Saturday, May 4, 2013

Expect Delays For Travel To And From Roosevelt Island By Car And Taxi Tomorrow For NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour Sunday May 5

A reader, Anna, advises to plan carefully tomorrow if you are planning to travel to or from Roosevelt Island tomorrow by car or taxi due to the Five Boro Bike Tour

street and bridge closures on Sunday May 5. According to Anna:
Vernon Boulevard between 31st and 44th Drive will be closed for car traffic, as well as 21st street between Queens Plaza South and Hoyt Avenue North.

Those who plan to travel by car or taxi to/from Roosevelt Island should be informed and plan their commute accordingly.

Several years ago, I was going to JFK Airport on the day of the bike tour. Because Vernon Boulevard was closed for car traffic, we had to wait on the Roosevelt Island Bridge for at least 15 minutes before finally being allowed to cross Vernon Boulevard to go to 36th Avenue. Can you imagine traffic jams on Roosevelt Island next to the bridge?

Below is the link with information on which streets and bridges will be closed in all five boros:
According to NYC, the streets will be closed from 7:45 AM - 6:30 PM.

Here is the 2012 NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour in 3 minutes. You can watch the riders speed down Vernon B'lvd by Costco

and past Roosevelt Island Bridge at the 1minute 35 second mark.

Earlier today, Roosevelt Island was visited by a large group of bicyclists. According to the Twitterverse:

and here they go

from the Riverwalk Commons:

Report From Acting RIOC President Don Lewis - Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park Hours Expanded, Steel Boat Sculpture Renovation, Lighthouse Park Reopens But Still Damaged, New RIOC President & More

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Acting President Don Lewis sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
FDR Four Freedoms Park Update

We are pleased to advise that April 24 marked the start of expanded spring/summer hours at Four Freedoms Park, which is now open six days a week from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm and closed on Tuesdays. The Four Freedoms Park Conservancy has recently hired a new Director of Visitor Experience and a new Park Operations Manager to supervise an expanded staff of Park Rangers who will interact with visitors, answer questions and conduct tours. The Conservancy is also seeking volunteers to be trained as Greeters to supplement staff and enhance visitors’ experience. For the latest updates on this wonderful park, or to become involved, visit

Steel Boat Sculpture Renovation

Extensive restoration work on the Steel Boat Sculpture (the “Boat Prow”) was completed last month. After the Boat Prow’s deteriorated steel panels were removed, RIOC’s Engineering Department determined that the sculpture’s structural framing had been irreparably damaged by seawater exposure. Contractors have replaced the entire structural framing and the renovated Boat Prow was reopened to the public on April 19.

Motorgate Turnaround Pedestrian Ramps

We are aware that due to recent renovations, there is a need for pedestrian ramps at the Motorgate Bus Turnaround, with curb cuts between the new entrance to Gristede’s and the Helix ramp. We intend to issue a Request for Proposals to complete this work, which will make Gristedes and the Post Office more accessible for seniors and disabled residents and visitors.

Lighthouse Park

As we previously noted in this column, the Lighthouse Park has been recently re-opened after it suffered extensive damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy. We, unfortunately, still need to keep the southernmost part of the Park closed due to two timber footbridges that were washed away during the storm. We look forward to opening this portion of the Park as well and have issued a Request for Proposals to restore the bridges.

iDig2Learn Earth Day Event

Last month’s iDig2learn Earth Day event was a huge success. Families helped to beautify the Island by planting flowers around Gristede’s, and children expressed their creativity through arts and craft projects that can still be viewed inside the atrium of the Motorgate Parking Garage. We would like to thank Island resident Christina Delfico for spearheading this great event, as well all participants, volunteers and sponsors.

Potholes Repaired

Contractors working with RIOC’s Engineering Department have recently finished repairing over 100 potholes on the Island roads. While the work spanned the length of the Island, we encourage you to inform us if you notice any remaining potholes that need repair. You can let us know through SeeClickFix at and also through the iPhone, Android and Blackberry SeeClickFix apps, which can be downloaded at

Final Column and Welcome Charlene Indelicato

This is my final column as Acting CEO and President of RIOC. It has been an honor to serve in this role for the last seven months. My sincere gratitude goes to the terrific RIOC team for their continued commitment and tremendous efforts during this time to ensure that the Island continues to be a wonderful place for residents and visitors.
I welcome our new CEO and President, Charlene Indelicato, who brings with her a distinguished track record of public service. I look forward to working with Ms. Indelicato, and continuing to work with the RIOC Board and staff, to make the Island the best place it can be.
Mr. Lewis is continuing as Acting RIOC President until Charlene Indelicato takes over the permanent position of RIOC President in mid May.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Neo Blues Maki Perform Japanese Enka Music With Soul, Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop and Rock Fusion at Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival - Band Leader Wants To Move Here

Neo Blues Maki performed at the Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival last April 13 and the band leader likes Roosevelt Island so much, he wants to move here.

Take a listen

and enjoy.

More on Neo Blues Maki at their Facebook page.

Report From Cornell Vice President Cathy Dove, The Technion - Cornell Partnership At Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech

Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove sends this report to the Roosevelt Island community.

The Technion-Cornell Partnership at Cornell Tech

Happy spring! I can’t imagine a place more beautiful than Roosevelt Island in April - everything from the blossoming cherry trees to the fuzzy goslings in Southpoint Park is spectacular. In addition to the weather transitioning, I am happy to report that plans for the Cornell Tech campus are coming together well. The City Planning Commission in March approved our project, and we are now in the midst of review by the City Council, the final stage in the land use review process.

I would like to thank the many Islanders who have taken the time to participate in each step of the process. Your input and dedication has been constructive and most helpful, and you have informed many important aspects of our planning. Thank you especially for understanding our approach to studying complex issues rather than always having immediate answers. In particular, we have been examining how construction can proceed with the least possible impact, ensuring that we are a good neighbor from the outset. I am pleased with what we have learned (more details to come in our next column) and hope that you will find our approach to be thoughtful and innovative, a standard we will aim for with every aspect of Cornell Tech.

The academic program for the campus is also moving forward quickly. Our “beta” class of masters students in computer science will finish its first semester in May. In this column, I want to provide more detail on another important part of the academic program – the partnership between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Technion, it is one of the world’s leading research universities and a hub of innovation. In fact, the Technion has been a pioneer in training tech entrepreneurs and helping translate academic research into businesses. Amazingly, Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than all of Europe, and fully half of those companies are led by Technion graduates. Israel has become known as “start-up nation,” and the Technion may be the biggest catalyst.

The partnership between Cornell and the Technion is manifested in a key component of Cornell Tech, the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (JTCII). When the campus is fully up and running, about 1/3 of the students and faculty will be affiliated with the JTCII, while the rest of the campus will be taught exclusively by Cornell faculty and receive their degrees from Cornell (for example, the students who enrolled in January 2013 are in a one-year Cornell master degree program). In addition, Cornell alone is responsible for the development of the physical Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island.

However, the partnership between our two institutions is a centerpiece of the academic mission. The Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute will launch its first formal program in the coming months – a novel program for Postdoctoral Innovation Fellows. The aim is to support researchers who seek to commercialize their research ideas in the stimulating environment at the JTCII while taking full advantage of the entrepreneurial network of Cornell Tech and the proximity to New York City-based markets.

Beginning in Fall 2014 the JTCII will offer an innovative two-year interdisciplinary program where students earn dual master degrees concurrently – one from Cornell and one from the Technion. This degree program will allow students to specialize in applied information-based sciences in one of three hubs focused around leading New York City industries – Connective Media, Healthier Living and The Built Environment – while honing their entrepreneurial skills. The first area of specialization will be in Connective Media. JTCII research will also be focused on the hub areas.

The Institute is named for Joan and Irwin Jacobs, Cornell alumni and long-time donors to both Cornell and the Technion, who recently announced a significant gift to support the Institute. Their gift will help support ongoing JTCII curriculum initiatives, faculty and graduate students, and industry interactions in the program. We are incredibly grateful for the Jacobses’ generosity, since as a non-profit we have to attract a great deal of philanthropy in support of the new campus and we have a long way still to go!

It is particularly appropriate that the JTCII is named for the Jacobses, because Irwin Jacobs embodies the type of tech leader we hope to produce at Cornell Tech. He is the founder of Qualcomm and a strong believer in the power of connecting academia and industry. For more than 20 years, Qualcomm has maintained a major research and development operation in Israel – not in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, but in Haifa, adjacent to the Technion’s campus. Not surprisingly the innovations that have come from this research campus have included major technological breakthroughs – in much the same way we believe will happen at Cornell Tech.

We could not be more excited about the Cornell-Technion academic partnership and believe that the Institute will be a significant contributor to the many innovative programs that Cornell Tech will bring to Roosevelt Island.
As previously reported, here's Mayor Bloomberg announcing

the $133 million gift to the Technion component of Cornell NYC Tech by the Jacobs Family.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Southtown Tot Lot Cherry Tree Extracted From Ground And Moved To New Home At Lighthouse Park - Making Way For Construction Of Riverwalk Building 7

Earlier today, the large Cherry Tree by the Southtown Tot Lot was extracted to make way for the construction of Riverwalk building 7. The Tree was moved to its new home in Lighthouse Park. Roosevelt Island Mom Jennifer Knowlton shares this photo of the tree removal and

I didn't hear the story from the tree removal guy, and only know a little from another mom telling me what he said to her. But I did watch the tree removal. They called the tree extractor the "Flower Pot." The blades were like flower petals that opened and separated to go around the tree and fit to the right size. Once they removed the tree from the ground it was lifted by the Flower Pot onto the truck and suspended, sort of, horizontally for transport. They seemed to take good care of it keeping it supported through the process. He said they were moving the trees to the Lighthouse Park, I assume in time for construction to begin here on the new buildings? But didn't hear if he said anything about that.
Another Mom watching the Cherry Tree extraction remarked:
The extraction of the huge blooming cherry tree looked pretty scary and spectacular.
As previously reported, the Southtown Tot Lot will also soon be moved a few feet north to Blackwell Park in order to make way for construction of Riverwalk Building 7.

Roosevelt Island Waterfront Pier Restaurant, Beach Volleyball, Seawall and Community Center Repairs On Agenda For May 2 RIOC Board Operations Committee

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC)

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Operations Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.


Updates on:

1. Langan Engineering Inspection of Pier;

2. Proposed Sandlot for Beach Volleyball Near Southtown;

3. Community Center Repairs;

4. Seawall Repairs at South Point Park East and West Walls;

5. Promenade Repairs Along West Wall;

6. Leak in Network Protection Room Near Gristede’s.

Any Other Committee Business That May be Brought Before the Committee
The Langan Engineering Inspection of the Pier agenda item will report on the condition of the Subway Pier,

Image of Damaged Subway Pier

the site of last year's Pier NYC waterfront restaurant. As Acting RIOC President Don Lewis reported last month:
... We are aware that Pier NYC was an Island attraction that was thoroughly enjoyed last year by many Island residents and visitors. Given the overwhelming success and support for the waterfront establishment, we would very much like to see it happen again this year. Unfortunately, due to damage to the wooden portion of the Pier as a result of Superstorm Sandy, as well as the recent collapse of the paved portion of the Pier, we cannot guarantee that the site will be safe for opening in May. We will continue to work diligently in an effort to overcome the unfortunate obstacles we have encountered....
April 2 RIOC Real Estate Advisory Committee (full audio web cast of meeting here) discussed the condition of subway Pier including any future waterfront restaurants using that space. Here's what was said.

Also, a beach volleyball court in Southtown was considered by RIOC last year but rejected because of the estimated $25 thousand cost.

Do you remember the Water Taxi Beach that used to be in Long Island City? Is this next for Roosevelt Island?

Hopefully, we can get a Roosevelt Island volleyball court set up this summer - even just a net would be great

like this one in Williamsburg's McCarren Park.

Pair Of Geese Make Nesting Home At Roosevelt Island's FDR Four Freedom Park - Geese Are Lucky To Get In, Must Not Have Had Any Beverages With Them Or Tried To Climb Wall

Roosevelt Island Wildlife Specialist Rosanna Ceruzzi shares these pictures of a pair of Geese

that have made a temporary nesting home at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island by a tree on the grounds of the FDR Four Freedoms Park. Soon, if it survives, there will be one more added to this family of Geese.

Glad the geese were able to get into this so-called park. They are lucky they did not have a cup of coffee or some other beverage with them.
Or try to walk on the FDR Memorial Wall as these visitors tried, but were turned away by a security guard, during April 13 Cherry Blossom Festival.

More on lack of Freedom at FDR Four Freedoms Park at previous post.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

FDNY Conducting Roosevelt Island Tram Rescue Drills Today - Cool Cats Rappelling 20 Stories Over East River

From the Roosevelt Island Twitterverse:

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) issued the following advisory explaining what is happeing:
Please be advised the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) will be conducting a training session on one Tram cabin on Wednesday, May 1st, from 10 AM to 2 PM.

As part of the training exercise, FDNY personnel may be climbing on top of or rappelling from a suspended Tram cabin.

Tram service will not be disrupted.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
More on Roosevelt Island Tram Rescue Drill, including video from previous posts.

Roosevelt Island Residents Association Meeting Tonight 8 PM, Come Learn What Is Going On - Also, State Senator Jose Serrano Constituent Office Hours This Afternoon From 5 to 8 PM

The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) will be meeting tonight, 8 PM, at the Good Shepherd Community Center (543 Main Street).

Image of June 2011 RIRA Common Council Meeting

As always, prior to the start of each monthly meeting there is a public session in which residents can come and address the Common Council Delegates on any issue of concern.

Also today is Roosevelt Island State Senator Jose Serrano's Constituent Office Hours. According to Senator Serrano:
Senator José M. Serrano regularly provides community constituent hours in different neighborhoods throughout his 29th Senate District. Senator Serrano's staff will be providing Constituent Services on Roosevelt Island TODAY.

When: TODAY, Wednesday, May 1st

5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Where: Roosevelt Island Seniors Association

546 Main Street #1

Roosevelt Island, NY 10044

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact our office at (212) 828-5829. We look forward to meeting with you.

*Constituent Services are also available Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm, in Senator Serrano's District Office at 157 East 104th Street.*
During the April 21 RIRA Public Safety March & Rally, Senator Serrano said:
... There is a major breakdown between the residents and Public Safety. There are incidents which obviously must be dealt with and investigated. But even more importantly, the fact that there is not a level of dialogue between Public Safety and the residents in a very constructive way, you then have a community which is less safe...
and urged passage of NY State legislation to create a Civilian Police Review Board which would include the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NYC Mayor's Rep and EDC President Discuss Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech Project At NYC Council Public Hearing Today

Cornell NYC Tech Proposed Campus (page 23 CB 8 Presentation)

Earlier today, the NY City Council held Public Hearings on the Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech project. The hearings began with opening remarks by Eugene Lee of Mayor Bloomberg's office and Seth Pinsky, President of the NYC Economic Development Corp.

Mr Lee and Mr. Pinsky reviewed the chronology of the Cornell NYC Tech project and provided an overview of issues including construction barging, ferries, K-12 education, security and more.

Here's what happened.

Following Mr. Lee and Mr. Pinsky were representatives of Cornell NYC Tech, Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC) and other interested parties.

Will have additional presentations in the coming days.

UPDATE 5/1 - Cornell NYC Director of Planning and Capital Projects Andrew Winters discusses construction and barging of materials

for the new Roosevelt Island campus during April 30 NYC Council Public Hearings.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 Arts And Enrichment Classes In Danger Of Ending Next Year, PTA Holds Silent Auction To Raise Necessary Funds - Can Cornell NYC Tech Help Roosevelt Island School Kids?

The Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA held a silent auction,


and bake sale

last Saturday to raise needed funds for the school's arts and enrichment programs.

I spoke to 217 PTA President Dawn Price who explained the fundraising:
 ... goal is to raise $10 Thousand ... for enrichment programs...
and 217 Grants Officer Kim Brown added:
...  a few years ago.... we lost our art teacher, all our after school programs so the PTA has to raise money for most of the enrichment that goes on at the school... anything that really makes the kids want to go to school, we have to fund ourselves so this is one way we're doing it by having this auction...

... as of right now, it looks like we likely will not have any kind of art program in the school next year because we're fundraising for it and we are way behind we just don't have the money to keep this program going ...

... all the enrichment programs that keep the kids excited and keeps the parents wanting to send their kids to this school can only be funded if people from the Island pitch in so any amount $5 or $10 is so welcome and goes directly to the school. It makes the Island a better place and keeps families coming to this school.
Here's more from PS/IS 217 PTA's Ms. Price and Ms. Brown.

Click here if you would like to help the students at Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217.

More information about the school including statistics, budget and grades is available from the NYC Department of Education (DOE). PS/IS 217 received a 2011 -2012 Progress Report of D from the DOE.

In December 2011, Roosevelt Island Southtown Riverwalk developer David Kramer of the Hudson Company and PS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman spoke to some parents about the school. Here's what they had to say.

Tomorrow, the NY City Council will be holding a final Public Hearing on the Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech project. Will Cornell be providing any much needed assistance to Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217?

In a December 2011 letter to Community Board 8, Cornell Vice President Cathy Dove stated:
... We are willing to work with all age groups of children on Roosevelt Island, although we plan to focus our efforts on students who are in middle school as this is a pivotal time to interest them in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Our interaction will involve direct student interaction, support for teachers, and family engagement. We have initiated discussions with, and look forward to continuing to work closely with PS/IS 217 to determine the specific programs that will be most useful to make that school a model in STEM education. Re: timing, while significant programming requires faculty and graduate student involvement, in advance of having significant numbers of those resources we will be partnering with several NYC institutions who have demonstrated expertise in K-12 programming. We would be happy to have the next planning meeting with PS/IS 217 within the next 90 days to begin more detailed planning....
Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 needs help. Where will it come from?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Brazilian Drum Band Awesome For Some Runners But Not So Good For Roosevelt Island Resident At 10 AM On A Sunday Morning

The Roosevelt Island Twitterverse reported today:

Not everybody thought the Brazilian drum band was so awesome - particularly at 10 AM on a Sunday morning and continuing for 3 hours. Roosevelt Island resident Raye Schwartz expressed her unhappiness with the morning drum beating in this message she sent to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Acting President Don Lewis and RIOC Dirctors.

From Ms. Schwartz:
Dear Mr. Lewis,

This morning I was trying to sleep in, as I was exhausted from an all day trip out of town yesterday, I was awakened around 10AM by the sound of parade drums beating loudly. I jumped out of bed and looked outside but there was no parade. Those drums kept beating continuously for almost 3 hours. At one point I called Public Safety. They said they had received other calls but that there was a permit issued by RIOC. It seems there was a permit for a celebration at the end of a 5K race.

I wonder who at RIOC issued this permit. Was this person aware of exactly what the celebration entailed and that drums beating so loud and continuously were involved? If so, that person was not very thorough. If yes, in allowing such an activity, that person was completely out of line.

Tell me sir, is the person who issued such a permit a resident here? I suspect not!

Please investigate who was responsible and be sure this does not happen again.

It's not that I don't love a parade or celebration, but I don't love three hours of continuous drum beating, nor do I appreciate being awakend by that sound. I'm certain that you or the person who is responsible would not love the ensuing headache that this has caused me or my neighbors.

One other thing...where, when or how were residents told this was going to happen? I did not receive a RIOC advisory about this nor have I seen any signs posted.
Ms. Schwartz is not exaggerating. I heard the drums from inside my apartment as well. The drums were part of a good cause, a 5K run/walk to benefit the Icla da Silva Foundation.
On April 28, 2013, The Icla da Silva Foundation’s 3rd annual 5K run/walk returns to the beautiful Roosevelt Island (NYC)! This great race is now called The MatchMaker 5K – a name that truly reflects the Foundation’s mission of finding bone marrow matches for patients with life-threatening conditions.

Whether you are a runner, walker or just want to bring your family and friends for a day in the sun, The Matchmaker 5K Run/Walk is a fun-filled activity for people of all ages. BatalaNYC, an all female AfroBrazilian Samba Reggae Drum band will be at the finish line to perform their lively rhythms for all to enjoy.

Read more about Don't Miss The Matchmaker 5K Run/Walk on Roosevelt Island on ...
Here's an example of what the BatalaNYC drum band sounded like this morning.

Batala NYC Promo from Willow O'Feral on Vimeo.

BatalaNYC is a very good drum band but probably should not be playing at 10 AM on a Sunday morning in a residential neighborhood.

RIOC did send this advisory out on last Friday:
A 10K will be held on Sunday, April 28th, 2013 at 10:00AM. Expect traffic delays around Goldwater Hospital and on the West Roadway up to 400 Main Street.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Nothing about the drums in the RIOC Advisory.

UPDATE 4/30 Rebecca Bellush shares this photo

of the BatalaNYC Brazilian drummers.

Crowded Roosevelt Island Trams This Weekend Without F Train Service To Manhattan - But It Wasn't That Bad

How was your trip to Manhattan this weekend with no Roosevelt Island F Train Service? Mine was not too bad this afternoon on the 1 PM Tram. The Tram was crowded, almost full capacity, and several people including bicyclists decided not to squeeze in but on the whole, not that bad.

It went like this.