Saturday, June 15, 2013

Report From RIOC President Charlene Indelicato - Roosevelt Island Development, Sprinkler/Fountain Repair, Arbor Day and Roosevelt Island Day

 Image of RIOC President Charlene Indelicato From RIOC

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato sends the following report to the community.
There have been many changes to Roosevelt Island over the years, including much residential and commercial development such as the Octagon, Southtown and Main Street retail revitalization. Rest assured that development will continue into the future, whether it is through additional affordability initiatives like the Island House project, the Cornell campus, restoration of older buildings, new businesses on Main Street and other projects in the years to come.

Development is complicated. As I said in a recent WIRE interview, I am very pro-development when the developments in question are good for the community. It is vital that when we plan for growth, we also ensure that we maintain and enhance the Island’s quality of life. In my experience, the key to beneficial development is to build productive relationships with all developers and to utilize such relationships to ensure maximization of all projects. That is what I intend to do as President of RIOC.

New Sprinklers and Fountain Repairs

The outdoor space available to residents and visitors is one of the many pleasures of Roosevelt Island. Unfortunately, the sprinklers at the playground near Blackwell House, where many children spend their summer days, have become irreparably damaged. We plan to replace them with an upgraded system in the near future.

We are also working to fix the fountain in front of Blackwell House. RIOC engineers have replaced the drain cover, which was rusted, and are preparing to install a new cover made from rust-resistant stainless steel. The fountain should be up and running soon.

Arbor Day at PS/IS 217

I was grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate Arbor Day with the students of PS/IS 217 on June 7. The rain forced the event indoors to the school auditorium but that didn’t damper the occasion. The event encourages the community to celebrate the spirit of Arbor Day year-round by supporting efforts to protect Island trees. The talented student musicians from the school band played the song “Sakura,” which means “cherry blossom” in Japanese. First and second-graders read two beautiful Arbor Day poems. A big "thank you" to principal Mandana Beckman, as well as RIOC Directors Fay Christian and Katherine Grimm, for participating in this wonderful event.

Roosevelt Island Day

I am looking forward my first Roosevelt Island Day and I encourage the Island community to join us for what I understand is a fantastic annual event. This year’s edition will take place on Saturday, June 15 from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm at the Good Shepherd Plaza. The festivities will commence in the morning with Island-wide cleanup and beautification projects, including flower planting. At noon, the Plaza will host entertainment for kids, including rides, a petting zoo, and arts and crafts workshops. The FDR Drive Band will provide evening entertainment by performing a mix of rock, dance hits, swing and more. I would like to thank Urban American and the Youth Center for collaborating with RIOC to sponsor this event.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Public Safety Director Guerra Resigned Today Says RIOC Press Spokesperson

Received the following Statement From Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Press Spokesperson:

Please be advised that Keith Guerra has resigned from his position as Director of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department to pursue another job opportunity. His resignation is effective June 14, 2013. We have taken appropriate steps to ensure continuity of services at PSD.
UPDATE 12:25 PM - In response to my inquiry, RIOC President Charlene Indelicato adds:
For now, Deputy Director Renee Bryan will be in charge.
UPDATE 11:30 PM - Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Chair Erin Feely-Nahem provides the following statement:
Statement from the RIRA Public Safety Committee On the Resignation of Keith Guerra

"Without struggle, there is no progress." -- Frederick Douglass

The resignation of Keith Guerra as Director of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department (PSD) is a major victory for the residents of our beautiful, multinational Island community. It is especially a victory for all opponents of police brutality and defenders of constitutional rights throughout New York City. It is the major first step towards a complete transformation of the top leadership of the PSD. The Roosevelt Island Residents Association Public Safety Committee (RIRA PSC) continues to press for the removal of those PSD officers who engaged in unprovoked violence against peaceful residents and visitors to our Island.

We commend the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) Board under new President Charlene Indelicato, and Commissioner Darryl Towns for overseeing this breakthrough. We appreciate greatly the support we received from our elected representatives, Micah Kellner, Jessica Lappin, and Jose Serrano. We further note the excellent comprehensive coverage of this issue in our Island media.

This victory is also a lesson on how to win. The RIRA PSC is proud of the campaign that we organized. We took the moral high ground. We investigated and documented our grievances. We were factual and educational. Our protest actions were legal and peaceful. We appealed to the public opinion of the community with reasoned arguments. Our public rallies were inspiring and educational and gave residents a voice, making it easier for others to step forward and share their experiences.

We can now, with a real spirit of community unity and optimism, move forward to forging a PSD we can be proud of, with a legitimate authority based on earned respect.
Roosevelt Island's Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney adds:
Since the deeply upsetting incident during which Anthony Jones was critically injured in a confrontation with Public Safety Department officers, Roosevelt Island residents have repeatedly demanded new leadership. Everyone has a right to feel safe where they live, and for too long, many Roosevelt Islanders have not. I am confident that RIOC will select a Director who will restore a positive relationship between residents and the Public Safety Department.
Ben Kallos, a candidate to represent Roosevelt Island in the NYC Council adds:
Today's resignation of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director demonstrates that the concerted efforts of Roosevelt Islanders who bravely rallied, testified and spoke out to reform the Public Safety Department can achieve results. Residents no longer have to rely on empty political promises, instead taking action to better our community. None of this would have been possible without the hard work of members of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee led by Erin Feely Nahem, who had to make personal sacrifices and faced adversity for her tireless efforts. We eagerly await the results of the investigation into Public Safety Department by the Inspector General who can create an oversight board of resident to prevent future misconduct.
UPDATE 6/16 -According to Roosevelt Island Assembly Member Micah Kellner, John McManus, will be named interim Roosevelt Island Public Safety (PSD) Department Director for a 3 month period starting tomorrow. Mr. McManus will be given the job of cleaning up and fixing PSD's culture and transitioning PSD for the naming of a new permanent Director.

Mr. McManus is currently a Senior Consultant with Bresnan Risk Consultants and formerly a NYPD Assistant Chief. His bio at Bresnan Risk Consultants states:
John McManus brings twenty-six years of prior police management and supervisory experience in the NYPD, where he rose to the rank of Assistant Chief before retiring to become the Director of Security at the World Trade Center/Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. In that capacity, he was responsible for all security operations and emergency planning during the initial rebuilding phase at Ground Zero.

While at the NYPD, Chief McManus served as Executive Officer to both the Chief of Department and the Internal Affairs Bureau. He also served as the Commanding Officer of the NYPD Operations Division which has responsibility for the planning of all major events in New York City including the NYC Marathon, New Year’s Eve in Times Square, the U.N. General Assembly, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and N.Y. Yankees World Series and the N.Y. Giants Super Bowl parades on Broadway. A recognized expert in special event security planning, Chief McManus was charged with the massive and complex planning and operational coordination of the Republican National Convention in 2004. The huge undertaking went off without a hitch, reinforcing New York City's reputation as the safest large city in America. He also served as the NYPD Coordinator/ Liaison to the Office of the Mayor for the NYC 2012 Olympic Bid....
I asked RIOC for comment yesterday but have received no response yet. Will update if more info received.

UPDATE 6/27 - 6/17 Press Release from RIOC:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation today announced the appointment of John B. McManus as Interim Director, Public Safety Department (PSD). Mr. McManus began his new position today.

Mr. McManus has extensive public safety, security, and management experience. He served in various roles at the New York Police Department between 1994 - 2006, including Commanding Officer at three precincts, Commanding Officer for the Operations Division, and as Executive Officer to the Chief of Department where he assisted with personnel management, staff deployment, developing and monitoring operational budgets, and analyzing the effectiveness of departmental and operational plans and major new crime fighting initiatives. He began his career at the NYPD in 1979.

Mr. McManus most recently served as Director of Security for the Time Warner Center where he supervised 100 security guards. From 2007-2009, he served as the Director of Security for the World Trade Center where he managed 150 guards daily. In both positions he created and oversaw disaster-related plans including disaster response and evacuation plans.

Mr. McManus will serve as the Interim Director through a contract with Guidepost Solutions LLC, a global investigations and security company. RIOC is initiating a search for a permanent PSD Director. The position was previously held by Keith Guerra. Mr. Guerra resigned Friday to pursue another job opportunity.

“Maintaining safety for our 14,000 residents, our businesses and visitors is a top priority. I look forward to working with Mr. McManus who is an accomplished manager and a near 20-year security forces veteran,” said RIOC President Charlene Indelicato.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC) Status Update On Cornell NYC Tech Project - Will RIOC Heed Advice And Suggestions From RICC?

Reported yesterday on plans for Cornell NYC Tech collaboration and "adoption" of Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 with video presentations by PS/IS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman and Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove to the Community Board 8 Youth & Education Committee.

Many issues still need to be resolved before Cornell NYC Tech can take possession, begin demolition of the existing Goldwater Hospital and start construction of the new applied sciences and engineering school. Among the issues still to be negotiated with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) are an agreement with RIOC for land controlled by RIOC that is part of the proposed Cornell campus, the use of barging and temporary concrete plant during the construction process, air and noise pollution monitoring and much more.

The Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC) addressed some of these concerns in the following statement reacting to last month's NYC Council approval of Cornell NYC Tech's ULURP application. According to RICC:
RICC has worked closely with Cornell for over eight months to negotiate community amenities (such as computers, educational programs, meeting space) which we, and our member organizations, felt would be appropriate and appreciated in consideration of the many years of construction which the community will endure in order to make the Cornell complex a reality. Cornell has responded favorably to many of them and RICC is gratified that this would not have happened without the relationship which we have formed with them.

We have been assisted in our endeavors by, and are grateful for, recommendations and negotiations through CB8, the City Planning Commission, the Borough President's Office, and the City Council - especially Council Member Jessica Lappin. We wish they could have done more to help us but realize this project is something the entire City is behind because of the benefits it will bring.

There are many issues not yet resolved, however, or not addressed to our satisfaction, and these are the most critical because they involve health and safety. We want trucking to be the exception because of the pollutants, noise, traffic, possible damage to our helix they could cause - Cornell has only agreed to reduce trucking by about 40% through barging. We want an on-site cement plant to reduce numbers of cement trucks - Cornell is no longer considering it due to claimed deterents which RICC thinks could be mitigated. We want them to contribute funds to add officers to the Public Safety Department because of the increased population Cornell will bring and the presence of Technion, an Israeli institution - they will contribute only to security for their campus.

Because of these issues and others which are still of concern, RICC will continue to meet with Cornell, RIOC, elected officials, and whoever or whatever body can assist us in meeting our goals. We will let the community know when and how you can assist us and trust that you will rise to the occassion, since the issues we continue to be concerned about will affect the health and well-being of our Island community far into the future.
These issues were discussed in great detail during May 21 RICC Board meeting. Here's what happened.

Part 1

followed by questions and answers.

The RIOC Board Directors and new RIOC President Charlene Indelicato would be wise to consider the advice and suggestions of the RICC Board on many of these issues when negotiating with Cornell NYC Tech.

Roosevelt Island Motorgage Garage Renovation Continues - 4th and 5th Floor Sections To Be Closed For Parking Space Striping And Installation Of New Light Fixtures

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
The renovation project at the Motorgate Parking Garage will be entering into sections 4A South, 4B South, 4D, 5A South, and 5A North in 3 weeks. Current work in sections 3A South, 3A North, 2A, 2B, and 1A for this portion of the project is expected to be completed by July 8, 2013 during which time, these sections will re-open to patrons for parking.

The following sections will be closed for striping and installation of new light fixtures:

July 8, 2013 - August 1, 2013- Sections 4A South and 4A North
August 1, 2013 - August 15, 2013- Sections 4B South and 4D.
August 15, 2013 thru September 19, 2013- Sections 5A South & 5A North

Disabled/ADA Patrons currently parking in section 4D will have temporary reserved disabled parking in sections 5D and 6D until the renovations in 4D is complete.

As a reminder, this work is necessary to upgrade the current lighting to LED light fixtures which are brighter, durable and more energy efficient.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
In November 2011, former RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez took me on a tour of the Motorgate garage and explained the Motorgate Waterproofing Project and making the parking spaces uniform with straight lines. Here's what happened.

You Tube Video of Motorgate Parking Garage Improvements

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cornell NYC Tech VP Cathy Dove Discusses Adoption Of Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 With School Principal At Community Board 8 Meeting - The Roosevelt Island School Is Where Our Focus Is Going To Be In Perpetuity Says Ms. Dove

As reported last Monday:
The Manhattan Community Board 8 (CB 8) Youth & Education (Y&E) Committee will be meeting tonight to discuss an issue of great importance to Roosevelt Island - what will Cornell NYC Tech do to help Roosevelt Island students attending PS/IS 217.
During the CB 8 meeting, PS/IS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman described current programs available at the school and her hopes for future collaboration with Cornell NYC Tech.

Later during the CB 8 meeting, Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove reported on the upcoming Girls Who Code summer program which will include Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 students and discussed Cornell NYC Tech's intention to "adopt" Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217. Responding to my question as to what Cornell adopting PS/IS 217 means, Ms. Dove said:
the Roosevelt Island school ... is where our focus is going to be ... in perpetuity...
Here's the CB 8 discussion with Ms. Dove.

Roosevelt Island Jogger And Dog Attacked By Cat According To Public Safety Report- Dead Cat Found Near Gristedes

According to today's Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Report:

06/11/13 - 2030 - Bet. 680 & 750 Main St. - Deceased Cat - Referred to RIOC Facilities Dept.

06/11/13 - 2030 - 686 Main St. - Cat Attack - Jogger and his dog attacked by cat. Refused medical attention.
First time I ever heard of a cat attacking a jogger and dog.

I asked RIOC for additional information on this incident and will update if any received.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Roosevelt Island NYC East River Waterfront View At Southpoint Park Tonight and Similar View From Welfare Island's City Hospital In 1950

Great view of NYC East River Waterfront skyline from Southpoint Park tonight

and a similar view seen from the old City Hospital in 1950 via Shorpy

According to Shorpy:
March 14, 1950. "New York City views. Manhattan skyline from City Hospital." Large-format acetate negative by Samuel H. Gottscho.

Roosevelt Island Day Saturday June 15 - Games, Rides, Petting Zoo, Flower Planting, Blood Drive, Volunteer Breakfast, FDR Drive Concert & Much More Fun For The Whole Family

Saturday June 15 is Roosevelt Island Day and you are invited. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Come out and join us for an amazing day of fun and Island beautification at this year Roosevelt Island Day event, happening this Saturday June 15th at 9 AM at the Good Shepherd Plaza!

Enjoy the many activities, games and much more for FREE! Also, volunteers will receive the beautifully designed Roosevelt Island Day t-shirt. Volunteers must be at the plaza at 7 AM SHARP!!

Don't miss out on this fantastic community event!

There will be games, rides, food, a petting zoo and much, much more. Here are some scenes from the 2012 Roosevelt Island Day.

The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) will also be conducting their annual Blood Drive

 Image Of RIRA Members Seeking Blood Donors At Farmers Market

on Roosevelt Island. According to RIRA:
... On The Day Of The Blood Drive

The actual blood drive is on June 15th, from 10 am to 4 pm. Donations will be taken at the Senior Center, 546 Main Street, on the ground floor. Just follow the signs or ask a volunteer for directions.

Our volunteers will be accepting last minute appointments at our table at the Farmer's Market, from 10 am to 2 pm....
There will be an evening concert by the FDR Drive Band starting at 6 PM.

It's always a fun. day. Come on out and enjoy yourself at Roosevelt Island Day.

Roosevelt Island Day is sponsored by RIOC, Urban American (Roosevelt Landings owner) and the Roosevelt Island Youth Program.

UPDATE 6/14 - The American Cancer Society's Roosevelt Island Relay For Life also takes place on June 15 at the Octagon Soccer Field from 11 AM to 11 PM.

More info here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

How Will New Cornell NYC Tech School Support Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 - Find Out Tonight At Community Board 8 Meeting

The Manhattan Community Board 8 (CB 8) Youth & Education (Y&E) Committee will be meeting tonight to discuss an issue of great importance to Roosevelt Island - what will Cornell NYC Tech do to help Roosevelt Island students attending PS/IS 217. According to the CB 8 Y&E meeting agenda for tonight:
Meeting Date:
Monday, June 10, 2013 - 7:00pm
Meeting Location:
Hunter College
SW Corner of 68th Street & Lexington Avenue - West Building, 3rd Floor North Cafe
New York, NY

Featuring PS/IS 217 Principal Beckman with the PTA Co-President(s)
Discussion of new Cornell Tech program with IS 217—joined by Cathy Dove of Cornell Tech...

As previously reported Cornell NYC Tech has agreed to:
... Partner with New York City middle schools to create Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics (STEM) programs, with a special focus on girls. Initial pilot programs will begin at P.S./I.S. 217 on Roosevelt Island, M.S. 406 in East Harlem, and I.S. 204 and P.S. 111 in Long Island City, Queens. Starting this summer, Cornell NYC Tech will sponsor an immersion program for girls in these schools to learn coding, web design, robotics and mobile development under the mentorship of some of the industry’s top engineers and entrepreneurs.

"Adopt" the local school on Roosevelt Island, PS/IS 217, by providing programming such as teacher training and support, after school programming, tech events, career day options, and hardware and software programming development....
The issue of what type of support Cornell NYC Tech will provide Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 was discussed during the May 21 meeting of the Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC).  RICC Board member Joyce Mincheff reported not much is currently known about what Cornell's adopting 217 means but for now it appears to be focused on older students in middle school rather than younger students in the elementary school.

RICC Co Chair Ellen Polivy added that Cornell's agreement to adopt PS/IS 217 was made at the very last minute before the ULURP approval by NYC Council Land Use Committee and described testimony given by the PS/IS 217 Principal to the Land Use Committee about Cornell's plan for PS/IS 217 as:
... you've been giving us lip service about adopting our school ... and not much else and just a small program that is going to serve a very small group of people. What we're asking for is you to really adopt our school and give our teachers ongoing support for the life of the school and give them mentoring and training and ongoing support for every grade....
Ms. Polivy told those attending the RICC meeting that Cornell has agreed to provide such support to PS/IS 217 but she has yet to see what Cornell will actually do.

Here's the RICC PS/IS 217 discussion.

Hopefully, we will learn more about Cornell NYC Tech's plan for supporting Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 at tonight's CB 8 meeting.

More on the RICC Cornell NYC Tech update meeting here and questions and answers here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Some Scenes From June 4 Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park Summer Sunset Fundraiser

As previously reported, the FDR Four Freedoms Park Conservancy (FDR) held a Summer Sunset Fundraising event

Image Of June 4 FDR Summer Sunset Fundraising Party

on June 4 with tickets ranging from $250 to $10 thousand. Here's some of what happened.

The FDR Chairman William vanden Heuvel

 Image Of William vanden Heuvel Atop Newly FDR Park Inscribed Granite Steps

delivered these remarks under a tent placed between the granite steps and the Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital.

Following Mr. vanden Heuvel's remarks, I took a walk around the park to the tunes of Blue Moon

and New York New York.

The lawn could be a great place for picnics, future concerts and other events open to the public. Of course, still to be decided is who controls the area, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) or the FDR Park.