Monday, April 13, 2015

Roosevelt Island NYC Council Participatory Budget Vote Starts Today Thru Saturday - Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 Green Roof And Hearing Impaired Technology For Local Public Library Need Your Vote

Participatory Budget Voting began this morning on Roosevelt Island to help allocate $1 million in NYC taxpayer capital funds for Council District 5 which includes Roosevelt Island, the Upper East Side, Midtown East and El Barrio.
According to NYC Council Member Ben Kallos:
... you will be empowered through direct democracy to vote on how $1 million in taxpayer dollars get spent in our neighborhood.

Through participatory budgeting, you can vote on five projects that you believe in. Those with the most votes up to $1 million will win and receive funding. To participate, you must live in Council District Five and be 16 or older....
The Roosevelt Island projects eligible for District 5 Participatory Budget funding are:
Study of Sight and Sound $35,000 (#3 on ballot)

Audio/Visual equipment with audio induction looping for the New York Public Library Roosevelt Island branch.
504 Main Street (Roosevelt Island)
Green Roof for PS/IS 217 $500,000 (#5 on ballot)
Build a green roof for environmental education at PS/IS 217.
645 Main Street (Roosevelt Island)
During the April 1 Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Public Session, Christina Delfico and Sharon Berman urged support for the Roosevelt Island Participatory Budget projects. Here's what they said.

More on the PS/IS 217 Green Roof and hearing impaired technology projects at this previous post.

District 5 Participatory voting will take place at​ d​ifferent locations between April 11-19, including these Roosevelt Island locations:​

MON, APRIL 13:​PS/IS 217, 645 Main St., 7​:30 A.M. - 10:30 A.M.

TUES, APRIL 14:​RI Senior Center, 546 Main St., 1​0 A.M. - 1 P.M.

WED, APRIL 15:​RI Public Library, 524 Main St., 3​P.M. - 7 P.M.

SAT, APRIL 18: RI Historical Society Visitors Kiosk Tram 11 A.M - 5 P.M.

Also, WEEKDAYS, APRIL 13-1​7: District Office, 244 East 93rd St. 9 A.M. – 6 P.M. WEEKENDS, APRIL 11/​12 & 18/​19: District Office, 244 East 93rd St. 12 P.M. – 4 P.M.

Here is the full list of District 5 Participatory Budget Projects.
1. Cool Reading: $500,000 Upgrade the cooling system for the New York Public Library Webster branch. 1465 York Ave.

2. Bright Minds: $280,000 Replace and improve the exterior lighting on the New York Public Library East 67th Street branch. 328 E. 67th St.

3. Study of Sight and Sound: $35,000 Audio/Visual equipment with audio induction looping for the New York Public Library’s Roosevelt Island branch. 504 Main St. (Roosevelt Island)

4. Rooftop Recreation for PS 151: $500,000
Create a necessary outdoor play space on the roof with the opportunity to add a greenhouse and Edible School Yard for PS 151. 421 E88th Street (Upper East Side)

5. Green Roof for PS/IS 217: $500,000
Build a green roof for environmental education at PS/IS 217. 645 Main Street (Roosevelt Island)

6. School Stage for Eleanor Roosevelt High: $500,000 Upgrade the stage, seating, floor, lighting, audio with looping for hearing loss, in order to support more performance uses and an orchestra at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. 411 E76th Street (Upper East Side)

7. School’s Cool for PS198/PS 77: $500,000 Air conditioning renovation for building wide cooling in hot summer months at PS198/PS77. 1700 Third Ave (Upper East Side)

8. STEM Education for High School: $280,000 Laptop carts to provide Science Technology Engineering and Math(STEM) education for Title I High Schools serving low-income students at Vanguard and Life Sciences. 317 E67th St & 320 E96th St (Upper East Side & El Barrio)

9. Security Cameras for Holmes Towers: $500,000 Add new security cameras for increased safety for residents of Holmes Towers. E93 & First Ave (Upper East Side)

10. Security Cameras for Lexington Houses: $500,000 Add new security cameras for increased safety for residents of Lexington Houses. E98th to E99th & Park to Third (El Barrio)

11. Community Garden for Lexington Houses: $385,000 New planters and gates so that residents can grow plants in a community garden with additional plantings throughout the grounds. E98th to E99th & Park to Third (El Barrio)

Our Parks
12. Full Court Press: $400,000 Renovate basketball courts at John Jay Park including new backboards, hoops and sports coating. E76 to E78 & FDR Drive (Upper East Side)

13. Irrigate the Esplanade: $300,000 Irrigation for the East River Esplanade to allow for increased access to water for trees and vegetation along walkway. East River Esplanade (District wide)

14. Esplanade Greenway: $200,000 Create and improve the tree beds along the East River Esplanade and complete construction of unfinished sites. East River Esplanade (District wide)

15. Fun Fountain at St. Catherine’s Park: $200,000 Replace the fountain and spray shower with new plumbing, interactive spray heads and sports-coating for children to play in at St. Catherine’s Park. E67 to E68 & First Ave. (Upper East Side)

16. Bus Bulbs on East 86th Street: $150,000 Bus bulbs with streetscape improvements to support pedestrian safety and off-board payment on E86th St at Lexington and Third Aves.
Roosevelt Island resident Frank Farance is critical of the PS/IS 217 Green Roof selection for Participatory Budget funds and the lack of funding for an air quality monitoring study. He writes a comment to this post:
... In short, someone should ask Council Member Ben Kallos why he wants to spend a half-million on the school when the real budgetary needs are elsewhere. We have many Island organizations that could use a fraction of that money, our neighborhood is still approximately 2/3 affordable housing. Meanwhile, the Upper East Side is swimming in money ... an extra half-million? No problem when there is money for everything else on the UES.

As a PBV delegate, on Roosevelt Island, we listed a variety of ideas. You'd recognize all the names and that we all have major differences, but there was one thing everyone agreed upon: Air Quality Monitoring, which would benefit our community and the adjacent communities of the East Side, Astoria, and Long Island City. We even added a sixth monitoring point to Lighthouse Park so we could include monitoring of the Upper East Side's Marine Transfer Station (an important AQ issue for East Siders)...

... our Councilmember should be more it touch with the Island's organizations and their needs, not an expensive shrine to the needs of a few.

And spend money on Air Quality Monitoring, a really important benefit to everyone.
Mr. Farance's full comment is here.

Roosevelt Island Brownie Girl Scout Troop 3001 likes the idea of a PS/IS 217 Green Roof

and asks for your vote.

UPDATE 4/14 - A spokesperson for Council Member Kallos responds:
Both rank and feasibility are the determining factors of what gets on the ballot -- and, in this case, the agency that would handle the project, DOHMH, was not in the pb process (and DEP was not the right agency to administer this project). We are happy that 2 of 16 proposals this year are from the Roosevelt Island delegates, so RI will be very well represented on the ballot!
The DOHMH is the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. DEP is the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.


Frank Farance said...

OK, I was wrong: green roof will cost $1.5 million, Island will have to vote 2-3 years in a row to spend $500K, likely at the exclusion of other Island benefits: the Millionaire's Roof Garden. PBV ballot should indicate whether the monies actually fund the project, or whether it's just a down payment. The flyers, ballot, and such mislead the voter into believing that $500K gets us a green roof, and that is not so. The school's Principal Beckman explains "This was the first important step that allowed us to pursue funding.
The SCA estimates $1.5 million and allows for two budget cycles to
confirm funds which are historically a collaborative effort across city
council and borough president." See other article at

Also, given the ongoing poor school evaluations (""), it's the core academic metrics that need improvement and its retention of students in the upper grades: 96 students in 1st grade, with only 25 in 7th grade. Looking at the trends:

Class of 2023: 67 -> 69 -> 63
Class of 2022: 61 -> 58 -> 49
Class of 2021: 28 -> 24 -> 30
Class of 2020: 40 -> 36 -> 23
Class of 2019: 32 -> 24 -> 25
Class of 2018: 34 -> 34 -> 36

Although the overall school enrollment has increased, it is primarily in Kindergarten and First Grade. The students leave the school as they get older, a trend reported for a decade.

A $1.5 million green roof whose floral life is likely dead for 6 of
the 10 months of the school year (October through March) seems pricey. The other
planting projects associated with the school (around its perimeter, in
its courtyard, and by 504 Main Street) were planted on Roosevelt Island
Day (end of school), not during school. And considering the fact that
PS/IS 217 has had abundant gardening resources, if there were a real
interest in the STEM aspects of gardens, they would have already created
a program.

That's why it looks like we're talking about spending $1.5 million on a Millionaire's Roof Garden that, other than being in close physical proximity to the school, has little to do with the school's academics, enrollment, and school performance. If the Island were like the Upper East Side and overflowing with money, a $1.5 million garden might be a nice project (which actual Millionaire's contributing).

However, with the encouragement of the Island voting for this project, and having to do it two years in a row, and possibly at the exclusion of other spending? Well, that's a poor idea. I suggest Island residents vote for the PBV project on moderately priced accessibility improvements for the hearing impaired, and not for the Millionaire's Roof Garden.

Frank Farance said...

Councilmember Kallos' rep is misleading in comments: PB delegates already knew DOHMH was agency for AQ -- written on our proposal from final committee screening. Mr. Harite did not inform us that our agency was not part of the PB process. When he found out, he made no efforts to contact Island residents that their number #1 project to tell them something was wrong (or possibly revise the proposal). The first time we found out was went the draft ballot was distributed (way too late). Clearly Mr. Harite knew about this for a while, but chose no to notify Island residents of the problem.

Mr. Harite just let the proposal fail. I doubt Kallos' office would be so inattentive to Upper East Site projects. Simply, Kallos' office should admit that they mishandled the process -- the facts are against Kallos' office.