Saturday, December 21, 2013

Enjoy The Outdoor Christmas Light Shows From Dyker Heights Brooklyn And The Empire State Building - The Season's Upon Us It's That Time Of Year Sing The Dropkick Murphys

One of the best things about the Christmas season are the brightly colored outdoor lights displays. We have a little bit of outdoor Christmas lights here on Roosevelt Island, but not alot. We could do much better, maybe next year.

One place that does a great job of outdoor Christmas Lights is the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights. The Bensonshurst Bean show us how its done.

Are you in the mood for some more Dyker Heights Christmas Lights? The Bensonhurst Bean has it for you.

We do have a great view of the Empire State Building Christmas Light Show from Roosevelt Island. Here's a close up view with music.

As the Dropkick Murphy's sing, The Season's Upon Us, It's That Time Of Year.

Ho, Ho, Ho.

Roosevelt Island Hope Church Christmas Candle Lighting Service & Community Dinner 4:30 PM December 22 At Good Shepherd

Roosevelt Island resident Drew Hyun reports that the Hope Church Roosevelt Island will be conducting a Christmas candle lighting and community dinner on December 22 at the Good Shepherd Chapel (4:30 PM).

More information on the Hope Church Roosevelt Island available at their web site.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spring Like Weekend Weather Brings Saturday Local Law 11 Facade Work For Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park Buildings - Management Apologizes To Residents For Any Inconvenience And Informs No Parking On River Road During Work

A Manhattan Park resident shares this announcement received late this afternoon from the Manhattan Park Management:
Dear Residents:

Due to the inclement weather this week, we have not been able to proceed with the Local Law 11 construction.

We are expecting "spring like" temperatures this weekend, and will be able to take this opportunity to proceed in bringing this project closer to completion.

In order to expedite this, the construction crew will be working this Saturday, December 21, 2013.

Also please note, Parking on River Road will not be permitted during this period.

We understand the inconvenience, and we do apologize, however we must take advantage of the weather conditions in order to complete this project.

Once again we apologize for any and all inconveniences you may have encountered during this period.

Manhattan Park Management
 NYC Local Law 11 concerns:
... inspection of the exterior walls of buildings greater than six stories in height....

Q102 Bus Accident This Evening At Roosevelt Island's Blackwell Turnaround - No Injuries Reported But Boulder Stuck Underneath Bus

A MTA Q102 Bus heading south on Roosevelt Island's Main Street was involved in an accident as it was attempting to drive around the Blackwell turnaround this evening at approximately 4:30 PM. The back wheel of the bus is up on the sidewalk curb with a large boulder stuck underneath the bus.

According to this Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) advisory received just before 5 PM:
NYPD/FDNY activity at location, southbound lane obstructed, northbound lane partially obstructed due to accident, traffic moving slowly.

A Roosevelt Island resident shares this picture

and reports:
At the turnaround at the end of main street flagpole Mta bus with woman trapped on stuck wheelchair lift. Lots of island security hanging around.
The wheelchair passenger was safety taken off the bus.

No report yet on the reason for the Q102 bus accident at the Blackwell Turnaround nor of any injuries.

UPDATE 12/23 - Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Interim Public Safety Director Jack McManus explains what happened:
Driver error.

The driver was intending to bear left at the fork and missed the turn. He the proceeded to attempt to make the tight left turn around the triangle and it was too tight. The left side of the bus mounted the triangle, dislodged the boulder which got stuck between the bottom of the bus and the pavement and pulled over on the right hand side of the road when he realized the boulder was stuck underneath the undercarriage of the bus. No reported injuries.

Roosevelt Island F Train Subway Service To And From Manhattan Again This Weekend, That's Four In A Row

Pinch me to make sure that I am not dreaming.

According to the MTA Weekender Page there will be Roosevelt Island F Train service

to and from Manhattan this weekend. That makes it four in a row.

How long can this good news last?

Roosevelt Island Home Town Boy And Global Travel Blogger Greg Goodman Get's Lost In Korea On National Geographic Reality Travel TV Show

Greg Goodman grew up on Roosevelt Island to become a successful photographer and global travel blogger at Adventures Of A Goodman.

According to Mr. Goodman:
I was raised on RI and although I haven't lived there in quite a few years, it will always be my home. I'm also an unofficial international Roosevelt Island ambassador, as I tell people all about our little sliver of heaven every chance I get in every country I visit. A photo I took of the old tram is even on my business card... which is perfect to give people after describing RI.
Greg is the star of a National Geographic Channel TV Show, Get Lost In Korea.

Image of Greg Leaving For Korea From Adventures Of A Goodman

Here's a preview.

You can watch the whole Get Lost In Korea show here.

Check out some of Greg's Roosevelt Island photos too.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

NYC Mayor Bloomberg Transfers 12 Acres of Roosevelt Island to Cornell NYC Tech Today - Cornell Will Pay RIOC $400,000 Annually For 55 Years, NY State Will Pay RIOC Approximately $22 -24 Million By December 31 2018

Rendering Of Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech Campus

This notion seemed far fetched and utterly ridiculous, if not impossible, back in February 2011:
Will Roosevelt Island Become Silicon Island? Stanford, MIT, Cornell & Other Top Universities Express Interest In Proposed New York City State Of The Art Applied Sciences School - And It May Be Right Here At Coler Goldwater Site
Well, almost three years later the notion proved to be entirely doable.

Rendering Of Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech Campus

Earlier today, exactly two years to the day in 2011 when Cornell University was selected to build the NYC Applied Sciences & Engineering School and following the withdrawal of Stanford University from the competition as well as many, many many community meetings, I watched NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Cornell University President David Skorton sign a 99 year lease for the new Roosevelt Island Cornell- Technion Engineering School campus on the site of the former Goldwater Hospital.
Here's a look at what Cornell is bringing to Roosevelt Island by 2017.

As previously reported Cornell will also be paying the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) $400,000 annually for the next 55 years. Also, NY State will contribute payments to RIOC of approximately $22 - $24 million no later than December 31, 2018.

Here's the Cornell NYC Tech lease signing Press Conference

and Press Release from Mayor Bloomberg's office.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Cornell University President David J. Skorton, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology President Peretz Lavie today formally executed a 99-year lease between the City of New York and Cornell Tech, which will pave the way for construction of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, exactly two years after Cornell and academic partner Technion were named the first winners of the City’s Applied Sciences NYC competition. Cornell Tech is a revolutionary model for graduate-level technology education and is establishing itself as a world-leading institution, conferring graduate degrees and conducting research that drives technology, innovation, commercialization and the creation and retention of businesses and jobs in New York City. The land transfer will allow for groundbreaking on the campus to begin in January, with the first classrooms on Roosevelt Island set to open in 2017. Cornell Tech students began classes this fall in space donated by Google at their Chelsea headquarters on Eighth Avenue. Construction of the entire 2 million square foot build-out, which will span 12 acres on Roosevelt Island and house approximately 2,000 students and nearly 280 faculty and researchers, will be completed by 2043. New details and renderings for the first phase of the full campus were also released today, revealing how the physical campus will be designed to support Cornell Tech’s focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration between academia and industry. Mayor Bloomberg and President Skorton signed the lease documents at a City Hall ceremony to finalize the official land transfer to Cornell Tech, where they were joined by President Lavie, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, Council Member and Borough President-Elect Gale Brewer, Council Member Jessica Lappin, Cornell Tech Vice President Cathy Dove, Cornell Board Chair Robert Harrison, Cornell Provost Kent Fuchs, Cornell Tech Dean Daniel Hutenlocher, Forest City Ratner Companies President and CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, and Hudson Companies Principal David Kramer.

“Our goal has been to make New York City the global capital of technological innovation, and this new campus on Roosevelt Island is a central part of our strategy for achieving it,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “It is one of the most ambitious and forward-looking economic development projects any city has ever undertaken, and it’s going to help add thousands of new jobs to our economy in the decades ahead.”

“The State was proud to work closely with the Mayor’s Office, RIOC and Cornell because we strongly believe that the path to New York State’s continued economic growth will largely be defined by partnerships that start with our State’s academic institutions,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “This project leverages two of the world’s most notable institutions in a way that will help foster technological innovation within New York State, while creating jobs and spurring business investment.”

“Cornell Tech is the proof that government and universities can work together to innovate and support economic growth, and we will be forever grateful for Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership in making this campus possible,” said Cornell University President David J. Skorton. “The Roosevelt Island campus is being built for the future, to be the place that generates the next big ideas, the new companies and extraordinary talent that will change New York and the world.”

“Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s vision, New York City is fast becoming a leading global center of innovation,” said Technion President Peretz Lavie. “Through the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, our international partnership with Cornell Tech, we look forward to helping to further the city's future as the technology capital of the world.”

Applied Sciences NYC was launched by Mayor Bloomberg in 2011 in an effort to capitalize on the considerable recent growth and even larger opportunity for future growth in technology-related jobs and businesses in New York City, and builds on the Bloomberg Administration’s record of creating a more diversified economy for the City’s future. In July 2011, NYCEDC issued an RFP seeking a university, institution or consortium to develop and operate a new or expanded campus in the City in exchange for City capital, access to City-owned land and the full support and partnership of the Bloomberg Administration, and subsequently received seven responses from 17 world-class institutions from around the globe. Cornell Tech was the first of four Applied Sciences projects to be announced by the City in an effort to strengthen New York City’s global competiveness – including its growing technology sector – and ensure that the City establishes itself as a worldwide hub of science, research, innovation and urban solutions for the digital age and the information economy. Cornell Tech was selected for this initiative based on its innovative model for graduate technology education and its emphasis on the intersections between academia and industry and forward-thinking areas of study. When completed, the new Roosevelt Island campus alone will nearly double the number of full-time, graduate engineering students enrolled in leading New York City Master’s and Ph.D. programs.

The four Applied Sciences NYC projects that have been announced by the Mayor include:

· Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island

· The Center for Urban Science and Progress in Downtown Brooklyn, operated by an international consortium led by New York University

· The Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering at Columbia University

· Carnegie Mellon University’s Integrative Media Program at Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Collectively, the four Applied Sciences NYC projects are expected to generate more than $33.2 billion in nominal economic activity, over 48,000 permanent and construction jobs, and approximately 1,000 spin-off companies by 2046, fulfilling the initiative’s goal of dramatically transforming the City’s economy for the 21st century. These institutions are already strengthening the City’s position as a hub of science, research, innovation and world-class urban solutions in a global economy driven by technological fluency and innovation.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s Applied Sciences initiative will transform the City’s economy, doubling the number of engineering faculty and graduate students in New York City. These are the skills we need to compete in the knowledge and information economy of the 21st Century,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “The closing of the Cornell Tech lease is a major step toward that goal and I congratulate Presidents Skorton and Lavie on this critical moment in the arc of Cornell and the Technion’s history.”

“Over only two years, thanks to an unprecedented model of collaboration across City and State government, top academic institutions, and the private sector, we have transformed Applied Sciences NYC from a visionary idea into a physical reality that is already reshaping our City,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “Since selecting Cornell and the Technion as our first winners, in partnership with the Health and Hospitals Corporation we have built and opened a new hospital in Harlem that is currently serving former Coler-Goldwater patients; secured all necessary approvals for the Roosevelt Island campus; selected three additional Applied Sciences winners; and launched classes. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, this initiative will create jobs, businesses, and technologies, resulting in transformative economic activity that will help secure the City’s future.”

“Cornell Tech is extremely grateful for the unwavering support of the Roosevelt Island community throughout the public review process and we are committed to being great neighbors during construction and beyond,” said Cornell Tech Vice President Cathy S. Dove. “We are also fortunate to have such extraordinary development partners in Forest City Ratner and Hudson/Related to help us make this vision a reality.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Cornell and so many great partners to help create a truly extraordinary new place on Roosevelt Island,” said Forest City Ratner Companies President and CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin. “Under Mayor Bloomberg’s watch the City’s tech sector has grown enormously and we are well poised as a company and as a project to continue with that growth at Cornell Tech.”

“With Mayor Bloomberg’s vision guiding the way, Cornell Tech will be at the leading edge of the next generation in tech and applied sciences,” said David Kramer, partner of The Hudson Companies. “We look forward to bringing out-of-the-box thinking to a best-in-class building on the forefront of design and sustainability.”

“I am pleased to join Mayor Bloomberg for this monumental step toward making the Cornell Tech campus a reality. I have strongly supported bringing Cornell Tech to Roosevelt Island from the very beginning of this process,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney. “The campus holds great promise for Roosevelt Island and for New York City, attracting future leaders in the technology and engineering industry. Many of the amenities included in the plans will be open and available to the public, including areas of park space. I commend Cornell for its transparency during the planning process and commitment to being a good neighbor to Island residents.”

“Cornell Tech will generate opportunities and innovations for generations to come, and today we take a step closer to our city's future,” said Council Member Jessica Lappin.

“I applaud Mayor Bloomberg, Cornell Tech, and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation on their historic lease signing to build a new applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island,” said Manhattan Borough President-Elect Gale A. Brewer. “This partnership will play a key role in the growth of New York City’s tech sector in the coming years, and will attract new development to Roosevelt Island. I look forward to working with all parties to ensure the success of this venture.”

Academic uses of the campus are anticipated to include classrooms, laboratories, teaming areas, and lecture halls, as well as start-up incubator/accelerator space to encourage entrepreneurship. The remainder of the space in the campus will be devoted to corporate co-location space designed to facilitate the interaction between academia and industry, residential uses, an executive education center, and ancillary uses, such as retail in support of the faculty, staff and students on the campus, as well as the creation of new open space.

While planning is underway for the opening of the permanent campus in 2017, Cornell Tech is already operating in temporary space in Manhattan. The campus master plan, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill with James Corner Field Operations, includes a number of innovative features and facilities across a river-to-river campus with expansive views, a series of green, public spaces, and a seamless integration of indoor and outdoor areas. Cornell Tech will combine cutting edge technologies to create one of the most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient campuses in the world, not only employing, but developing new environmental technology.

A sustainable and innovative academic building will be designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects and, in a significant departure from traditional academic facilities, take its cue from the tech world by offering open-plan space and extensive collaborative workspaces. The phase one academic building, if completed today, would be the largest net-zero energy building in eastern United States, with all of its power generated on campus.

A corporate co-location building, designed by Weiss/Manfredi and developed by Forest City Ratner Companies, will bring together corporate innovators, world-class researchers and energetic start-ups under one roof, a concrete reflection of the campus’ mission of fusing academia and industry to encourage innovation for the public good. Cornell Tech will be an anchor tenant. Renderings of this building and the academic building were released today, and are available at

Ensuring that the campus is active 24/7, a residential building, designed by Handel Architects and developed by Hudson and Related Companies, will be built to provide convenient and affordable campus housing for students, faculty and staff. It will rely on passive sustainable design features to reduce energy usage and further advance the campus’ sustainability goals.

Plans are also under underway for an Executive Education Center and Hotel, which will help ensure that Cornell Tech is a magnet in New York City for innovation by providing conference, executive program and academic workshop space along with a hotel and destination restaurant.

The 12-acre footprint of the Cornell Tech campus includes the site of the former Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility, which has been replaced by the new state-of-the art, 365-bed, $300 million Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital in Harlem, built by NYCEDC, which is operated by the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation and provides world-class medical care for New Yorkers in need of highly specialized, complex treatment. Former Goldwater patients were relocated to the new hospital last month. The campus footprint also includes property formerly controlled by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. Cornell Tech has spent the past year working with the Roosevelt Island community on plans to minimize the impact of construction on residents, including deployment of the largest barging program in New York City to remove demolition materials from the site.

Cornell Tech classes began earlier this year in space donated by Google in Chelsea. The school now includes masters and Ph.D. students, world-class faculty and established collaborations with dozens of industry-leading organizations contributing to graduate study in areas such as Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Information Science, Operations Research and Business. Cornell Tech also launched its commitment to partnership with New York City’s public school students earlier this year, working with numerous organizations to bring tech education to a diverse audience. A director of K-12 education for Cornell Tech will be announced early in 2014.

Beginning in January, the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute at Cornell Tech will welcome a number of postdoctoral students to the current campus. Later in 2014, the Jacobs Institute will launch a master’s degree program in Connective Media designed to educate the entrepreneurial engineers and technologists needed in the media sector to steward the continuing digital transformation of the industry. Students in this two-year program will receive degrees from both Technion and Cornell. Also in 2014, Cornell Tech will launch a Johnson MBA that will combine business, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in a fast-paced, hands-on learning environment.

Cornell Tech will host entrepreneurs-in-residence, organize business competitions, provide legal support for startups, reach out to existing companies to form research partnerships and sponsor research, and establish a pre-seed financing program to support promising research. In addition, the campus will structure its on-site tech transfer office to facilitate startup formation and technology licensing. Cornell Tech will also invest $150 million that will be solely devoted to start-up businesses in the City.

In keeping with the focus on community involvement contained in the RFP, the Cornell Tech proposal outlined a number of areas in which the universities will touch the lives of New Yorkers -- the type of involvement to which both schools have been committed for many years in their primary campus communities. Plans for community involvement in New York City include the creation of education enhancement programs that will impact a minimum of 10,000 New York City students and 200 New York City teachers per year. Cornell Tech also intends to work closely with PS/IS 217 on Roosevelt Island to enrich their curricula and participate in STEM-oriented programming. They will also work to meet the goals of the City’s HireNYC employment program and develop partnerships for job placement and training. In furtherance of its community outreach goals, Cornell Tech will offer significant programming on and off its campus designed to engage with residents of Roosevelt Island and the larger City. Cornell’s campus plan will further create new public open space on the campus.
Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

FDR Four Freedoms Park Explains Why It Was Closed For Snow Last Saturday Disappointing Roosevelt Island Visitor - Will Try To Keep Park Open Whenever Possible This Winter Even If Southpoint Park Closed They Say

Roosevelt Island got a little bit of snow last Saturday when resident Trevre Andrews tried to enter the FDR Four Freedoms Park (FDR Park) but was:

very disappointed 
to be greeted by a closed gate

Image From Trevre Andrews

and signage that said the Park was closed

Image From Trevre Andrews

due to weather (the sign actually said the park was "close").

I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato and the RIOC Directors:
On Saturday during the snow storm, a Roosevelt Island resident sent me the two attached pictures showing the FDR Four Freedoms Park closed during the day.

The resident was very disappointed in not being able to enter the park during the snowstorm.

According to the sign on the closed gate to the FDR Park, the Park was closed due to the weather.

No other NYC parks were closed during the snowstorm including Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park.

Why was FDR Park closed?

Does RIOC have any policy or requirement regarding the times that the FDR Park is open to the public?
Ms. Indelicato responded that the FDR Park was not within the jurisdiction of RIOC. Not sure if that is completely accurate but will explore the issue later.

I also asked representatives of the FDR Park why the park was closed on Saturday during the snow. Suzy Brown, Director of The FDR Park Visitor Experience, responded:
Although we hope to keep the Park open as much as possible this winter, we will always have to close the Park if weather conditions cause visitor safety concerns. Since the Memorial was constructed out of a very particular type of granite and is situated in a very specific location surrounded by water, we cannot simply follow the closure advisories of NYC Parks or NYS Parks.

We are able to clear the Park of snow, but since we can't use salt on the granite we have to be very careful if we feel that icy conditions are developing. Saturday was a particularly challenging day and very specific weather challenges were faced by many different locations throughout the City.

 The 9/11 Memorial had to close early in the afternoon on Saturday, and the High Line was unable to open until after 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Our onsite staff felt that it was safest to close on Saturday. I apologize that we did not send out a notification, and that we had to use a makeshift sign. However, as I mentioned in my email, going forward we will be sure to send out email notifications about closings as soon as we have made the decision.

I am happy to report that we have also made arrangements with RIOC to keep our Park open whenever possible, regardless of whether or not Southpoint Park is closed. Unfortunately, there were many days last year when we had cleared our Park and were ready to open but Southpoint Park was not cleared and was kept shut, restricting access to our Park. This winter, even if Southpoint Park remains closed due to heavy snowfall, if we are able to clear the Four Freedoms Park sufficiently, our staff will then clear a path in Southpoint Park from the back East gate allowing pedestrian access into our back East gate until RIOC staff is able to clear all of Southpoint Park and open the front gate and Southpoint Park fully to the public.
Ms. Brown added:
Please note that the Four Freedoms Park will be closed on Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25th. Regular winter hours of 9:00 to 5:00 (closed Tuesday) will resume on Thursday, December 26th.

Going forward, the Four Freedoms Park will send e-mail notices to this contact list if the Park is closed or opening late due to inclement weather. Notification will be posted on the website and through social media and, whenever possible, signage will be posted at the Park.
Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy is concerned about the FDR Park workers. According to Ms. Berdy:
It is most unfortunate that the humanitarian legacy of President Franklin Roosevelt is not being executed by the administration of the FDR Four Freedoms Memorial Park.

In recent weeks, as well as last winter, the park staff sit huddled in a tiny unheated vehicle while on duty. There is no shelter for them as they stand at the windblown south end of the Island, speak with visitors and maintain the austere and pristine granite of the site.

The park is never closed due to inclement weather. Countless visitors to the park remark on the situation of the staff when they enter the RIHS Visitor Center.

It is well known that architect Louis Kahn died before completing his plan for the memorial. He may have intended to provide (seating and shade for the public and even) shelter for the park staff. Certainly, there is plenty of space on park property to provide an enclosed heated shelter for the comfort of staff and visitors.

The callous indifference of the influential and wealthy members of the FDR Four Freedoms Park speaks louder than the desire to maintain the architect's unknown intent.

Just in case the park administration says they are a poor not for profit, here is a listing of their Board:

John Dyson, Chairman of Millbrook Capital Management, Inc.,  Jack Rosenthal, President-Emeritus of The New York Times Company Foundation;, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher of The Nation, Warren Hoge, Senior Adviser for External Relations to the International Peace Institute; and William Whitaker, ex officio, Curator of The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, Ambassador vanden Heuvel; Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.; Barbara Shattuck Kohn, Carl Weisbrod; Sally Minard; William R. Griffith, Secretary & Treasurer; James Polshek; and Gina Pollara.

Coach Scot's Main Street Sweets On Roosevelt Island Celebrating One Year Anniversary Today - $1 Ice Cream, Coffee, Popcorn And Cookies Now and Thru Weekend, Yum

Coach Scot's Main Street Sweets

on Roosevelt Island is celebrating its One Year Anniversary today and through the weekend. Owner Scot Bobo reports:
Today marks the Main Street Sweets 1 year anniversary.

We are celebrating with $1 coffee, $1 ice cream, $1 popcorn and $1 cookies today through the weekend.

Congrats Main Street Sweets!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Take A Walk Over Roosevelt Island Bridge To Melting Pot Caribbean Restaurant On Vernon Boulevard - We Love Astoria Likes It Very Much

Have you ever tried the Melting Pot Caribbean restaurant on Vernon Boulevard and 36th Avenue just over the Roosevelt Island Bridge?

We Love Astoria did and wrote a very positive review of the restaurant. An excerpt:
Melting Pot Cuisine, the neighborhood’s only source of Jamaican cooking, is perched on the neighborhood’s southwestern corner, abutting the Roosevelt Island Bridge at the intersection of 36th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard. They deliver everywhere in the neighborhood, but it’s worth trekking down there to enjoy a meal in their sunny dining room....
... The curry chicken roti is good bet on a cold day. It’s a huge griddled flatbread, filled with chicken on the bone and hunks of potato stewed in fragrant spiced gravy....

Chicken Roti. Photo credit: Anne Noyes Saini via We Love Astoria
 Click here for the entire review of Melting Pot from We Love Astoria.

Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Roosevelt Island Women's Health Organization Last 2013 Seminar On December 18 - Holistic Nutrition, Blood Pressure Screening And Meditation

Image From Roosevelt Island Women's Health Organization (RIWHO)

The Roosevelt Island Women's Health Organization (RIWHO) sends the following invitation to women 18 years and older for its December 18 Monthly Seminar.

Our Last Seminar for 2013
Date: Wednesday 12/18/13
Time: 6:30 P.M.
Place 546 Main St. 12th floor

Let us end 2013 feeling functional and fresh

Our speaker is

Ms. Magella Samory

She is a certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

and Spiritual Healer

She will speak on Holistic Nutrition

Blood Pressure Screening: Eileen Sheehy

Meditation: Sheryl Glenn

And a Grab bag give away

Please come and join us

Remembrance Of Nelson Mandela From Roosevelt Island Resident Ike Nahem - "You Become Special When You Fight For Freedom" Said Mandela To Nahem

Reported last December 5 on the life and death of Nelson Mandela. He was buried on December 15.

Roosevelt Island resident Ike Nahem shares his thoughts on the struggle against South African apartheid and personal memories of meeting Nelson Mandela.

According to Mr. Nahem:

Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.

-- Nelson Mandela

The incredible outpouring of human emotion and dignified appreciation that has met the passing of Nelson Mandela on December 5, 2013, has flowed like a raging river from every nation and people on the planet. It was a grief tempered by a jubilation and wonderment at the life of this great and humble human being.

While it is certainly true that the death of Mandela is felt most viscerally and genuinely by his own people and by the oppressed and exploited overwhelming majority of humanity who toil, think, and struggle for a better world, a world with more freedom, justice, and equality it is also true that he was admired and loved by countless millions from all social classes and walks-of-life with any democratic and anti- racist ideals who were sincerely touched by his amazing life, his example, and his deeds.

I had the unforgettable experience -- and the thrill of a lifetime -- to meet, shake hands, and exchange a few words with Nelson Mandela.

It was June 1990 in the so-called VIP reception area of Washington's National Airport. (Surreally to me the airport was later renamed for President Ronald Reagan who notoriously vetoed legislation mandating economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa that was overridden. Less well know is the fact that the Reagan Administration with bipartisan support, allied with apartheid South Africa in a series of devastating wars -- fought overtly by the apartheid South African army and covertly by the CIA -- against newly independent southern African states that were supporting Mandela's African National Congress. In Mozambique and Angola reactionary tribal groups -- RENAMO in Mozambique, UNITA in Angola -- were armed and trained under South African and CIA direction. Over a number of years through the 1980s they laid waste to the southern Africa lands, killing some 1.5 million people by most credible accounts.)

I had gotten an invitation as a longtime activist and organizer in the anti-apartheid movement. Since I had first heard of it as a teenager affected by the US Civil Rights Movement, I had always hated the apartheid system and state and wanted to do something about it. In college at Indiana University I had helped organize a big conference which featured anti-apartheid South Africans. But in the late 60s and early 70s, as the Vietnam War raged on, the racist apartheid state was implacable and seemed invulnerable. In truth it was entering its last period as history started to accelerate.

Endgame for the Portuguese Empire

In 1974 the centuries-old Portuguese Empire in Africa collapsed as the quasi-fascist Salazar dictatorship was overturned by a group of progressive-minded military officers. The floodgates of long-suppressed mass, democratic action opened up in Portugal and among other things it was a sentiment that wanted nothing to do with maintaining colonies in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau against growing independence movements.

The former Portuguese colonies that were adjacent to apartheid South Africa were about to form governments dominated by the liberation forces who were longtime friends and allies of Mandela's African National Congress (ANC). On the eve of its formal transition to full independence Angola found itself invaded by a powerful, highly mechanized South African army marching, practically unopposed by the badly outgunned Angolan forces, on the capital Luanda aiming to install a puppet government. The new Angolan government urgently appealed to the Cuban government for help and got it just in in time. (A wonderful account of the Cuban mobilization is given by the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez called Cuba in Angola: Operation Carlotta, which can be found online and on Fidel Castro's government dispatched thousands of volunteer soldiers and heavy equipment without even telling the Soviet government which they knew would oppose it as too risky and a provocation to Washington, with whom they were pursuing a "detente" in Cold-War tensions following the end of the Vietnam War and US Watergate crisis. These considerations were of little importance to the Cuban leadership who saw clearly the worldwide ramifications for progressive humanity of a unbridled victory for the South African racists.

At any rate the Cuban army arrived, usually going directly from port or airfield directly to combat in the front lines and soon drove the apartheid invaders out of Angola. This was a political and psychological game changer in Africa. For the first time the white South African army (there were a number of white-officered conscripted African troops as well) were beaten in frontal combat by troops that were largely of color. The mystique of white superiority and domination was being broken.


In June 1976, in no small part inspired by these events, the Soweto student uprising took place. This insurrectionary student revolt that began against the mandatory instruction of the Afrikaner language of the racist regime, was the greatest-ever mass challenge to the apartheid regime since the 1950s. It was drowned in blood with many hundreds gunned down and murdered, to the utter revulsion of world public opinion.

I was living in New York when the Soweto uprising occurred. Two of the central leaders of the uprising, Tsietsi Mashanene and Khotso Seatlhoho, managed to escape South Africa and the death warrant on their heads. Anti-apartheid activists fought like hell to get them a US visa for a nationwide speaking tour. We finally succeeded and it was a big success. When they got to New York we gave them the grand tour, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the then-overwhelmingly seedy and decadent Times Square of long ago. I'll never forget the wide-eyed, 18 year-old Mashanene, who had an almost childlike gentle demeanor that combined with a visceral intellectual and political intensity, astonished reaction to the Times Square of the late-1970s. With that distinct South African accent and inflection, he said to me, "My God, in New York you have not only X movies but XXX. I do not understand." I really had no answer to that.

After the tour both young warriors went back to Southern Africa for military training at an ANC camp. Years later I heard that both of my friends had died in combat. When my wife Erin and I first visited free South Africa in 2010, friends took us into Soweto, to the Memorial for the martyred youth

Images From Ike Nahem

and saw a tribute to my friends. We also visited Robben Island, off Cape Town and saw the cell where Nelson Mandela spent the big majority of his prison time.

Free South Africa Movement

In the mid-1980s, leading up to the crumbling of the apartheid regime, there burst onto the scene spreading from Washington, DC, the Free South Africa Movement. It was initiated by the DC-based group TransAfrica , led by Randall Robinson. It was decided to start daily picket lines in front of the South African Embassy, which was right in the middle of DC's opulent, serene, and fabled Embassy Row. The protest featured selective people engaging in non-violent civil disobedience and getting hauled away for a day in DC's jails.

As word spread of this happening, the protests grew bigger every day. A solidarity ritual took hold. Every day a new group would take the lead, mobilize some of their folks, and get arrested. Hundreds every day; on some special days thousands. Every day. Sculptors Against Apartheid, Punk Rockers Against Apartheid, Jewish groups, Muslim groups, so many churches, atheists and Buddhists, practically every trade union in the DC area -- grizzled looking old white guys who fit some biased anti-union stereotype brought their folks to the picket line --college students every day from a different campus, high school students from elite private schools, feminists, gays and lesbians. One day I couldn't believe my eyes there was a downright militant, chanting delegation of Accountants Against Apartheid! Pretty soon even the politicians got on board.

We had a movement on our hands. Campuses and banks were coming under heavy pressure to divest from South Africa. The forked-tongue Reagan Administration policy of "Constructive Engagement" began to collapse.

It was amazing. It was inspiring. And it told me that the apartheid state was doomed...and probably sooner rather than later.

A few years later Fidel Castro's Cuban Army led a military force including Angolans, South Africans, and Namibians (a former German colony ruled by the apartheid state) routed the South African army in the Battle of Cuito Cunavale, forcing a retreat back to South Africa where, now, the African townships were in open, permanent, mass rebellion. Endgame for the racist regime.

Namibia won its independence. Nelson Mandela and all the political prisoners were freed. The ANC and all the banned anti-apartheid organizations were legalized.

And Nelson Mandela was coming to the United States! It was the second country he visited since winning his freedom, in recognition of the strong, unstoppable anti-apartheid movement here. His first stop was Havana and Cuba to speak before hundreds of thousands embracing his close friend Fidel Castro and thanking the Cuban government and people for what he called their crucial, even decisive part in his release from prison and breaking the back and the morale of the apartheid state. (For the full speech of Mandela in Cuba see

Meeting Mandela

I was feeling pretty humble standing there in the VIP Lounge among the dignitaries, politicians, diplomats, Secret Service Agents, media and other celebrities, with my fellow activists. His flight touched down, taxied, and Mandela, the living legend, entered the room. As I approached him I teared up. My tiny piece of the struggle was a big piece of my life. I caught that amazing smile and thought to myself, What a burden it must be to have people blubbering all over the place when they meet you. But I guess he's used to it. I shook his hand and gave him some copies of a pamphlet with several of his recent speeches -- always clear, precise, and elegant -- published by Pathfinder Press which I was helping to widely distribute. They were very attractive and professionally done and he seemed very pleased.

I managed to blurt out, "It's an honor to meet you." He replied, "Well it's an honor to meet you." "But I'm nobody special," I protested. Mandela looked me in the eye, smiled and said, "Well you become someone special when you fight for freedom."

The Struggle Continues

South Africa, a ravishingly beautiful land where we met so many warm and friendly people, is still far from overcoming the brutal legacy of apartheid. It remains starkly unequal and there is growing unrest and turmoil, especially from industrial workers and agricultural laborers. Corruption among the small, emerging layer of newly-rich Africans who have gained entry into the still-white dominated business and financial summits, has shocked and disgusted the many who still lack running water or decent housing, or who are among the 25% -- 50% among Black African youth -- who are officially unemployed. Police violence is rampant, as exemplified by the cold-blooded murder of 34 striking platinum miners by police last year.

Nelson Mandela and his generation of revolutionaries like Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo, Ruth First and so many others, are almost all gone now, but what they fundamentally accomplished by destroying the structures and prerogatives of apartheid, was to lay the foundations to advance around questions such as land reform, education, access to medical care, women's rights, and decent housing. The destruction of apartheid established the democratic and political space, the rights for working people to move about freely, to associate, and to organize in their interests, which they are doing every day, in the ongoing fight for social justice and social equality. The struggle, personified by Madiba, the Xhosa name by which Mandela was affectionately known, conquered dignity and democratic freedom, the prerequisite for the previously oppressed majority to win a good and better life, to pursue happiness.

The ideas and example of Nelson Mandela will never die as long as human beings live and fight for freedom, justice, and equality by any means necessary.
(Ike Nahem has lived in Westview since 1999 with his wife Erin and son Andrew. He activism against apartheid goes back to the late 1960s. Ike is an Amtrak locomotive engineer and member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a division of the Teamsters Union. He drives high-speed trains from New York to Washington, DC.)

Roosevelt Island Roads And Streets May Freeze Over From Today's Snowstorm, RIOC Advises To Drive And Walk Very Carefully - Also, Tram Station Elevator Currently Out Of Service

The weather is cold and nasty outside today. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) advises:

The National Weather Service is calling for 1 to 4 inches of snow for the NYC Metropolitan area today. With temperatures below freezing, the roads may freeze over rather quickly. Please take every precaution while driving and walking about. It would be prudent to drive at a much slower rate of speed while allowing for ample distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Please pay particular attention when approaching pedestrian and school crossings. Have a safe day.
RIOC also advises that:
Please be advised that the Manhattan Tram Station elevator and wheelchair lift are currently out of service. An advisory will be sent out once they are back in service.
Be careful out there.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Donate A Warm Winter Coat To The Roosevelt Island New York Cares Winter Coat Drive - Drop Off At Public Safety Department 24 Hours A Day Thru December 23

It is starting to get cold on Roosevelt Island and the rest of New York City. If you have a warm winter coat that will not be used, please consider donating it to the New York Cares Roosevelt Island Winter Coat drive.

According to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Director Jack McManus:
The Public Safety Department is once again participating in the NY CARES WINTER COAT DRIVE. This program has brought warmth to many of the needy during our frigid winters. Last year, several hundred coats were donated. We look forward to your continued generosity.

Donated coats will be accepted thru 12/23/13. Donations can be brought to:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
Public Safety Department
550 Main Street
24 Hours A Day
Please help keep one person warm this winter.

Cornell NYC Tech Announces Joint Venture With Hudson Related To Build Residential Building On Roosevelt Island Campus - The 350 Units Are A Critical Piece To Attract Best Talent Says School's Dean Dan Huttenlocher

According to this Press Release just received from Cornell NYC Tech:
Cornell NYC Tech today announced the formation of a joint venture with The Hudson Companies and The Related Companies to construct the first residential building on its Roosevelt Island campus. The residential building will employ innovative new approaches to sustainability and bring the 24/7 activity vital to creating a vibrant community when the campus opens in 2017. Construction of the campus is set to begin in early 2014, with construction of the residential building slated for 2015.

The building will include approximately 350 housing units for students, staff and faculty, with a mix of micro units, one bedrooms, two bedrooms, and three bedroom suites. Planned amenities include a gym, bike room, lounge, roof deck, multi-purpose, collaboration, and media rooms for residents.

Aligned with Cornell Tech’s mission, the residential building will aim to set a new standard for high rise residential design, technology and innovation with a “best in class” approach to all building systems. It will rely on passive sustainable design features to achieve extraordinary reductions in energy use and carbon emissions.

“With Hudson and Related, Cornell Tech has added a development partner with enormous experience on Roosevelt Island to deliver one of the campus’ most important buildings,” said Cathy Dove, Vice President of Cornell Tech. “This is another example of a leading private sector partner excited to join Cornell in the early stages of the campus development, making Cornell Tech’s ambitious plans achievable on an aggressive timeline.”

“The residential building is a critical piece of Cornell Tech’s ability to attract the best talent by creating a 24/7 community of graduate students and faculty, with outstanding on-campus residential facilities that complement the leading-edge academic environment,” said Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher. “Cornell Tech is centered around innovation, and this building will break new ground with its approach to sustainability and building systems design.”

“Hudson and Related could not be more excited for the opportunity to play a role in this once-in-a-lifetime development, which will bring immense growth to New York’s tech sector for generations to come,” said David Kramer, partner of The Hudson Companies. “This dynamic campus is a welcome addition to the Island, which we have gotten to know over the past 16 years. We plan on pushing the envelope for this building. The goal is to set a new standard for high rise residential design, technology and innovation.”

For the past 16 years, Hudson and Related have worked together with the community to develop quality housing and retail on Roosevelt Island, including Riverwalk, which comprises six completed residential buildings, one under construction and two more planned. Hudson and Related have also almost completed a major renovation project along Main Street that includes placing new retail uses on the Island’s commercial thoroughfare.

For the Cornell Tech residential building, Hudson and Related have put together an all-star team to assist in planning the building. These new partners join an impressive Cornell Tech development and design team working on various aspects of the campus, which includes Forest City Ratner Companies, Morphosis Architects, Weiss/Manfredi, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and James Corner Field Operations. The building is being designed by award-winning New York architecture firm Handel Architects. Buro Happold, world-renowned sustainability experts and engineers, are assisting with the low-energy strategy for the building, which will include state of the art mechanical system design.

“This building has the potential to be a game changer in residential design, combining high performance/passive technologies with a high degree of user control and accountability,” said Gary Handel, Handel Architects. “It’s a perfect fit for the campus’ ambition and we are looking forward to working with Cornell Tech, Hudson, Related and Buro Happold to make it a reality.”

“Buro Happold is thrilled to be working with Hudson, Related, Cornell Tech, and Handel Architects to design this next-generation, high-performance residential tower,” said Craig Schwitter, Principal, Buro Happold. “We’re proud to collaborate on a project that will prioritize passive design practices and maximize energy efficiency.”

Cornell NYC Tech is a revolutionary model for graduate tech education, forging a new intersection between academia and industry. It’s a staging ground for what’s next, fueling ground-breaking research and entrepreneurial thinkers who will create the technology that reinvents the way we live.

This is another major milestone for the campus. Classes began earlier this year in space donated by Google in Chelsea. Cornell Tech now includes a masters program in Computer Science, Ph.D. students in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Information Science, a world-class faculty and active collaborations with dozens of industry-leading organizations. Cornell Tech also launched its commitment to partnership with New York’s public school students, working with numerous organizations to bring tech education to a diverse audience.

Beginning in January, the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute at Cornell Tech will welcome a number of postdocs to the campus. Later in 2014, the Jacobs Institute will launch its first degree program in Connective Media. Students in this two year program will receive degrees from both Technion and Cornell. The innovative program is designed to educate the entrepreneurial engineers and technologists needed in the media sector to respond to, and drive, the digital transformation of the industry. Also in 2014, Cornell Tech will launch a Johnson MBA. The program will fuse business, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in a fast-paced, hands-on learning environment.

The City's Applied Sciences NYC initiative was designed to capitalize on the considerable growth presently occurring within the science, technology and research fields in New York, and builds on the Bloomberg Administration’s dedication to creating a more diversified and competitive economy for the future. In December 2011, the Cornell and Technion partnership was selected by the City as the first winner of the Applied Sciences competition. When completed, the Roosevelt Island campus will house approximately 2,000 full-time graduate students.
As reported last Friday, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) approved the transfer of RIOC controlled land for the Cornell NYC Tech Roosevelt Island campus contingent upon NY State signing the agreed upon funding memo.

UPDATE 12/17: According to Josh Sirefman, Sirefman Ventures, who is leading the negotiations on the real estate for Cornell NYC Tech:
Cornell pursued a unique arrangement for this project to ensure that a great residential building would be built to enliven the campus 24/7 and that the university could provide affordable housing to its faculty, students and staff.

--Cornell and the partnership of Hudson/Related will co-own the building.

--Cornell will sublease land to the joint venture, and the JV will construct the building.

--The units will be restricted to Cornell faculty, students and staff, and because of Cornell’s investment, can be priced on the low-end of market.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Report From Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove - Roosevelt Island Campus Construction To Start Soon, All Demolition Materials To Be Removed By Barge And Community Communications By Web And February Meeting

Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove sends this report to the Roosevelt Island community.
I hope everyone is having a terrific holiday season. At Cornell Tech we have had an enormous amount to celebrate in 2013, including launching the first of our innovative academic programs, engaging more deeply with the community, and hiring terrific faculty and staff.

For me, though, 2014 will be even more exciting, because in addition to all of the great program activity, we will begin the physical development of the new campus on Roosevelt Island. So as we get close to beginning construction, we want to make you aware of the activities that will be occurring in the coming weeks and months.

We have spent over a year doing detailed planning on our approach to construction with the goal of minimizing the impact of construction on the community. We are so pleased that we are able to commit to the largest voluntary barging program in NYC. We are beginning to fulfill this commitment by putting a plan in place where all demolition materials will be removed by barge. In addition, our plan includes many other important construction-related approaches such as strict oversight of environmental conditions and public reporting on these topics.

Starting very soon we will begin delivering materials to the site in preparation for the start of construction. In January we will be installing an 11-foot high fence around the perimeter of the site and will be closing the eastern portion of the esplanade to enable the barging. Soon after, we will begin abating and demolishing the interior of the former Coler-Goldwater Hospital. We are starting with the removal of interior materials. Following that, the structure will be demolished using large equipment. There will not be any blasting. Demolition will be done by the end of 2014.

This is an exciting time and we know that Islanders will have questions and will want to keep informed on the progress of the work. We have put together a comprehensive communications plan to ensure that the project is fully transparent and that you’re kept up to date throughout.

The central clearinghouse for all information related to construction is the new website that Cornell Tech has created for the project, On the website you can find the latest information and sign up for bi-weekly email blasts that will contain updates of our progress, milestones and a general two-week look ahead of what will be occurring on the future campus site.

There will also be regular opportunities to hear about the construction in person. The first of many community meetings on our construction activities will be held on Wednesday, February 5 from 6-8 pm at the Manhattan Park Theatre Club. At this forum we will bring together all of our construction partners to provide a full briefing on our plans and answer any questions that you may have.

We have also created a Construction and Community Task Force with members who include Christina Delfico, Jonathan Kalkin, Matthew Katz, Mark Lyon, Larry Parnes and Ellen Polivy. Also, every City, State and Federal local elected official has staff representation on this committee. We look forward to meeting with this group of Island leaders on a very regular basis.

On behalf of the entire Cornell team, my best wishes to you and your family for a happy and safe holiday season. Thank you for your continued support of Cornell Tech, and I look forward to the opportunity when we can invite you onto campus!
As reported last Friday, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) approved the transfer of RIOC controlled land for the Cornell NYC Tech Roosevelt Island campus contingent upon NY State signing the agreed upon funding memo.

Sunday News Shows In 90 Seconds From Politico - House Budget Agreement With Ryan, Murray, Gingrich, Durbin & McCain, What Will Senate Do?

A quick 90 second summary of the Sunday News talks shows from Politico.