Saturday, March 23, 2013

Roosevelt Island Gallery RIVAA Book Reading Of The Luminist From Author David Rocklin On Sunday March 24

An invitation from Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA.
Dear Friends,

Please come next Sunday, March 24th, to hear David Rocklin read from his novel, The Luminist, at Gallery RIVAA.

Gallery RIVAA
527 Main Street
Roosevelt Island, NY 10044

Start: 4pm
Books on sale

Thanks so much and hope to see you there.
Here's an interview with Mr. Rocklin discussing The Luminist.

Friday, March 22, 2013

One More Reason To Be Cheerful - Normal Roosevelt Island F Train Service This Weekend

Ian Dury had these reasons to be cheerful.

One more reason to be cheerful for Roosevelt Island residents is normal F Train service to

Image of Blurred, Moving F Train From Venus in Furs

and from Manhattan this weekend.

Weekend subway service information available at MTA's Weekender and more of Ian Dury.

Memories from a different singer here.

Report From Acting RIOC President Don Lewis - Roosevelt Island Motorgate Gallery Opening, Public Safety Audit, FDNY Tram Training, Good Shepherd Restoration & Pick The Summer Movies

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Acting President Don Lewis sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
Motorgate Gallery Opening Event

We are pleased to announce the Grand Opening of the Motorgate Gallery scheduled for Saturday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. We are excited about the Project which through creative repurposing will have art adorn the walls of Motorgate’s atrium for the first time in many years. The Gallery is part of RIOC’s continuing efforts to expand the beautification of public spaces on the Island. Selected from works that were originally seen during previous Fall for Arts Festivals, the colorful murals were created by residents, local artists, students from The Child School/Legacy High School and PS/IS 217, and Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA) members. The pieces range in size and portray vivid images of Roosevelt Island, nature, cultural themes and abstract designs. We would like to thank RIVAA and its president Tad Sudol for partnering with us on the project and co-sponsoring the Project.

The Motorgate Gallery is located inside the atrium of the Motorgate Parking Garage at 628 Main Street, next to the newly renovated Gristedes Supermarket. Following the Opening, there will be a reception at Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main Street, at 3:00 p.m. Light refreshments and drinks will be served. We hope you are able to attend.

PSD Operational Audit

We previously mentioned that we have issued an RFP for an independent outside firm to conduct an operational audit of the RIOC Public Safety Department. The closing date for the RFP was earlier this week. A contract will be awarded in the next few days and we expect the audit to commence shortly thereafter.

FDNY Tram Training

Last week the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) began conducting a series of weekly training sessions on the Roosevelt Island Tram. The sessions take place on one Tram cabin every Wednesday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm through April 24. As part of the training exercises, FDNY members may climb on top of a suspended Tram, and/or repel down from the Tram. We work with FDNY to schedule these sessions during off-peak hours and on only one car so that regular service is not disrupted.

RIOC will issue advisories via email before each training session to keep the public informed. To receive our advisories, please subscribe by email at

Good Shepherd Restoration Project

The Good Shepherd Restoration Project is continuing as planned. A contract was awarded this week for the final piece, the Streetscape design. Now that the pavers are in place and the new slate roof is on the building, we are ready for the design phase to begin. In a collaborative approach with members of the community, we hope to develop a look for our town center that is not only beautiful, but also supports a combination of uses ranging from peaceful contemplation to lively community events.

Summer Movie Series Voting

RIOC’s Summer Outdoor Movie Series is scheduled to begin in late June, but the process for selecting the six films that will be shown is already underway. Based on previous submissions from Island residents, we have a list of six finalists in six different genres: action/adventure, comedy, family/kids, science-fiction, fantasy, and “movies we love.” You can vote in either of two ways: (i) like us on Facbeook at and then click on the “Survey Monkey” tab; or (ii) visit The deadline to cast your vote is Sunday, March 31. Thank you to everyone who has already participated.

Memories The Way We Were On Roosevelt Island - Ice Skating In Front Of Motorgate Garage From 1977

Before Manhattan Park, the Octagon and Riverwalk buildings, there was a community on Roosevelt Island. A long time Roosevelt Island resident shares this photo of an ice skating rink in front of the Motorgate Garage from 1977

and reports:
This is when I first moved to Roosevelt Island and this was our man made ice skating rink! The residents all got together and made this happen. We had lots of open space then. This is what the island had always been about.
Here's more on Roosevelt Island from the 1970's and 1980's as well as an aerial view from the 1920's.

Ah, memories of The Way We Were.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Roosevelt Island Motorgate Garage Transformed Into Art Gallery - Grand Opening Saturday March 23, Explore Brutalism With Clog

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) invites you to the Grand Opening of the Motorgate Gallery.

According to RIOC:
You are cordially invited to the Grand Opening of The Motorgate Gallery - Saturday, March 23rd at 2 PM. The Gallery is located inside the Atrium of the Motorgate Parking Garage (628 Main Street), next to the Gristedes Supermarket.

In a creative effort to expand the beautification of open spaces on Roosevelt Island, the opening will exhibit art work. Selected works have been curated from previous Fall for Arts Festival events by residents, local artists, students attending both The Child School/ Legacy High School and PS/IS 217, as well as members of Gallery RIVAA.

Immediately following the opening, there will be a reception held at Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main Street, at 3 PM. Light refreshments and drinks will be served.

We look forward to seeing you there.

This event is sponsored and curated by RIOC & the Gallery RIVAA.
Some more Motorgate murals.

According to Clog:
To celebrate the launch of CLOG's newest issue, join the editors on Roosevelt Island on March 23rd. At 2pm, CLOG will take part in the opening ceremony of the new Motorgate Gallery at 688 Main Street, after which we will walk south to Gallery RIVAA at 527 Main Street for a launch party at 3pm. CLOG and guest editor Michael Abrahamson will present the Brutalism issue, and photos by Iwan Baan, Andrew Kenney and Brett Beyer will be displayed.

A defining architectural style of the postwar era—characterized by severe, abstract geometries and the use of cast concrete, block and brick—Brutalism arguably produced some of the world’s least popular public buildings. The style’s international propagation brought modern architecture to ever-larger constituencies, and some argue that the perceived shortcomings of these Brutalist structures led to the demise of the Modernist project. While today often admired by architects, many Brutalist projects are now threatened with demolition....

Cool Pictures Of FDNY Rappelling Down Roosevelt Island Tram Cables During Rescue Drill Yesterday

A reader sent in this tip earlier today:

Check out Gothamist - cool pics of the firefighters monkeying around on the tram yesterday!
The reader was right - Gothamist has 21 very cool pictures of FDNY Roosevelt Island Tram Rescue Drill yesterday and reports:
Yesterday a group of firefighters clambered up onto one of the Roosevelt Island tram cabins to defy gravity and sharpen their rappelling skills. Photographer Tod Seelie was out there to document all the vertiginous action over the course of four hours....
Here are three of the 21 photos from Tod Seelie of yesterday's FDNY Tram Rescue Drill.

Images From Tod Seelie via Gothamist

Click here for entire Gothamist article and more photos.

As reported previously, FDNY will be conducting Roosevelt Island Tram rescue drills every Wednesday from March 13 to April 24.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NYC Planning Commission Approves Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Applied Sciences Project Today - Concerns Expressed Over Barging and Traffic Mitigation During Construction - On To NY City Council For Further Review

Following conditional approvals by Manhattan Community Board 8 (December 19, 2012) and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (January 24,2013), the New York City Planning Commission today approved the Cornell ULURP application for its proposed Roosevelt Island campus.

NYC Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden announced during today's meeting:

... I enthusiastically vote yes on the proposal as modified....
and that the Cornell Technion project is:
... pivotal for furthering NY's growing technological sector by increasing interaction between the academic community and local businesses ... this project will create new publicly accessible open space and facilitate improvements on Roosevelt island...
Ms. Burden also noted modifications to Cornell's application that were suggested by Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC) members including:
  • insuring esplanade around the campus continues to be accessible 24 hours,
  • insuring public accessible space open until 10 PM year round,
  • cafes open to the public,
  • insuring open space is being provided in sufficient amounts and configurations,
  • modification of bulk regulation only by Special Permit and
  • disposition of city owned property should be restricted to uses more closely associated with Cornell Technion proposal.
Several NYC Planning Commissioners expressed concern over the burdensome traffic impact the project will bring to Roosevelt Island's only street - and were particularly concerned that Cornell might not utilize barges during the construction process nor contribute to the added costs imposed on Roosevelt Island residents and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) by the increased services anticipated for the Cornell campus. According to Commissioner Michelle de la Luz who cast the lone no vote:
... a few details... remain to be finalized to insure the projects vast benefits don't come at the expense of the Island residents and can be more formally linked to work force development opportunities so that NYC residents with limited career prospects can also benefit from this transformative project...
Here's an excerpt from today's NYC Planning Commission meeting.

Following today's NYC Planning Commission meeting, I received the following statement from Cornell NYC Tech's Director of Capital Projects and Planning Andrew Winters reiterating Cornell's position on barging and temporary cement batch plant. According to Mr. Winters:
BARGING: Cornell is actively exploring the feasibility of utilizing barging techniques to help limit construction traffic on to the Island. We are considering two barging techniques: a floating harbor barge for bulk materials and a fixed platform for driving trucks directly from barges to the site. The use of barges in the construction process will require approvals and permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the US Army Corps of Engineers. As part of this investigation, we have been meeting with NYSDEC to discuss regulations regarding temporary installations and to determine pre-application procedures for expedited review. NYSDEC has requested a series of studies, including water depth, sea-wall conditions, and preliminary engineering, which we have initiated. In addition to working with the regulatory agencies, engineers, and others, in the Final Environmental Impact Statement we have included an assessment of the environmental consequences of barging as an alternative construction measure to make sure that all effects have been fully considered in the event that barging proves to be feasible.

CEMENT: We do not believe that hosting a batch plant on site is the most effective way to limit impacts of construction and have a number of specific concerns about the feasibility of a batch plant for this project. The volume of concrete that we're going to be using, particularly in the first phase, is very small. Two of the first four buildings will be steel frame buildings, limiting the total amount of concrete construction to 400,000 square feet at a maximum. We've researched other projects in the City and found that even on dramatically larger projects, including the World Trade Center and Hudson Yards, construction managers have found the challenges of using a batch plant overwhelming and have chosen not to use them. Finally, DEC has noted additional concerns, including the possibility of runoff due to the site's proximity to the edge of the island, which is only 800 feet wide at its widest. Though we are still looking at it, the feedback we've gotten is that the combination of the volume, the industrial issues and the cost, make it an extremely challenging route for this project.
Below is Cornell Press Release on today's NYC Planning Commission approval:
The City Planning Commission today approved Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island Campus plan as part of the City’s public land use review process. The plan now continues to the final stage in the process with review by the City Council.

The Roosevelt Island campus will sit on a 12-acre site, with groundbreaking planned for early 2014, campus opening expected in 2017 and full build out in 2037. In January, Cornell Tech welcomed its first “beta” class of Master of Engineering students in computer science. The program is being housed at Cornell Tech’s temporary campus location in Chelsea, in space donated by Google.

“We are grateful to Chair Burden and the City Planning Commission for engaging in such a thorough analysis of the campus plan and ultimately offering their full support,” said Cornell Tech Vice President Cathy Dove. “At each step in this review process we have gained valuable insight and been able to improve our plan, and we look forward to continuing that dialogue with the City Council.”

“With the first students and faculty on our current campus in Chelsea, we’re building the new academic model that the campus on Roosevelt Island will support and encourage,” said Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher. “We are grateful for the support of the City and the entire tech community as we move forward with the goal of spurring innovation and supporting economic growth in New York and beyond.”

Approval by the City Planning Commission is another major milestone for the campus. Cornell Tech welcomed its first students in January and 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.

Cornell Tech 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 are learning and working together to launch ideas and create new ventures that have global impact. The campus is attracting the best and brightest in technology, immersing them in an entrepreneurial culture with deep ties to the local business community intended to spur the creation of new companies and new industries in New York City.

The Roosevelt Island plan reflects Cornell Tech’s commitment to innovation not only in the academic program for the campus but also in its physical development. The new campus will include up to 2.1 million square feet of development, housing approximately 2,000 full-time graduate students, by full build-out in 2037. The first phase will include up to 790,000 square feet of development, including the first academic building and reflecting all of the uses that will be in place at full build-out.
and video of full NYC Planning Commission meeting earlier today.

Next stop is NY City Council.

UPDATE 3/21 - According to a NYC Planning Commission Spokesperson:
The Commission heard testimony from RICC and from the Community Board about the applicants’ construction plan, and the project’s overall impact on Roosevelt Island’s
infrastructure costs and financial responsibilities.

With respect to construction, the Commission believes that the barging of materials to the construction site may be an effective way to alleviate the amount of truck trips that would otherwise be required to travel through the existing Roosevelt Island community and encourages the applicant to give careful consideration to this alternative as it further develops its construction plans. The Commission notes that the applicant agreed to further study this option in its letter to the Commission dated February 15, 2013.
Roosevelt Island resident Jonathan Kalkin adds:
As Co-Chair of RICC, I am very proud of what our board and the coalition has accomplished in a very short period of time. It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with this team and see so many people work into the night reviewing EIS documents and writing/testifying on behalf of this community. Throughout this process, CB8, our Borough President and now the City Planning Commission have echoed our thoughts and concerns. The Coalition has always been in favor of the Cornell NYC Tech project and we believe that the success of the University and the success of this community is dependent on the University's commitment to Roosevelt Island. We look forward to working with Cornell and testifying on behalf of the community to the New York City Council.

First Sign of Roosevelt Island Spring - Subway Fruit Stand Vendor Open Today

You would not know it by the chill in the air this morning but the first sign of Roosevelt Island spring arrived today with the return of the Subway Fruit Stand Vendor.

Soon the weather will warm up and outdoor seating will be available at Starbucks, the other restaurants and the renovated Meditation Steps.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Roosevelt Island Music Together For Parents And Their Children With Owen Johnston - Free Demo Classes Coming Up Starting March 21

Roosevelt Island resident and Executive Director of the Main Street Theater & Dance Alliance Owen Johnston is bringing an early childhood music program to the parents and children of Roosevelt Island - Roosevelt Island Music Together.

According to Roosevelt Island Music Together:
Classes by Owen Johnston:
Owen is thrilled to be bringing this early childhood educational music program to the families of Roosevelt Island. He has performed in the Broadway or National Touring companies of 42nd Street, Shogun The Musical, Miss Saigon (Thuy), The King & I(Lun Tha), and RENT (Roger & Angel).

Owen has his B.A. in Theatre and Music and is currently pursuing his M.A. in Theatre at CUNY Hunter College. Owen, his wife Bridget and their two children Jordan and Noah, have been residents of Roosevelt Island since 1999.

He is the Director of Roosevelt Island Music Together, a registered Music Together® Teacher and Executive Director of the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance on Roosevelt Island. Music Together® is an internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through age 5 and the grown-ups who love them.

Free Demo Classes at:

The Good Shepherd Church
Thursday March 21, 10am
Monday March 25, 10am
Tuesday March 26, 4pm
Friday March 29, 9:30am
Reserve a spot for a free demo class!

or call: (917)862-5690
Here's what happens at Music Together.

More info available at Music Together and RI Music Together.

Information on Roosevelt Island Music Together tuition and schedule is here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Roosevelt Island Continues To Help Rockaway Victims Of Hurricane Sandy - Please Vote For Far Rockaway Scholars Academy To Receive Assistance Repairing School Theater

Roosevelt Island residents have helped to provide relief for other New Yorkers recovering from damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

 Image of Roosevelt Islanders Collecting Donations For Rockaways  From Olya Turcihin

As previously reported:
  • Karine Wong organized a group that provided relief supplies to the Community and Family Head Start School in the Rockaways and
  •  Romano Reid, together with the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) and NY State Senator Jose Serrano organized the delivery and serving of hot meals to the Howard Beach community.

Here's another chance for Roosevelt Islanders to help out those New Yorkers still needing assistance from Hurricane Sandy and it only requires a click from your mouse.

Roosevelt Island resident Margie Smith reports on how you can help the Scholars Academy School in Far Rockawy:
I'm sending this to ask you to cast your vote for a school in the Rockaway that was damaged in Sandy.  Lowe's Corporation is helping schools improve their theaters and they're choosing which schools to help based on who gets the highest number of votes
CNN reported last December on Hurricane Sandy damage to the Rockaways Scholars Academy.

According to Make A Musical:
Smash, Lowe’s and iTheatrics have partnered to help schools across America improve their theaters. Up to 30 schools will be selected as finalists, the five schools earning the top votes will receive gift cards from Lowe’s to help improve their theaters. Vote for your favorite School!
Click here to support NYC's Scholars Academy in Far Rockaway and then scroll down to the third line from the bottom and vote.

It is unfortunate that contests with needy schools competing against each other are necessary in order for such repairs to be made.