Saturday, December 13, 2014

Report From RIOC President Charlene Indelicato - Roosevelt Island Winter Weather Preparations, Public Safety Holiday Tips, Public Purpose Funds, Good Shepherd Plaza Revitalization, Happy & Healthy Holiday Wishes

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato sends the following report to the community.
As we are nearing the end of the year, this will be our last community update until 2015. To all of the members of our community: We here at RIOC wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful new year. In addition, I would like to thank everyone who came out to celebrate the annual lighting of the Blackwell Plaza tree and our contributors for helping make this event a great time for all. Many thanks to Fuji East, Bike New York, Main Street Sweets, Gristedes, Starbucks, The Hudson Companies & Urban American for contributing, and to the Girl Scouts and Cornell Tech for volunteering at the celebration!

Winter Weather Preparations

RIOC’s Grounds and Facilities departments are hard at work preparing the Island for the upcoming winter season. While Roosevelt Island has escaped heavy snowfall so far, it’s vital to be prepared to clear the roads and walkways when a storm hits. In order to ensure snow is cleared as quickly and efficiently as possible, RIOC will be issuing “No Parking” advisories requiring drivers to remove their cars from Main St. and the East and West roadways when severe weather is expected. During this time, we will attempt to make free parking available in designated locations, including inside the Motorgate Garage. Free parking inside Motorgate would be limited to 24 hours from the time of entry. If a car is left in the Garage in excess of the time limit, the driver would be responsible for any fees for the additional time. Your compliance with the advisory helps us keep the roads as safe as possible for drivers and pedestrians, and we thank you for your cooperation.

In addition, areas that have been subject to recurring icy conditions in the past may be barricaded and closed to foot traffic during heavy snowfall. Residents are still urged to use caution while traveling by foot, car or bicycle, and to watch out for problem areas. As always, we ask that you contact us by calling 212-832-4540 to report any areas that need further attention so that we may address any safety issues as soon as possible.

PSD Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays are coming up for many of us, which often means gift shopping, decorating, and traveling to visit friends and family. The Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department offers these tips to stay safe during the often hectic season:
  • Safe Shopping – Minimize the amount of money, credit cards and valuables you carry and carry your keys on your person separate from your identification. Be particularly aware of your purse/wallet in crowded situations, such as rush-hour trains and buses.
  • When dining out, place your purse in your lap. The back of a chair is an easy target for thieves. Also, never carry a wallet in a rear pocket; use a front trouser or an inside coat pocket.
  • Be Street Smart – Be aware of your surroundings. Use well-populated and well-lit streets, and avoid overloading yourself with packages.
  • Auto Safety Tips – Park in well-lit areas, keep doors and windows locked, and take any valuables with you. Keep any packages stowed in the trunk while shopping. Note: If you plan on doing more shopping after placing packages in the vehicle trunk, consider moving the vehicle to another parking spot. Never leave a GPS system or mount visible – put both inside a glove box or other compartment.
  • Safety at Home – To prevent electrical fires, check holiday lights for frayed wires or empty sockets. Turn off lights when going to bed or leaving home. Keep your tree away from heating sources, and make sure to keep live trees watered.
Public Purpose Funds

Every year, RIOC awards a set amount of Public Purpose Funds to non-profit organizations whose programs benefit Roosevelt Island residents. These funds are provided for the educational, artistic, environmental, and cultural enrichment of the community, with an aim to deliver services to those who need them most. A notification will be issued to the public via our RIOC Advisories alert system with instructions on how to apply for funding. This information will also be posted on our website soon at All Roosevelt Island not-for-profit groups that are looking for additional funding are encouraged to apply.

Good Shepherd Plaza Revitalization

As you may have noticed while walking near the Good Shepherd Community Center (543 Main St.), new planters and benches have arrived at the site. These improvements are part of a larger effort undertaken by RIOC in cooperation with the Roosevelt Island community to beautify and improve the Good Shepherd Plaza. After a comprehensive public input process, upgrades to the Plaza’s landscaping and amenities were settled on and are now being executed. We would like to extend our thanks to the community for their valuable input during this process and are looking forward to the next phase of this project.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Good News, Roosevelt Island F Train Service To And From Manhattan This Weekend

According to the MTA Weekender, there will be Roosevelt Island F train service

to and from Manhattan this weekend.

Shop Local For Roosevelt Island Christmas and Chanukah Gifts This Weekend - Meet Mrs Claus At the RIHS Visitors Center Kiosk And Buy Christmas Trees At Motorgate Rotunda

Roosevelt Island Holiday Gifts are available at the Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) Visitors Kiosk.

Image From RIHS

Also, Christmas Trees for Sale at the Motorgate Rotunda.

Image From PS/IS 217 PTA

RIOC President Charlene Indelicato Addresses Roosevelt Island Problems, Projects Completed And Those About To Start - She Appreciates Residents Input And Constructive Criticism

 Image Of December 11 RIOC Board Of Directors Meeting

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato gave her President's Report to the December 11 meeting of the RIOC Board of Directors last night (full web cast of meeting is here).

Ms Indelicato noted it was the last RIOC Board meeting of 2014 and reflected on the end of her first full year as RIOC President. Ms Indelicato complimented the RIOC Staff on their efforts as well as the assistance of RIOC Directors in establishing a "Team RIOC" to address the issues facing Roosevelt Island. Ms. Indelicato also noted that she appreciates the input of residents constructive criticism which RIOC tries to address even when under duress.

Ms. Indelicato then addressed recently raised issues of:
  • Motorgate Lighting and bird droppings,
  • Con Ed Lighting problems near the Motorgate caused by water in manhole and
  • Temporary lighting which were not re-positioned properly but corrected once told about problem.
She also listed Roosevelt Island projects completed including:
  • Lighthouse foot bridge,
  • West Pier,
  • Good Shepherd Plaza almost done,
  • Good Shepherd Doors,
  • Cultural Center about to open,
  • Sportspark Temporary Heating,
  • Tram Bathroom fixed,
  • Everbridge Communications Alert System and 
  • Phase 2 Of Island Wide Security Cameras
and Roosevelt Island projects about to start:
  • Helix
  • Seawall at Southpoint Park
  • Design Tram elevator 
  • New bus garage
  • Permanent Heating at Sportspark
  • and all the other capital projects which is the most she has ever seen.
Here's Ms. Indelicato's full President's Report to the RIOC Board of Directors December 11 Meeting.

During yesterday's RIOC Board of Directors Public Session prior to the start of the Board meeting, Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Vice President Sherie Helstien asked about the Motorgate Lighting problems.

Here's what Ms. Helstien said and the response from Ms. Indelicato and Board members Margie Smith and Michael Shinozaki.

RIRA Island House Alternate Delegate Frank Farance has recently highlighted problems with the Motorgate Garage including safety, lighting and bird poop problems.

Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island Community Update - Demolition, Construction, Air Quality, Barging, PS/IS 217 & Community Communcations

With the departure of former Cornell Tech Vice President Cathy Dove to a new position as President of the Paul Smith's College, the Roosevelt Island Community Report Ms. Dove wrote will now be an update provided by Cornell Tech.
Updates from Cornell Tech

Cornell Tech hosted a Town Hall meeting on Monday, December 8 to provide updates on construction and community initiatives as the campus development continues to take shape:

Construction updates from the Town Hall:
  • Cornell began demolition of the former Goldwater Hospital buildings last winter and will soon enter the first phase of construction for the campus.
  • Demolition of Phase 1 of the campus design will be completed by December 31, with Phase 2 demolition underway and expected to be completed by June 2015.
  • Cornell is working with Barr & Barr to construct the First Academic Building, a NYC-based firm with a track record of quality work and a reputation for deep community engagement. Their experience with university projects includes Princeton University and Syracuse University.
  • Roux Associates, an environmental consulting firm, reaffirmed Cornell Tech’s commitment to monitoring air quality during the construction process. Cornell is applying several proactive controls to reduce emissions, including:
  • Reducing of diesel equipment
  • Using ultra low sulfur diesel fuels
  • Limiting construction equipment idle time
  • Using equipment that meets the latest federal emission standards
  • As of December 1, Cornell has moved approximately 10,200 tons of waste by barge, avoiding approximately 4,800-5,150 truck trips.
  • For more information, visit Please note we have a new section of the website for photos of the construction site and we will add photos to it on a monthly basis.
K-12 updates from the Town Hall:
  • Diane Levitt, Cornell Tech’s K-12 Director, provided details on Cornell Tech’s continued support of education initiatives on Roosevelt Island. Cornell Tech is deeply engaged with PS/IS 217 and is committed to:
  • Helping with teacher training and support
  • Science, engineering, technology and mathematics education initiatives
  • After-school programming
  • Tech events
  • Hardware and software programming development
  • Cornell Tech has been involved in teacher training and curriculum development to help students understand computing and computational thinking. As a result, there is a coding class happening at the middle school, one period a week, where students learn critical computing skills.
  • Cornell Tech has monthly meetings with Principal Beckman and her staff, and we are working to organize a Middle School Hackathon for Spring 2015.
  • Cornell Tech looks forward to supporting two teams in the Continental Mathematics League computer science competition in early 2015.
As a reminder, Jane Swanson, Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations at Cornell Tech, is at Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main Street, every Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. Everyone is welcome to visit and chat with Jane to learn more about Cornell Tech’s plans.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

You're Invited To New York Opera Forum's Free Barber Of Seville Concert Performance Tuesday, December 16 Hosted By Roosevelt Island Youth Program Beacon At PS/IS 217 Auditorium

The Roosevelt Island Youth Program, Beacon will host the New York Opera Forum in a free concert performance of Il Barbiere Di Siviglia by Gioacchino Rossini (The Barber Of Seville) Tuesday December 16 starting 6 PM at PS/IS 217's auditorium (645 Main Street)

You're invited.

The Metropolitan Opera provides this synopsis of The Barber Of Seville:
... Act I

Seville. Count Almaviva comes in disguise to the house of Doctor Bartolo and serenades Rosina, whom Bartolo keeps confined to the house, beneath her balcony window. Figaro the barber, who knows all the town’s secrets and scandals, arrives. He explains to Almaviva that Rosina is Bartolo’s ward, not his daughter, and that the doctor intends to marry her. Figaro devises a plan: the count will disguise himself as a drunken soldier with orders to be quartered at Bartolo’s house so that he may gain access to the girl. Almaviva is excited and Figaro looks forward to a nice cash pay-off....
and video excerpt

from Barber Of Seville
English language performance.

Snow Covers Roosevelt Island Firefighters Field This Morning - A Glimpse Of Coming Winter

Roosevelt Island resident Janet Falk shares photo of a light snowfall covering Firefighters Field beneath the Queensboro Bridge earlier this morning

Image From Janet Falk

and notes:
No baseball game today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Roosevelt Island 2015-16 Fiscal Year Budget And Public Purpose Funds Procedures Among Items On Agenda For RIOC Board Of Directors Meeting Tomorrow

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors will be meeting tomorrow. Among the items on the Agenda are approval of the RIOC Budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16 and amending the Public Purpose Funds procedures.

More information on the RIOC Budget, including significant spending increases for infrastructure improvements at this previous post.

As previously reported:
... Question have been raised recently whether RIRA will continue with its role of making Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds recommendations to RIOC....
The RIOC Governance Committee discussed the issue of Public Purpose Funds procedures during December 3 meeting (full audio web cast of the meeting is here).

The RIOC staff proposed during the Governance Committee meeting to lessen the role of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) in the Public Purpose Funds process with RIOC Staff taking the lead.

After much discussion and input from the RIOC Board Directors, particularly Margie Smith and David Kraut, agreement was reached for RIRA to continue vetting applicant organizations and making recommendations to the RIOC Board for funding allocations as long as RIRA does not participate in receiving Public Purpose Funds. RIOC continues to have the final determination as to the ultimate allocation of Public Purpose Funds but full details of the process were still to be set forth by RIOC staff.

Here's video of the Governance Committee discussion on Public Purpose Funds procedures (first 2 minutes are missing from the video but can be heard at the audio web cast).

Part 1 - RIOC Staff discusses plan to lessen role of RIRA in Public Purpose Funds.

Part 2 - RIOC Directors ask staff to find a way to keep RIRA involved in vetting organizations for Public Purpose Funds. However, RIOC Director David Kraut raised the issue of what he believes is abusive language and insults directed at RIOC by certain RIRA members as being a possible future obstacle to working with RIRA (at 8 minute 50 second mark of video).

Part 3 - RIRA representatives agree to conditions set by RIOC for continuing role in Public Purpose Funds process including not receiving Public Purpose Funds. Also RIRA's Aaron Hamburger replied to Director David Kraut that RIRA was not responsible for criticisms leveled at RIOC by another resident (at 4 minute 50 second mark). Although his name was not mentioned, it was understood that Frank Farance was the person being referenced as being critical of RIOC.

Part 4 - Additional question were asked but details still need to be worked out.

The RIRA Common Council met later that evening. RIRA's Public Purpose Committee Chair Dave Evans briefed the Common Council on the RIOC Governance Committee Public Purpose Funds Procedure meeting.

Mr. Evans told the RIRA Common Council:

Here's the full Agenda for tomorrow's RIOC Board meeting.
5:30 P.M.[1]
I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call
III. Approval of Minutes
1. November 6, 2014 Board Meeting (Board Action Required)
IV. Old Business
V. New Business
1. Approval of the Proposed RIOC Budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16 (Board Action Required)
2. Schedule of 2015 Meetings of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Board of Directors (Board Action Required)
3. Authorization to Amend Public Purpose Funds Procedures (Board Action Required)
4. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Architectural & Engineering Group for Sportspark Repairs Design (Board Action Required)
5. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Shawn Construction, Inc. for Helix Ramp Repairs (Board Action Required)
6. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Wank Adams Slavin Associates, LLP for Manhattan Tram Station Elevators Design (Board Action Required)
7. Ratification of Amendment of Contract with Steve DiSisto General Contractors, Inc. for Resetting of Z-Brick Pavers (Board Action Required)
8. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Sprague Operating Resources LLC for the Purchase of Biodiesel Fuel (Board Action Required)
9. President’s Report
10. Committee Reports
a. Audit Committee
b. Governance Committee
c. Operations Advisory Committee
d. Real Estate Development Advisory Committee
11. Public Safety Report
VI. Adjournment
[1] The RIOC Board Meeting will commence following a public comment period. The public comment period is not part of the meeting.

What's A Roosevelt Island Accent - Portlandia And Saturday Night Live Star Fred Armisen Show Us And Other NYC Accents

Portlandia and former Saturday Night Live funny man Fred Armisen performed a benefit for 826NYC in Brooklyn earlier this week. Amazingly, Roosevelt Island was part of his comedy bit. According to Brokelyn:
...Fred Armisen continued his crusade to keep New York City accents alive, one wacky improvisation at a time. Instead of having an audience just shout the accents they wanted to hear at them, Armisen had people walk up and suggest accents, as he ran through Richmond Hill, Stuyvesant Town, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, the Lower East Side, Tribeca (no accent), East Village, The Bronx, Park Slope, Roosevelt Island, Morningside Heights, Astoria, Bay Ridge and Crown Heights in six minutes of improvised accents...
At about the 3 minute 50 second mark, Fred Armisen tells the crowd that he knew one person from Roosevelt Island and gives his impression of a Roosevelt Island accent.

Another connection between Roosevelt Island and Fred Armisen? Roosevelt Island and Portland have an Aerial Tram Transportation system in common.

Roosevelt Island Christmas Trees For Sale At Motorgate Rotunda Sponsored By PS/IS 217 PTA And Boy Scouts - Friday, Saturday & Sundays Before Christmas

Are you looking to buy a Christmas Tree?

A Roosevelt Island resident tweeted last Friday:

According to the Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA:
Boy Scouts and 217 PTA partner up again to bring Christmas Tree sale to Roosevelt Island! Stop by the Motorgate rotunda (by Gristedes) and buy your tree during the next three weekends:
Sat 12/6: 10am - 6pm
Sun 12/7: 1pm-6pm
Fri 12/12: 6pm-8pm
Sat 12/13: 10am-6pm
Sun 12/14: 1pm-6pm
Fri 12/19: 6pm-8pm
Sat 12/20: 10am-6pm
Sun 12/21: 1pm-6pm

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Perfect Photo From Roosevelt Island Tram Tonight, It's Cold, Wet & Dark Looking Up First Avenue - Waiting For Sons Of Anarchy Final Ride

According to the Roosevelt Island Twitterverse:

Glad to be home.

Waiting for #FinalRide of Sons Of Anarchy.

Cornell Tech Answers Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA Renaming Request And Explains What "Adopting" School Means At Town Hall Meeting Last Night

What's in a name?

 Apparently a lot.

As previously reported:
The PS/IS 217 PTA approved the school's renaming to Cornell Tech.
during the December 4 Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA meeting. The PTA's approval of the name change was the first stage in a process that includes approvals by the NYC Department of Education as well as Cornell University.

The renaming of PS/IS 217 to include Cornell Tech was addressed during the question and answer period at the December 8 Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Town Hall meeting last night.

Roosevelt Island Community Coalition Director Matt Katz asked if the PTA had consulted with Cornell Tech prior to seeking the name change and what is the position of Cornell on the matter?

Cornell Tech Director of External Relations Megan French replied that Cornell had first learned about the request through the local press and that Cornell has policy of not allowing its name to be used for facilities not owned and controlled by Cornell.

Here's the question and answer.

Another question regarding Cornell Tech's policy towards PS/IS 217 was asked by a parent who wanted to know what being adopted by Cornell Tech means for PS/IS 217?

Cornell Tech's Director Of K-12 Education Diane Levitt replied that Cornell is:
... committed and delighted to be deeply engaged with PS/IS 217. What's outlined in the Lease is
  • teacher training and support
  • STEM Education
  • after school programming
  • Tech events and a Career Day and
  • Hardware and software programming development...
... our relationship will be deeper than that.  We started to think about ways we can help build, particularly at the middle school, curriculum that is aligned with technology. Not technology tools, not computers, not stuff we buy but with curriculum that helps students understand computing and computational thinking...
Ms. Levitt also agreed with a resident's suggestion to try to utilize issues involved regarding the development of the campus in the school's curriculum.

More on the PS/IS 217 PTA's request to rename the school Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School at previous post.

Will have more on last night's Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Town Hall Meeting in upcoming posts.

Monday, December 8, 2014

AVAC Memories, A Musical About The Roosevelt Island Underground Garbage System Returns Tonight For One Night Only Sound Bites Performance - Tickets Available

Image From Herrin/Terry

As previously reported:
...Since 1975, the Automated Vacuum Collection System (“AVAC”) has been transporting the majority of Roosevelt Island’s solid waste through tubes connecting the residential buildings to a sanitation facility located by the Roosevelt Island Bridge....
In May 2010 the Fast Trash exhibit on Roosevelt Island's unique pneumatic underground garbage disposal system opened at Gallery RIVAA and included a musical performance of AVAC Memories described as:
... AVAC Memories tells the story of five pieces of household waste who are tossed into a Roosevelt Island garbage can and, together, go on a thrilling journey through the AVAC sanitation system. As they are dropped down garbage chutes, sucked through pneumatic tubes, crunched in a compactor and shipped off to the dump in a garbage barge, our grimy heroes learn some valuable lessons about friendship, courage and perseverance in the face of adversity....
The AVAC Memories musical is back for a performance later tonight as part of SOUND BITES, a one night only off-Broadway event at The 47th Street Theatre. Tickets can be purchased here.

I recently asked AVAC Memories co-author John Herrin what got him interested in a play about the Roosevelt Island garbage system. Mr. Herrin replied:
This piece was originally part of an evening of short musicals produced by Prospect Theater Company in 2009. The show was called "Map Quest" and consisted of works by several different writing teams. Each team was given an address in New York City and asked to write a short musical about that location. Alden Terry and I were asked to visit 475 Main Street on Roosevelt Island. We explored the island and considered all kinds of possibilities for the storyline, but, we kept coming back to the AVAC system. It's such an unusual thing to find in a residential neighborhood, and we suspected (rightly) that very few people in New York even know that the AVAC exists. Once we settled on the subject matter, it seemed natural to make our characters pieces of trash so that audience could join them on a journey through the system. As we worked on the piece, we got more interested in the history of Roosevelt Island and its role as a kind of laboratory for urban development. It's a unique place, and we really enjoyed exploring the island and writing about it.
Here's more on AVAC Memories

and from its web site.

Get Unique Roosevelt Island Holiday Gifts At Roosevelt Island Historical Society Visitors Kiosk - Evening And Weekend Hours

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) reports that shopping for Holiday Gifts is available at the RIHS Visitors Kiosk on the following evenings:


AT THE KIOSK Holiday Gift Sale

Tram Plaza, Roosevelt Island EVENING HOURS:

Monday, Dec. 8 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Dec. 10 open until 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11 open until 9 p.m. Wednesday. Dec. 17 open until 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18 open until 9 p.m.

Great selection of new gifts including: toys, puzzles, mugs, models, books, magnets, calendars stocking­stuffers, & much more!

Shop the Kiosk; We are not just for visitors!!
Weekend RIHS Shopping Hours available 11 AM - 4 PM and you can meet Mrs. Santa Claus too.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pouring Rain But Spirits High For 2014 Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Ceremony - Wonderful Singing Performances, Santa Claus, And Enthusiastic Crowd - Here Are Some Scenes

For the second year in a row, the rain came pouring down on the Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting Ceremony but that did not dampen the spirit of the crowd waiting for the lighting of the Tree and the arrival of Santa Claus in front of Blackwell House last Friday evening.

Here's what happened.

The festivities began with Main Street Theater & Dance Alliance Executive Director Owen Johnston, Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Jeff Escobar and Roosevelt Island Operating Corp's (RIOC) Anna Rankin leading the enthusiastic crown in a Holiday Sing-A-Long of Jingle Bells, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and Deck the Halls.

RIOC's Anna Rankin ably performed the master of ceremonies duties under difficult weather conditions. She introduced RIOC's CFO Francis Walton and RIRA President Jeff Escobar who greeted the crowd and extended their best wishes for the Holiday Season.

The Main Street Theater & Dance Alliance then entertained the crowd with Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty The Snowman, Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland and Silver Bells.

Ms. Rankin and the festive crowd then started to look for the Guest Of Honor - Santa Claus

who arrived courtesy of the Red Bus

followed by the countdown and lighting of the Tree.

Despite the bad weather, it was a very nice Roosevelt Island event and now the Tree

is lit.

Good job by RIOC, particularly supplying the tents which provided some comfort from the rain.

You're Invited To First Sunday Roosevelt Island Jazz Salon 5 PM Today At Gallery RIVAA With Art & The Impressionists

According to Gallery RIVAA:
Dear all,

Gallery RIVAA is pleased to invite you to yet another exciting session of First Sunday Jazz Salon this Sunday, December 7th from 5-7pm at Gallery RIVAA. Please join us and enjoy the evening with wine, music and refreshments.

Date: Dec 7th, 2014
Time: 5-7pm
Venue: Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main Street, Roosevelt Island

We look forward to seeing you there.
Gallery RIVAA
More on Art & The Impressionists From previous posts.