Saturday, June 16, 2012

Report From RIOC President Leslie Torres - Rats At Manhattan Tram Station Entrance, New Roosevelt Island Way Finding Signage, Summer Outdoor Movies And Groundskeepers Visit Central Park To Learn New Strategies

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Lesie Torres sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
Greetings Roosevelt Islanders! I hope you enjoyed all of the Roosevelt Island Day fun last weekend. Thankfully the morning clouds dissipated and we enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon and evening. I would like to thank everyone who participated – residents, visitors and elected officials, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Councilmember Jessica Lappin, State Senator José M. Serrano, and Assembly Member Micah Kellner. I would also like to thank Urban American’s Doryne Isely and the Youth Center’s Charlie Defino who partnered with RIOC on funding and organizing the event. Lastly, special thanks go to the terrific RIOC staff members who made the whole day run smoothly.

Rats in Tramway Park

I think we can all agree that the rat problem at Tramway Park on the Manhattan side of the Tram needs immediate attention. To be clear, Tramway Park is the property of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. RIOC has no jurisdiction beyond working with the agency, which we are doing. Specifically, we have offered to help with extermination and we are exploring how we can supplement their other efforts to address the problem. For example, the Parks Department power-washes the Tram plaza once a week, which doesn’t seem to be enough to deter the rats. As a result, we are hiring a contractor who will provide additional power-washing services so that the plaza will be cleaner. The rat problem is clearly exacerbated by people feeding pigeons, which is illegal, so we are encouraging the Parks Department to increase enforcement in the area. We have also gotten indication that their extermination efforts will be stepped up. We will continue to monitor the situation and explore further action if necessary.

New and Improved Signage

The installation of way-finding signage is a priority for RIOC. We are in discussions with Hudson Related to install a network of informational and directional signage Island-wide. Additionally, we are in the process of redesigning our bus stop signage, which will improve the visibility of Red Bus stops.

Soon we will be offering Island merchants the opportunity to promote their businesses on the Tram monitors. This will also allow riders to see various retail options that are available before arriving on Roosevelt Island.

Summer Outdoor Movie Series

Roosevelt Island’s 2012 Summer Outdoor Movie Series begins on Saturday, June 30 at Southpoint Park with a screening of the 2011 blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger. This free series will feature family-friendly films on select evenings throughout the summer, including Grease (July 7), Tangled (July 20), The Help (July 21), The Lion King (August 4), and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (August 11). Each movie starts at 8:00 pm, but you can arrive at 7:00 pm for live music, movie-themed trivia, prizes, and other activities. And of course, there will be buttery popcorn, hotdogs and other goodies for sale. Admission is free, so bring a blanket or a chair, sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

Groundskeepers Learn New Strategies

RIOC’s groundskeepers will visit Central Park on June 18 to learn about the landscaping strategies and tactics behind one of the world’s most renowned urban parks. Earlier this year, members of Cornell’s groundskeeping team did a series of ten training sessions with our groundskeepers, aimed at teaching them the latest best practices in landscaping and environmental beautification. It’s all part of our effort to ensure that we’re making Roosevelt Island a gorgeous place to live and visit.

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's About Time, Roosevelt Island Mobile Food Truck Permit Applications Finally Made Available From RIOC - But Will Anyone Come Due To Extra Fees and Regulations?

Here's the latest on Roosevelt Island Mobile Food Trucks. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) has finally issued food truck permit applications.According to the permit application:
1. Applicant completes the Mobile Food Vendor Permit Application Form and submits the form and all required attachments to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Parks and Recreation Department.
2. Upon review of application for completeness, the Parks and Recreation Department will circulate the application and attachments to the appropriate departments for approval.
3. Once all appropriate departments have processed and  approved the application, the Parks and Recreation Department shall submit the application and all attachments to the Vice President of Operations for approval.
4. Vending sites are designated by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation for placement of mobile food vendor carts/trucks.
5. Permit fee amount for each site is $345 per month. Permit fees must be paid by money order, certified bank check, official bank check or cashier’s check.
6. The deposit amount for each site is $345.00 which must be paid by money order, certified bank check, official bank check or cashier’s check.
7. Each year on April 1st, all sites will become available for reassignment.
8. Any violation of Title 17, Chapter 3, Subchapter 2, of the Administrative Code of the City of New York will result in the termination of a vendor’s permit. Vendor will also be held responsible for any costs incurred by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation for any said violation.
9. Insurance. Applicant agrees to maintain:
a. Commercial General Liability Insurance providing  both bodily injury including death and property damage insurance in a limit of not less than two million dollars ($2,000,000.00) combined single limit basis.  Such insurance is to be written on an occurrence basis and shall name each of the Indemnitees as an additional insured.
b. Automobile Liability and Property Damage Insurance (where applicable) in an amount not less than five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00) combined single limit for both bodily injury and property damage;
c. Worker’s Compensation Insurance and Employer’s General Liability Insurance as required under the Worker’s Compensation Law.

Certificates of Insurance for all aforementioned coverages shall be provided to RIOC prior to entering the Licensed Premises and bear notations evidencing a minimum of 10 day cancellation notice to RIOC.  The Applicant's Commercial General Liability Insurance policy shall name RIOC, the Empire State Development Corporation, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the State of New York and the City of New York as additional insureds.
The question now becomes if any Mobile Food Truck vendor will come to Roosevelt Island with the  extra RIOC fees and regulations that are not required in any other NYC neighborhood?

The complete Roosevelt Island Mobile Food Truck vendor application is here and the map of available locations here. The allowable locations for food trucks does include the West Promenade near the subway station which had been initially excluded by RIOC. Other locations include Lighthouse Park, Octagon Soccer Field, Tram Station and Southpoint Park. Existing street vendors are located at the Motorgate Farmers Market and Subway Station Fruit vendor.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Island Shakespeare Brings Immersive Celebration Of Much Ado About Nothing To Roosevelt Island's Eastwood Amphitheater This Weekend- Come See, Don't Be Just A Witness To The Debauchery

Outdoor Shakespeare comes to Roosevelt Island at the Eastwood Amphitheater starting Friday Night June 15 and continues on consecutive weekends thru July 1. As previously reported:

Summer Shakespeare in Central Park has more New York City competition this year from a new Roosevelt Island Theater Company - Island Shakespeare. According to Island Shakespeare:

Island Shakespeare presents an immersive celebration of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado.”

You enter a raucous celebration of Italian Unification (circa 1861), invited to drink and dance with the red-shirted soldiers of Garibaldi’s “Expedition of 1000.” Revelers can follow the story, follow a character, or follow their own desire to explore the piazza.

“Tom and I came across the Eastwood Amphitheater on Roosevelt Island

 Eastwood Amphitheater Image From Island Shakespeare

as we were out walking on a warm March day in 2011. We knew we wanted to break out and create our kind of Shakespeare somewhere and it was an ‘ah ha’ moment. We both kind of looked at each other like, this is IT.” says Kristi Artinian, island resident and artistic director of Island Shakespeare.

Director Thomas Kee, an original American cast member of “Sleep No More” now running in Chelsea, brings those sensibilities to “Much Ado.” “People used to think of Tony and Tina’s Wedding or a Ren. Faire when we said interactive theatre. It’s fun like those kinds of shows, but with the added element of a superbly acted play happening all around you.”

The company is made up of a diverse group of classically trained actors and veteran immersive theatre performers such as: Brian Keith MacDonald** (The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino) as Leonato, shock comic Ashley Strand** (Shakespeare Theatre Co. D.C. veteran) as Dogberry, and Lindsay Tanner (Co-Artistic Director of the Accidental Shakespeare Company) as Margaret.

June 15-July 1 with 7:30pm shows Fridays & Saturdays and 2pm matinees Saturdays and Sundays at the Eastwood Amphitheater. Just one stop out on the F train from 63 & Lex. at 516 Main Street, Roosevelt Island. Or take the Tram like Spiderman. Directions available

Only a limited number of people are admitted to each performance. Booking is recommended online or (866) 811-4111.

**These Actors are appearing courtesy of Actors' Equity Association

Equity Approved Showcase.
More on Island Shakespeare from previous post
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors, students and children.

Here's a small snippet from a Island Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing rehearsal last week.

I am very much looking forward to Island Shakepeare's version of Much Ado About Nothing.

Roosevelt Island Drug Use - Public Safety Says They Are Aware Of Problem and Increasing Patrols

According to a June 10 report submitted to the RI 311 See Click Fix System:
I have noticed an increasing number of baggies near the 40 River Road bus stop and in the park circled by River Road. Please increase patrols to discourage drug use in this are.
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) responded to the report:
Issue Closed

Public Safety will increase patrol of the area in question, as they are aware of the situation.
Yesterday, I sent the following message to RIOC Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra:
The 6/12 - 13 Public Safety report indicated:
Arrest- Unlawful Dealing with child/Criminal Possession of Marijuana - PSD arrested the subject
Can you provide any additional information regarding this incident? How old was the child, where did this occur, when and any other relevant context. There is no need for any names of those involved.

Thank you.
RIOC's Press Spokesperson replied:
Here is the additional information that we can provide you:

Date: Tuesday June 12, 2012
Time: 6:42PM
Location: Rear of 900 Main St.
Injuries: None
The Roosevelt Island 24 Hour Public Safety reports are published daily and archived on Roosevelt Islander sidebar.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Roosevelt Island's Manhattan Park Management To Begin Elevator Modernization On June 25 - When Will They Begin Motorgate North Elevator Repairs

Reported previously on problems with the Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park building elevators. A Manhattan Park resident sends this announcement from building management:
Dear Residents,

On Monday June 25 we will begin a major upgrade of all of the elevators at Manhattan Park. During this modernization project, we will be upgrading one elevator at a time in each building.

Management will be sending out periodic progress updates as they become available.

We hope to minimize any inconvenience during these upgrades.

We thank you in advance for your cooperation

Manhattan Park Management
Also reported last February that Manhattan Park ownership had tentatively agreed to repair the North Motorgate elevators

 Image of Broken North Motorgate Parking Elevator

 at the same time that they renovate the Manhattan Park building elevators:
... the Motorgate North Elevator is about to get replaced according to a resolution approved at the January 2012 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors meeting (Video web cast here).

As shown in the video below, RIOC Chief Financial Officer Steve Chironis explains that after 7 years of RIOC negotiations with Motorgate Garage partner Roosevelt Island Associates a/k/a Manhattan Park (Manhattan Park owns 39%, RIOC 61%), a tentative agreement has been reached to replace the Motorgate North elevators damaged by water infiltration and out of service for approximately 10 years. Mr. Chironis reports the agreement calls for sharing the approximately $575,000 cost to totally replace the North elevators in the same percentage as ownership with RIOC paying $384,000 and Roosevelt Island Associates $190,000. At Roosevelt Island Associates request/insistence, included in the cost to RIOC will be payment of about $89,000 to correct original defects in Motorgate North Elevator design. According to Mr. Chironis, work will commence in April 2012.

You Tube Video of Motorgate North Elevator Replacement

RIOC Director David Kraut said that over many years Roosevelt Island Associates had demonstrated recalcitrance in maintaining and upkeeping these elevators at their own expense though he still voted to approve the agreement.

Mr. Chironis mentioned that a stumbling block in the negotiation to fix the Motorgate North Elevator has been that Roosevelt Island Associates wanted RIOC to fix the Motorgate escalator. I am not sure what that is about but RIOC has wanted to remove the escalator for a long time.

Mr. Chironis added that Manhattan Park is also replacing the elevators in their building.
Let's see if Manhattan Park ownership starts work repairing the North Motorgate elevators as well.

Job Available At Roosevelt Island Historical Society Visitors Kiosk For Friendly Resident Knowledgeable About History And Community - Is That You?

Received the following part time job announcement from Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) President Judy Berdy:
The RIHS Visitor Center is seeking a part time employee.
The applicant must be an island resident, versed in history and knowledgeable about the community. They must be friendly, outgoing and responsible. Hours are varied. Duties include meeting, greeting and welcoming visitors, giving out directions, advising on activities, maintaining the kiosk, supplying the merchandise and responsible for cash register and daily sales.

Please submit your resume to:
More information on the RIHS available at their web site.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Larger Turnout Expected for RIOC Real Estate Committee Today Causes Change In Location To Manhattan Park Community Center - Could Be For Possible Gallery RIVAA Eviction From Sportspark Mezzanine, Child School Equestrian Center Or Something Else?

Just received this update from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) regarding Real Estate Development committee meeting later today:

Attached please find the amended notice for the June 12, 2012 meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Board of Directors.

Please note that the only change to the notice is the location of the meeting. The meeting will now be held at the Manhattan Park Community Center, 8 River Road, as we were informed today that a large turnout is expected. 
Here's the Agenda for today's Real Estate Committee Meeting:
1.  Potential Uses of Sportspark Mezzanine;
2. Availability of Additional Community Spaces;
3.  Retail Master Lease Performance;
4. Presentation Regarding a Proposed Equestrian Center; and
5. Any Other Committee Business That May be Brought Before the Committee.
I don't know which Agenda Item is the cause of the anticipated larger than expected attendance for the Real Estate Development Committee meeting. It could be about the proposed Child School Equestrian Center plan or the possible eviction of Gallery RIVAA

 Image Of Gallery RIVAA Protest Signs At Roosevelt Island Day

from their current workspace at Sportspark Mezzanine which was the subject of protest and a petition drive during Roosevelt Island Day last Saturday.

  Image Of Gallery RIVAA Protest Signs At Roosevelt Island Day

Maybe some other issue.

Stay tuned to find out more.

UPDATE 9:15 PM - The larger than expected crowd for tonight's RIOC Real Estate Committee meeting came from supporters of Gallery RIVAA and members of the Roosevelt Island Islamic community.

Gallery RIVAA supporters were objecting to the possibility of losing their current workspace in the Sportspark Mezzanine to the Roosevelt Island Islamic community. The Roosevelt Island Islamic community is seeking a location for a worship/cultural space and is exploring the possibility of using Sportspark Mezzanine for that purpose.

Another option raised for the first time at tonight's meeting was reconfiguring a portion of the Sportspark women's locker room for use by either Gallery RIVAA or the Islamic community. No decisions were made at tonight's Real Estate Committee meeting regarding the use Sportspark space but RIOC staff will examine the possibilities.

Also discussed was a presentation by Gallop NYC to develop with the Child School a Therapeutic Equestrian Stable on Roosevelt Island in the open space between the Octagon Soccer Field and East River. Later this summer that area will be used for additional picnic tables and exercise equipment.

Will have more on both of these issues later.

Roosevelt Island - It's A Perfect Place For You To Live

If an advertisement for Roosevelt Island is ever needed this would be perfect. According to the video narrator:

...Whether you're inventing a new and exciting life or settling down with a family, Roosevelt Island is ready to accommodate  Try Roosevelt Island - It's Perfect....

You Tube Video of Perfect Roosevelt Island

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hordes Of Rats Invading Manhattan Roosevelt Island Tram Station Entrance - Will NYC Parks Department Clean Up Tram Plaza Park?

Image From Catherine Shells

A Roosevelt Island resident reported Saturday evening:
Coming home from Manhattan this evening, my daughter & I spotted this large collection of rats feeding, openly in the park near the tram station (manhattan side). It was still quite bright out & many people walking by but that did not stop them.

I spoke to the tram attendant and he told me that one lady comes every day to leave bread for the pigeons. I have seen her myself. It's obvious the pigeons are staying far away!!
The rat problem near the Manhattan Roosevelt Island Tram station was also reported on RI 311 See Click Fix


The Tramway Plaza Park

is under the jurisdiction of New York City Parks Department and not the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC). In 2007, Tramway Plaza completed a $846,000 reconstruction. According to NYC Parks:
... “The reconstruction of Tramway Plaza has created an attractive and welcoming plaza for both daily commuters and the surrounding community to enjoy,” said Commissioner Benepe. “The plaza’s new plantings, fencing, pavement, and lighting are surely a welcome addition to the east Midtown neighborhood. Today’s ribbon cutting not only spruces up this transportation hub, but also contributes to our mission of making New York City a ‘greener’ place to live.”

The plaza was renovated with $768,000 in private sponsorship from Solow Development and $11,000 in Mayoral funds. The reconstruction includes shrubs and trees, fencing and new pavement. The project also installed water supply, reconstructed the drainage system and added new security lighting. Planting beds throughout the plaza include hydrangeas, cherry laurels, dogwoods, roses, and azaleas. The center of the plaza features a focal point of polished black granite pavement....
Mayor Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Benepe - can you do something about the rats infesting the area please?

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Questions And Answers Update - Vertical Patrols, Parking and Traffic Enforcement, Motorgate Safety, Graffiti & More

An update to June 8 post on Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) June Public Safety Committee Report. Below are questions submitted by RIRA Public Safety Committee Chair Erin Feeley-Nahem to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety  Department Director Keith Guerra and Mr. Guerra's answers.

Ms. Feeley-Nahem writes to Mr. Guerra:

There are several questions that came up in the 5/22/12 Public Safety meeting that I would appreciate clarification on:
Question - On vertical patrols, they have been less visible then in the past. Have they been decreased in number? 
Answer - No.

Question - Are you using the same "hot spot strategy?

Answer - Yes.

Question - What are the hours of the school crossing guard?
Answer - School Days: 7:30-8:30, 11:30-12:30 and 2:30-3:30.

Question -When she is out, does she have a replacement?
Answer - Our Officers try to cover it, if she's out.

Question - What is being done concerning the increase in graffiti as mentioned in the WIRE 2 weeks ago?
Answer - Plain Clothes detail, when staffing permits.

Question - Why are cars parking down on the East Channel, by Southtown, all day Sunday, and throughout the night until Monday, without a ticket?
Answer - Because parking all day Sunday is allowed in NYC.  At 12:01 Monday, we enforce.

Question - What is the policy about remaining there overnight?
Answer - Vehicles are not allowed to park overnight.

Question - Also, same issue is being raised on non equal ticketing at South Town.
Answer - Where does ### get this from?  We write tickets island-wide.

Question - Concern over pedestrians and bicycles ignoring traffic laws. Members suggested trying to correct this by having  PSO's be more "educational" in their approach to the problem. Pedestrians are crossing any where they please, without watching for traffic, ie: jay walking. Bicycles are riding on the sidewalks, and streets with out consideration of the rules and regulations that apply. If officers, as a first step could pull them over and educate them, warn them, maybe we can avoid going to the ticketing phase.

Answer - This is NYC.  People aren't always going to cross the street where they are supposed to.  Our Officers do educate first by "warning & admonishing" before issuing tickets.  That's part of the Community Policing Strategy.

Question- Cars are still going through the stop signs. Can we address this by picking a day when we have officers stop motorist and give out warnings, then if it doesn't help, possibly tickets? Word travels quickly.
Answer - We have done this and will continue to do it.  The reason word hasn't traveled is because most of the folks being stopped do not live or work here.

Question - A RIRA members is curious why they are not allowed to park on Main Street after 7pm for free, as they are able to in other boroughs in NYC?

Answer - Please tell her that this is a small island with extremely limited parking.  Main Street is designated for temporary parking only, so that many can have the opportunity to park briefly to load or unload.  Permanent parking is available at the Motorgate Garage.

Question - She states that since it is your officers who give the tickets, you should have the solution.
Answer - I do.  That's the reason.

Question- Also, I forgot to follow up on Motorgate. During May's meeting Officer Sitaras reported that 2 robberies had occurred, of vehicle, in Motorgate. Any update on this?
Answer - They are not classified as Robberies.  People get robbed, not cars. (smile).  The subjects involved in the Larcenies from the 2 vehicles were not caught, and it is believed that it was an inside job to collect Insurance money.  PSD continues to patrol the Motorgate regularly.

Question - Was the individual/s apprehended, are there more patrols, additional security now at Motorgate since these events happened?

Also the bathrooms have now been locked, and the stairwells are being used as urinals again. Does PSO patrol the stairways as well, to deter this behavior? What are we doing to combat this type of quality of life issue? 
Answer - Complaints need to be made to Central Parking about the bathrooms and the smelly staircases.  They are responsible for their upkeep.  I believe the bathrooms are locked because a homeless man was taking up residence there.  PSD does check the stairwells during their patrols. 

Question - Someone came to me asking about the Public Safety "Free Parking cards" that she stated were given to your officers as a perk, for family and friends. I think she mentioned that each officer was given 12. (That number seemed awfully high when you multiply that number by the number of officers, and compare it to the limited parking options available on the Island.) She stated that she had one and was wondering why she had been ticketed.  I was amazed when I saw one, in a out of state BMW, parked for several hours in front of Westview., without a ticket, and without a muni-meter ticket. Can you tell me what the policy is attached to the distribution of the 2012 Public Safety card? How many are there? What restrictions if any are on them?

Answer - All Law Enforcement Agencies give their officers annual PBA cards.  Their purpose is for trading them with officers from other agencies, as different cards have different artwork.  They do NOT allow for free parking. 
Ms. Feeley-Nahem adds:
When Keith and I discussed this last point verbally, he did recommend that if a resident does come across this type of situation that they should call Public Safety and inform them of the situation.

Thank you Chief  for your time and your attention tward these matters.