Friday, February 16, 2018

RIOC President Susan Rosenthal Reports To The Roosevelt Island Community - Tram Maintenance, Cultural Center Re-Opens, Farmers Market Re-Locates Temporarily To Good Shepherd Plaza & Blackwell House Renovation

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Susan Rosenthal reports to the community:

The Roosevelt Island Tram is a beautiful symbol of our Island. Riding it to work every day is one of the best parts of my job as president of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. Besides the majestic views from almost 300 feet above the East River, the Tram, and the Red Bus (which I also ride daily) is a fun way to listen to and observe the diversity of people, ages, gender, languages and cultures who visit and live here.

More than 1.35 million people rode the Tram last year and like any other machinery, with that amount of volume, it requires mandatory maintenance and preventive safety inspections. Some of that work happened overnight earlier this month and beginning February 26, we’ll undertake more, one car at a time for six days. While I apologize for the inconvenience, this work is necessary. The Tram’s operations team is diligent about their work ensuring that the Island’s signature icon is and remains safe to ride.

And just in case you were wondering, unlike the New York City subways, once the Tram operator engages the engine button, there is no way for the driver to re-open the door even if you’re running up at the last minute to board and the Tram is still in the station. So please, don’t be angry at the operators.


On Feb. 5, the Island’s cultural center re-opened after being closed for a month to allow for a mold remediation.

Last fall, RIOC contracted with two environmental testing companies to sample and assess air and physical samples throughout the center to detect for mold samples. Small amounts of mold were found on the ballet room’s ceiling and floor as well as in the center’s media room. The spores that were found are common to indoor environments worldwide. Nonetheless, we ordered a complete fumigation, humidification and cleaning of the entire building; and had the services performed when the center had the least amount of community need.

Subsequent testing found no detectable mold reservoirs in any of the areas sampled. In fact, samples taken outside the center found mold in the air almost 33 times higher than all the indoor samples. We are happy to report the cultural center is back in business for hosting and use by all Island organizations.


How sweet would it be if every RIOC decision to make a change on the Island was loved by everybody? Unlikely; unless it’s the relocation of the Farmers Market. Hear me out.

The repair to the Helix roadway and platform is going to take four months to complete. No longer could the Farmers Market vendors set up shop on Saturdays in the underpass. After careful consideration, we chose the plaza of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd to be the most logical place aesthetically and strategically.

The plaza is beautiful and is centrally located. This change will bring energy to Main Street and may even encourage more activities there in the future.


Roosevelt Island’s most historic landmark, Blackwell House, is undergoing a complete interior structural renovation not a restoration as some may have thought.

That designation is important because when the work is finished, the farmhouse, originally built in 1796, will be a modern structure with handicap accessibility and HVAC, telecommunications, electrical, plumbing modifications to code and kitchen upgrades. RIOC intends to use the building for a variety of community programs and activities including small group exhibitions, receptions and meetings. Part of Blackwell’s second floor will become the new office home for the Roosevelt Island Historical Society and the Island’s growing library of document archives.

A portion of the $1.4 million renovation cost is being subsidized by a $364,000 grant from the City of New York that the Historical Society solicited and won. The project is expected to be completed in June 2018.

Exciting upgrades to the Blackwell House courtyard and playground are expected to begin later in the spring and fall of this year.


I sincerely hope that you are enjoying reading this column to learn more about what RIOC is doing and planning. Remember, I look forward to answering any, and all, of your questions directly. Send them to me at Until next time, be well, stay safe and see you at the next RIOC Board of Directors meeting on March 1.

Check Out New Menu At Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Cafe - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Weekend Brunch, Great Smoothies & RI Soup Lady Too

Have you tried the Roosevelt Island Tech Cafe

located in the Bloomberg Academic Center on the Cornell Tech Campus yet?

It's very good and well worth the walk to the other side of the Queensboro Bridge.

The Cafe at Cornell Tech has a new lower price menu (taxes included), with a variety of food and drink offerings but reduced hours of service for the winter.

The Cornell Tech Cafe is open

for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

Parliament coffee, tea and pastry offerings include

and Smoothies, Fresh Juices and Bubble Tea available too.

No Roosevelt Island F Train Service To Manhattan This Presidents Day Weekend For Signal Maintenance Work Says MTA - How Did The Trains Get So Bad Asks NY Times

According to the MTA:
TRACK MAINTENANCE F Coney Island-bound trains run via the E from Roosevelt Av to Canal St, and via the A to Jay St-MetroTech Weekend & Holiday, 9:45 PM Fri to 5 AM Tue, Feb 16 - 20

... No Coney Island-bound F service at 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av/63 St, 57, 47-50 Sts, 42 St-Bryant Pk, 34 St-Herald Sq, 23, 14, B'way-Lafayette Sts, 2 Av, Delancey St, East Broadway and York St.
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) adds:
The MTA has issued a weekend service advisory for the F train, which may affect travel plans. The Tram and red bus will run on a weekday schedule from Friday, February 16 until Tuesday, February 20, to accommodate any increase in traffic. Please plan your travel accordingly and visit or call 511 for more information.
For electronic updates on F Train service, sign up for MTA Alerts at
The NY Times asks how did the NY trains get so bad? - Nobody talks abut the subway signals NY Times report.

Sponsored Post - Check Out Roosevelt Island Gristedes February 23 - March 1 Weekly Sales, Specials, Bonus Reward Items - Free Delivery With $75 Or More Purchase

The Roosevelt Island Gristedes Supermarket

invites you to check out their:
  • Groceries,
  • Organic & Gourmet, Gluten/Soy/GMO Free
  • Snacks
  • Meat, 
  • Fresh Produce, 
  • Seafood, 
  • Frozen, 
  • Deli &;
  • Fresh Bakery
  • & Bonus Rewards Items
Department Offerings for February 23  - March 1

Don't forget the 10% Roosevelt Island Seniors Discount on Tuesday and Wednesday and Sign Up for the Gristedes Diamond Loyalty Rewards Program.

More Gristedes Supermarket information available at their web site, Facebook Page and Twitter feed.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sponsored Post - Roosevelt Island Saturday Farmers Market Moving Temporarily To Good Shepherd Plaza Starting February 17 - Fresh Fruits, Vegetable & More At Good Shepherd Plaza

As reported last week, the Roosevelt Island Saturday Farmers Market will temporarily move to Good Shepherd Plaza.

from its long time location at Motogate Plaza.

 According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Due to the Roosevelt Island Bridge helix ramp repair project, the Farmers Market will be moved temporarily to the Good Shepherd Plaza (543 Main St.), starting this Saturday, February 17th. The move will include relocation of all vendors and the BigReuse Food Scrap Drop.
The Roosevelt Island Farmers Market is a weekly stop every Saturday for many Roosevelt Island residents.

The Roosevelt Island Farmers Market features a wide variety of healthy and delicious tasting fruits


and much, much more.

The Farmers Market accepts credit and EBT cards for payment too.

Eat Fresh, Eat Local, Eat Healthy.

Visit the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market every Saturday early morning until mid-afternoon at its new temporary home - Good Shepherd Plaza.

UPDATE 2/20 - Take a tour of the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market new location

at Good Shepherd Plaza.

You're Invited To Roosevelt Island Gallery RIVAA Black History Month Celebration Opening Reception For Hidden Talents Exhibition Sunday, February 18 At Octagon Gallery

Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA is hosting an opening reception for its annual Celebration of Black History Month Sunday, February 18, at the Octagon Gallery (888 Main Street) showcasing a new exhibition titled "Hidden Talents" curated by Roosevelt Island resident Lorraine Williams

According to Gallery RIVAA:

Dear all,

RIVAA proudly presents its Annual Black History Month Exhibition "Hidden talents" from Saturday, February 17, 2018 to Sunday, March 25, 2018.

Join us for the opening reception on Sunday, February 18th from 5-8pm at the Octagon Gallery.

Artists include Aziza, Abdul Badi, Albert Depas, Andrew Nichols, Ida Owens, Jean Dominique Voicy, Pax Rwanda, Micheline Hess, and Maurice"Gleams" Baez.

The exhibition is curated by Lorraine Williams.

Opening Reception: Sunday, February 18th, 5-8pm
Exhibition Dates: February 17, 2018 - March 25, 2018
Location: 888 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NY 10044

Gallery Hours: Daily, 8am - 9pm


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Roosevelt Island Girl Scouts Celebrate World Thinking Day By Joining With iDig2Learn Earth Love Challenge - How Do Our Choices Impact The Earth?

Roosevelt Island Junior Girl Scout Troop 3001 Leader Aiesha Eleusizov reports:

Girl Scouts World Thinking Day pairs up with iDig2Learn's Earth Love Challenge.

Every year on February 22nd, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides across the world celebrate World Thinking Day. Celebrated since 1926, it’s a chance for girls in 150 countries to celebrate together by raising awareness and speaking out on global issues that affect them. Each year a theme is identified. The theme for 2018 World Thinking Day is Impact.

This year’s World Thinking Day theme, Impact, is a perfect fit for iDig2Learn's Earth Love Challenge.

Show Your Earth Love This February

Nearly every choice we make has an impact. The iDig2Learn Earth Love Challenge this February is to Think about our choices and the impact of those choices on the Earth. Whether we bring our own reusable water bottles, check out books from the library, take mass transportation or compost, we all make choices that impact the Earth. The first step is awareness and knowing what impact each action has. For example, if you knew that a single plastic bag can take up to 500 years or longer to degrade you might choose to bring a reusable bag or use biodegradable bags.

So, as many celebrate their love for each other this February, iDig2Learn's founder, Christina Delfico asks, "What if all that love was directly towards Earth?" Every day the Earth gives us so much, air to breath, water to drink, land to feed us, what if we expressed our Earth Love proudly?

Pairing up with the Girl Scouts in Troop 3001 who accepted the challenge, they met and spoke about impact and choices. Alongside Christina Delfico and Girl Scout leaders Aiesha Eleusizov, Yitza Martinez and Ann Mascia more than 20 Girl Scouts showed their Earth Love by creating green, blue and yellow colored hearts to symbolize the colors of land, water and sun.

Each heart was then designed to include ways they are kind to the Earth. Many included reuse, saying no to plastic straws and planting trees as ways they reduce negative impact. One Girl Scout shared her creative reuse concept stating, “I have a small business where I take old bags of junk food and old boxes and make them into pencil cases, purses, coin purses, and notebooks respectively,” says sixth grade Girl Scout Naomi.

She proudly displayed a spiral bound notebook with the covers created out of old Girl Scout cookie boxes. They were beautiful, stylish and colorful and a great way to create a new life for items destined for disposable, avoiding what is often considered the last resort, recycling, by reusing those materials.

All of these Valentines to the Earth are on display in the iDig2Learn windows on Main Street.

 And both the Girl Scouts and iDig2Learn invite you to Think about your impact and express your Earth Love using the hashtags #Earthlove  #ThisIsImpact  #WTD2018. Your choices matter.

RIOC Seeking Owners Rep Consultant To Help With $33 Million Roosevelt Island Capital Improvement & Maintenance Projects Planned For Next 2 Years - Dad Asks RIOC To Start Improvements With Blackwell Park Sandbox

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) is about to begin 24 months of major infrastructure and maintenance projects.

Image Of Broken Seawall Railing Near Octagon Building From December 2017

According to RIOC Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation has an ambitious and aggressive $33 million plan to complete more than 30 capital improvement and maintenance projects during the next 12-24 months. These include the Helix repair, seawall railing replacements, bike ramp and lane construction, elevator and potential escalator repairs, Youth Center and SportsPark renovations, sidewalk, playing fields and playground improvements among others.

The projects are all in varying stages of concept, design and construction. RIOC's in-house project management team will be at capacity once two new full-time project managers and the Director of Asset Management come aboard later this month. But even with the new hires, additional resources will be required to achieve our goals. After careful evaluation, RIOC has decided to utilize consultants - via the recent RFP for Owner’s Representative Services for Capital Projects & Strategic Planning - to support the current demands for the following reasons:
  1. RIOC anticipates that the workload will fluctuate significantly and staffing up for a peak demand will leave us with excess staff during low periods. A consultant will be able to accommodate this fluctuation and RIOC will benefit by only paying for the additional resources when they are required.
  2. RIOC has a demand for proven consultants in managing multi-disciplined projects through design, regulatory and construction processes. Not all of RIOC’s planned projects require full-time consultants daily but they will require full-time involvement of specialists at varying intervals throughout each of the projects being considered.
  3. The Owner’s Representative would assist in the regulatory process with private and public agencies, take an active role in the Design Process for projects, prepare and evaluate bid proposals, perform inspections, contract administration, and other related activities.
  4. RIOC will benefit from the experience of the organizations or firms who have successfully completed similar projects throughout NYC.
RIOC is looking at the Owners Representative role as an extension of our existing team. We have no intention of reducing staffing, rather we are bolstering and supplementing our existing team to prepare for the increase volume of projects that are being undertaken.
Here's the RIOC Owners Rep for Capital Planning & Projects RFP.

During the February 7 Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council meeting Public Session, a Roosevelt Island Dad asked RIRA to support a request that RIOC make improvements to the Sandbox in Blackwell Park.

According to the Roosevelt Island Dad:
... The Sandbox is in disrepair for some time....
... The level of sand has dwindled to an inch or so and the bottom tarp that is underneath the sandbox is visible.

Admittedly, there is no glass or hazards in it but it's not pleasant to be in.

I'd like to ask this group to support an idea of having it topped off with sand once a season....

... My request is that from time to time a dump truck of sand backs up and dumps a load of sand in the sandbox...

RIOC does not need an Owners Rep to help fix the Blackwell Park sandbox.

UPDATE 2/15:
According to RIOC, the sandbox will be removed as part of an upgrade to the Blackwell Park playground equipment this spring. There will be no sandbox replacement.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Roosevelt Island Youth Center Operator Center Selection Shows Divided Community - For Some RIYP Is Glue That Held Families Together, But Others Disagree

The selection of an operator for the Roosevelt Island Youth Center has become an extremely contentious and polarizing subject in our community.

As previously reported, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) is investigating the matter and has hired an outside law firm to conduct an inquiry. According to this January 26 RIOC statement:

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation announced plans Friday to hire an outside counsel, Bond Shoeneck & King, to investigate allegations made against the operator of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program that was close to being approved for a three-year grant to operate youth programs at a drop-in child care program that requires no state licensure.

The RIOC Board chairman made the decision to delay the vote after the Board received numerous email claims in the days leading up to Thursday night’s meeting. More than 20 passionate parents, employees and young people spoke at the Thursday night meeting making their cases in favor and against the awarding of this grant.

“Prompted by statements made at last night’s Board meeting and emails received from the public, RIOC is hiring outside counsel to investigate,” said RIOC President Susan Rosenthal. “We expect this to be completed in advance of the next Board meeting March 1.”

The Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) received the highest score in the grant competition rated by two members of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and Island worker Patricia Pell, currently the interim director of Roosevelt Island Day Nursery.
There is a huge divide among the supporters and opponents of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP).

Roosevelt Island resident Sasha Ross shares this message she wrote before the January 25 RIOC Board meeting explaining her support of the RIYP. According to Ms. Ross:
The RIYP is an integral part of the Roosevelt Island culture. As it is, as it stands, it has been the glue that has held many families together, and with their heads above water. Those most vocal about the RIYP have no idea what that center means to families, what Charlie means to the families.

The RIYP raised me, I do not have a memory of my childhood that doesn't involve RIYP, I remember the director before Charlie. His name was Mike, he was half way bald on top and had a fluffy red beard. After Mike, Charlie came. After Charlie that's it. Charlie has been a father figure to 100's, possibly 1,000's of Roosevelt Island kids easily. The youth center has provided all that some homes couldn't. Shelter from the weather, food when bellies were empty, a conversation when you felt all alone, and most important memories. And for the last 20+ years Charlie has been synonymous with RIYP. They both are a staple here.

There has been a lot of Main Street chatter about the who's and what's of how people feel about both, the program and the director. And its mainly coming from people who DON'T know anything about the program or Charlie. Many are going off of what one of their friends say happened, or what they think happen or something they might have seen or not seen walking by.

Roosevelt Island is beautiful to look at, while riding over on the tram, riding around on the red bus or even walking along the back road. The visuals lead you to believe that all is well and dandy here. But the truth is, not every kid feels welcomed at home, not every kid is eating at home, not every kid has a parent waiting for them at home.

I have first handedly seen the program and Charlie evolve, twist and turn with the changes and needs of the youth on Roosevelt Island. Through my own childhood, through my 21 year old sons childhood - who has attended programs at the RIYP from the age of 5 until last year when the new Beacon people took over. And now through my youngest children's childhood - who have attended programs at the center from the age of 5 and are now 8 and 10 respectively.

I have experienced what the center and Charlie does for the island at nearly ever turn of my life. As a small child being raised by her grandmother, without biological parents. I have experienced what the center and Charlie can do, RIYP and Charlie creates a family. I have experienced RIYP as a new parent and has a well seasoned parent. Myself and all of my children have had many firsts under Charlie and what he created out of his RIYP vision.

Now I am not saying all of this to say the program or Charlie is perfect, because nothing and no one is. I have however see RIYP be perfect at times, when a single mom can pick up an extra hour or two in overtime, because RIYP is there. When you don't own a computer or have internet access and need to submit your paper for class or apply for a job, RIYP is there. Subtracting anything more from this program will put a lot of children,  some of the most vulnerable children living on Roosevelt Island in a bad place. The Island has been changing rapidly, focusing on the squeaky wheel. Attempting to placate those who have never taken the time to get to know the program, the counselors or the children. People who are focused on THEIR own agendas. Focused on what they personally want to see. And they are blindly looking over the individuals who depend on this program and all that it offers.

I am asking you to not only see the people who show up to the meeting later on today. I am asking you not to just listen to the rumors. I am asking you to view the RIYP as a whole, it's track record, and who it is really here for. These young kids who are in between being a child and a young adult, those who are learning how to navigate this world, sometimes alone. Think of those who cannot make it to this meeting tonight because they don't work a traditional 9-5, or because they feel as though no one will understand what they are going through, or those simply are too embarrassed to speak out publicly on their personal troubles and how the program provides for them and their children.

Listen to the people who have all of the Roosevelt Island youth in their hearts. I can be the first to admit the RIYP can use some improvements, and those improvements go beyond what we see when we walk in. Those improvements start with the people who actually can make a difference, not only the people who are cc'd on this email, but each and every island resident.

Thank you for your time.
More info on the selection of Roosevelt Island Youth Center operator, as well as full video of the RIOC Board meeting discussion of the subject at this prior post.The videos include statements from both supporters and opponents of the RIYP.

Also, the Main Street Wire has an article on subject here and letter from RIYP opponents here.

Roosevelt Island Daily ways in here and here.

Roosevelt Island Tram Shutdown For Emergency Repairs Valentine's Day Evening Starting 10 PM, Resume Service 6 AM Thursday - Manhattan Red Bus Shuttle Service Available

If you're going out Valentine's Day evening, be aware that there will be no Roosevelt Island Tram operating after 10 PM. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

Due to emergency repairs, the Tram will shutdown at 10:00 PM on Wednesday, February 14th and resume service at 6:00 AM on Thursday, February 15th. Hourly shuttle bus service will be provided with the first Manhattan bound bus leaving from the Tram Plaza at 10:00 PM and the first Roosevelt Island bound bus leaving the southwest corner of 58th St and 2nd Avenue at 10:30 PM. The last Roosevelt Island bound shuttle will leave Manhattan at 2:30 AM.
A RI resident remarks:
Guess there will be no late-nite-Valentine's Day-skyline-view romantic rides ..
Here's a nighttime view from the Roosevelt Island Tram

but not live on Valentine's Day evening.

Roosevelt Island Residents Association Opposes Giant RI Monument Proposed By Hudson Related - Calls It An Eyesore And Requests RIOC Not To Install

The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) unanimously approved a resolution opposing installation of the Giant RI Monument during the February 7 Common Council meeting.

According to the RIRA resolution:

We, the Common Council of RIRA, hereby respectfully request that the proposed “R”I” letters RIOC and Hudson-Related intend to install, not be installed in the community. We believe them to be an eyesore, not welcoming, and not contributing to the ambiance of the community. 

Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) President Judy Berdy spoke during the RIRA Common Council Public Session asking the Common Council to oppose the Giant RI Monument.
... There is no reason for this. It's an obstruction. It's not artistic. It doesn't lead to anything other than kids climbing on it....

Our Island has higher standards for art....

Nobody spoke in favor of the Giant RI Monument.

A Hudson Related Spokesperson previously said about the RI Monument:
We believe the Tram is the ideal and only real option for the RI monument.

In order to truly say “Welcome to Roosevelt Island” to the many visitors coming daily, we want the monument to be in a heavily trafficked and highly visible area that serves as a great photo opp spot.

We think it will provide a fun landmark that says Roosevelt Island is a destination worth visiting (and not just turning around to take a return trip on the tram). Ultimately the decision will be made by the Board.
On February 5, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) and Hudson Related displayed a mock up of the Giant RI Monument at the Tram Plaza Station (pictured above) seeking comments from those walking by (You can send your comment to RIOC here). Result of the comments have not yet been released.

A final decision regarding the installation of the Giant RI Monument will be made by the RIOC Real Estate Advisory committee at a future meeting.

More on the Giant RI Monument at these prior posts.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Cornell Tech Makers Lab Seeking Ideas From Roosevelt Island Seniors Citizens For 3D Printing Prototype Product To Make An Everyday Task Easier - RISA Hosts Event February 13 To Explain

Roosevelt Island Seniors Association (RISA) President Barbara Parker reports:

Cornell Tech has asked RISA to host an event so that Cornell Tech can solicit challenges from RISA members. Niti Parikh is the director of the MakerLAB@Cornell Tech. Niti, along with Cornell Tech’s design strategist, Gary Zamchick, will be leading an interactive session with RISA members to solicit challenges (ideas). In these sessions, through prompts and target inquires, the presenters guide participants to open up and dig deep into their everyday lives to discover challenges which can be solved with 3D printing.

The details are as follows:

What: Cornell Tech presentation on 3D Printing for Seniors: What small products would you like to see developed (3D printed) that would make your everyday lives easier as you grow older?

When: Tuesday, February 13th from 12:30 pm to 1:45.

Where: 546 Main Street – 12th floor conference room

Light refreshments will be served.

To confirm your attendance contact Barbara Parker Email:

If you have specific questions for Cornell Tech, email Jane Swanson at
Cornell Tech Director Of Maker Lab Niti Parih, also a Roosevelt Island resident, tweets:

During the January 25 Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Construction & Community Task Force meeting, Cornell Tech's Assistant Director of Community & Government Relations Jane Swanson talked about the Roosevelt Island Seniors Maker Lab 3D Printing Challenge.

If you are a senior citizen and can't attend tomorrow's event but have an idea for the Cornell Tech Makers Lab Challenge, submit your idea by email to Ms. Swanson. Deadline is February 18.

Here's an example of a prototype product for senior citizens - a shoe that helps prevent falling.

The shoe is not part of the Cornell Makers Lab Roosevelt Island Senior Citizens Challenge but perhaps you can come up with a potentially useful idea too.