be some dispute regarding the termination of NY Rowing Association management agreement with the Peter Sharp Boathouse which led to litigation between the parties before the expiration of their agreement.

Here is link to February 23, 2012 NY State Appellate Division decision on matter.

Please let me know if you wish to comment for Roosevelt Islander Online.
To date have not received any further response. The question remains whether Mr. Fererra disclosed his relationship with the NY Rowing Association to the other RIOC Board members or  RIOC Staff and if he disclosed the circumstances of the NY Rowing Association's dispute with the Peter Sharp Boathouse. If he did not, the question then becomes is that relevant?

Perhaps the NY State Authorities Budget Office (ABO) Model Code of Ethics provides some guidance?


RooseveltIslander said...

RIOC Real Estate Committee decided yesterday to issue RFP for Rowing/Kayaking Boat House Operator and Subway Pier outdoor restaurant/food court area  operator.

I asked question regarding reason for Rowing Association termination of its Management Agreement at Peter Sharp Boathouse but received no answer - question was ignored.