Saturday, October 20, 2012

Reports Of Fire At Roosevelt Island Motorgate Garage

Received this advisory at 7:25 PM from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

due to FDNY activity traffic on Main st. will be delay temporarily.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Also, FDNY Incidents tweets:
and Thomas Schifini Tweets:
and Kuzma tweets:
Just received RIOC advisory at 7:47 PM that:
Traffic on Main St. is back to normal.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Will update as more information becomes available.

UPDATE 10/22 - According to RIOC Press Spokesperson:
A driver noticed smoke and small flames coming from their own vehicle. FDNY extinguished the fire. There were no injuries and there was no damage to Motorgate or other vehicles.

Report From Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove To The Roosevelt Island Community - Come To The Monday, October 22 Community Board 8 Meeting To Learn More And Ask Questions

Cornell NYC Tech VP Cathy Dove Speaks At October 3 RIRA Meeting

Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove sends this report to the Roosevelt Island community.
For those of you I haven’t yet met, I’m Cathy Dove, Vice President of Cornell Tech and a resident here on Roosevelt Island. Together with Dean Dan Huttenlocher, I’m very excited to be leading Cornell’s efforts to develop our new tech campus. I’m going to be using this column to periodically update Islanders on our vision, plans and progress.

It’s hard to believe that it has been less than a year since the City selected Cornell to build an applied sciences campus that will introduce a new graduate tech model and grow the tech sector in New York. Since January 2012, we have been in true “start- up” mode; hiring employees, finding space, and all the while ramping up plans for our future campus on Roosevelt Island. In the last few months, we’ve hired star faculty, moved into our temporary campus space donated by Google in Chelsea, launched a unique partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce and begun accepting applications for our “beta” class of computer science students, which will start in January.

In addition to these very visible activities, we’ve also been hard at work behind the scenes. On the academic side, together with our academic partner Technion, we’ve been designing a distinctive model of graduate tech education that will closely connect academia and industry to spur innovation and economic growth in New York City and beyond. In addition, we’ve also been spending a great deal of time crafting a campus plan for the Roosevelt Island site that will guide our project over the coming years, conducting a very thorough environmental review, and creating early design concepts for the first academic building. I am pleased that the appropriate city agencies have agreed that our planning is at a stage where we can now share this material with the community. This week we officially launched the seven-month public input process known as ULURP.

Ever since Cornell was chosen by Mayor Bloomberg in December to build the campus, we’ve been working hard to meet with as many members of the community as possible, and that effort will only intensify now as we begin official hearings with the community board, borough president, city planning commission and finally the full city council. We’re very much looking forward to a full dialogue on all aspects of the plan.

You can see current renderings of the campus here on Roosevelt Islander Online. Our goal is to create a publicly-accessible campus that stitches the Island together, connecting to the open space and circulation systems on the north and to the parks, Southpoint and Four Freedoms, on the southern tip of the Island. A central pedestrian path will welcome Islanders from the northwest corner of the campus, winding through the campus buildings and into a series of active public open spaces offering breathtaking views of the Manhattan and Queens skylines. The campus will feature a river to river experience, with open spaces pulling people in from the esplanade. The buildings will be social and welcoming, with public spaces on the ground floors, including a public café in the academic building that spills out into the open spaces. We want the campus to be a great new amenity for Roosevelt Island residents, a place that feels part of the community.

The elements of each phase of campus development are being designed to connect academia with industry to spur innovation and entrepreneurship, economic development, jobs and a growing tech sector in New York City. The first phase, due to open in 2017, will include all of the activities necessary to make the campus feel whole from day one, including an academic building, a residential building for students and faculty, a corporate co-location building for startups and tech companies looking to collaborate with the campus, and an executive education center with hotel facilities.

Design work is already underway on the first academic building by Pritzker Prize- winning architect Thom Mayne. We aspire to make this a net-zero energy building, one of the largest of its kind in the country. We are evaluating a number of ways to generate the energy needed to achieve this unique level of sustainability, including a canopy of solar panels that would be an exciting design feature in addition to serving an important function. I think you’d agree it’s the type of bold thinking that has always been at home here on Roosevelt Island.

This is an exciting time for Cornell Tech as well as for Roosevelt Island. We still have a long way to go before breaking ground in 2014, but the process is well underway. The first of many opportunities to hear more about all the details of the campus plan is coming up at the Community Board 8 meeting on October 22. I hope to see you there or at one of the other meetings during this review process. I’ll be back soon with another update on our progress and more information about Cornell Tech.

Report From Acting RIOC President Don Lewis - Roosevelt Island Cornell Campus Renderings, Island House Affordability Plan, FDR Memorial Dedication & Halloween Extravaganza

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Acting President Don Lewis sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
I just attended the dedication ceremony for Four Freedoms Park, and both the Park and the ceremony were simply magnificent. It was an absolute pleasure to have Tom Brokaw as a Master of Ceremonies and hear President Bill Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Ambassador William J. Vanden Heuvel address the captivated audience. The Four Freedoms Park team, the RIOC Board of Directors and RIOC staff all did an outstanding job in working cooperatively to get this done. I encourage the community to take the opportunity to see the Park on Saturday, October 20, which is Roosevelt Island Residents’ Day at the Park, featuring an Open House for resident preview from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

New Cornell Campus Renderings

Earlier this week Cornell University unveiled new renderings of its future campus, which will be located on the southern part of Roosevelt Island. The designs are the most detailed we have seen to date and confirm Cornell’s commitment to an open campus that integrates the rest of the Island and New York City with the campus. For example, the renderings show a pedestrian walkway connecting an outdoor plaza and a green esplanade that offer wonderful views of Manhattan, Queens and the East River. RIOC is thrilled that the plan calls for a series of gorgeous public areas that will be open to Island residents and visitors, and a public café on the main academic building's ground floor that will run into the courtyard. The net-zero energy academic building, with its rooftop photovoltaic canopy, is in line with previous green technology innovations on Roosevelt Island. We look forward to continuing to work with Cornell as their exciting vision becomes reality.

Island House Affordability Plan

We are very pleased to note that, as result of several years of negotiations, Island House, a 400-unit affordable housing development on Roosevelt Island, will continue to remain affordable to its residents for the next 30 years. The Island House deal is historic in nature and marks the first successful conversion of a State Mitchell-Lama rental to affordable home ownership as a solution to a market-rate exit from Mitchell-Lama. Without the State’s intervention in extending affordability, apartments within Island House, a development at the threshold of leaving the Mitchell-Lama program, would have been allowed to be rented at market rates, severely affecting residents.

Under the Island House Affordability Plan, Island House, constructed in 1975 as one of the first four modern housing developments on Roosevelt Island, will exit the Mitchell-Lama program. The Affordability Plan, however, protects all current tenants by allowing them to remain in their apartments with future rent increases calculated in a manner similar to rent stabilized apartments. Rent protection will remain in effect for 30 years. The owner of Island House will apply to convert the building to Co-Op ownership. If the conversion is approved, current tenants will be offered the option to purchase their apartments at below market prices.

The Affordability Plan was initially drafted and agreed upon by the Island House owner and tenants. The Plan was later approved by a multi-agency working group that included: RIOC, which administers operations on Roosevelt Island; New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the State’s housing agency, which administers both the Mitchell-Lama program and the State’s rent laws; and Empire State Development (ESD), which in 1969, as the Urban Development Corporation, first leased the land under Island House from the City of New York. The Affordability Plan was the result of several years of negotiations among the agencies, the Island House Tenants Association, and owners’ representatives.

Halloween Parade & Extravaganza

We are pleased to announce that the annual Roosevelt Island Halloween Parade & Extravaganza will be held on Saturday, October 27, 2012. The parade will begin at 12:00 pm at Blackwell House and end at Capobianco Field. It will feature games, rides, magic shows and live entertainment. All activities are free of charge. In the event of rain, the extravaganza will be held inside PS/IS 217. Participants are strongly encouraged to dress in costumes.

Our last Island event, the Fall for Arts Festival, was a smashing success with over 2,000 people in attendance! We would like the Parade & Extravaganza to be just as successful (if not more), and hope to see you there!

Friday, October 19, 2012

West Point Band Performs At Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park Dedication

Image Of West Point Band At Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park Dedication

The United States Military West Point Band performed last Wednesday at the Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park Dedication Ceremony. Take a look and listen.

The Superintendent of West Point Lt. Gen David Huntoon attended the Dedication and is pictured below greeting former President Bill Clinton.

Image Of President Clinton and West Point Superintendent David Huntoon

Are you interested in learning more about the West Point Band? If so, here's some history of the West Point Band:
... With the establishment of the United States Military Academy in 1802 came an increased demand for military music. As the academy grew, it needed fifers, drummers and buglers to drill the new cadets and provide an audible order to their duty day. In 1817 the ensemble was named the “West Point Band,” and by this time was performing on a full range of instruments, which included two bassoons, two Royal Kent bugles, a tenor bugle, ten clarinets, three French horns, a serpent (an early bass horn), cymbals, a bass drum, eight flutes, and two trumpets.

Today’s band consists of four components: the Concert Band, the Jazz Knights, the Hellcats and Support Staff. They combine to form the Marching Band. The organization fulfills all of the official musical requirements of the Academy, including military and patriotic ceremonies, public concerts, sporting events and radio and television broadcasts, as well as social activities for the Corps of Cadets and the West Point community....
and one of the Band Members prior to playing on Roosevelt Island.

West Point Band Member on Roosevelt Island

More on West Point Band here and full Dedication Ceremony here.

Roosevelt Island Residents, Friends and Family Invited To Special Preview Of Kahn/FDR Four Freedoms Park Saturday October 20 - Check Out The Park With Elected Officials, Performance By Child School Chorus, And The Rules

Received the following invitation to Roosevelt Island residents from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Hi neighbor,

Four Freedoms Park is not open to the public yet, but because you're a resident of Roosevelt Island, you are invited to a special preview.

This Saturday, October 20, we're hosting an exclusive open house just for you. From 10 am to 3 pm, the Park will be open to residents of Roosevelt Island, as well as any friends and family you'd like to bring with you.

The speaking program begins at 11:30 am. We will be joined by:

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
State Senator Jose Serrano
Assembly Member Micah Kellner
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
Council Member Jessica Lappin
Council Member Dan Garodnick
Rabbi Leana Moritt

The Child School/Legacy High School Chorus will perform.

Join us on Saturday to celebrate the completion of the memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt at this exclusive event in advance of the public opening. For more details, please see the formal invitation below.

To prepare for your visit, explore our new website and learn about Park architect Louis I. Khan and the Park's thirty-nine year history. ( )

We look forward to seeing you Saturday.


Four Freedoms Park Conservancy


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
I asked RIOC:
Was the PS/IS 217 chorus invited to perform at this event?

If not, why was the Child School chorus selected to perform instead of a local Roosevelt Island Public School made up of local Roosevelt Island kids?

Any reason why both could not perform?

Thank you.
RIOC's Press Spokesperson replied:
RIOC had no involvement with creating the program for Saturday's event.
I asked Four Freedoms Park for a comment but have not heard back yet. Will include any reply later as an update.

According to the FDR Four Freedoms Park,

Image Of FDR Four Freedoms Park Facing United Nations And East Side Waterfront

here are the rules for the Park:
Park Rules

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is a Presidential memorial. We ask you to follow these rules to preserve the sanctity of this place. To keep the memorial clean for all to enjoy, please carry out what you carry in. Thank you for honoring this shared public space.

Not allowed:

Bicycles, roller skates, recreational scooters, or skateboards
Dogs or other pets
Climbing embankments, walls, or trees
Possessing or consuming alcohol
Glass containers
Amplified sound
Panhandling or solicitation
Commercial activity
Obstructing entrances or walkways
Feeding wildlife
and some more scenes from the October 17 Big Wig Dedication Ceremony.

The FDR Four Freedoms Park is scheduled to open to the public on Wednesday October 24.

UPDATE 5:45 PM - Received this response from Four Freedoms Park Conservancy:
The Child School Chorus is the only local group performing tomorrow. They offered to participate and we accepted.

We look forward to collaborating with the principal of PS/IS public school
and her students in the future.

Roosevelt Island Youth Program Breast Cancer Awareness Initiative Starts With Education And Fundraising At Octagon Field Saturday Soccer League Games Tomorrow

Received the following message from the Roosevelt Island Youth Program yesterday:
Charles DeFino, Executive Director of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program announced today the beginning of the Youth Programs community initiative to inform youth and their parents about Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).

BCAM, also referred to in America as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM),  is an annual international health campaign, organized by major breast cancer charities and local community groups every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.

The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer. This Saturday October 20th, the Roosevelt Island Youth Program Soccer League will give out RIYP Cares/Cure Cancer bracelets for all the players to wear during their games and their coaches will explain the significance of having the players and families wearing them.

This event has been organized by the Beacon Youth Advisory group with our Coaches Across America, Nike/ UP2US Americorps worker Andre Ganeev and Lucy Leon and Sandra Mollette of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program Beacon.

The Beacon is made possible by the grants of the Department of Youth and Community Development and the additional support of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, Americorps, Nike Corporation and donations from Zog Sports and of course our Councilperson Jessica Lappin.

The Roosevelt Island Youth Program will also be selling charm bracelets to raise money for the American Cancer Society, bracelet will be available at the Youth Center at 506 Main Street, all Soccer games at Octagon field and by calling the Roosevelt Island Youth Center at 212-935-3645, the bracelets are $5.00 apiece, so please help us help.

Harvest Time At The Roosevelt Island Explorers Children's Garden On Saturday 10 AM To Noon - You're Invited To Stop By

Received the following message from Leila Vujosevic from the Roosevelt Island Explorers:
We plan to have a “harvest” in our Garden on Saturday.

In addition to harvesting our carrots, we shall also plant some bulbs and make flower bouquets, which we intend to share with anybody who stops by - We hope to have a fun and bonding event.
The Garden is located on the lawn between 455 and 465 Main Street near Starbucks. The Harvest takes place between 10 AM and noon.

More information on the Roosevelt Island Explorers from their web site and previous post.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 17 Dedication Of Roosevelt Island Kahn/FDR Four Freedoms Park Memorial, Here's What Happened - President Clinton Always Wanted To Come To Roosevelt Island After Reading Linda Fairstein Novel The Deadhouse

Reported yesterday on Scenes from the Roosevelt Island Kahn/FDR Four Freedoms Park Memorial Dedication Ceremony.

Here's video of the entire ceremony

Following the Ceremony, President Clinton was surrounded by people wishing to talk, touch or just be in his presence. It was quite a spectacle

Some Roosevelt Island residents managed to get their pictures taken with President Clinton including Dr. Jack Resnick talking health care,

and Photo Blogger Olya Turcihin (Olya's Urban Journal).

I managed to offer to take President Clinton on a tour of Roosevelt Island which he politely declined and then told him about the FDR Hope Memorial.

President Clinton explained that he always wanted to visit Roosevelt Island after reading Linda Fairstein's novel The Deadhouse. Ms. Fairstein is standing at President Clinton's left as we spoke.

Former Roosevelt Island Resident Tom McGeveran Describes The End Of Adolesence For A Bizarre East River Utopia - See What Roosevelt Island Life Was Like In 1980's

Capital New York:

... is an online news publication about how things work in New York, founded in 2010. We report on important local people and institutions, with the aim of sustaining a conversation with a knowing audience about things they don't already know....
Tom McGeveran is the co-founder of Capital New York and grew up on Roosevelt Island. Mr. McGeveran wrote a wonderful article yesterday describing the Roosevelt Island he knew as a child and reflected on:
The end of adolescence for a bizarre East River Utopia
as well as the changes soon to happen with the arrival of Cornell NYC Tech and FDR Memorial.

Here's an excerpt from Capital New York:
... I lived on a Roosevelt Island that was supposed to have been a failed experiment in real-estate development. Only one phase of apartment buildings had been completed when we moved in, and it seemed like no more would ever arrive. That was fine with us. The island had jungles and ruins, and more basketball courts, baseball fields and soccer fields than the 5,000 residents could possibly use. A road winding around the island provided an unbroken 4-mile bike ride with no traffic and beautiful views. Unused land was turned into community gardens: the image of my parents toiling away at their onions and tomatoes and cut flowers in their 400-square-foot plot, in the shadow of the brutal, tall apartment building we lived in is emblazoned in my brain like some socialist-realist idyll, made only funnier by the fact that my parents are Republicans....
and concluded:
...  This incomplete version of Roosevelt Island is often forgotten when stories are written about how the island is "finally" being finished. But if progress is counted in high-rent high-rises of questionable architectural provenance, then the building I lived in, designed by Josep Luis Sert according to the latest principles of efficient design and as part of a utopian architectural vision of the future, is a sort of regression I can get behind.

I was, like many Islanders present and past, perpetually grumpy about every new building that went up. The reason today is a good day for those of us who love Roosevelt Island is because a different kind of change is taking place there now, one more in tune with the spirit of the place. It's something interesting, futuristic, and idealistic. And that's really what that strange island has always been all about.
Click here for the entire Capital New York article on Roosevelt Island.

I've shown this video before, but here's what Roosevelt Island was like in 1980.

You Tube Video Of Roosevelt Island - An Island Place

Are WIRE Building Vertical Patrols Being Conducted As Claimed By Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department?

Image Of Roosevelt Island WIRE Buildings From Wikipedia

Roosevelt Island resident Frank Farance sent the following inquiry to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Acting President Don Lewis:
A couple weeks ago the RIRA Public Safety Committee (the RIRA committee that liaises with RIOC's Public Safety Department) included in their monthly report:
[Excerpt ...]
 Vertical Patrols:

None of the committee members present stated that they had seen vertical patrols being conducted in their buildings. Members acknowledged that PSOs were seen at the door station in Westview during the summer months, and is the 595 Main Street lobby as well, but not seen on the floors or in the stairways. Island House leaders stated similar experiences. Rivercross representative stated that he had not been seen PS Officers patrolling the building recently.
[... end of excerpt]
I had similar experiences: I haven't seen a PSO (Public Safety Officer) patrolling the floors in Island House in the past 5-10 years. As reported above, I had similar experiences seeing PS only at the 555 doorstation or the 575 lobby, not patrolling the building.

When I read the IH Ground Lease Amendment, Exhibit H (page 99) includes a letter from PSD Director Keith Guerra, dated March 13, 2012, that states:
[Excerpt ...]

As a follow up to Steve Chironis' letter dated February 14, 2012, this letter is to serve as further explanation to the services provided to the WIRE buildings by the Public Safety Department of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.

In addition to external patrols, the Public Safety Department provides internal patrols of the buildings at a minimum of one patrol per eight (8) hour shift. That is at a minimum three times during a 24 hour period. Internal patrols include check of all hallways, stairwells and entrance/exit doors, as well as making sure all apartment doors are locked, secured and free of vandalism (i.e., graffiti).
[... end of excerpt]
A couple weeks ago I asked one of the doorman to look at the log book. On the pages I reviewed (which covered several months) I saw that virtually every day lacked a three-per-day patrol ... typically one or two patrols a day, and some days had NO patrols. All of the patrols were short, approximately 20 minutes. Having distributed flyers in the building many times, it takes about 40-45 minutes to cover every floor (Westview residents have similar timings). In some cases, two patrols are being done back to back (3 PM and 4 PM) so the building goes unpatrolled for 22 hours at a time.

I asked several doormen across several shifts if they had seen Public Safety patrolling the building or observed them via security cameras. All doorman said they saw the officers at their doorstation, but did not see him elsewhere in the building (i.e., outside of the 555 and 575 lobbies).

In short, the Public Safety Department is not giving us the service they promise (not enough patrols, inadequately performed, etc.), it is a safety issue, a contractual issue, and a cost issue for us tenants.

To me, this seems like fraud: if someone were billing 40 hours for a week's worth of work and only actually doing half, we would call that fraud, right? On Saturday, consistent with prior observations, I saw a PSO check in at the doorman around 8:10 PM, and then check out around 8:30 PM -- not enough time to patrol the building. He was filling out an Activity Report. How can that Activity Report be truthful or complete if the PSO didn't actually patrol the building? Isn't that Activity Report fraudulent? And why does PSD supervisors believe this is acceptable?

This appears to be a widespread and lengthy problem at Public Safety: the problem exists at a supervisory and executive levels (who schedule the officers, and they don't schedule them properly) and at the officer level (because the officers themselves aren't doing the patrolling they claim to be doing). Mr. Guerra's assertion of PSD performance (Exhibit H) is significantly misleading because: (1) PSD does not do the patrols they promise, (2) the patrols they do are incomplete and inadequate, (3) they represent they do complete performance for other WIRE buildings (other than Island House) when, in fact, they do not do such performance.

This requires an investigation on what kind of performance PSD has provided (so tenants can get a refund), and requires a top-to-bottom investigation of the management structure of Public Safety. I encourage you to look at logs books, security video in WIRE buildings, and so on to verify PSD's lack of performance. I note that when speaking with residents, I have heard second hand from PS officers that some staff is "family", "connected", and such. I looked into this and found out that Mr. Guerra and Mr. Martinez are fraternity brothers (a year a part), and there might be other relationships among the staff. Investigators should use appropriate care.
I asked RIOC Acting President Don Lewis for comment on Mr. Farance's Vertical Patrols inquiry. RIOC's Press Spokesperson replied:
We appreciate Mr. Farance expressing his concerns. We are looking into the issue.
More on Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Vertical Patrols from these previous posts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Roosevelt Island World Youth Alliance 5K Run For Dignity This Sunday October 21

Received the following message from World Youth Alliance announcing their 5K Roosevelt Island Run For Dignity race on Sunday October 21:

Check out the website event listing here!

The 5k is an opportunity for you to show support for promoting human dignity in policy and in culture.
Sunday, October 21st 
Check-in begins @ 8:45 am
Race starts @ 10:00 am 
Advance online: $20
Race day: $25.
Run for Dignity t-shirt included with registration! 
Start location: 405-425 Main Street NY, NY
Accessible via F train or the Roosevelt Island Tram

View a full course map by clicking here

Some Scenes From Roosevelt Island Dedication Of FDR Four Freedoms Park This Morning - A Speech From President Bill Clinton And A Visit From Google Chairman Eric Schmidt Too

Will have more later, but here are some scenes from the FDR Four Freedoms Park Dedication earlier this afternoon morning.

 Ribbon Cutting Image From John Lee

President Bill Clinton's speech at the Dedication

a visit from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt

and Press Release From NY Governor Andrew Cuomo:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, a new State Park located on Roosevelt Island in the East River.

Four Freedoms Park is an enduring tribute to the life and work of President Roosevelt, a former governor of New York State who led the nation through a tumultuous period in American and world history. The Park will open to the public on October 24.

"With the opening of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park this fall, New Yorkers and visitors from around the world will have a memorial to recognize a great leader and native New Yorker who led our nation out of the Great Depression and steered America to victory in World War II," Governor Cuomo said. "New York's state parks are a true treasure, and the addition of Four Freedoms Park will give the park system yet another location for visitors to enjoy the outdoors, while also paying tribute to President Roosevelt. I encourage New Yorkers to visit Four Freedoms Park and learn about the remarkable life, work, and vision of President Roosevelt, from his time as governor leading the Empire State to his steady hand guiding our nation as president."

The last design of the iconic American architect Louis I. Kahn, and the only design by Kahn in New York City, the four-acre Park is a major new addition to New York’s cultural and public life. The park features a granite plaza at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, tree-lined paths and a bronze bust of Roosevelt by acclaimed portrait sculptor Jo Davidson.

Rose Harvey, Commissioner of New York State Parks, said, "New York State Parks are celebrated for connecting people to the most important and inspiring natural, cultural and historic treasures in the state. Four Freedoms State Park builds on this legacy, highlighting President Roosevelt’s remarkable vision of freedom at a critical moment in history and the artistic design of legendary architect Louis I. Kahn."

Darryl C. Towns, Commissioner/CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), who also chairs the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, said, "Roosevelt Island has long deserved a park worthy of FDR, the island's namesake. Four Freedoms Park will serve as a powerful reminder of President Roosevelt's legacy, as well as that of the Greatest Generation who served under him in order to preserve our freedoms."

Sally Minard, President of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, said, "The Four Freedoms are as important and relevant today as they were when President Roosevelt first articulated them in 1941. The Park expresses these fundamental elements of modern democracy in a setting that is truly unique."

The Park has been decades in the making. Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor Lindsay announced the project in 1973, appointing Kahn as its architect; Kahn died unexpectedly shortly after completing the Park’s plans and the City of New York’s financial troubles dampened momentum for the project. More than 30 years later, former Ambassador to the United Nations William vanden Heuvel and the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy spearheaded a philanthropic effort to revive the park, enabling construction to begin in 2010.

The park derives its name from a January 6, 1941 speech delivered by President Roosevelt, in which he described his vision for a world founded on four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

The Park will offer a free interactive digital educational resource that visitors will be able to access on any mobile device. It will provide a multi-media narrative critical to understanding President Roosevelt’s significance, and was designed with the encouragement of the National Endowment for the Humanities with the help of historians and FDR scholars. For more information visit:

With the addition of Four Freedoms, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation operates 179 state parks and 35 historic sites. Four Freedoms will be the first new State Park in New York City since East River State Park opened in Brooklyn in 2007 and the first new State Park in the state since the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened outside of Poughkeepsie in 2009. Park maintenance, programming and security will be provided cooperatively by State Parks, Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.
You can take a walk around the park too.

You Tube Video of Walk Around FDR Four Freedoms Park

Will have video of the entire ceremony later.

UPDATE 5:45 PM - Roosevelt Island Photo Blogger Olya Turcihin (Olya's Urban Journal) shares these great photos she took at today's FDR Memorial Dedication.

UPDATE 4/19- More here including video of entire dedication ceremony and video interview with President Clinton talking about Roosevelt Island.

Mobile Food Trucks Returning To Roosevelt Island, Snap Food Truck Brings Delicious Burgers, Hot Dogs & Avocado Fries - New RIOC Food Truck Policy

Image of Snap Truck Chicago Dog and Avocado Fries From WSJ

After a recent absence, mobile food trucks are returning to Roosevelt Island tonight. Well, at least one is trying out Roosevelt Island for the first time tonight. Snap Truck tweeted yesterday:
What is Snap Truck? According to their web site:
... Our charcoal-grill gives our burgers and dogs a flavor that transports you to a backyard BBQ on a warm summer day, even if you’re just on your lunch break.

Our classic menu items are made fresh on the spot with quality, locally-made ingredients including grass-fed, NY-state beef from Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, organic all-beef hot dogs from Brooklyn Bangers, artisanal pickles from Rick’s Picks and regional cheddar.

In addition to delicious burgers and hand-cut fries, Snap’s menu features a classic Chicago-style hot dog. Order it with “the works” for an entire meal on a bun. Not in the mood for meat? Try the panko crusted avocado fries with our house-made chipotle mayo. Snap also offers seasonal specialty menu items, so keep an eye on our Twitter feed and blog for new additions.

The Truck
The Snap truck’s engine runs on bio-diesel made from recycled cooking oil. This innovation means the organic peanut oil in Snap’s deep fryers gets filtered into the truck’s gas tank after it’s done making Belgian fries and avocado fries. The truck is literally fueled by fries. This cuts down on the amount of fossil fuels we use and gives our cooking oil a second life.

From our engine to our ingredients to our compostable paper products, Snap is committed to making business decisions that are sustainable — for our community and for the environment...
and this Wall Street Journal video.

Snap Truck will be here on Friday too.

Here's the Snap Truck Menu
Snap Truck Menu

You can also order online and pick up at the Snap Truck.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Real Estate Committee (web cast of entire meeting is here) discussed the issue of mobile food vending during their October 5 meeting. During the discussion, it was decided to eliminate the $345 monthly fee and charge vendors $30 per day on a monthly basis for one the three spaces by the subway. As it was explained during the meeting, a food truck vendor could decide it wanted to be here on Mondays and Wednesdays for the month. They would then pay $240 per month (8 days times $30) for one spot and the same applies to any other day of the week.

Here's the discussion.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Roosevelt Island Main Street Subway Sandwich Shop Grand Opening Tomorrow - First New Store From Hudson Related Master Leasehold

At long last, the first new Roosevelt Island Main Street retailer signed up by Master Leaseholder Hudson Related Companies will have its Grand Opening tomorrow. That's right, Subway Sandwich Shop at 513 Main Street will now be open on Roosevelt Island starting tomorrow.

Image Of Roosevelt Island Subway Sandwich Shop Opening Tomorrow (October 17)

Subway Sandwich Shop joins Trellis DinerGallery RIVAA and these other new (yet to open) Roosevelt Island Main Street retail tenants with signed leases:
  • Wholesome Direct, an organic grocer at 530 Main Street, 
  • Island Spirits, a wine shop at 605 Main Street and
  • Coach Scot's Main Street Sweet's at 599 Main Street
as well as the Child School Arts Center on second floor of 504 Main Street.

UPDATE 10/17 - I had lunch at the new Roosevelt Island Subway Shop - a Chicken Teriyaki sandwich

that was pretty good and the store was crowded at lunchtime.

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish View From Your Window Of East River Sailboat Passing Roosevelt Island - What's The View From Your Window?

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish View From Your Window feature is one of my favorites. Yesterday, the view was of Roosevelt Island from across the East River. Here it is.

Image From Daily Dish

What's the view from your window?

Here's one from Roosevelt Island looking across East River to Manhattan's East Side.

and the view from a Manhattan Park web cam.

WCBS News Video Report On Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech Campus - Interviews Residents Concerned With Noise And Nuisance Of Construction, Others Think It Is Worth Disruption

Reported yesterday:

The Cornell NYC Tech Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) officially began today with certification by NYC Planning Department.
WCBS TV came out to Roosevelt Island yesterday to interview residents on the new Cornell NYC Tech project. Here's what some had to say.

More here from WCBS TV.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cornell NYC Tech Roosevelt Island Land Use Review Begins Today - Phase 1 Includes Academic, Residence, Corporate Co-Location Buildings And Hotel/Executive Education Center

The Cornell NYC Tech Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) officially began today with certification by NYC Planning Department. As reported in this October 15 Cornell NYC Tech Press Release:

Cornell Tech today enters the seven-month land use review process for its new tech campus in New York City. The Roosevelt Island campus will sit on a 12-acre site and is slated to open in 2017, with full build out in 2037.

cornell aerial credit kilograph

To mark the beginning of the process, Cornell Tech released new images of the campus, highlighted by preliminary renderings of its first academic building with plans to create a net-zero energy development.

“Just as Cornell Tech will be pioneering new approaches to graduate research and education, our campus won’t look like any other university campus that exists today,” said Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean of Cornell Tech. “We are determined to innovate in every aspect of the development, from the way that students, faculty, researchers, industry and the local community are intermingled, to the sustainability of our buildings and their iconic architecture.”

The campus is being designed to connect with the city and with Roosevelt Island, welcoming the public via a new north-south pedestrian spine that opens onto a series of central open spaces

cornell esplanade credit kilograph

accessible to the public, capturing breathtaking views of the Manhattan and Queens skylines and linking to the Southpoint and new Four Freedoms parks at the Island’s southern tip. Its buildings will be designed to seamlessly connect outdoor and indoor spaces,

cornell courtyard credit kilograph

highlighted by a large public café on the ground floor of the academic building that spills into the open space in good weather. The current plan to achieve net-zero energy for the academic building is via a rooftop photovoltaic canopy that will generate much of the energy needed to make it one of the largest energy-neutral buildings in the U.S. The campus master plan is being designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP, with the first academic building being designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and Morphosis Architects.

CORNELL ATRIUM credit morphosis archititects

“While we officially start the public review process today, Cornell Tech has worked hard over the past nine months to create a robust dialogue with our new neighbors on Roosevelt Island and across the city,” said Cathy Dove, Vice President of Cornell Tech. “The campus plan was designed to be open to everyone, and we look forward to sharing this unique vision with all New Yorkers over the next seven months and beyond.”

Construction on Roosevelt Island is expected to begin in 2014, with the first phase of the campus due to open in 2017. The first phase of the campus is expected to include the first academic building, a corporate co-location building, an executive education center with hotel facilities, a residential building for students and faculty and 125,000 square feet of public open space. At full build in 2037, the campus will include up to 2.1 million square feet of development, housing approximately 2,000 full-time graduate students.

The start of the public review process for the Roosevelt Island campus is another major milestone for Cornell Tech. The campus is now accepting applications for a “beta” class of computer science master of engineering students, which will begin classes in January in temporary space donated by Google in Chelsea. The campus soon will be launching additional academic programs, is actively recruiting star faculty, developing a distinctive new model of tech entrepreneurship, and designing its permanent campus on Roosevelt Island. Earlier this month, Cornell Tech announced a first of its kind partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce to bring full-time U.S. Patent and Trademark Office personnel to the campus to promote innovation and economic development.

Cornell University, with its academic partner the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was selected in December 2011 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to build the applied science and engineering campus, currently located in Chelsea until the permanent campus opens. The new campus is offering a distinctive model of graduate tech education that fuses educational excellence with real-world commercial applications and entrepreneurship, rooted in the latest academic research. Students, faculty and industry experts will learn and work together to launch ideas and create new ventures that have global impact. The campus will attract the best and brightest in technology, immerse them in an entrepreneurial culture with deep ties to the local business community, and spur the creation of new companies and new industries in New York City. The updated campus master plan and preliminary renderings of the first academic building released today reflect Cornell Tech’s commitment to innovation not only in the academic program for the campus but also in its physical development.
During the October 3 Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council meeting, Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove outlined the ULURP Land Use time line for the project.

According to the October 2012 Cornell NYC Tech Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Executive Summary (Page 7):
... As shown in the figure, the Phase 1 buildings, which would include academic, corporate co-location, residential, and Executive Education Center buildings, would be developed in the northern portion of the project site. The Phase 1 central utility plant would be located toward the northern edge of the site.

Open space would also be included as part of Phase 1. Specifically, Phase 1 would include: 
  • A Cornell building for academic purposes. This building is anticipated to be approximately 150,000 gsf in size and could be up to 8 stories in height. At this time, designs for this building reflect an academic building that has a 30,150 sf footprint and is five stories tall (approximately 70 feet, 77 feet including the building canopy).
  • A corporate co-location building. This building is anticipated to be approximately 150,000 sf in size and could be up to 8 stories in height. This building would house approximately 100,000 sf of corporate co-location use and 50,000 sf of academic space. At this time, designs for this building reflect a corporate co-location building that has a 35,000 sf footprint and is five stories tall (approximately 80 feet).
  • A residential building of approximately 300,000 sf for campus faculty and students. This building is anticipated to be up to approximately 30 stories in height (approximately 320 feet) with current designs showing a 10,800 sf footprint.
  • An Executive Education Center. This building would be approximately 170,000 sf in size with up to 225 hotel rooms. The conference facility would occupy approximately 25,000 gsf of the building. It is anticipated that the hotel would rise up to approximately 17 stories (200 feet) and have a 20,500 sf footprint.
Approximately 10,000 gsf of campus-oriented retail would be included on the site and could include uses such as a restaurant, cafés, newsstand, or bookstore.

The central utility plant would house in-coming utility services and provide space for centralized electric production or co-generation facilities. As discussed above, Cornell has set a goal to achieve net-zero energy consumption for its Phase 1 academic building. To meet this goal, an array of photovoltaic (PV) panels may be constructed above the roof of the academic building; it may also extend over a portion of the central spine (creating a canopy), and possibly continue over the roof of the corporate co-location building (see Figure S-6).

The open space to be developed as part of Phase 1 would total 1.3 acres. Portions of the southern portion of the project site are anticipated to be developed with several interim uses, potentially including a nursery and other vegetated surfaces (such as a planted meadow). As part of Phase 1, the roadway circling the project site would be widened with temporary construction to provide a functional 32-foot-wide travelway around the project site. The portion of the roadway adjacent to the Phase 1 development would be built to final conditions as the Phase 1 buildings are completed.....
Click Image To Enlarge Phase 1 Illustrative Site Plan (Page 7 Executive Summary)

Executive Summary Page 6 (Click To Enlarge)
Below is the anticipated Cornell NYC Tech construction schedule (Page EIS Ch 20 Page 4)

and plans for delivery access to the Roosevelt Island site (EIS Ch 20 Page 5-6):
... Roosevelt Island is served by the Roosevelt Island Bridge, which has a 36-ton-gross vehicle weight restriction. Therefore, as in other construction projects on Roosevelt Island, all trucks used for construction of the proposed project would meet this weight requirement. At limited times during construction, if a large piece of construction equipment (i.e., tower crane) could not be transported over the Roosevelt Island Bridge due to the weight restriction, the equipment would be transported via barges. Cornell is assessing the feasibility of barging as an alternative to truck material deliveries. However, no practical and feasible methods of barging have been identified at this time....
The entire Cornell NYC Tech EIS is here. It is voluminous with lots of information about the project.

The NY Times reported today on Cornell NYC Tech's plans:
A canopy of solar cells, a nearly classroom-free academic center, cafes open to the public and even a hotel. The new campus of the Cornell University graduate school for technology is expected to transform Roosevelt Island from a sleepy bedroom community into a high-technology hothouse, and indeed, the plans to be formally unveiled for the campus on Monday bear little resemblance to anything that is there now....
and included these comments from Roosevelt Islanders:
... The island is traversed by one central road, Main Street, and accessible by car by the Roosevelt Island Bridge, which connects it to Queens. University officials said they planned to bring construction and demolition materials by road, rather than barge, which they said would greatly increase the cost.

That could turn out to be the most controversial aspect of the project. Noise from garbage trucks is already a problem, as is gridlock, said Frank Farance, 54, the chairman of the planning committee of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association.

“I think the community will have strong opposition to having the roads tied up that way,” Mr. Farance said. Also, he said, the bridge ramps and roads seem unlikely to hold up under the increased traffic. It would be foolhardy, he said, to depend on “this very weak infrastructure that might fall apart.”

Still, Oscar Hernandez, the manager of Nonno’s Focacceria and Pizzeria on Main Street, was hopeful. “We expect to have a lot more business with Cornell,” he said. Mr. Hernandez said he was not concerned that the campus would have cafes open to the public. “We make good food here,” he said.
Click here for the entire NY Times article.

CBS News reported:
... Andrew Winters, who's spearheading the planning for Cornell Tech, declined to say how much the campus is expected to cost. Developers would pay to put up some of the buildings — those intended for companies' and nonprofits' use — and then would recoup money by leasing them to Cornell and other tenants, officials said....
On October 22, Cornell will present their plans to the Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Task Force at the Manhattan Park Theater Club on Roosevelt Island.

UPDATE 10/16 - WCBS TV video interview with Roosevelt Island residents on Cornell NYC Tech project.

What Was Bill Murray Doing On Roosevelt Island Yesterday Afternoon - Crashing A Kickball Game At Firefighters Field

Roosevelt Island is expecting Bill Clinton to visit this Wednesday if the Kahn/FDR Memorial dedication occurs as scheduled but yesterday another celebrity named Bill paid us a visit and played some Roosevelt Island kickball.  That is Bill Murray standing in the center holding the ball at Firefighters Field.

Image Of Bill Murray With Kickball Players On Roosevelt Island from Cockenblog Via Pop Watch

According to Pop Watch:
... So a group of adult kickball players shouldn’t have been surprised when their game was suddenly interrupted by the enigmatic Ghostbusters star himself this past Sunday. Marina Cockenberg of CollegeHumor posted a photo of Murray posing with the kickball team on her personal Tumblr, and the picture quickly went viral. When we contacted us for details, she directed us toward her friend Chris DiLella — an actual member of the team in question. (He’s the fourth guy from the left, wearing a gray shirt and sunglasses.) DiLella gave us the scoop on what actually happened that fateful afternoon:

Around 2 p.m., DiLella and his fellow kickballers were playing a game in a field on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. Murray “popped out of nowhere” and began interacting with the players. “He was bouncing the ball… ran over to second base. Played for a bit… Gave us all high-fives and let us pose with him in the picture,” DiLella explained over email....
Click here for the entire Pop Watch article.

Wow - that's one Roosevelt Island experience I am sorry I missed.