Saturday, February 2, 2013

Afrocentricity Opening Reception Tonight At Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA Curated By Former Resident Darin DeField - Celebrate Black History Month With Fine Arts Exhibition Of Black Diaspora

Image from Darin DeField

Received the following message from the folks at Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA
"AFROCENTRICITY"Fine Art Group Exhibition

Opening Reception: Saturday, February 2nd, 6 ~ 9 pm Gallery RIVAA

Sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA), Gallery RIVAA features its first exhibition celebrating Black History Month with the historical contribution of African American Contemporary Fine Art on Saturday, February 2nd through Sunday, February 24th, 2013..

"Afrocentricity" shines a light on the theory of African epistemological relevance to the Black Diaspora. This exhibit will absorb and incorporate ideas and materials sustaining traditional African processes that include craft, color and patterns that remain in African American art.

This exciting group exhibit is an eclectic mix of established and emerging New York and New Jersey artists who work in many mediums. A diverse range of paintings, mixed media, etchings. sculpture, textiles and jewelry will be on exhibit.

Curators, Lorraine Williams, and Barbara deCew of RIVAA welcomed New Jersey artist and curator Darin DeField, who was raised on Roosevelt Island, as Guest Curator to help plan and organise this exhibition.

"I am proud to help present this unique exhibit that welcomes art collectors, dealers and spectators to consider the quality of these fine artists' use of color, imagery and techniques in their works of art and to walk away with an understanding of its content.", DeField says.

"Afrocentricity" will attract a diverse audience from Manhattan and the tri-state area including a cultural mosiac of artists, collectors, art enthusiasts, educators, students and professionals.

Gallery RIVAA is a truly beautiful art space. The Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA) dedicated 10 years to enhancing the community with quality art, music, poetry, dance and a variety of cultural and civic events. RIVAA is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization that relies on membership, grants and funding to keep the doors open. Gallery RIVAA is free and open to the public for inspiration, reflection and support. We are proud to present the gallerys' first exhibition celebrating the historical contribution of African American Fine Art.

Located at 527 Main Street on Roosevelt Island, Gallery RIVAA is easily accessable from the 59th Street TRAM, F Train or the Roosevelt Island Bridge from Long Island City.

Gallery hours are: Tue & Thu, 1-5 pm,/ Wed & Fri, 6-9 pm,/ Sat & Sun, 11am-5pm.
Come meet your neighbors and enjoy the "Afrocentricity" exhibition.

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch Dies Yesterday At Age Of 88 - He Had A Thing For Roosevelt Island According To Twitterverse

Remembering former NYC Mayor Ed Koch

and a 2007 interview with Mr. Koch on his life and career.

According to the Twitterverse:

More on Mayor Koch from NY Times obituary.

Friday, February 1, 2013

NO Roosevelt Island F Train Service To Manhattan Again This Weekend - Oye, Weekend Service Changes Extended Until Late 2013 Says MTA

According to the MTA:
F Coney Island-bound trains run via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts

Weekend, 11:15 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon, Feb 1 - 4

Trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza.

No Coney Island-bound F service at 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av/63 St and 57 St.
More information on subway service disruptions this weekend from the MTA's Weekender.

According to this flyer posted inside the Roosevelt Island subway station entrance window, weekend and weeknight F Trains service disruptions

are extended until late 2013.


Paulo's Kitchen Brings Italian Food Specialties To Roosevelt Island Farmers Market, Yum - They Have Gluten Free Products Too

I was making my weekly trip to the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market last Saturday when I noticed a new vendor - Paolo's Kitchen selling Italian Food.

According to Paolo's Kitchen:
Healthy, home-cooked meals for busy families

Its original intention was to provide busy families an opportunity to eat healthy, home-cooked meals, without the pressure and time constraints of preparing them. So, the signature items are typically designed to serve 2-3 or 6-8 people in a hurry.

Our food is delivered cold, but fresh! The only requirement is that the customers turn on their oven and wait for their delicious meal to be ready!!...

I spoke with Paolo's Kitchen Roosevelt Island Farmers Market manager Lenny who tells us about our new vendor.

Here's the menu.

I took home the Eggplant Rollantini, their signature dish. It was very good and I will be back for more.

Try it out tomorrow.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

"This Is Our Island, Not Your Island" Says Roosevelt Island Public Safety Officer To Kids Reports Mom At Residents Meeting Yesterday With RIOC Directors On Recent Brutality Allegations

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Committee (audio web cast of public portion of meeting here) met yesterday to discuss the recent brutality complaint brought against the Public Safety Department. The meeting was held in executive session, closed to the public, at RIOC headquarters with RIOC Chairperson Darryl Towns in attendance. Mr. Towns rarely, if ever, attends RIOC committee meetings. His presence indicates the serious nature of these charges.

Members of the public were directed to sit, not in the waiting area of RIOC offices, but in a room far away from the conference room with a Public Safety Officer stationed in the corridor between the public and the conference room door

so as not to overhear what was said in the meeting. Following the executive session, the Operations Committee meeting was moved to a meeting room space at 2-4 River Road to accommodate the approximately 20-25 residents who wished to attend the public portion of the meeting and to speak on the issue of the Public Safety Department's relationship with the community.

The Public portion of the meeting began with Chairperson Michael Shinozaki announcing that they could not speak about the brutality allegation because it was the subject of pending litigation and that the matter has been submitted to the NY State Office of the Inspector General for review.

Here's a report from Channel 7 on the alleged brutality incident and the full Press Conference on the matter from post yesterday.

After the RIOC Operations Committee discussed several Agenda matters not involving the alleged brutality incident, members of the public made it known that they wanted to express their thoughts to the RIOC Directors on this incident and the relationship of the Public Safety Department with the community.

The common theme of residents complaints against the Public Safety Department were that the:
... culture of public safety has become to coin a common phrase a bullying culture...
... I don't understand why I have to feel that I have to protect my kids from Public Safety...
One parent noted that children were told by a Public Safety Officer
... this is our Island not your Island...
Another view expressed by a parent was:
... I am on the fence with Public Safety. I have seen abuse but I have also seen way more Public Safety Officers doing what they are supposed to do...
  which led to a brief heated discussion among friends.

At the end of the meeting the RIOC Directors were asked by me if after listening to all of the comments from residents, do they recognize that a management problem exists at the Public Safety Department. RIOC Director David Kraut said:
... these were all things we are looking at... 
but he couldn't comment more right now because of the pending litigation regarding the brutality allegations.

Here's the full Public Safety Discussion at night's RIOC Operations Committee meeting.

Roosevelt Island Assembly Member Micah Kellner Running For NYC Council Seat Vacated By Jessica Lappin - Lappin Running For Borough President

According to Assembly Member Micah Kellner:
For the past six years, I’ve had the privilege of representing the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island in the New York State Assembly. During that time, I have received a tremendous outpouring of support from friends like you, for which I am truly grateful.

I entered public service to tackle the tough issues and to fight on behalf of our community. Whether it has been creating new schools to alleviate overcrowding or filing two lawsuits to stop the ill-conceived East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station, I work every day to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. And with your help and support, I’ve been able to do just that.

This year presents me with a new opportunity to serve – by running for the open seat in the 5th City Council District on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.

In 2013, New Yorkers will elect a new Mayor and a new City Council. Our city needs experienced leaders who can get to work on Day One. As a member of the City Council, I’ll be able to use my legislative experience to make a difference for New Yorkers when it matters most.

I’m humbled by the early encouragement I’ve received from community leaders, and I’m excited to take this next step....
Mr. Kellner has been an active presence and supporter of Roosevelt Island interests while in the State Assembly.

As previously reported, Ben Kallos is running for the same City Council seat and has received support from Roosevelt Island residents.

It will be an interesting race between them for the support of Roosevelt Island residents and the 5th City Council District.

Also, current Roosevelt Island NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin is term limited and is now running for Manhattan Borough President.

UPDATE 1:25 PM - There is another candidate in the race for the 5th NYC Council District, Hill Krishnan.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Allegations Of Brutality Leveled At Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department, Twenty Year Old Beaten, Maced, Hospitalized For 7 Days, Mother Not Able To See Him - RIOC Meeting Today To Discuss These Allegations

Reported last January 11 that the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) renewed their October 2012 request for the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) to investigate the actions of its Public Safety Department in the handling of a resident's arrest (Video here).

Today's RIOC Operations Committee Agenda includes the following item:

Chair's Motion for Executive Session to Discuss:
... b. Recent Complaint Against the RIOC Public Safety Department
Executive Session means that the discussion will not be open to the public.

It was not the investigation request from RIRA which brought about today's RIOC Operations Committee discussion of complaints against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department. It was allegations of Public Safety Department brutality brought to the attention of resident Frank Farance and Mr. Farance sending the following January 24 inquiry to the RIOC Board and Executive Staff. (I have asked RIOC for comment on two separate occasions. They have not replied).

Here is Mr. Farance's January 24 inquiry to RIOC.
To: RIOC Board

A mother contacted me with an incredible story about two weeks ago (2013-01-13, presumably the trespassing entry on the PSD log). According to the mother ...

- The son (a 510 Eastwood resident) was waiting with a friend in the front 510 Eastwood stairwell for another friend to come down (who lived in the back of 510 Eastwood). No drinking/smoking involved.
- Public Safety officers came and the boys ran.
- The son, decided to give himself up since he didn't do anything wrong, was apprehended by PS officers.
- The PS officer asked the boy to get down on one knee, but had difficulty doing with the officer forcing him down, so he asked to do it himself.
- The PS officer maced the boy, smashed his face to the ground (face cut up, broken tooth) and stepped on the boy's back.
- The boy said he couldn't breath.
- When they arrived at PS, the boy complained he couldn't breath. An ambulance was called.
- The boy was taken to Mt. Sinai in Queens. They took X-rays of his lungs, they were filled with fluid. The doctor said: might be pneumonia.
- Mt. Sinai in Queens was out of space, so he was transferred to Mt. Sinai Madison Avenue.
- Again, X-rays of boy's lungs showed they were filled with fluid.
- They pumped 2.5-3 liters of blood from his lungs. A CT scan show fractured ribs and a punctured lung.
- One doesn't contract pneumonia in an hour, these were all a result of his abuse with PS officers.
- It wasn't until a day later that his parents were notified he was in the hospital.
- The mother arrived, but was prohibited from seeing her son. PS officers told the mother: if she attempts to see the son, she will be arrested and summonsed.
- The boy was handcuffed to the bed for five days (Sunday-Thursday), still in the same bloody clothes as he arrived.
- The boy was guarded by round-the-clock PS officers (not NYPD)
- The mother begged to see the son because he was losing fluids and might need a transfusion, but PS would not permit it.
- On Wednesday, the mother was able to see the son briefly.
- The mother asked: what is my son charged with? Answer: loitering/trespassing. She could not understand why he was still handcuffed to the bed if his only charge would be a summons.
- On Thursday, the mother spoke with PSD Chief Guerra, who told her: the District Attorney declined to prosecute.
- Guerra told the mother: Maybe your son learned a lesson(!).
- When the mother went back to PS, Lieutenant Yee told her: I'm sorry your son was so ill, we saved his life by taking him to the hospital. The mother said he was healthy prior, and believes he did not develop pneumonia during his arrest.
- The boy was in the hospital for seven days, he is now in rehab.

A more plausible explanation is: PS was so abusive that they almost killed him, and they stayed with him to monitor to medical progress and prevent information flow to the parents (under the false guise of "in custody") so that they, consistent with Guerra's approach, claim the person was faking their injuries. But it all went horribly wrong.

Can someone explain how PS can just take you away for five days, handcuffed to a bed with only PS officers guarding you 24/7, yet no NYPD involvement?

How does a loitering charge escalate into near-death and such abusive treatment by PS officers?

What is Public Safety's story on this?
Upon learning of these allegations, RIOC Director Michael Shinozaki called for RIOC to investigate this incident.

Again, these are allegations at this time subject to further investigation.

On January 25, I sent the following inquiry to RIOC Acting President Don Lewis, Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra and the RIOC Directors:
I am following up on email I sent yesterday seeking comment from RIOC regarding the Public Safety incident as described by Frank Farance that is included below.

Does RIOC dispute in any way the account of this incident.

If so, what is incorrect?

I plan on publishing a story about this incident and will include any statement that RIOC wishes to make on the incident?

Please let me know if you do or don't wish to comment.
No reply to date.

A press conference on this incident is scheduled for this afternoon at the Law Offices Of Michael S. Lamonsoff. According to a Press Release from the Lamonsoff Law firm:

In a bizarre twist of fate, those that are charged with the protection of Roosevelt Islanders have become the biggest threat to the security of the Island’s residents. The Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department, through their peace officers, are solely responsible for policing the Island’s residents. While they are not members of the New York City Police Department, they are given similar powers in that they can effectuate arrests, use force, detain people, and issue summonses and tickets. Any persons arrested by them are turned over to the local NYPD precinct for processing.

The Island’s peace officers are not held to the same level of accountability for their excesses and abuses as the NYPD. They don’t have oversight groups like the IAB or the CCRB and they are answerable only to the Roosevelt Island Operating Committee Board of Directors who are political appointees. Their unchecked tactics include false arrests, beatings, Miranda rights violations, the imposition of curfews pell-mell, arresting residents who are not carrying picture identification, publicly defaming residents and using baseless, trumped up charges. The victims of these tactics are primarily the Island’s youth, whose futures are put at risk by these tactics. Parents of the Island’s youth fear not only for their children’s futures but also for their physical safety.

On January 13, 2013, 20-year-old Anthony Jones was violently assaulted by the Island’s peace officers. The assault began at 8:00 pm, at an apartment complex at which Mr. Jones and his friends were lawfully waiting for a resident to come out. Suddenly and without any provocation, the officers rushed towards them. They ordered Mr. Jones to the ground, and he complied. Thereafter, without resisting in any manner, he was maced, severely kicked, beaten and then handcuffed.

After having handcuffed Mr. Jones, the officers continued to brutally beat, kick and mace him. Finally, he was taken to a holding cell of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department. While being held, Mr. Jones made desperate complaints that he could not breathe. He was taken to the hospital and handcuffed to his bed. At the hospital, doctors determined that Anthony was hemorrhaging blood into his lungs from the brutal beating at the hands of the officers. As a result of the beating, Mr. Jones sustained severe injuries to his lungs, several fractured ribs and teeth, requiring him to be admitted into the hospital for 7 days. Mr. Jones was never charged with a crime nor was he processed by the NYPD.

The Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department and their actions demonstrate a lack of training, regulation and accountability. Their actions are indicative of tactics designed to terrorize a peaceful and law-abiding community into fear and submission.
 The NY Daily News reported late last night:
... Now Jones is planning on suing the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Wednesday, charging the NYPD-deputized peace officers are poorly trained thugs who’ve been terrorizing “the peaceful and law-abiding community” they’re supposed to protect.

Jones’ mother, Monica Vega, said the incident happened around 8 p.m. on Jan. 13, when her son and some pals were waiting in front of an apartment building for a friend....

....The incident was caught on numerous cell phone cameras, Vega said....
and shows where Mr. Jones alleges he was beaten by Public Safety Officers behind 20 River Road

The issue of how to monitor and investigate complaints against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department has been longstanding and unresolved. As reported in this 2010 post:
... Mr. Kellner's bill, (A 10618), will create a New York State Civilian Review Board. According to Mr. Kellner:
When a civilian makes an allegation of misconduct against an officer of the New York City Police Department, both the officer and the civilian know that the complaint will be investigated by a fair and impartial body — the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (NYC CCRB). But when there is a dispute over the conduct of an officer employed by one of the many police forces operated by the State of New York, there is no such recourse.

Our state government has created dozens of different police forces, of all shapes and sizes. They do important work, but when there’s a complaint, officers and civilians alike are thrown to the mercy of dozens of different internal review processes—which are often murky and inconsistent. I have introduced legislation to replace this Kafkaesque system with a single, fair and independent civilian review body — the New York State Civilian Complaint Review Board....
Mr. Kellner's legislation has not been enacted into law.

Nothing in the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Report for January 13 listed below
1/13/13 7:00 am to 1/14/13 7:00 am

1/13/13 - 1300 - 2 River Rd. - Noise Complaint - Unfounded - PSD/NYPD on scene.

1/13/13 - 1301 - 566 Main St. - Alarm - Doors and windows secured. PSD/ NYPD on scene.

1/13/13 - 1328 - 546 Main St. - Found Property - Returned to owner.

1/13/13 - 1409 - 625 Main St. - Possible Harassment - PSD on scene/refused NYPD.

1/13/13 - 1900 - 645 Main St. - Illegally Parked Vehicle - Vehicle was towed.

1/13/13 - 1928 - 543 Main St. - Past Aided - Refused medical attention.

1/13/13 - 1930 - 536 Main St. - Trespassing/Resisting Arrest - Two male subjects arrested.

1/13/13 - 2205 - 510 Main St. - Criminal Mischief - UA super notified.

1/13/13 - 2205 - 540 Main St. - littering - UA personnel corrected condition.

indicates the seriousness of this incident.

Will have more from this afternoon's press conference and if RIOC responds to charges.

UPDATE 4:11 PM - Here's what happened during the Press Conference.

Foggy Pea Soup Morning At The Roosevelt Island Tram Station

Roosevelt Island resident Trevre Andrews shares these photos of a foggy "Pea Soup" morning

Images by Trevre Andrews

by the Tram Station

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Complaints, Red Bus Stop/Fare Collection, Parking, Way Finding Signage, Motorgate Fall For Arts Installation & More On Agenda For Tomorrow's RIOC Operations Committee Meeting

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Committee will be meeting tomorrow. Here's the Agenda:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Operations Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.


1. Chair's Motion for Executive Session to Discuss:
a. Union Negotiations; and
b. Recent Complaint Against the RIOC Public Safety Department

2. Discussion of Red Bus Stops and Fare Collection Issues
3. Discussion of Parking on Main Street.
4. Discussion of Information Technology Department Functions
5. Discussion of East Side Access Project
6. Discussion of Four Freedoms Park Way-Finding Signing
7. Discussion of Fall for Arts Installations at Motorgate
8. Discussion of Revised Financial Analysis of the Streetline Smart Parking Contract
9. Discussion of Disaster Recovery Contract with Continuity Centers Inc.
10. Discussion of 504 Window Replacement Contract
11. Any Other Committee Business That May be Brought Before the Committee
RIOC will provide an audio web cast of the meeting soon thereafter.

Roosevelt Island Business Networking Group Meeting Tonight 7 PM At Seniors Center - Come Meet Fellow Entrepreneurs And Practice Your 30 Second Elevator Pitch

The Roosevelt Island Business Networking Group (RIBN) is meeting tonight, Tuesday January 29 at 7:00 PM.  According to RIBN:

Practice Your Elevator Speech at RI BNG Tuesday, 1/29 at 7 pm at Senior Center 546 Main Street

Get started on your New Year resolution to build your network!

You will practice an Elevator Speech. It can be 15 or 30 seconds, and it will provide your contacts with a memorable understanding of your business. See the attached link to help you prepare.

We will meet on Tuesday, January 29 at 7:00 pm, in the first floor meeting room of the Senior Center at 546 Main Street.
Additional information on the Roosevelt Island Business Networking Group at Linked In and previous presentations from RIBN members at this posts.

More on making the Elevator Pitch.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Beautiful Picture Of Roosevelt Island Tram Over Rainy Second Avenue Tonight

Beautiful picture from Roosevelt Island 360 Eric of Roosevelt Island Tram over rainy Second Avenue

Image From Roosevelt Island 360

taken during evening rush hour tonight.

Roosevelt Island Mom Seeking Solutions For Baby Stroller Access At Tram Gate - Asks RIOC For Help

Reported earlier this month about a Roosevelt Island Mom successfully getting the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) to fix a playground swing that had been broken for over a year. Now that Mom, Eva Bosbach, is trying to resolve a more difficult problem.

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Member and Mom Eva Bosbach shares this request she sent last week to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Chief Engineer Alex Snedkov:

I have been in touch with Donald Lewis about a broken swing at a RI play ground last week (thank you again, Donald, for acting so quickly on that!) and announced that I will be contacting RIOC with a few other issues in the next days.

The following issue is more complex, but also perhaps more important as the effects of the current situation cannot be avoided and have implications for the health of residents and their babies. It concerns the access to the Roosevelt Island Tram by parents with strollers.

I am writing to you in my capacity as the coordinator of the Roosevelt Island Parents Network (currently 117 families here on the island), as the leader of the Island Kids baby group, as a RIRA Common Council representative for Southtown and a member of the RIRA Island Services committee.

The issue has been discussed at the last RIRA Island Services Committee meeting on 1/9/2013 and has been decided to be taken action on....

Since the large reconstruction of the Tram, I keep receiving complaints from parents with strollers about the Tram access specifically for this group of residents. Because the strollers do not fit through the regular turnstiles and there is no other possibility to swipe the card and pre-board for the Tram, parents with strollers have to wait until someone from the Tram personnel comes to open the gate for them. All other residents and passengers who pay can go through and pre-load. This situation is unfair, affects timing (sometimes a parent misses the Tram even though she or he was the first one at the station but had to wait for someone to open the gate and in the mean-time everybody else pre-loaded and filled the Tram once it came so that there was no space left for the parent with stroller). But more importantly, it also affects the health of the residents and their babies, as for example new moms who just gave birth or newborns in strollers have to wait in the cold in front of the gate and cannot get to the heaters.

Ideas for a solution include:

- add heaters and a bench outside (area where a weather-protected waiting room existed in the past)

- provide the gate with a buzzer and a camera, so that the personnel upstairs controlling the system can see who wants to use the gate and can buzz the parent with the stroller through

- assign a staff person to be on site permanently to open the gate (like on the Manhattan side of the Tram), at least during rush hours

- work with Public safety on making it a part of the job description of the PS person in the booth to open the door if there is a parent with stroller waiting (since they sit there anyway and 8 of 10 of the PS officers are helpful and open the gate, but some do not, so obviously they currently don't have to)

- install a special circulating door (like in zoos) which can be used for a stroller - has enough room to turn a stroller plus a person through to the other side after you swiped your Metro Card - since the Tram will be shut down during non-rush hours in the following weeks anyway, perhaps this could be added to the planned renovations of the station

- work with MTA on a special Metrocard for parents with strollers, similar to the one for wheel chair users, which can open the gate automatically after the card has been swiped

- work with MTA on an receipt issuing machine for the gate which could be used if a person does not fit through the regular door and needs to use the gate - similar like for a Manhattan express bus, the machine would handle out a receipt and open the gate for the person to access the waiting area, but only after payment took place plus the receipt would provide a proof of payment.

This issue is an ongoing source of complaints in the large community of parents on Roosevelt Island....

On behalf of all parents, especially the ones with young babies, I ask you to act toward a solution of this issue as soon as possible, as the progressing winter continues and worsens the problem.

Thank you very much,
Ms. Bosbach demonstrates the problem by swiping her metro card at the turnstyly

and then waiting in the cold

until the Tram Gate can be opened before entering the Boarding Area

and the Tram.

Hopefully a resolution can be found quickly.

Report From Cornell NYC Tech VP Cathy Dove To Roosevelt Island Community, First Beta Class Of Students Begins Studies At Temporary Chelsea Campus In Google HQ - Also Science Of Ice Cream Making In Honor Of NYC Tech Campus

Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove

Image of Ms. Dove at December 12 CB 8 Land Use Committee Public Hearing

sends this report to the Roosevelt Island community.
I hope that everyone on Roosevelt Island had a great holiday season and a happy new year, and that your 2013 is off to a great start. This has been an extraordinarily exciting season for Cornell Tech, with major milestones on both the physical development of the campus on Roosevelt Island and the launch of our innovative new academic program.

First, I’d like to share an enormous thank you to so many of you for your ongoing support of Cornell Tech and for your participation in the public review process. As you may know, Community Board 8 echoed this support with the very positive vote at the end of December in favor of the campus plan. The public review process now continues with review by the Borough President this month, followed by the City Planning Commission and the City Council. We remain on schedule to break ground in the beginning of 2014 and to open the first phase of the campus in 2017.

The public review process – formally known as ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) is focused on proposed land use actions that govern how the campus develops and relates to the Island through zoning. However, as described in earlier columns, we have been using this process to work with Islanders to understand what is important to the community on a broad range of topics. In this spirit, Cornell Tech has committed to a long list of voluntary actions that will benefit the entire community, from making campus space available to community groups, to preserving the Goldwater Hospital murals and working on a series of programs to bring tech education to the Island’s middle school children.

I’m very excited to share our latest news. We reached a very important milestone this week at our temporary campus in Chelsea. On Monday, our first class of students – what we’re calling the “beta class” – began their studies at our temporary Chelsea campus. The small and highly selective class is made up of Computer Science Master of Engineering students with the highest academic credentials who represent a wide range of experience and backgrounds. What they have in common is an entrepreneurial spirit and an interest in using technology to improve the world in some way.

We have some amazing faculty already on board to teach the students, including Professor Deborah Estrin, an applied sciences pioneer and member of the National Academy of Engineering. In addition, students will work with Professor Rajit Manohar, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Cornell Tech, who has significant experience in collaborations with industry, is an entrepreneur and was named one of the top 35 innovators under 35 by the MIT Technology Review, and Serge Belongie, who was named one of the top 100 young technology innovators by MIT Technology Review. These engineering faculty will be joined by leading faculty from the business school who will be teaching business and entrepreneurship to the students

The academic program is similar to a business or law school curriculum in its structure, with courses conducted on Mondays through Thursdays, and Fridays used for a novel new practicum on “Entrepreneurial Life” composed of interactive workshops and activities in topics including design and technology, social entrepreneurship and leadership skills. In addition to the formal curriculum, the program will provide numerous opportunities for engagement with industry, practitioners, and community members; each student will undertake a masters project working closely with a mentor from a company, nonprofit or early stage investor in addition to having an academic advisor.

Cornell Tech’s Dean, Dan Huttenlocher, and our Chief Entrepreneurial Officer, Greg Pass, the former CTO of Twitter, have been working hard to craft this curriculum and build the partnerships with industry that will set the Cornell Tech experience apart and benefit New York’s tech sector. We are already working with an exciting roster of organizations, from major tech companies to startups, from not-for-profits to architectural firms. The program embraces the idea that technology is prevalent in all industries and facets of our life, and our students will have the opportunity to engage in a great breadth of experiences.

As you can see, we are embracing the momentum and excitement surrounding this new campus and moving quickly to make it a reality. At the same time, we’re taking the time to be thoughtful and deliberate in how we’re proceeding, both in the creation of an academic program and in the way that we’re planning our campus on Roosevelt Island.
As reported last week,  Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer conditionally approved the Cornell NYC Tech application which is now being reviewed by the City Planning Commission with a Public Hearing scheduled for February 6.

More information on the Cornell NYC Tech Beta Class available from this January 22 Press Release:
Cornell Tech today announced the entrance of its “beta” class, the first full-time students pursuing a one-year Cornell Master of Engineering degree in computer science in New York City. The small and highly selective beta class is made up of eight students who bring a wide range of experience and backgrounds but share an entrepreneurial spirit and outstanding academic credentials. The program is being housed at Cornell Tech’s temporary campus location in Chelsea, in space donated by Google. In 2017, the campuswill move to its permanent home on Roosevelt Island.

“We couldn’t be more excited with the level of talent that has been attracted to Cornell Tech to launch this innovative new program in the heart of New York City,” said Dan Huttenlocher, Dean of Cornell Tech. “Our beta class will help shape the campus moving forward, and this group has the entrepreneurial spirit and technical talent to go out and make a difference in the world.”

“It’s hard to believe that just more than a year after being chosen to create this campus, we are already welcoming our first class of students,” said Cornell Tech Vice President Cathy Dove. “Our temporary campus in Chelsea is already buzzing with activity, even as we continue working with our future neighbors on Roosevelt Island on the development of our permanent campus.”

“When fully built, Cornell Tech will ultimately revolutionize New York City’s economy for the long term,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “But the school is also having an immediate impact, attracting the next generation of talented engineers and boosting the City’s growingreputation as a world-renowned hub of the technology sector.”

The new tech campus is offering a distinctive model of graduate tech education that fuses educational excellence with real-world commercial applications and technology 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.

Academic courses will be conducted on Mondays through Thursdays, with Fridays used for a novel new practicum on “Entrepreneurial Life”, composed of interactive workshops and activities. In addition to the formal curriculum, the program will provide numerous opportunities for engagement with industry, practitioners, and community members; each student will undertake a master’s project working closely with a mentor from a company, nonprofit or early stage investor in addition to having an academic advisor.

Future one-year Cornell professional master degree programs are planned in the fields of electrical and computer engineering, information science, and operations research and information engineering, as well as a tech-oriented one-year MBA. Planning is also underway for an innovative new two-year Master of Science dual degree offered by Cornell and its academic partner, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. This new program will combine depth in information technology fields with domain expertise in one of the three interdisciplinary focal areas or “hubs”: connective media, healthier life, or the built environment. All degrees will reflect the mission of the campus, of technical excellence with a focus on collaborative projects, industry mentors, and entrepreneurship/business.

The launch of the beta class is another major milestone for the campus, a new world-class graduate education and research campus being created by Cornell University and its academic partner, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, after being chosen as the winner of New York City’s Applied Sciences competition in December 2011. Cornell Tech is rapidly rolling out new academic programs, recruiting star faculty, developing a distinctive new model of tech entrepreneurship, and designing its permanent campus on Roosevelt Island.
and WNYC NY Tech City Blog interview with Cornell Dean Dan Huttenlocher

Cornell recently conducted an ice cream making food science competition for its students with a theme of the NYC Tech campus.

Perhaps the Cornell Ice Cream flavors can be sold at Roosevelt Island's own Coach Scot's Main Street Sweets shop?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

This Day In History - 1998 Crane Crash Into Roosevelt Island Tram

According to a NY Times report of the incident:
A construction crane working on the Queensboro Bridge slammed into a Manhattan-bound car of the Roosevelt Island tramway yesterday morning, terrifying commuters for a few tense moments as they feared that the wildly swinging car might plunge into the icy waters of the East River, 240 feet below.

The 8:50 A.M. accident, in which 11 of the 20 people aboard suffered minor injuries, was the third in four months involving construction at the bridge; one worker was killed there in September....
The January 12, 2002 Main Street WIRE reported:
The first of the personal-injury cases stemming from the Tram-crane collision of January 24, 1998, was settled this week on the eve of a jury trial.

Manhattan Park resident George Reither was awarded $700,000....
... Reither sustained injuries to his neck that ultimately required the fusing of several vertebrae and surgical implant of a metal support. His medical costs approached $100,000.

“It isn’t worth it,“ Reither said Wednesday, weighing six months of lost time, “horrendous surgery,” and a stiff neck that makes driving and other ordinary activities more difficult than before.

Recalling the accident, Reither said, “I was standing in the back of the Tram, in the southeast corner, and all of a sudden I heard a crunch. I tried to hold on as the cabin started to tip, but I went flying backwards. I noticed that I hurt my elbow. I don’t know if I broke my elbow then, but I did break it.” The plexiglas window next to Reither was dislodged and lost during the event. Reither thinks his elbow may have done it.

”I wound up landing in the middle of the Tram, probably about eight to ten feet from where I was initially, on my back, toward the center where the doors are....
Click here for full article.

More on the 1998 Tram Crane Crash from WIRE articles here and here.

A Roosevelt Island resident recently expressed concern regarding the construction of this building

Photo Taken From Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin

going up adjacent to Roosevelt Island Tram on 6oth street

Photo Taken From Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin
And the best question -- how close is "too close" ?

The Solow apartment building going up on east 60th street between First Avenue and York Avenue appears to be climbing in height till we can reach out and touch it -- or until the crane touches the north tram cabin ( which would not be the first time a crane and tram cabin had contact -- remember the FDR Drive project ?)

What assurances do RIOC and Poma have that all possible safety precautions are being taken during construction, and that this particular cabin will be safe ?

Report From Acting RIOC President Don Lewis - Roosevelt Island Playground Safety, Preparation For New Public Library At 504, Boat Sculpture Renovation, Maintenance At Southpoint Park And Tram Station Canopy Installation

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Acting President Don Lewis sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
Old Man Winter has indisputably arrived. As we all know, it has been absolutely frigid the last few days and current forecasts are calling for potential for heavy snow accumulation starting Friday. RIOC is well-prepared to keep the streets and sidewalks clean and our residents, business owners and visitors safe. Sign up at for our advisories concerning the weather and other important Island information.

Playground Safety

We were recently notified that the gate to Blackwell Playground was broken and that the swings were also in need of repairs. While we endeavor to timely provide requested repairs, when public safety is at stake, we act immediately. By the following day, the gate and swing were fixed and we had conducted an inspection of the entire playground.

If you see something that requires our attention – be it a pothole, z-brick, or park clean-up, please use our see-click-fix app at In the event that safety is at stake, please call us immediately at 212-832-4545.

504 Main Street to Get Interior Upgrade

Over the next few months, we will be conducting interior demolition at 504 Main Street, getting the space – both lower and upper floors – ready for new tenants: The Child School and the relocated New York Public Library.

Boat Sculpture Restoration

In 1995, a beautiful boat sculpture was installed just northwest of The Octagon. The sculpture opened to the public in 1997. We are in the process of conducting repairs to the exterior of the sculpture. We expect the work to be completed in the Spring.

Southpoint Park Gets Ready for Warmer Weather

Although it is the dead of winter, we are already preparing for the warm months ahead by making sure our parks and green spaces look better than ever for our residents and visitors. In furtherance of this objective, we are currently pruning, cleaning and conducting general maintenance at the seven-acre Southpoint Park.

Canopy Installation – Tram Service Disruption

As noted in RIOC's advisories, we recently commenced work on the canopy installation for the Tram Enclosure Project.

The work is being done on weekdays during off-peak hours from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday- Friday, and is expected to be completed on February 6th. During these times, Tram service will be suspended; however, Red Bus service will be provided from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan. The Tram will operate on a normal schedule during the weekend.