Friday, March 1, 2013

Surfing Roosevelt Island Style - Ride The Wild Wave ... On Rollerblades

Come along and Ride The Roosevelt Island Wave underneath the Queensboro Bridge next to the tennis bubble.

From I Roll NY:

I guess people still do rollerblade.

Be Careful On The Roosevelt Island Subway Station Escalator And No F Train Subway Service From Manhattan To Roosevelt Island Again This Weekend

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

Weekend, 9:45 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon, Mar 1 - 4

Trains run express from Queens Plaza to Roosevelt Av.

No Jamaica-bound service at 57 St, Lexington Av/63 St, Roosevelt Island and 21 St-Queensbridge.
No word from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) yet on whether additional Tram Service will be made available this weekend.

If you do take the subway this weekend to Manhattan be careful on the escalator and make sure you hold on to the railing. Last Sunday afternoon as I was going down the escalator by the wall

from the ground to mid level, while last second checking of my email before losing service, the escalator suddenly came to a screeching halt. I and several other riders were able to grab the handrail and nobody fell or were injured.

Fortunately, the escalator did not reverse direction as happened in this January 7 incident at the Path Exchange Place Station

Lesson learned -be alert on the escalator

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Creating Search Committee For New President/VP And Southtown Building Development On Agenda For RIOC Board Of Directors Meeting Tonight - Also Roosevelt Island Brutality Allegations Anticipated To Be Raised During Public Session

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors will be meeting later today. During the Public Session, which begins at 5:30 PM, it is anticipated that the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee will be speaking to the Board Members about Public Safety Brutality allegations and providing written complaints about specific incidents.

The Board Meeting Agenda includes Item 5:
Authorization to Enter into the Fourth Amendment of the Southtown Development Agreement
(more on Southtown Development here) and Item 6 to:
Create the Executive Search Advisory Committee
which is intended to find and select candidates for the long vacant positions of RIOC President and Vice President of Operations. Former RIOC President Leslie Torres resigned last September and former RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez resigned last November. No reason has ever been provided for these resignations.  NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to "recommend" candidates to be considered for the position as well but has not done so to date.

Here's the Agenda for tonight's meeting.

5:30 P.M.

I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call
III. Approval of Minutes
1. January 17, 2013 Board Meeting (Board Action Required)
IV. Old Business
V. New Business
1. Authorization to Enter into Contract with American Business Continuity Centers, LLC for Disaster Recovery
Services (Board Action Required)
2. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Streetline, Inc. for Smart Parking System (Board Action Required)
3. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Arrow Steel Window Corp. for 504 Main Street Windows Replacement
(Board Action Required)
4. Authorization to Enter into Amendment of License Agreement for Octagon Composting Area
(Materials to Follow - Board Action Required)
5. Authorization to Enter into the Fourth Amendment of the Southtown Development Agreement
(Materials to Follow - Board Action Required)
6. Authorization to Create the Executive Search Advisory Committee (Board Action Required)
7. Presiden's Report
8. Committee Reports
a. Audit Committee
b. Governance Committee
c. Operations Advisory Committee
d. Real Estate Development Advisory Committee
9. Public Safety Report
VI. Adjournment

The RIOC Board Meeting will commence following a public comment period. The public comment period is not part of the meeting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Roosevelt Island Louis Kahn Four Freedoms Park Town Hall Meeting and Q & A Tonight 6:30 PM At Good Shepherd Community Center - Extremely Short Notice, No Publicity And Don't Bring Any Refreshments

At 4:02 PM today, a little less than 3 hours before a so-called Town Hall Meeting on the so-called Louis Kahn (FDR) Four Freedoms Park, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) sends out an advisory informing the public about the meeting.

Here's the reminder from RIOC:

As a reminder, you are invited to attend the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy Town Hall meeting Today, 6:30 PM at the Good Shepherd Community Center. There will be a presentation discussing Four Freedoms Park. Immediately following will be a Q&A session with representatives of the conservancy.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
The advisory is referred to as a "reminder" although I did not receive any notice of this meeting before now. Apparently, there was an advertisement in the Main Street WIRE several weeks ago announcing this meeting but nothing else that I saw.

Do they really expect or want people to come out and discuss this issue? If yes, why such short notice and hardly any publicity?

A warning. Based upon my experience trying to get into the park last December, don't bring any refreshments to the meeting.
Gotta let it out.

UPDATE 11 PM - Here's what happened at the Town Hall Meeting. Conservancy President Sally Minard hosted the meeting with other members of her staff. About15 Roosevelt Island residents attended the meeting.

Part 1.

and Part 2.

WNYC Reports On Roosevelt Island Brutality Allegations And Residents Demanding RIOC Public Safety Department Changes

A reporter for WNYC attended the February 25 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Committee meeting discussion of Public Safety Department brutality allegations. Today, WNYC reported on this ongoing Roosevelt Island controversy. According to WNYC:

... “There have been many complaints about public safety on Roosevelt Island, and not only about the way the officers have acted, but the way the RIOC has responded to those complaints,” like Micah Kellner, who represent the island in the Assembly. “We can’t have an agency investigating itself.”...
and RIOC Public Safety Director Keith Guerra:
... said in a statement he can’t comment on pending litigation, but emphasized he does not tolerate excessive use of force or the violation of constitutional rights. But some residents say that force has been used excessively by safety officers for years, particularly against young people.

“We need to rebuild the trust and the respect of the public safety so that they can be effective,” said Michael Shinozaki, a RIOC board member, “and that RIOC can be effective in improving the quality of the life on the island.”

RIOC plans to hire an outside consultant to review the public safety department’s work, but some say this doesn’t get to the heart of the problem....
Click here for the entire WNYC article and listen to the report below.

More on the February 25 RIOC Operations Committee meeting discussion of Public Safety Brutality allegations here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Photographer Stumbles Upon Roosevelt Island NYPD Tram Rescue Drill - Snaps Cool Pictures, Enjoy

Photographer Shane Cashman shares these pictures of the NYPD Roosevelt Island Tram Rescue Drills that took place last Wednesday. Mr Cashman reports:
I was fortunate enough to be taking pictures along the East River last Wednesday morning and stumbled upon the rescue drills happening on the Roosevelt Island tram.

It was great to see the rescue drill happen. At first I wasn't sure if it was a real rescue or not. The lack of police sirens clued me in to it being a drill.

While watching the rescue drill I also met this lady Arlene who feeds the seagulls. So while I was taking these pictures I was also being swarmed by Alrene's birds. It was intense.

Video of the Tram Rescue Drill available from this previous post and

more of Mr. Cashman's photography here.

Roosevelt Island Residents Meet With RIOC Directors On Public Safety Brutality Allegations - Call For Removal Of Public Safety Department Director And Deputy

2/25 RIOC Ops Committee Discussion On Public Safety Brutality Allegations

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Committee met yesterday (audio web cast of meeting will be here) planning to discuss security cameras on Public Safety officers and in Public Safety facilities. Immediately upon hearing this, Roosevelt Island resident Ike Nathem (one of the organizers of 2/16 Pubic Safety Protest Demonstration) interrupted RIOC Director Michael Shinozaki and sought permission to ask a question which Mr. Shinozaki agreed to allow. Mr. Nathem asked why the RIOC Board was discussing security cameras instead of the brutality allegations directed at the Public Safety Department. According to Mr. Nathem:
...there is a crisis here centered on Pubic Safety conduct and leadership of public safety ... I think that should be discussed as opposed to security cameras...

... that's like discussing a weather vane in the middle of Hurricane Sandy...

... I don't understand why we are discussing security cameras when the community is demanding that Guerra and Bryan and that brutal regime must get the hell out of here so I don't understand why we are discussing security cameras when the crisis is that ... not that I am against security cameras....
Mr. Shinozaki explained that RIOC is:
... trying to figure out how to hold Pubic Safety accountable so we have evidence based actions....
One way to hold Public Safety accountable is with security cameras said Mr. Shinozaki and he added that from now on, if Public Safety officers use any level of force:
... handcuffs and up on the force ladder, the Board is immediately notified... 
RIOC Director David Kraut said:
... I have to say that problems are less with Public Safety than they are with your Board of Directors, to tell the truth. I’m not saying that we were lax in any way, but in fact, Public Safety should have been taking their leadership and guidance from us for 20 years, 25 years, and we’re only now at the point where we’re establishing policies, the kind of stuff Mike is talking about. We’re behind the eight-ball here. We should have been out in front of the issue from the go, and we weren’t, and now people are unhappy.

That doesn’t mean that all this crap that you’re talking to us is true or right. Some of you are famous on the Island for making stuff up. You just are. I’m on the rock 34 years, on this Board 19 years, and I know my neighbors....
RIOC Director Margie Smith urged residents with complaints to file them with RIOC so that investigations can be conducted. Residents said RIOC either has the complaints and has not acted upon them or expressed frustration that nothing would be done if they file those complaints. Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Chair Erin Feeley-Nahem said that she would deliver written complaints detailing examples of Public Safety brutality to the RIOC Board at their February 28 meeting.

The residents attending the meeting demanded that the Board immediately dismiss/seek resignation of Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra citing as precedent the immediate forced resignation/firing of bus driver Neil Steuber.

Acting RIOC President Don Lewis remained mostly silent throughout the entire meeting though he could be observed whispering to others at the Board table and did agree to meet with Mr. Steuber to discuss Mr. Steuber getting his RIOC job back.

Mr. Guerra sat silently at the table with the other RIOC Directors. Several Pubic Safety Officers sat quietly in the back of the room. NYPD officers from the 114th precinct, including Precinct Commander Cirabisi, were on hand to provide assistance if necessary. It wasn't.

Here's video of the meeting.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Following this Public Meeting, the RIOC Board met with Mr. Guerra and several Public Safety Officers in Executive Session without the public or press being allowed to attend.

RIOC Real Estate Committee Meeting Today - Roosevelt Island Cultural Center Rehabilitation, Improved Public Amenities And Octagon Composting On Public Agenda - Executive Session On Southtown Development, Cornell NYC Tech, Steam Plant, & Main Street Retail Space

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC)

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.


1. Update on 548 Main Street Cultural Center Rehabilitation
2. Discussion/Identification of Areas for Improved Public Amenities
3. Discussion of the Octagon Composting Site Permit
4. Chair's Motion for Executive Session for Update on Current Negotiations Regarding:

a) Southtown Development
b) Cornell NYC
c) Steam Plant
d) Main Street Retail Sublease

5. Any Other Committee Business That May be Brought Before the Committee
An audio web cast of the meeting will be available soon after the meeting.

Here's the latest on Cultural Center Rehabilitation from February 13 RIOC Operations Committee. The Committee discussed potential users of the renovated space. including current occupants (Main Street Theater, Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation) as well as potential new users (Islamic Center and others).

Current longstanding occupants of the Cultural Center are concerned they may lose some space within the reconfigured Center after its rehabilitation from summer flooding to future users.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation Celebrates Purim - Purimschpiel Adapted To Current Roosevelt Island Times

The Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation shares this report from their Purim Celebration. (photos from Judy Berdy)

Purim, a holiday marking the survival of the Jewish people at a time of a threatened massacre, was celebrated by the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation on Saturday, February 23.

After a communal dinner, Rabbi Leana Moritt

(Rabbi Moritt leads the Havdalah service, marking the end of the Sabbath day.)

led a short worship service; it included the reading of the megillah or traditional scroll, which recounts the story of the holiday. Assisted by Gad Levanon, her reading was interrupted by children and adults wielding homemade groggers

(Ethan Wagreich holds the QUIET sign, indicating the end of noisemaking to drown out the name of the villain, as Gad Levanon and Rabbi Moritt read the megillah scroll.)

and noisemakers to blot out the recitation of the name of the man who purportedly attempted to destroy the Jews. With humor and parody as guideposts, the congregation joined in singing prayers and novelty songs to popular music and show tunes.

Later, a Purimschpiel, or play based on this narrative, was performed. Written by Mickey Rindler, the plot unfolds on Shushan Island, where Rich Wagreich,

(Maya Levanon and Sheila Berger Chazin, henchmen, learn the plan for the destruction of the Jewish people from Rich Wagreich, the evil Haman, who wears the traditional three-sided hat.)

as Haman Bieber of iCornell, proposed to extend its monopoly on all digital communications, and sought the approval of the local community board and Acting King Donald Idontcareos, played by Scot Bobo. The plan did not get off the ground; instead the Acting King was impressed by the efforts of Mordechai. Played by Mickey Rindler,

(Rabbi Moritt as Esther learns that her uncle Mordechai, played by Mickey Rindler, will make a fundraising music video in his new guise as the rap star Chai to help the victims of Super Sandstorm Sandy.)

this Jewish rap star named himself Chai and taught the members of the congregation a dance, Shushan Style. They joined him in a parody of Gangnam Style,

(Mickey Rindler strikes a pose after teaching the congregation how to dance Shushan Style, to the music of Gangnam Style.)

which became a blockbuster video on iCTV and, as a fundraiser, generated millions of dollars to help the Shushan Island residents who were victims of Supersandstorm Sandy. Meanwhile, Rabbi Moritt as Esther sang So Call Me, King-y, a take-off of Carly Rae Jepson's Call Me, Maybe, in her effort to be selected by the Acting King as his Queen. By the end of the skit, the Jews were saved and also retained access to the Internet. Other cast members included Judith Berdy,

(Judith Berdy wears tram-related items; it is customary to dress in costume on Purim).

Sheila Berger Chazin, Janet Falk, Maya Levanon and Ethan Wagreich.

The Purimschpiel's broad humor, plus references to barging and other Roosevelt Island affairs, drew laughter and cheers from the audience.

The evening concluded with delicious Hamentaschen, a traditional treat; several dozen cookies were donated by Arlene Bessenoff and Nina Lublin, plus others were baked by Amber Levanon-Seligson and her daughters Maya, Dalia and Tamar.

RIRA Rep, RIOC Transportation Manager And MTA Bus Planners Work Together To Get New Q102 Bus Stop Near Youth Center and Manhattan Park Bus Stop Sign Replaced

Image of 40 River Road Q 102 Bus Stop Sign Now In Place

Reported January 4 on a meeting between Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Member for Roosevelt Landings Romano Reid, MTA Bus Company Transportation Planners and Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Transportation Manager Cy Opperman:
 ... During this meeting, Mr. Reid persuaded the MTA planners to add a Q 102 Bus Stop at 502 Main Street by the Youth Center.

The new Q102 Bus Stop should be operating in approximately 6-8 weeks.

Another issue addressed during the meeting with the MTA Transportation Planners was the Q102 Bus not always stopping at 40 River Road.

The reason some bus drivers are not stopping at 40 River Road is because the bus sign had been removed and not replaced. Mr. Reid and I were told at today's meeting that the 40 River Road Bus Sign will be replaced and the Q102 will soon be making regular stops by 40 River Road....
As of last week the new Q 102 bus stop is now in place by the Youth Center

New Roosevelt Island Q 102 Bus Stop

and this weekend I spotted the 40 River Road Q102 Bus Stop Sign in place.

RIRA Manhattan Park Common Council Member Mark Lyon tweeted:

Now, there is no reason for the Q 102 bus drivers to not stop near 40 River Road.

New Roosevelt Island Women's Health Organization Formed - Presenting Seminar Wednesday February 27 On Dental Hygiene And Heart Disease

Image From RIWHO

Received the following message from the Roosevelt Island Women's Health Care Organization (RIWHO). According to RIWHO, they are:
... a newly formed organization helping women on Roosevelt Island to be proactive about their health and wellness. We usually have our seminars during the last week of the month and feature various health issues and concerns at each seminar. We also will be having ongoing fundraisers. Our next seminar will be Feb 27th.
More information on the February 27 RIWHO seminar below:
Roosevelt Island Women’s Health Organization (RIWHO)
Presents free monthly seminars for women age 18 and older Offering Health tips on Healthy living

DATE: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
TIME: 6:30 PM
PLACE: 546 Main Street In The Community Room On The 12th Floor
Guest Speaker
Dr. Saul M. Pressner
Examining the correlation between Dental Hygiene and Heart Disease
We will also have a presentation on Nutrition, offer Relaxation Techniques and a Mediation session
Please bring a friend Refreshments will be served

Next Seminar Date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 same location

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Roosevelt Island Is Berlin - At Least On Person Of Interest TV Show

Did you miss last Thursday's Person Of Interest TV show that transformed Roosevelt Island into Berlin?

If so, take a look.

NOT Berlin. from Christopher Scott Knell on Vimeo.

More here on the transformation.

Berlin is not the only European city some see in Roosevelt Island. Another is Île de la Cité in Paris. Intrigued? Find out more.

Report From RIRA Publc Safety Committee Chair - February 16 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Protest Demonstration And Beyond

RIRA Public Safety Chair Erin Feeley-Nahem at 2/16  Roosevelt Island Public Safety Demonstration

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Ellen Polivy delegated the RIRA President's Report to Public Safety Committee Chairperson Erin Feeley-Nahem. Here's the RIRA Report from Ms. Feeley-Nahem:
Saturday, February 16 was an historic day on Roosevelt Island. In one of the largest protest actions in our Island's history, some three hundred residents gathered and picketed for change in the Good Shepherd Plaza. A rally followed, inside the Church, where an amazing program was heard highlighting personal accounts from survivors of Public Safety brutality, abuse, and constitutional rights violations. The day's activities received widespread media attention.

What was unique, as pointed out by Norman Siegel, former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in his remarks to the audience, was the broad and diversified audience in attendance, reflecting the variety of nationalities, peoples, cultures, ages, and genders which is indicative of our Roosevelt Island community.

The bulk of the allegations of Public Safety misconduct that has been brought to my attention, during my terms as the RIRA Public Safety Committee Chair, has been largely directed at Black, Latino, and Caucasian youth and young adults. However, as evidenced by the accounts heard at the rally, Public Safety Officer's aggressive behavior has been alleged by residents regardless of race, gender, age, or social class. The compelling lineup of witnesses telling their stories on Saturday, and the video shown, was eloquent testimony to this fact.

The Public Safety Committee's members are brainstorming on our next steps. All are in agreement that the momentum must continue and that for concrete progress our demand for changes in the leadership of the PSD and for the termination of Officer Ralph Torrens, who is alleged to have assaulted Anthony Jones, must be our top priority. We believe that this can be accomplished, and action should be taken toward this end immediately, by the RIOC Board.

After the February 16th rally and the clear, longstanding pattern of abuse presented (which are concretely supported by a number of lawsuits on file) we feel that there is sufficient smoke filling the air to be alarmed, and to realize that there is a fire. In today's post-Anthony Jones, post-rally, reality and political atmosphere, if Director Guerra and Deputy Director Bryan remain at their posts the RIOC Board risks being discredited and seen by Island residents as an obstacle to progress and part of the problem. I personally do not want to see this happen. The community has worked hard for the partial democratic representation for Island residents that the elected RIOC board personifies. We would all prefer to see RIOC get in front of this problem and do the right thing. A whole range of challenges are facing Roosevelt Island, for example with the coming of the Cornell Campus; how do we maintain our essential working-class and middle-class character in the face of these changes? It will be much harder to move forward and confront these challenges if the political obstacle of misconduct within the PSD is not addressed.

RIOC is the employer of the Public Safety Department. The RIOC Board is responsible for their oversight. Management contracts and "at will" employment can be legally terminated and replacements found. Let us recall the firing of Steven Shane. Without taking any position on the form and content of that decision, the point is that the decision was made. Whatever Shane's weaknesses or faults, and I would include among them a knee-jerk mentality of dismissing or downplaying the Public Safety Department's misconduct, the allegations of Public Safety Department's use of "excessive force" under the Guerra-Bryan regime, which has resulted in an outcry from a united group of residents, warrants comparable action.

As an Executive Director of a non-profit agency, I understand the RIOC Board's hesitation to add to the already vacant senior management positions. But this is a burning issue and fears of a lasting vacuum are misplaced. In reality there are many "qualified" persons who would love to serve a low-crime, urban-village community like ours.

The Public Safety Committee is determined to find solutions moving forward. I have discussed the idea of amending Micah Kellner's Assembly Bill A00956 with Tony Morenzi, Micah's New York Chief of Staff. By limiting the State oversight it addresses, and focusing it exclusively on Roosevelt Island's Peace Officers, a simpler bill is created, which will be easier to pass.

We collected almost 300 signatures on a petition at the rally, and plan on collecting more. This petition will be sent to our elected officials, with a follow up letter, as we continue to direct our concerns to them. Our committee will also not let up on the pressure we have initiated toward RIOC or change our demands for justice.

It has been announced that the RIOC Operations Committee will meet to review Public Safety's reports and response to the Board's questions on Monday, February 25th at 5:30 pm. It is imperative that all residents attend. We also encourage you to attend our future committee meetings, and if you have stories to tell, that you document them on our Facebook page, "Roosevelt Island Citizens Blotter" or email them to me at

The Committee and the Survivors would like to express our thanks to all our neighbors who showed solidarity and support of this cause. If we stay united and focused we will win.
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Committee will be meeting tomorrow to discuss issues involving the Public Safety Department.

More on the February 16 demonstration here and two RIOC Directors respond here.