Saturday, June 2, 2012

Report From RIOC President Leslie Torres - Roosevelt Island Day, Tram Fountain Open, Island Shakespeare, Cardinal Visits & Arbor Day Tree Give Away

Image of RIOC President Leslie Torres

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Lesie Torres sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
Greetings Roosevelt Islanders! I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend. It was certainly busy here, as visitors poured onto our Tram to come and enjoy all the outdoor attractions that our beautiful Island has to offer.

Roosevelt Island Day

Join us for a full slate of Roosevelt Island Day fun on Saturday, June 9. The day kicks off at 9:00 am at the Good Shepherd Plaza, where residents can pick up flowers to plant around the Island. Then, from noon to 3:00 pm, kids take center stage with games, rides, a petting zoo and other family-friendly activities on the Plaza. Roosevelt Island’s own Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance will perform at 6:00 pm, and the day will conclude with a concert by Incrediband at 6:30 pm. All the events will go forward rain or shine, but if it rains the Incrediband concert will move indoors to PS/IS 217. Attendees will receive the newly designed Roosevelt Island Day t-shirt, wristbands and more for free.

As I mentioned in a previous column, Senator Jose M. Serrano will be sponsoring free mammogram screenings at the 591 Main Street Plaza from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm as part of Roosevelt Island Day. Please call 1-800-564-6868 for details and to make an appointment.

Fountain is Open

RIOC is pleased to announce that the fountain near the Tram station is open once again, after we repaired parts that were cracked and broken. Now that the work is finished, the barricade has been removed, but as always it is unsafe to go into the fountain. Our Public Safety Department will be monitoring the area.

Island Shakespeare’s Season Opens

Island Shakespeare is opening its 2012 season on June 15 with an immersive celebration of Shakespeare’s comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Eastwood Amphitheater. Performances run through July 1, with 7:30 pm shows on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:00 pm matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. The company promises “a raucous celebration” in which audience members can “follow the story, follow a character, or follow their own desire to explore the piazza.” With live music and dance, and a cast of classically trained actors, it should be a one of a kind experience. Only a limited number of people will be admitted to each performance. For more information, visit

Cardinal O’Brien Visits

The St. Frances Xavier Cabrini congregation welcomed Cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien to Roosevelt Island on Wednesday evening for the parish’s Confirmation Ceremony at the Good Shepherd Chapel. Cardinal O’Brien, who traveled from Rome, greeted and took photos with parishioners before the service.

The Cardinal has long been committed to Roosevelt Island and Cabrini, having confirmed over 70 Island residents in previous years before he became a Cardinal. It had been 32 years since a Cardinal last came to Roosevelt Island, and Father Peter Miqueli called the visit “an honor.”

Arbor Day Planting

At our Arbor Day celebration on May 18 RIOC gave away over 100 plants to kids to take home and plant. We appreciate all the help from these youngsters and their parents who are helping to keep the Island green and beautiful. We’re also grateful for the support of RIOC Board Members Christian and Grimm who helped host the Arbor Day event.

Friday, June 1, 2012

No F Train Service To Roosevelt Island From Manhattan This Weekend - 10 PM Friday June 1 Thru 5 AM Monday June 4, Tram Will Run Extended Service During This Time

Image of Blurred, Moving F Train From Venus in Furs

Here we go again. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC)
The MTA has advised there will be:

No Queens Bound F-Trains from 10 PM Friday June 1st to 5 AM Monday June 4th

Tram and Red Bus Service will run until 5:00 AM during these service disruptions.

For more information please visit or call 511.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
More information on subway service disruptions this weekend from the MTA Weekender.
F Jamaica-bound trains run via the M from 47-50 Sts to Roosevelt Av

Weekend, 10 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon, Jun 1 - 4

F trains run express from Queens Plaza to Roosevelt Av, then resume the F route to Jamaica.

No Jamaica-bound service at 57 St, Lexington Av/63 St, Roosevelt Island and 21 St-Queensbridge.
Plan accordingly.

Unprecedented Plan For Roosevelt Island's Island House Building To Exit Mitchell Lama Program With Affordable Home Ownership For Residents, Will It Work? Island House Residents Hold Question And Answer Session To Explain Plan

Image of Roosevelt Island's Island House Entrance

An update on Roosevelt Island's Island House efforts to exit the NY State Mitchell Lama program under a privatization and affordability plan agreed to by the Owner (David Hirschhorn), Residents and NY State.

On May 27, the Island House Tenants Association (IHTA) held a meeting at the Good Shepherd Community Center
with tenants to discuss the privatization/affordability plan and answer questions from residents. In addition to the IHTA Board, Roosevelt Island Assembly Member Micah Kellner, NY State Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR) Assistant Commissioner Richmond McCurnin and IHTA attorney Stuart Saft were in attendance to answer questions.

After an introduction by IHTA Chair Graham Cannon, Assembly Member Kellner gave a brief review explaining to the Island House residents that the Mitchell Lama program was coming to an end and the question is how it will end so that the residents of Island House can remain in their homes either under an affordable plan for home ownership or remaining as renters.

Mr. Kellner then introduced DHCR Assistant Commissioner McCurnin who stated that not a single Mitchell Lama building exiting the program has been saved from going market rate through a home ownership conversion such as the one proposed and agreed to for Island House. If the Island House privatization and affordability plan succeeds, it will be unprecedented said Mr. McCurnin. Also, Mr. McCurnin emphasized that the plan is a result of a great deal of compromise and that everybody is not going to like every single provision but that if this privatization/affordability plan is not accepted, the alternative is market rate housing. Many current Island House tenants would not be able to afford remaining in their homes if a market rate housing plan was instituted.

Here's a video excerpt from the beginning of the meeting (full video of meeting is below).

The IHTA prepared this summary of the plan:

Please find attached the Island House Plan for Preservation of Affordable Housing and Withdrawal from the Mitchell-Lama Program.

This is the final version of the Plan,* negotiated and agreed by the owner, DHCR, RIOC, the Empire State Development Corporation, and the Governor's office, that we voted for in September 2009 and by which we "signaled the owner, DHCR and RIOC to move ahead with a ground lease extension and preparation of the offering plan".

We are very pleased with the outcome. As many others have noted, at a point where the owner has the absolute right to withdraw our building from Mitchell-Lama and charge market rents, this is a plan that protects tenant purchasers and continuing renters at affordable levels that will allow us the security of remaining in our homes for many decades to come.

The purpose of the Affordability Plan is to provide a structure for the withdrawal of Island House from the Mitchell-Lama Program on terms that will preserve Island House as an affordable housing project for both existing tenants and future occupants.

The key elements of the plan are as follows:
  • RIOC will extend the Island House ground lease until 2068 — we anticipate by July 31 2012 — for the sole purpose of implementing the Affordability Plan.
  • Following that vote by RIOC to extend the ground lease, Island House will withdraw from Mitchell-Lama Program and immediately enter the Affordable Rental Program (similar to New York rent stabilization) outlined and required by the Plan. All tenants will initially continue as renters to be covered by the affordable rental program while the portion of the plan allowing tenants to purchase their apartments is submitted to the New York Attorney General as an Offering Plan by the owner (the "Sponsor").
  • Once the ground lease has been extended by RIOC, the Sponsor will submit the Offering Plan (the "Red Herring") to the New York Attorney General. The Attorney General will first review the plan then require additional answers and disclosures from the Sponsor before accepting the plan for filing. The Sponsor will then send the final Offering Plan to the tenants and each tenant will have an exclusive period to determine whether or not to purchase his/her apartment.
  • Under the Offering Plan, Island House tenants will be able to purchase their apartments at a discount of approximately 65% off the market price. The price of each apartment will be based upon the number of shares in the cooperative apartment corporation allocated to such unit.
  • Under the agreement, the aggregate value of all apartments in the coop ($90,252,162) was determined by using an average price of $198 per sq. ft. times the aggregate saleable residential area of 455,819 sq. ft. (exclusive of terraces and balconies). Based upon this aggregate valuation (exclusive of terraces and balconies), the per share price is $164. Shares are assigned to each cooperative apartment based upon a standard formula for Adjusted Apartment Area and relative value, taking into account location, view and height.
  • For those Island House residents who do not wish to purchase their apartments, they may remain as tenants for the next 30 years under a rental program mirroring rent stabilization with increases based on the same increases provided to New York rent stabilized tenants (plus a surcharge of no more then 5% for those at higher income levels as outlined in the plan).
  • The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) will continue to supervise the property to insure that the terms of the Affordability Plan are adhered to.
  • Owner contributes $9,600,000 to building improvements and reserves.
  • Owner pays $4,500,000 in transfer fees to RIOC
  • Ground Lease and Tax Equivalency Payments for affordable units remain low during the 30 year affordability period and thereafter phase into a market level tax payment. (Along with flip tax revenue, this will greatly enhance affordability by keeping monthly costs. in addition to mortgage, as low as possible.)
  • After a tenant has made his or her initial purchase of the apartment under the Offering Plan, in order to balance both the investment risk taken by the tenant and provide for affordability for future generations, tenants will be able to resell their apartments at an initial resale price per share of $328 (twice the initial per share offering price to tenants), plus costs of any improvements. This price will be allowed to increase by 7.5% per annum. After the initial sale by the Sponsor to the current tenant, tenants may only sell their apartments to people with incomes under the formula described in the Affordability Plan.....
Among the questions asked by the Island House residents during the meeting was:
  • will a single person living in a multi bedroom apartment be able to buy their apartment,

  • if you decide not to buy what happens to the price of your rent,

what is the amount of flip tax on future apartment sales and will there be a windfall in profits for sellers,

and why is the Island House plan so unique?

Here's the entire Island House Affordability and Privatization Plan

and full video of May 27, 2012 IHTA meeting.

You Tube Video of Island House Affordability/Privatization Meeting (Part 1)

You Tube Video of Island House Affordability/Privatization Meeting (Part 2)

Following the meeting I asked Assembly Member Kellner if there were any outstanding issues remaining with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) extending the ground lease on Island House with the current building owner. Mr. Kellner replied that there were no outstanding issues to his knowledge. I sent an email the next day asking RIOC President Leslie Torres:
After the Island House Meeting last night on their privatization/affordability plans, I asked Assembly Member Micah Kellner if there were any outstanding issues remaining regarding the ground lease extension being sought by the building's owner from RIOC.

Mr. Kellner replied that to his knowledge there were no outstanding issues remaining for the ground lease extension.

From RIOC's perspective, is it true that there are no issues remaining to be agreed upon for the Island House Ground Lease extension?

Thank you.
Have not received a response back from RIOC.

RIOC's discretion in granting the ground lease extension for the building is a key component in the affordability plan negotiations. Without the ground lease extension, the building owners would find it very difficult to finance exiting Mitchell Lama. It's going to be very interesting to see how this all plays out and how it impacts privatization/affordability of the other remaining Roosevelt Island Mitchell Lama buildings - Rivercross Coop and Westview rental.

Roosevelt Island Day Saturday June 9 - Family Fun, Games, Rides, Petting Zoo, Concert, Blood Drive, Free Mammograms and More

 2011 Roosevelt Island Day

Received the following message from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Join the excitement at this year Roosevelt Island Day Event happening June 9th!
Save the date: 2012 Roosevelt Island Day Event June 9th.
Come out and join us for a day of fun and island beautification.
The event will include:
9 AM- Flower planting
10 AM- 4 PM FREE Mammogram Screenings located at 591 Main Street Plaza (Hosted by Senator Serrano)
12 – 3 PM Children’s activities (Games, Rides, Petting Zoo & More!)
6 PM- Presentation from Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance
6:30 PM- Concert performed by "Incrediband"
Receive the newly designed Roosevelt Island Day t-shirt, wristbands and much more!
Don’t miss out on this great experience!
Sign up for the Free Mammogram Screening sponsored by State Senator Jose Serrano here

and don't forget that the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) will be holding their annual Blood Drive on June 9 too.

2011 Roosevelt Island Day Blood Donor With Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

Various Roosevelt Island organizations will have tables with representatives available at Roosevelt Island Day to provide information about their activities as well.

Here are scenes from 2011 Roosevelt Island Day.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Leaping Spinning, Jumping, Twirling - Another Day Of Roosevelt Island Parkour Training

More on Roosevelt Island Parkour training from previous posts.

Roosevelt Island Meditation Steps Repairs Approved By RIOC Board of Directors - $359 Thousand For Brazilian Hardwood But Won't Be Open Before August

Image of Fenced Off Meditation Steps

Reported previously on the disrepair and closure of Roosevelt Island's Meditation Steps - a wonderful place to sit and relax on the East River waterfront.

During the May 24 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors meeting (video of meeting is here), the RIOC Directors approved spending $359 Thousand to repair the steps with a tropical hardwood from Brazil. RIOC VP Of Operations Fernando Martinez estimated that the project could be completed by early August. Here's the presentation by Mr. Martinez on the Meditation Steps repair to the RIOC Board

and a previous presentation to March 21 RIOC Operations Committee meeting.

Video of Meditation Steps presentation to RIOC Operations Committee meeting is here.

I am looking forward to the reopening of Roosevelt Island's Meditation Steps.

Roosevelt Island Parent Disappointed That Blackwell Sprinkler Fountain May Not Be Turned On For Summer - Learns Later In Day That Sprinkler Is Now On, Loves The Roosevelt Island Community

Yesterday afternoon, a Roosevelt Island parent sent in the following question:

Heard a rumor the fountains would not be turned on for the children to play in this year because they've been deemed unsafe, and I was wondering if you have any knowledge of this.

I know my boys are checking the fountains every day, looking for that sign of summer.
I was thinking specifically of the fountain behind Blackwell where the children play and parents gather in the evenings. It is such a great spot on warm evenings....
I replied:
Last April, RIOC VP of Operations Fernando Martinez said that parts were being ordered for the fountains. The Tram Fountain is now working but not Blackwell.

I just sent him an email asking for an update and will let you know what he says.
I did not receive a reply back from RIOC but received this update from the parent a few hours later:
The fountain is on! Lots of parents and kids will be there this evening. Love the RI community.
 Image Of Blackwell Park Water Sprinkler Working Last Evening

Have fun in the fountain and stay cool everyone. Summer is just starting.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Roosevelt Island Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Attends Roosevelt Island Seniors Day - Speaks To Seniors On Issues and Enjoys Performance

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney with Roosevelt Island Seniors Association President Delores Green

Roosevelt Island Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney attended the May 20 Roosevelt Island Seniors Day. According to Ms. Maloney:
I had a great time at Roosevelt Island Seniors Day, enjoying a performance at the Roosevelt Island Senior Center,

and speaking briefly to the seniors about Social Security & Medicare - and the community's big win in saving the Roosevelt Island Post Office from closure!

Images are from Congresswoman Maloney's Facebook page.

How's The New Roosevelt Island Red Bus Route Doing? Should Red Bus Circle Around Tram Fountain, Go To Southpoint Park Or Some Combination Of Routes

New Red Bus Route to Southpoint Park From RIOC

Reported last week on the new Roosevelt Island Red Bus route extending to Southpoint Park. During the May 22 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors Meeting, RIOC President Leslie Torres announced that the new Red Bus route had begun and that the lengthening of the route is not expected to add any time to the current route explaining that the existing idling time by the Tram has been removed from the Red Bus Schedule.

Here's Ms. Torres report to the May 22 RIOC Board meeting.

At the May 21 RIOC Operations Committee meeting (audio webcast of meeting is here), the RIOC Directors discussed having the Red Bus route return to it's previous route of stopping at the Tram Station and then going around the water fountain

 Image Of Tram Plaza Turnaround and Proposed Firefighters Field Cutout For Red Bus

on its way north to the subway instead of the current route past the Sportspark and now Southpoint Park before heading north. One suggestion was to have some Red Buses go around the Tram Plaza Fountain and others go down to Southpoint depending upon the time of day. A subcommittee was formed to investigate this matter further. Here's the discussion from the May 21 Operations Committee meeting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Operation Patriot New York City 5K Trot With Troops Coming To Roosevelt Island Sunday June 3 - Still Time To Register

You Tube Video of Trot With Troops

The Operation Patriot Foundation is bringing its 5K Trot With Troops downstate to New York City right here on Roosevelt Island this coming Sunday June 3. According to the Operation Patriot Foundation:
... The mission of Operation Patriot Foundation, Inc., is to pay tribute to those who protect us daily - fire fighters, law enforcement, emergency responders and our active and veteran military forces, and to raise money for organizations representing these men and women who protect us.

Our intentions are simple. To pay tribute to and help those who risk their lives for us daily and provide support to these people and their families through fund raising and ceremony in their honor.

Operation Patriot Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization...
... Trot w/ Troops is not a race, it's a charity walk/run with proceeds supporting our troops returning from combat. There are two components to Trot w/ Troops - the March and the Trot. If you enjoy running, the Trot is a full-blown double-time run. For those who want to participate in the fundraiser but running is not for you, simply join the Military March. Both will be in formation and lead by U.S. Military personnel calling out cadence. LOUD & PROUD is the theme so prepare to make noise!...
More info: 


Start: Sunday, June 3, 2012 @ 10:00 AM

Additional Date Information

Registration / Check in - 9:00 A.M.


Roosevelt Island - Firefighter's Field
425 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NY 10044 New York, NY


$20 thru May 14th | $25 thru June 1 | $30 Day of | $15 Students 12 - 18 | Under 12 FREE

Registration Closing Date

Friday, June 1, 2012 PST
Here's a Rochester NY Trot With The Troops

and the Roosevelt Island 5K Trot With The Troops route.

Image of Route From Trot With The Troops

A local sponsor for Roosevelt Island Trot With The Troops is the Riverwalk Bar & Grill.

More information including registration on the Roosevelt Island 5K Trot With The Troops here.

Roosevelt Island Meet Up Knitting Club Formed - Are You Interested? Can't Promise Russell Crowe Will Be There

Image of Russell Crowe Knitting from Kersti

Are there any Roosevelt Island knitters out there interested in joining a Meet Up Group of similarly inclined? If so, this message I received may be of interest:
As you may remember I'm a knitter. I wanted to let you know that one of our neighbors in Southtown has started a meetup group called "Roosevelt Island Knitting Club". So far we have 4 members but I know there are many knitters on the island. Here's the link:
Here's some more famous knitters in addition to Russell Crowe.

Monday, May 28, 2012

RIOC Board Discusses Roosevelt Island Issues With Residents During Conversation Thursday Night - Main Street Stores, Seawall, Meditation Steps, Poor Condition Of Southpoint Park, Garden Club, Outdoor Movies, Public Library, Street Furniture & More

Poor Condition Of Southpoint Park Trees and Landscaping Discussioin

Last Thursday evening, members of the Roosevelt Island community met with resident Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors to discuss a variety of issues including:
  • Main Street Retail stores/windows/arcade (not much the Directors could do now that Hudson Related is the Master Leaseholder),
  • Status of Roosevelt Island seawall (repairs on the Southeast seawall will begin shortly with FEMA reimbursement for portions),
  • Meditation Steps (RFP for repairs was approved by RIOC Board though Meditation Steps will probably not be open before September),
  • Condition of Southpoint Park (deplorable condition of Trees and Landscaping at Southpoint Park),
  • Garden Club (What is the status, if any, of agreement between Garden Club and RIOC? Not known), 
  • Affordable Housing, 
  • placement of benches, tables and street furniture (at Good Shepherd Plaza, Southtown and near Octagon Soccer Field),
  • Red Bus Route,
  • Outdoor Summer Movies (more movies for grown ups instead of, or in addition to, kids movies) and
  • the future of the Public Library and new Cornell NYC Tech campus
among others.

Here's what happened. Sorry, but audio at some portions of the video may be hard to hear.

You Tube Video of RIOC Directors Conversation With Residents (Part 1)

You Tube Video of RIOC Directors Conversation With Residents (Part 2)

I think all who attended, both RIOC Directors and other residents, thought that this was a very productive discussion and would like to see similar discussion continue in the future.

It's Memorial Day - Thank You For Your Service To All Members Of U.S. Military and Their Families

You Tube Video On Memorial Day and 150th Anniversary of Taps

In addition to enjoying ourselves this Memorial Day weekend with a day off from work, friends, family and outdoor barbecues, let's also take a moment to remember the men and women of the United States Military who are currently serving our country, those veterans who have done so in the past and those who gave their lives. From
Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the American military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer...

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves...
More on Memorial Day from and here's President Obama's Memorial Day remarks: