Friday, August 29, 2014

No Roosevelt Island F Train Service To Manhattan This Weekend - Or Next

According to the MTA Weekender:

F Coney Island-bound trains run via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts

Weekends, 11:15 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon, until Sep 8

Trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza.

No Coney Island-bound service at 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av/63 St and 57 St.
According to the Twitterverse:

Former RIOC Chief Financial Officer Steve Chironis Responds To NY State Inspector General's Roosevelt Island Corruption Report - RIOC Directors Respond Too

Image From NY State Inspector General's Roosevelt Island Corruption Report Press Release

Reported August 7 on the NY State Inspector General's (IG) investigation and report on corruption at the Roosevelt Island Operating  Corp (RIOC) during past administration.

According to this excerpt from the IG Report Press Release:
... Three executives of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation were engaged in misconduct ranging from steering contracts to relatives and taking kickbacks from them, using RIOC vehicles for personal use, chronic absenteeism, and inappropriate expenses including the use of RIOC funds for unauthorized meals, according to a report released today by New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott. Inspector General Scott’s investigation, which covered the years 2007 to 2012 focused on Fernando Martinez, then Vice President of Operations for RIOC, former President/Chief Executive Officer Leslie Torres, and former Chief Financial Officer Steven Chironis. As a result of the investigation, all three no longer work for RIOC....

... The Inspector General’s investigation revealed that Martinez received kickbacks for steering a contract to Bright Cleaning Solutions (BCS), Ramos’s company, in November 2008 for shoreline cleanup. He steered another contract to BCS in September 2010 for an office renovation project and received $9,390.

Additionally, Martinez utilized a brother-in-law’s printing company for RIOC projects and hired a second brother-in-law for the position of Parks and Recreation Manager in violation of state ethics policy and RIOC’s anti-nepotism directive. Following the Inspector General’s discoveries, Martinez resigned his RIOC employment in December 2012.

Former President/CEO Torres violated RIOC policy by utilizing a RIOC vehicle for commuting and personal travel. In addition, she inappropriately charged expensive meals to her RIOC credit card, with one lunch costing $355. Finally, Torres was consistently absent from RIOC’s offices, instructing staff to keep her office lit while she was away. She resigned in September 2012.

Former CFO Chironis tacitly approved Torres’s misuse of the RIOC vehicle, and miscalculated her taxable fringe benefit in violation of federal law and state policy. He also permitted Torres to inappropriately charge meals to her credit card, incorrectly classifying them as “business expenses” in violation of RIOC policy. In fact, Chironis and Martinez engaged in the same misuse of their RIOC credit cards shortly after Torres began doing so. Chironis resigned his RIOC employment in August 2013....
Former RIOC CFO Steve Chironis responds to the IG Report writing:
To the Roosevelt Island Community,

What I will say relating to the whole matter is this: Look, I get it, the Martinez “episode” happened under my watch, “the buck stops here,” and I lost my job because of it. However, I would like to state the following:

(1) Fernando Martinez: I was fooled like the rest of us. The “powers that be” gave him their trust, which he ultimately betrayed. Everyone should be allowed a second chance. He has repaid his debt to society, and now has the opportunity to turn his life around, and I sincerely hope he does. If Jesus can forgive him, I certainly can!

(2) I.G.’s reporting of approximately $3,200 of “inappropriate charges” by me: I am stating for the record that all the expenses noted in the report were for legitimate business expenses. All charges were signed off by the President and the Controller. As for the $720 that was spent at my wife’s restaurant, it was fully disclosed prior to going. The occasion was to reward my staff for a job well done upon the completion of the annual budget. Even the one and only time that RIOC took out the POMA (Tram construction contractor) project managers for lunch to celebrate the reopening of the Tram and to discuss ongoing punch-list items was also classified as “inappropriate.” In fact, charges for all business lunches and dinners for the two-year period were “inappropriate,” according to the I.G., but they are typical for a corporate executive who, the I.G. acknowledges, had taken on many of the president’s duties. What they claimed is that the charges had “no value” and were “unnecessary.” This seems to be purely subjective and almost impossible to prove otherwise, as it would be for most business lunches. I also want to note that, at the time of such expenditures, I wasn’t aware of a policy in force restricting such types of expenditures. In fact, almost two years later, in October 2012, the ABO [Authorities Budget Office] issued a recommendation to all State agencies restricting and/or eliminating such expenditures, which most agencies hastily implemented, RIOC included.

(3) Leslie Torres’ “Personal Use of State Vehicle:” I followed the State policy in force at the time (NYS DOB D-750, dated 9-18-2009), which states, “State Officials of Cabinet Rank and Heads of Agencies shall not be assigned a permanent vehicle but shall have ‘unrestricted’ use of their agency fleet vehicles.” It goes on to say that “personal use” must be reported as income. This was done. As to the amount reported, it was based on the miles that Ms. Torres reported to me.

(4) Leslie Torres’ absence from the office: Approximately three months after Ms. Torres started, she submitted her resignation and made a request to the Appointments Office for a transfer. She had a 20-year record in government at mid-management positions, [and had been] asked to head a very political agency, a position that few people wanted and [that was] difficult to fill. I also believe it was portrayed to her as a “temporary” position. This does not justify her actions, but it does reveal that the State was put on notice very early in her administration. It was apparent, to everyone in a position to correct the situation, what was going on.

I would like to state that I am proud of what was accomplished during my six years at RIOC. Working at RIOC is quite difficult at times; it’s an environment where, quite often, you are caught in the middle between the State and the residents. There are many dedicated, hard-working employees at RIOC who rarely get acknowledged for their accomplishments, but quite often are publically chastised at the first sign of trouble. I realize that my forced resignation was made at a level above RIOC management, and I hold no ill will and wish all at RIOC the best.
RIOC Board of Directors, Margie Smith, David Kraut and Howard Polivy, discussed the IG's Roosevelt Island corruption report with RIOC President Charlene Indelicato during the August 21 Governance Committee meeting (audio web cast of full meeting here).  Directors Smith and Kraut reported:
  • they did not see the IG Report until the day before it was released to the public, 
  • there was no communication between the Directors and IG during the investigation and
  • contact between the IG and RIOC during the investigation was done with the staff.
Ms. Smith also said that she did not know if the IG Report was true or not and noted that after reading the report most of the incidents reported in it occurred prior to Leslie Torres tenure as RIOC President. Mr. Kraut added:
... What happened here makes me angry. I don't know what we could have done to prevent it ... it's a huge betrayal of trust... I don't know what we can do about it in terms of the future. Loopholes often don't appear until someone wiggles through them but I think a place to start certainly is to fine tune our response to the report.
The RIOC Governance Committee Directors agreed to form a committee to respond to the IG Report. Here's video of the RIOC Governance Committee discussion of the IG Report.

Former RIOC President Steve Shane responded to IG Report here.

The full IG Report is here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Report From RIOC President Charlene Indelicato - Roosevelt Island Hate Crime Investigation, Fall For Arts Festival Planning, Security Cameras Operational, Cultural Center Renovation, Helix Upgrades, Emergency Preparedness & More

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato sends the following report to the community.

In recent weeks, an incident that took place on Roosevelt Island has been portrayed as a test of the characteristic openness and acceptance that our community is known for. Our community has made it clear that we will not endure discriminatory or prejudiced acts in our neighborhood, and we thank those of you who have reached out to us with your concerns. This Island has a long history of openness and diversity that remains strong to this day, and we will continue to work alongside the community in support of tolerance.

Summer Movie Series

Thank you to all who came out to the final screening in Roosevelt Island’s Outdoor Summer Movie Series, Goldfinger. This year’s movie series was a great success, drawing hundreds of attendees to Southpoint Park and Firefighter’s Field. If you would like to help decide what will be shown next year, please visit our Facebook page at and vote on next year’s theme.

Fall for Arts

Although the movie series has ended, planning has already begun for Roosevelt Island’s annual Fall for Arts Festival. This free community event will take place on Saturday, October 11 from 11 AM until 4 PM at Southpoint Park. This year, the festival’s theme will be “A Multicultural Renaissance,” highlighting the arts and creativity of the middle ages as well as the many cultural groups that live together on Roosevelt Island.

For those interested in getting involved: RIOC is seeking individuals and community groups who would like to participate. If you or your organization is interested in painting a mural during the Festival, providing an interactive art activity, theatrical or musical performance, or if you’d simply like to volunteer at one of RIOC’s art activity booths, please contact Anna Rankin at This is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to and engage with members of our community, encourage creativity and to celebrate the arts.

Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, and the best way to be prepared is to stay informed. All Roosevelt Island residents are urged to sign up for RIOC Advisories, the island’s emergency and community alert system, for up-to-date information on emergencies, disruptions and other important information. If you have not already signed up, you can subscribe to RIOC Advisories online at In addition, New York City’s Office of Emergency Management provides Notify NYC, the official citywide emergency alert system. Sign up at

Does your family have a plan in case of emergency? If you missed last month’s Citizens Preparedness Training on Roosevelt Island, we encourage you to sign up for another of New York State’s training sessions online at prepare These sessions provide valuable instruction and information about how to keep yourself and your family safe, as well as how to recover quickly from a disaster situation. All participants also receive a free “Go Bag” containing supplies and useful items, such as a first aid kit and emergency radio.

Helix Ramp

The Helix Ramp, which connects Main Street with the Roosevelt Island Bridge, underwent a thorough evaluation and structural analysis last year. Contractors inspected the ramp and made recommendations for improvements, repairs and maintenance. RIOC recently released a Request for Proposals seeking a contractor to perform these upgrades. Bids were received last week on August 20; RIOC will review all submissions and select the most qualified vendor to perform the work next year.

Cultural Center

Restoration is progressing at the Cultural Center. Construction on the interior of the building has moved forward with the completion of duct alterations and electrical roughing. The walls of the Center have been framed and a percentage of the sheetrock has already been installed. We anticipate the completion of construction by the end of the year and look forward to reopening this valuable community space.

Seawall Improvements

After Hurricane Sandy, repairs and improvements to the seawall which surrounds Roosevelt Island became necessary. Design work for the east seawall near Southpoint Park is now almost complete. Once the design is finalized, a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will be required before a Request for Proposals can be issued. Once responses to the RFP are received, RIOC’s Procurement Guidelines will be followed to determine which vendor will perform the work.

Camera System

The newly installed island-wide security camera system is substantially complete and currently operational. Right now, the system is undergoing a 30-day monitoring period to determine and address any potential issues. After this period is complete and any problems are resolved, the next phase of the project will begin. During this time, Public Safety will work with the IT department to identify additional locations for camera placement. A Request for Proposals will be released seeking qualified vendors to complete the last phase of installation.

Brooklyn Nomads Thursday Night Sunset Performance At Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park Tonight 6 PM - Ensemble Of Accomplished Arab, Turkish Classical And Jazz Musicians

According to the FDR Four Freedoms Park:

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park comes alive with music Thursdays in August.

Performances are free and will take place rain or shine!

The Katchke Farm food station will be selling beer, wine and tastes from around the world from 4pm-7:30pm.

Sunset Performances are presented with generous support from City Councilman Ben Kallos.
Four Freedoms Park Tweets:

and reports about Brooklyn Nomads:
... The Brooklyn-based ensemble is a collective of accomplished Arab, Turkish, classical and jazz musicians that started their nomadic journey in the heart of New York City. Interpreting Middle Eastern folk music through cultural and musical backgrounds as diverse as Brooklyn itself, the Nomads put a contemporary spin on a traditional Arabic repertoire from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and beyond. Brass and wind, string and vocals, tap and percussion-- Brooklyn Nomads create a transcendent mix of raw voices, rich instrumentation and innovative approach...
Here's Brooklyn Nomads performing.

Roosevelt Island St Cabrini Thrift Store Closing Saturday August 30 To Make Way For New Urgent Care Medical Facility - Thrift Store Must Sell Everything But Can Get Lease For New Thrift Shop Say Hudson Related

The Roosevelt Island St Cabrini Thrift store

will close Saturday August 30.

A Roosevelt Island resident reports:
They are closing the thrift store. We have to be out of there by months end and MUST SELL EVERYTHING. No new space available except the old boy scouts place and that is way too small
As reported July 30:
... Roosevelt Island Retail Master Leaseholder Hudson Related has secured a new tenant for Main Street. An urgent care medical facility, Union Medical Urgent Care will be taking over the space (approximately 3800 sq. ft) currently occupied by Saint Cabrini Thrift Store.
Also, Hudson Related's David Kramer told the July 30 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Real Estate Advisory Committee about the new tenant for the the Thrift Store space and indicated a willingness to discuss a lease of an alternative space for the Thrift Shop. According to Mr. Kramer, there had been mixed signals from the Catholic Archdiocese

whether they wished to continue operating the Thrift Store, adding some said the Thrift Store was needed to raise funds and others said they can't wait to get rid of it.

Mr Kramer concluded by saying:
We would love nothing more than to sign a lease with Cabrini to have a thrift store in another space at a mutually agreeable rent and term. Then what we would want is for the Thrift Store to comply with our standards for signage and storefront and general appearance which has been an issue with some tenants.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Campaigning On Roosevelt Island In Support Of Rebecca Seawright As Democratic Party Nominee For NY State 76 Assembly District Last Tuesday - Watch All The 76 AD Democratic Candidates, Ed Hartzog, Gus Christensen, David Menegon and Rebecca Seawright Debate Issues

I asked Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney about the subject of her conversation with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC). A spokesperson for Ms. Maloney said that the purpose of her trip on Tuesday to Roosevelt Island was to meet supporters and campaign for Rebecca Seawright as the Democratic Party nominee for the NY State 76 Assembly District (Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side).

According to Ms. Maloney's spokesperson, there were no conversations with RIOC other than a chance meeting with members of RIOC at Good Shepherd Plaza which resulted in the tweeted picture. From left to right, RIOC Director Howard Polivy, RIOC President Charlene Indelicato, Congresswoman Maloney, 76 Assembly Candidate Rebecca Seawright, RIOC CFO Frances Walton and RIOC General Counsel Don Lewis.

Here's a recent debate among the candidates
seeking to represent Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side in the NY State Assembly.

Represent NYC Election Special: NYS Assembly District 76 Democratic Primary from Manhattan Neighborhood Network on Vimeo.

and a portion of August 11 Citizens Union debate in which the candidates discussed the major issues facing Roosevelt Island.

For more discussion on specific Roosevelt Island issues, here's video from the 76 Assembly District Roosevelt Island Town Hall meeting.

NY 1 also hosted a debate among the candidates.

The primary date is September 9.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Update On NYPD Hate Crime Investigation Of Assault On Roosevelt Island Sikh Resident - 15 Year Old Turns Himself In To Police Yesterday

 Image Of August 14 Sikh Coalition Press Conference (Dr Batra On Right)

Reported August 14:
... on an assault that took place near the Blackwell Park playground

Image Of Blackwell Plaza From Google Maps

against a Roosevelt Island Sikh resident, Dr. Jaspreet Singh Batra, that is being investigated by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force.
Yesterday, an arrest was made in the August 7 assault of Dr. Batra. According to a NYPD spokesperson, a 15 year old Roosevelt Island male, accompanied by his mother, turned himself in to the 114 precinct for the assault against Dr. Batra, No other arrests were made and the investigation is continuing.

Dr. Batra described the August 7 incident during August 14 press conference organized by the Sikh Coalition.

More information available from previous posts.

2 Scooters Stolen Near Tram Station Yesterday Morning - Mom Worries Roosevelt Island Is Not As Safe As Once Was

A Roosevelt Island Mom reports yesterday:

...around 10:30 AM, my son and his friend had their xooter scooter stolen. They were a little passed the Roosevelt Island Tram station. They left the scooters alone for 5 minutes and when they came back, the scooters were gone. Only took 5 minutes at 10:30 AM!!!!!

Image Of Stolen Scooters

One scooter was silver and thin the other older, silver and with black dots on the board

The Roosevelt Island we had 5-10 years ago is no longer here. It's now a not so safe place anymore. I guess that's my message to others.
On March 14, 2014, NYPD 114th Precinct Commander Deputy Inspector Kevin Maloney and Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Director Jack McManus spoke to a Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee meeting about local crime and public safety issues. Here's what they had to say.

A post last week asked is there more Roosevelt Island crime or just more public reporting of incidents?

Gated Closing Of Roosevelt Island Pedestrian Waterfront Promenade Across From Cornell Construction Site After 10 PM Angers And Frustrates Resident - RIOC President Says Putting Together A Plan Allowing 24 Hour Access To Promenade Area

The Twittervese asked:

 Daytime View Of Promenade Area Blocked By Gate After 10 PM

Yesterday, Ms. Wade elaborated:
Good morning,

I am writing about a concern regarding the construction of Cornell.

Every evening, unless it’s an absolute monsoon, I, along with dozens of islanders and visitors, unwind by taking a walk/sitting on the pedestrian river walk, overlooking Manhattan, south of the 59th Street Bridge. I used to sit on the Queens side (it’s even quieter) until it was necessarily obstructed by the demolition barges.

I was concerned last week when I saw that someone (RIOC?) had installed a gate across the pedestrian walkway at the guard shack, but thought it might be for times like the 4th of July, where crowd control becomes more necessary.

Last night I found out differently. At 10:20 the gate was closed (I usually cannot make it out until after 9 or 10PM) and there were, at any time, between four and six personnel of various types (I do not believe they were all security, but could have been) stationed at the pedestrian walkway and the blocked-off-to-cars, road. When asked what was going on, I was told a few different versions of this: Either RIOC or PSD had erected the gate, and had instructed that it be closed every night from 10PM to 5 or 6 AM in the morning. They were told that they had no warning and were just given those instructions upon arriving at work.

In frustration, I sat on the bench closest to the guard shack, trying to avoid the myriad people who also run, walk, take pictures, exercise their dogs, etc. each and every night, who were also congregating, wondering why they could not pass. As I sat there I heard the various personnel discussing heatedly, “missing locks on several gates”.

To say the least, I am angry. In this ever more populated island of ours the pedestrian walkway provides a safe place to have some semblance of peace and solitude after the hectic workday. Also, we have been told many times- in e-mails, and in person during presentations about the Cornell construction that the Manhattan side would remain open and unobstructed for the duration of this project. These actions were taken without consultation of, or warning to, the public.

My concern is that this is just another in an increasing long list of ways that the current RIOC administration is out of touch with and inconsiderate of the needs and wants of the people it is here to serve, and taking actions that diminish our quality of life.

What can be done about this?
Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Jeff Escobar also received Ms. Wade's inquiry and added:
Pursuant to the Cornell ULURP Land Use proceedings before Community Board 8, and the Amendment to the Zoning Resolution which was part of the approval of the Project, the pedestrian pathway and those areas to the West/East of the Roadway which abut the water were made not part of the Cornell Project nor part of the land leased to the City. This is an area duly controlled by RIOC which I believe RIOC provides an easement/leaseback for use in exchange for certain community concessions.

Aside from raising the issue within both ourselves and the Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC), the issue should be raised at the next Cornell Construction Committee meeting for the Project. If the practice continues for an extended amount of time and pressure on both the Construction Committee and RIOC results in no action, we will levy the issue before the Committee at Community Board 8. As part of the deal with the City, Cornell agreed to ensure that there would be no obstructions on their part to the pedestrian ring. Even if they are not the responsible party, they do have an obligation as part of the deal in having a hand in eliminating such obstructions.
I forwarded Ms. Wade's email to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato and the RIOC Directors asking:
I received email below from resident inquiring about the status of pedestrian river side promenade walkway on Manhattan side of a Cornell construction site. She says that it has recently closed in the evening after 10 PM preventing people from using the pedestrian promenade pathway.

Has that pathway been closed?

Any statement from RIOC?
Ms. Indelicato replied:
Mr. Escobar is absolutely right as to the promenade and grassed area of the West Roadway. RIOC has been working with Cornell to ensure a safe and viable pedestrian walkway.

As you know, the west road is closed to vehicular traffic including bicycles. We are trying to accommodate the bicyclists by allowing bikers individually to ride carefully on the promenade. We have also discussed the possibility of calling ahead for groups of bicyclists to gain entrance on the roadway. Clearly, this is a work in progress and we will try to have a set of regulations and signage ASAP which will address daily and weekend usage of the roadway by bicyclists.

The issue of opening the promenade 24/7 is a bit more challenging. As you know, Southpoint Park closes at 10. Unfortunately, there have been a number of incidents reported to PSD of individuals climbing fences or trying to obtain entrance into South Point, FFP and the Cornell site. Again, addressing this issue is work in progress. I now understand the importance of keeping the promenade open and working in conjunction with Cornell I am sure we will put together a plan that makes sense and will also allow 24 hour access. In closing and in fairness to Cornell, the idea to close the promenade at 10pm - the same time as the park - was mine alone.
Mr. Escobar responded to Ms. Indelicato:
I thank you for both your attention and responsiveness to the matter, and willingness to recognize the importance of keeping the access viable to residents as a quality of life issue. We will continue to review and monitor the situation, but we have confidence that the issue will be clearly ameliorated so that access will continue unfettered. If I may, encourage RIOC to work closely with Aaron Hamburger and the Island Services Committee that he chairs under RIRA to find a solution and as a direct interface to the community concerns surrounding this issue.

I look forward to the solution.
UPDATE 8/28: Ms. Wade updated us on the gate situation Wednesday night:
I arrived tonight at the promenade at 10 to 9PM to find the gate closed already.

The security guard, Andrew Leelam who answers to a Mr. Terry, his supervisor, told me that his instructions are now to close the gate at 9:45. As I am standing here a Public Safety car approaches and I am told that they don't even know about this. Mr. Terry has just now told their chief.

Not only are we not remedying this situation, but now we are moving backward.
RIOC Public Safety Director Jack McManus replied to Ms. Wade today:
As soon as my staff alerted me to the "promenade closure" by Cornell Security Personnel last night, they were directed to advise Cornell Security that NO such directive existed.

Earlier today, I spoke with Cornell and their private security vendor to reiterate this fact.

I am confident that my inquiry last evening and today has rectified this matter.

Additionally, I have prepared a memo advising my staff that the West Drive Pedestrian Promenade is to remain OPEN and ACCESSIBLE at all times.

I hope this email serves to clarify the "misinformation" you received from Cornell and the measures we are taking to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you and/or any other RI residents.
Ms Wade responded to Director McManus:
Thank you so much for your help and your response! You're a gift to this community.

I want to reiterate that PSD were great last night and made it clear that this was not their decision and they could not weigh in on it, other than to contact (you).

The security guard on duty was also extremely professional and respectful. Remarking that he understood my frustration but that he was following orders he had received from "some woman with shoulder length hair he sees at the park, often" who works in some official capacity with the project. He asked me questions, trying to gain understanding of the situation, and again- was very empathetic.

Thanks again for all of your help,
UPDATE 8/29 - According to RIOC:
Please be advised that the waterfront promenade located on the west side of the Cornell Tech construction site will be accessible to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Instagram Hyperlapse View Of Roosevelt Island Tram Ride - Wow That Was Quick

Image of Hyperlapse Logo From Instagram

Instagram announced today:
... Hyperlapse from Instagram, a new app to capture high-quality time lapse videos even while in motion.

Traditionally, time lapse videos depend on holding your phone or camera still while you film. Hyperlapse from Instagram features built-in stabilization technology that lets you create moving, handheld time lapses that result in a cinematic look, quality and feel—a feat that has previously only been possible with expensive equipment....

You can get the free Instagram Hyperlapse app (only iOS available) from the Itunes store.

Update On NY State Inspector General's Roosevelt Island Public Safety Letter - Brutality Allegations Not Addressed In Letter Because IG Did Not Want To Duplicate Public Safety Audit, IG Will Continue To Monitor RIOC's Compliance With Public Safety Audit Recommendations

The New York State Inspector General (IG) sent this August 7, 2014 letter to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato addressing issues regarding the arraignment of RIOC Public Safety Department prisoners in hospital rooms. (The full background of the IG Letter is available at this August 13 post).

 Image Of Anthony Jones Handcuffed To Hospital Bed From Channel 7 News Video

The IG investigation was initiated by requests from NYC Council Member Ben Kallos (at the time, a candidate for City Council)

 Image Of Ben Kallos At 2013 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Rally

and RIOC Board members who asked the IG to investigate brutality allegations charged against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department by members of the community following the January 2013 Anthony Jones incident.

 Image From February 16, 2013 RIRA Public Safety Rally

However, as reported last August 13:
... the Inspector General's investigation  was not about brutality allegations brought against the RIOC Public Safety department, Instead the Inspector General's investigation was limited to:
... whether sufficient policies exist to ensure the timely arraignment of hospitalized prisoners in arrests made by RIOC Public Safety Department, and if so, whether these policies were followed in the Jones case...
The IG letter noted:
 ... Because the issue of excessive force was being addressed through litigation, my office did not investigate it....
Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Chair Erin Feely-Nahem commented on the IG Public Safety letter:
... We find it incomprehensible and unacceptable that the IG's letter focuses solely on the Anthony Jones incident in relation to PSD policies toward hospitalized detainees, rather than the clear pattern of abuse and misconduct of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department under the regime of Keith Guerra.

The PSC documented numerous cases of Island residents and visitors who were the recipients of unprovoked violence and unconstitutional policing over many years. These testimonies were forwarded to the IG office by the RIOC Board and Ben Kallos's office.

The posture taken in the IG letter criticizes the PSD for failing to properly arraign Anthony Jones, thereby jeopardizing a credible prosecution, rather than the false arrest and brutal mauling that almost took his life. The PSC registers our strong rejection of the narrow scope of the IG letter which ignores the victims of a dark period in Island history.

Island residents united in a struggle that led to Guerra's resignation. We will continue to fight for the record to be set straight.
During the August 21 RIOC Governance Committee meeting (full audio web cast here), I asked RIOC Board Members about the IG Public Safety letter and why it was limited to RIOC hospital arraignment policies. RIOC Director Margie Smith responded that all the brutality reports received by RIOC were sent to the IG. Ms. Smith indicated she does not know if the IG will follow up with further investigation of the brutality complaints. RIOC President Indelicato agreed with Ms. Smith's assessment.

Here's the discussion.

RIOC Director David Kraut added that though he is not a regular reader of the Roosevelt Islander blog, he knew that the IG Letter and brutality allegations were an active topic of conversation and did not wish to publicly comment as long as the "Bloggeratti" were "writing first drafts" on the topic.

RIOC President Indelicato noted that the Jones litigation was settled, RIOC did not pay out any of the settlement money and there was no non-disclosure agreement signed by the parties. The settlement payment came from another NY State entity.  RIOC Assistant General Counsel Arthur Eliav cautioned the Directors about speaking on this matter publicly and added that RIOC was defended and indemnified in the lawsuit by the NY State Attorney General.

Earlier today, I spoke with Bill Reynolds of the IG's Office about the IG's August 7 Roosevelt Island Public Safety letter to RIOC President Indelicato. Mr. Reynolds confirmed that the IG received information on Roosevelt Island brutality allegations dating back to incidents occurring in 2006.

According to Mr. Reynolds, the IG's August 7 Roosevelt Island Public Safety letter did not address any of the issues relating to the brutality allegations because it would have duplicated the work by T&M Protection Resources who prepared the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Operational Audit. A copy of the Public Safety Audit dated December 6, 2013 is here.

Mr. Reynolds noted that the IG worked closely with and strongly supports the T&M Protection Resources policy recommendations contained in the Public Safety Audit and will continue to monitor RIOC to insure compliance with the recommendation. Among the recommendations made by the IG was the removal of the former Public Safety Department Director who resigned in June 2013 and to:
... Redefine the focus of RIOC PSD from a strict enforcement model to more of a community service model.T&M was informed by the interim RIOC PSD Director that he has instituted measures toward implementing this recommendation including enhanced department leadership and supervision, increased high visibility foot post assignments and an emphasis shift way from the strict enforcement model toward a community service model. Reported results include a decrease in enforcement activity and in citizen complaints....
Click here for the full Public Safety Audit including policy and procedure recommendations which will be monitored for compliance by the NY State Inspector General.

Fleas, Fleas & More Fleas Health Hazard Covering Roosevelt Island Sportspark Pool Shower Walls For Months Says Disgusted User - Will RIOC Clean It Up?

A Roosevelt Island resident and Sportspark Pool user shares these photos taken yesterday of fleas

Image Of Fleas On Roosevelt Island Sportspark Men's Shower Wall (look closely)

covering the Sportspark men's shower walls. According to the Sportspark User:
The showers in the Sports Park have been covered with fleas for months,

Image Of Fleas On Roosevelt Island Sportspark Men's Shower Wall (look closely)

which is a public health hazard. Hopefully it is cleaned up before someone calls the department of Health or 311. I'm sure the pool management will follow up or they'll close down the pool.

Image Of Fleas On Roosevelt Island Sportspark Men's Shower Wall (look closely)

In the meantime, beware the bugs and shower at home.
The Sportspark Pool is operated by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC).

  Image Of Sportspark Pool From RIOC

There is also a newly formed Sportspark Users Group that advocates for improvements at the facility.

Here's a July 10, 2014 report from the Sportspark Users Group which includes:
... Improved Sanitary Conditions in the Locker Rooms

This is a two part issue;

  1. The facility is old, it looks dirty and broken down even after industrial strength cleaning. A major renovation would be required to fix this (more on this below).
  2. However, although I see some efforts to improve daily cleanliness, the locker rooms are still often dirty. Discussion with RIOC included the possibility of posting a cleaning schedule, but this has yet to be implemented. We look forward to improvements in this area.....
More on the Sportspark Users Group here and here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech Structural Demolition Of Goldwater Hospital About To Begin - No Explosives Or Wrecking Ball Used, Large Excavator Will Tear Down Facade Together With Shearing Machine Cutting Through Steel Beams

Image Of Cornell NYC Tech Demolition Of Goldwater Hospital Today

Here's the most recent Cornell NYC Tech Construction Update describing

Image Of Cornell NYC Tech Demolition Of Goldwater Hospital Today

 the demolition

Image Of Cornell NYC Tech Demolition Of Goldwater Hospital Today

of Goldwater Hospital. According to the Cornell NYC Tech Roosevelt Island construction update:
August 15 - August 29 Look Ahead

All interior work in Building B is now complete. The roof abatement project is slated to be complete early the week of August 18th.

The heavy equipment necessary for structural demolition has arrived by barge and is currently being set up. The small connector building between Buildings C and E has already been demolished, which gives the larger equipment sufficient room to operate and maneuver. The contractors have been focusing on removing all the balconies on Building C. Once complete, the machines will begin to systematically remove the fa├žade. The waste will be packaged and placed into containers for removal. Due to the volume of waste and the speed at which it will be generated, barging events will occur more frequently. From Roosevelt Island, the waste travels to New Jersey, where it is transferred to trucks and continues to the final disposal sites.
During the July 28 meeting of Roosevelt Island Cornell Construction & Community Task Force, Cornell NYC Tech Director of Capital Planning Andrew Winters provided an update on the campus construction. Mr Winters reported that demolition is a little bit behind schedule but does not expect that to delay completion of Phase 1 by the planned 2017 date. Construction of the first academic building is expected to begin in January 2015 and is a 28 to 30 month project.

Mr. Winters also said that the  July 11 weekend power outage to Southpoint Park during an Outdoor movie

 Image of Deflating Outdoor Movie Screen During Power Outage From Frank Farance

was caused by Con Ed severing a cable intending to cut off power to part of Goldwater Hospital but which also cut off power to Southpoint Park. Con Ed was unaware that the cut cable provided power to Southpoint Park. (Reminiscent of the January 2014 undocumented water main line accidentally cut during Cornell construction?)

Aric Domozick representing PAL Environmental Services followed Mr. Winters with a more detailed presentation on abatement and demolition construction issues. Mr. Domozick explained that no explosives or wrecking ball will be used in the demolition. The demolition procedure is to use a very large excavator to pull down the structural facade elements and a shearing machine to cut through steel beams.

Here's the discussion.

and summary of the Task Force meeting from Cornell.

More on Cornell NYC Tech's use of barging during construction at this prior post.

New Roosevelt Island New York Public Library Branch Progress Stalled By RIOC Window Replacement Delay Says Hudson Related Main Street Master Leaseholder David Kramer - Also Upcoming Events At The Current Roosevelt Island NYPL Branch

Former NYC Council Member Lappin, NYPL President Anthony Marx and Roosevelt Island Kids Announcing New Library In July 2012

Reported July 2013:
... the New York Public Library (NYPL) signed a lease with Hudson Related Companies for a new Roosevelt Island branch at 504 Main Street....
Image Of 504 Main Street Future Home Of NYPL Roosevelt Island Branch

... Current projected schedule is to start design 12/2013 or 1/2014, start construction some time in 2015, and open the new branch in 2017, and the current budget is approximately $4.5 million....
More than 2 years after the announcement that Roosevelt Island will be getting a new library and 1 year after the lease signing, what is the status of our new library?

The new Roosevelt Island NYPL library branch was discussed during July 30 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Real Estate Advisory Committee meeting (video of meeting here and audio web cast of meeting here). During the meeting, Hudson Related Main Street Master Leaseholder David Kramer expressed frustration with the "pace" in moving the library project forward due to RIOC's delay replacing the windows at the 504 Main Street building.

Here's what Mr. Kramer had to say.

RIOC Director Margie Smith asked Mr. Kramer if RIOC was responsible for delaying the project. Mr. Kramer replied yes, but that RIOC was about to begin work on the window project which was confirmed by RIOC President Charlene Indelicato who anticipates window replacement work to begin at end of August.

Here's that discussion

and upcoming events at the current

Image Of Roosevelt Island NY Public Library

Roosevelt Island Public Library
Tuesday, August 26, 3-4 PM "Rainbow Fish" Story & Craft (Ages 4 and older) - Listen the story of "The Rainbow Fish" and create your very own Rainbow Fish with paper, glue, and wiggle eyes. All materials will be provided. Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Thursdays, September 4, 11, 18 & 25, 11AM "Bilingual Birdies: Mandarin" (Children) - This Fall, Bilingual Birdies takes you on a journey to honor the changing colors of the leaves, celebrate different fruits for the harvest, explore the sun and the moon, and learn about various modes of transportation in Spanish, French, or Mandarin! Bilingual musicians teach theme-related vocabulary through live music, dance, and engaging puppetry!

Wednesday, September 17, 11-11:30 AM Toddler Storytime: "Sesame Street" Style - Celebrate the 45th anniversary of "Sesame Street" with stories and songs from the beloved children's television program.

Tuesday, September 30, 3-4 PM Sesame Street Craft (Ages 4 and older) - Create an Ernie muppet with a paper bag, construction paper, and glue.
A full listing of classes, programs and events at the NYPD Roosevelt Island branch library here.

Celebrate Late Summer Lyricism Concert With Spanish Prodigy Arriaga And Beethoven At Roosevelt Island's R&R Concert Presentation Tonight

The folks from our local R&R Concerts are presenting a Late Summer Lyricism concert tonight.

Image From R&R Concerts

According to R&R Concerts:
Monday, August 25, 2014

Late Summer Lyricism

Good Shepherd Center
543 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NY

7:00 PM

Young Genius and Mature Master

Spanish prodigy Arriaga wrote his quartet when he was 16, Beethoven composed "The Harp" quartet at 39. Join us as we celebrate the end of summer with these fascinating and dramatic works.

Salley Koo, violin
Ralph Allen, violin
Lisa Matricardi, viola
Iris Jortner, cello
Here's a bit of Arriaga.

More on R&R Roosevelt Island concerts from previous post.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Roosevelt Island Octagon Residents Move Seeking More Convenient And Less Expensive Place To Live - Decide On Bayonne, New Jersey

The NY Times August 21 The Hunt Column focuses on a couple who moved from the Roosevelt Island Octagon building

 Image Of Octagon NYC

looking for a more convenient and less expensive place to live. According to the NY Times:
... Roosevelt Island began to seem out of the way. “Enjoying New York became something we wanted to do,” Mr. Jackson said. The distance to the city was minimal as the crow flies over the East River, but she had a tedious commute to downtown, where she teaches at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

When they stayed out late, they faced a tiresome trip home, because the Octagon was distant from both subway and tramway. They often emerged from the subway just in time to miss the Red Bus. Their option was to wait 15 minutes for the next bus or to hoof it for 17 minutes to their home.

“The Octagon is gorgeous, and if we could have picked up that place and been closer to the subway, we would have stayed,” Ms. Putman said. “We were so tired of the Red Bus.” ...
So they moved to Bayonne New Jersey.
... “Bayonne has that little bit of suburbia that I was missing,” Ms. Putman said. “We’ve become the people who say, ‘We are going into the city.’”...
Click here for the full NY Times article