Saturday, March 3, 2018

Roosevelt Island Farmers Market New Temporary Location At Good Shepherd Plaza Attracts More People For Fresh Vegetable, Fruits & More - Should New Location Be Made Permanent?

As previously reported, the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market moved temporarily from its long time location at Motorgate Plaza to Good Shepherd Plaza

during the 4 month Roosevelt Island Bridge Helix repair project current underway. Check out lines were very long today.

The move to Good Shepherd Plaza appears to be very popular among Roosevelt Island residents and vendors alike.
What do you think? Should Good Shepherd Plaza become the permanent home for the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market?

Friday, March 2, 2018

RIOC Announces It Will Operate Interim After School Drop In Program For Children Grade 2-8 Replacing Roosevelt Island Youth Program - RIOC Hosting Meeting With Parents Sunday March 4

Less than 24 hours after rejecting the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) as operator of the Youth Center,

RIOC announced late this afternoon that it will operate an interim after school drop in program for children in grades 2-8.

According to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) will operate an interim after-school drop-in program beginning Monday afternoon at the island’s 7,000 square-foot youth center building at 506 Main Street.

The action comes after the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) - former operators of the center - informed RIOC officials on Friday that they would be ceasing all business operations by the end of the day, Friday March 2.

“We wanted to make sure that the center is open for the children while RIOC decides the future plans for the youth center,” said RIOC President Susan Rosenthal.

The drop-in program will be open Monday through Friday and provide afterschool care from 2:45 p.m. - 6 p.m. and serve children in grades 2 – 8.

The program will be managed by former RIYP Director Roy Magsisi. Other former RIYP staff counselors have been made offers of part-time employment as RIOC employees at the center. Additional programming for the center, teen and weekend activities will be considered in the future, but are suspended now, Rosenthal said.

RIOC will host a parents meeting at the center to discuss the changes Sunday, March 4 at 3 p.m.
Here's report from last night's RIOC Board meeting rejecting the RIYP as Youth Center operator.

More to come.

Roosevelt Island F Train Service To And From Manhattan This Weekend - But No Service In Either Direction Overnight Friday To Saturday Morning

According to the MTA Weekender:
ELECTRICAL IMPROVEMENTS F Trains skip Roosevelt Island in both directions

Free shuttle buses provide alternate service Night, 11:45 PM Fri to 7 AM Sat, Mar 2 - 3

Buses operate between Roosevelt Island and Queens Plaza, stopping at 21 St-Queensbridge.

Transfer between trains and buses at 21 St-Queensbridge F or Queens Plaza E.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson adds:
We anticipate that the work will be completed and both Tram cabins to be running by Saturday morning. Also the MTA, per their attached announcement, will be running shuttle buses to offer additional transportation options since they won’t have subway service to the island on Saturday.

Sponsored Post - Check Out Roosevelt Island Gristedes March 9 - March 15 Weekly Sales, Specials, Bonus Reward Items - Free Delivery With $75 Or More Purchase

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invites you to check out their:
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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, March 1, 2018

RIOC Releases Roosevelt Island Youth Center Investigation Executive Summary - This Is What It Says

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors will vote later today on whether or not to approve the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) as the Youth Center Operator.

As reported January 26:

... 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...
Below is the Executive Summary submitted February 27 to the RIOC Board, RIOC President Susan Rosenthal and RIOC General Counsel Jacqueline Flug by attorneys Mark Reinharz and Hilary L. Moreira.

Based on the Executive Summary, this investigation consisted of talking:
... to over 20 individuals...
the exact number not disclosed, some over the phone, again the number not disclosed, including:
... numerous people who advised that they personally witnessed Mr. DeFino make inappropriate comments...
 Again, not disclosed how many people are considered numerous.

It also appears that the attorneys are dismissive of the potential motivations or relationships of those making accusations against Mr. Defino but merely accepted their statements as true without further investigation.

It may be that the full report has more detailed info. Perhaps more will be learned at meeting tonight.

Here's the Executive Summary:
On or about January 26, 2018, RIOC requested that Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, investigate allegations against Mr. Charlie DeFino, the Executive Director of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP or the Youth Program) and the Youth Program related to Mr. DeFino’s alleged use of inappropriate language, sexual harassment and being under the influence of alcohol while on duty. This investigation was limited in scope to the allegations related to Mr. DeFino’s inappropriate conduct. The investigation did not include a review of whether Mr. DeFino and RIYP were more qualified than Island Kids or any other organization to run the Youth Center, nor did it review the programming offered by RIYP or whether it provides quality services.

Throughout the course of the investigation, over twenty individuals were interviewed, including Mr. DeFino. Most of the interviews were conducted in person, although due to logistics and the unavailability of witnesses, some interviews were conducted by phone.

After conducting the interviews, we believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. DeFino did in fact make inappropriate comments on several occasions. There were numerous people who advised that they personally witnessed Mr. DeFino make inappropriate comments and they were able to describe such incidents with great specificity and detail. These included:
  1. screaming, yelling or cursing at Roosevelt Island residents;
  2. whistling or making offensive comments to women while walking on the street or in public areas;
  3. using racial epithets when referring to children of color; and
  4. making inappropriate remarks to or about children concerning their sexuality.
We are aware that some of the individuals interviewed do not view Mr. DeFino favorably. Indeed, some are former employees and some have established or supported other organizations that provide similar services to those provided or previously provided by RIYP. However, the number of individuals who came forward, the similarity of their complaints and the great level of detail and specificity that each person could describe, lends credibility to the allegations, and makes them difficult to discount. For us to believe that Mr. DeFino did not make any inappropriate remarks, we would also have to believe that all of the individuals making the allegations against Mr. DeFino have fabricated their allegations in a grand conspiracy against him and RIYP. This is simply belied by the evidence that we received and the individuals that we interviewed.

We are aware that Mr. DeFino has a strong following among some members of the Roosevelt Island community. Many believe that he is being targeted by newer, more affluent residents who may not like his style or the way he operates his program. They contend that Mr. DeFino is more interested in helping the children in the community than satisfying the whims of certain parents, and that he always has the best interests of the children at RIYP at heart. Nonetheless, the fact remains that numerous individuals have identified specific comments and actions by Mr. DeFino that a reasonable person would find objectionable. While Mr. DeFino and his supporters posit that these individuals are interested in hurting him for their financial gain, it was conceded that not everyone interviewed has a financial interest in the youth program.

Finally, with regard to whether Mr. DeFino appeared drunk while working at the Youth Program no conclusive finding can be made. While a number of individuals have stated that Mr. DeFino appeared intoxicated and that he was frequently observed drinking at a local restaurant, there is no clear evidence that he was intoxicated while on duty. Mr. DeFino's work hours are unclear and therefore it is uncertain if any intoxication occurred while he was working at the Youth Program.
Roosevelt Island resident Joanne Wolczuk writes today:
The recent calls to replace RIYP are ridiculous, my boys have used this program for the past 8 years for sports, education (SAT Prep), job placement and special events.

I have enrolled my kids in costly on-island and off-island programs only to be disappointed with the quality,  RIYP offers free quality programming for a diverse population of youth.

My respect for the staff and Mr. DeFino is beyond reproach, any issue any time they deliver, my children's lives have been blessed by this program. All these comments about the program and Mr. DeFino are absolutely false, people just want the money and to destroy someone with his record for pennies is just plain wrong.
Stay tuned.

UPDATE 8:05 PM - The RIYP was not approved as the operator of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center at this evening's RIOC Board meeting.

By a vote of 4-3, the RIOC Board voted to withdraw the grant application to operate the Roosevelt Island Youth Center. Withdrawing the grant application was effectively a vote against the RIYP.

The tactic was proposed by Board Chair Alex Valella and supported by Erica Levendosky, both representing NY State, as well as Roosevelt Island resident RIOC Board members Michael Shinozaki and Faye Christian.

Roosevelt Island resident RIOC Board members David Kraut, Margie Smith and Howard Polivy voted against withdrawing the grant application, effectively in favor of the RIYP.

Here's the RIOC Board discussion

and the RIYP supporters leaving after the vote saying "It's a Shame, It's a Shame" and "Gentrification"

Due to this vote, the RIYP Youth Center is expected to close it's doors in a few days.

More to come.

UPDATE 9;55 PM - From RIYP:
Parents, Guardians, Friends, Supporters and Students,

By now, you've probably heard. The RIOC Board has decided to WITHDRAW our RFP application to run the Youth Center.

However, RIYP will not quit so easily.


We will pick up your children from PS/IS 217as normally scheduled.
We will have our cooking class normally scheduled.
We will have our violin class as normally scheduled.

RIYP is exploring its options to remain open to serve YOU and the whole RI community.

We will keep you posted.

Thank you and best regards,

​Charles DeFino & Roy Magsisi
UPDATE 3/2 -

 Roosevelt Island Public At RIOC Board Meeting Last Night

RIYP Board Director Dave Evans writes:
Charlie Defino has an understanding of kids that is enviable. They collectively loved and still love him - - he has the enviable ability to make them feel safe and with a sense of friendship.

Though the Youth Center is construed as a business, he in my view takes it at least equally as a family matter. The ability to relate to the youth, understand the various cultures, advocate on their behalf - - that is Charlie.

The decision-making process used to justify the decision announced, and which was already made much earlier, on the evening of March 1, 2018 will be a case-study for times to come. What a terrible stain on our community.

Under a circumstance of falling off a cliff or being thrown under the bus, my instinct would be to attempt a rescue. The perception left to permeate the Island is that the majority of our decision-makers were not so inclined given the voting recorded.

Further, given that at this time our political environment is strained, especially at the national level, we Islanders must work harder to keep ourselves together. The youth are disappointed, so are the parents. I am disappointed! And, desire to know from RIOC what are the next steps?
RIYP Board Director/ Treasure Steve Kaufman spoke during the RIOC Board meeting Public Session last night

as did Mr Evans and other supporters, adults and kids, of Charlie Defino and RIYP.

During the Public Session, 8 people spoke in support of RIYP, one person spoke against RIYP and one person spoke who did not take a side but said he wanted what was best for the kids.

UPDATE 6:30 PM - RIOC announced today that it will run an interim after school program.

More info here.

Free Upcoming Tech Classes At Roosevelt Island NY Public Library - Learn Blogging, Snapchat & Instagram

The Roosevelt Island New York Public Library 

is offering free Tech Classes on Blogging and Snapchat/Instagram.

Check out more events at the Roosevelt Island NY Public Library branch.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Future Of Roosevelt Island Youth Program As Youth Center Operator In Peril At Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Board Of Directors Meeting Thursday, March 1

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors will meet 5:30 PM Thursday March 1 at at the Manhattan Park Community Center (8 River Road).

Among the items on the Agenda are:
... Authorization to Enter into Contract with Roosevelt Island Youth Program for the Operation of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center (Board Action Required)...

As reported January 26:
... 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 Operations Advisory Committee met last evening and discussed the results of the report. The meeting was in Executive Session closed to the public so results of the report are not publicly known yet.

I have asked RIOC for a copy of the report and will publish if provided.

According to the Roosevelt Island Youth Program:
The Roosevelt Island Youth Program, Inc. (RIYP) and its After-School Program, Evening Program, Sports Program, and Youth Center Operations will CLOSE EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.


The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC) will vote this Thursday, March 1 on a measure to approve the selection of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program, Inc. (RIYP) to continue as the Youth Center operator, as RIYP has won the Request for Proposals (RFP) process. RIYP has gone through two RFP processes for RIOC funding, winning both.

RIYP has been servicing the Roosevelt Island community for 40 years and has had an impact on many generations of its residents....
A supporter of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program writes how the organization has helped generations of Roosevelt Island kids and families. An excerpt:
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....
More here.

And statements from supporters and opponents of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program during the January 25 RIOC Board meeting.

Below is 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. January 25, 2018 Board Meeting (Board Action Required)

IV. Old Business

1. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Roosevelt Island Youth Program for the Operation of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center (Board Action Required)

New Business

1. Authorization to Amend the Contract with Gandhi Engineering, Inc. for the Engineering Design Services in Connection with the Roosevelt Island Helix Ramp Rehabilitation Project (Board Action Required-Materials to Follow)

2. Authorization to Amend Purpose of Expenditure of Public Purpose Funds to Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association (Board Action Required)

3. Authorization to Enter into a Project Agreement with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation And Historic Preservation for Financial Assistance for the Smallpox Hospital Stabilization (Board action required)

4. Authorization to Enter into Contract with U.Arias, Corp. for Landscaping and Maintenance Services (Board Action Required)

5. President’s Report

6. Committee Reports

a. Audit Committee

b. Governance Committee

c. Operations Advisory Committee

d. Real Estate Development Advisory Committee

7. Public Safety Report

VI. Adjournment

1The RIOC Board Meeting will commence following a public comment period. The public comment period is not part of the meeting.

Arrest Made Last Night In Roosevelt Island Public Lewdness Complaint - Suspect Spotted By RIOC PSD And Arrested By NYPD 114th Precinct

An update to February 22 post on the Roosevelt Island Rally

regarding public lewdness incidents. In response to my inquiry regarding arrest of suspect involved in Roosevelt Island public lewdness incident, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson reports:
The 114th Precinct Detective Squad had an open complaint for public lewdness on Roosevelt Island. There was a known suspect. RIOC’s Public Safety Department made an inquiry with the 114th Detective Squad to see if any action had been taken on the complaint. The Squad asked RIOC Public Safety for assistance and requested that if they saw the suspect to please detain him and call the Squad.

Accordingly, on February 27, 2018, at approximately, 8:45pm, a RIOC Public Safety officer observed the suspected individual, detained him and called the 114th Precinct who then took custody of the individual and later placed him under arrest, charging the individual with two (2) counts of Public Lewdness.
Here's report from NY 1 on matter.

UPDATE 10:40 PM - During the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee meeting this evening, Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Jack McManus reported on the arrest of the public lewdness suspect.

Roosevelt Island resident Joyce Short, who organized the February 18 Public Safety Rally, told the Committee that the arrested suspect is likely not the only public lewdness offender at large. Ms Short said the suspect arrested does not match the description of an individual described in three other Roosevelt Island public lewdness incidents.

Chief McManus agreed that the arrested suspect did not match description of other public lewdness complaints. Chief McManus said it is possible there is another public lewdness suspect not yet caught but does not know that definitely.

Stay tuned for more about tonight's Public Safety Committee meeting. It was a very lively discussion to say the least.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

SPONSORED POST - Roosevelt Island Urgent Care Medical Facility, Just Walk In At 520 Main Street 7 Days A Week For Your Medical Needs, Flu Shots Available - Your Health, Your Schedule

According to Roosevelt Island Urgent Care (RIUC):
Our Roosevelt Island facility is  located at 520 Main Street. Our hours are Monday to Thursday 8AM - 7PM, Friday 8AM-4PM, Saturday and Sunday 10AM- 4PM.

The medical needs of this 2 mile long historic island on the East River is a perfect landscape for our services.

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These needs will increase in the near future with the addition of new multi-family developments and the new Cornell NYC Tech campus, which is under construction and due to open this year. The University is relying on our center to tend to the medical needs of the students and faculty. Roosevelt Island Urgent Care is also well positioned to provide services to the many construction workers who are on the Island during the next few years.

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More info about Roosevelt Island Urgent Care at web site.

You're Invited To Purim Under The Sea With Chabad Of Roosevelt Island Thursday March 1 - Sumptuous Buffet, Sushi Bar, Underwater Entertainment, Multimedia Megillah Reading & Bubble Show Too

An invitation from Chabad Of Roosevelt Island to Purim Under The Sea on Thursday March 1 for a:

  • Sumptuous Dinner Buffet,
  • Sushi Bar,
  • Underwater Entertainment & Crafts,
  • Mulitmedia Megillah Reading & 
  • Bubble Show By Alex

Contact to RSVP and more info at Chabad of Roosevelt Island web site.

The Maccabeats celebrate and explain Purim too.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Roosevelt Island Waterfront Promenade Child School Lease Extension, Giant RI Monument & Island House Staircase On Agenda For February 27 RIOC Real Estate Advisory Committee Meeting

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Real Estate Development Advisory Committee (REDAC) will meet tomorrow. According to RIOC:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 6:30 P.M. at the RIOC Warehouse, 680 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.

1. Discussion of the Proposed Child School Lease Extension
2. Update on “RI” Welcome Monument
3. Chair’s Motion for Executive Session to Discuss Negotiations in Connection with the Island House Staircase.
The Child School Lease extension Agenda item appears to be for the premises currently occupying most of the Roosevelt Island waterfront promenade.

Does the NY State Public Authorities Act require RIOC to issue a Request For Proposals and to seek a fair market rental rate for the waterfront promenade premises before entering into a lease renewal extension with the Child School?

Will RIOC consider other possible alternative uses for the beautiful Roosevelt Island waterfront promenade before entering into a renewal lease extension with the Child School?

Creating a Roosevelt Island East River waterfront destination of restaurants and art galleries is certainly a possibility that could enhance enjoyment of the area and provide RIOC with a new revenue source.

Hopefully, these questions will be answered at tomorrow's REDAC meeting.

The Island House ownership is currently marketing approximately 18,000 square feet of Roosevelt Island waterfront promenade space adjacent to the Child School space that RIOC is considering to renew.
Also on the Agenda is a vote on whether or not to approve the Giant RI Monument at the Tram Station Plaza

which real estate developer Hudson Related is advocating for, stating:
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.
The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) passed a resolution unanimously opposing the Giant RI monument:
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 President Judy Berdy opposed the Giant RI Monument because:
  • The structure interferes with the panoramic view of the tram, the lawn, the landmark quality Visitor Center Kiosk and the city beyond.
  • The structure serves no purpose other that to have 10 feet tall letters.
  • The structure is a tempting object for kids to climb on.
  • Roosevelt Island is a community not an amusement park attraction.
  • People are already on Roosevelt Island: RIHS sees no reason to shout; people know they are here.
Finally, the REDAC will decide whether to approve consider

removing the Island House staircase.

As previously reported, prior to the REDAC meeting, the RIOC Operations Advisory Committee will meet as well:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Operations Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 5:30 P.M. at the RIOC Warehouse, 680 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.


1. Discussion of Modification of Public Purpose Fund Grant to RIVAA Gallery.

2. Chair’s Motion for Executive Session to Discuss:

a. Legal Matters in Connection with the Youth Center Operator Contract Award

b. Seawall Repair Negotiations.
It will be a busy day with many Roosevelt Island issues to address.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

It's Better Than Central Park Say Vloggers Enjoying Visit To Underrated Roosevelt Island - Check Out Great Aerial Drone Views Of Roosevelt Island

Vloggers Discover With Dima visited Roosevelt Island recently and report:

We head off to see New York's most underrated spot—Roosevelt Island, which is wedged in between Manhattan and Queens on the East River. You'll see why it's one of my favorite spots in the entire city, and it's a much better alternative to Central Park, which is already crowded and overrated. You can even take the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram to get to the island to get some amazing views!
Check out the video with some great aerial drone views.

Shhhh. Please don't tell anybody else.

Here We Go Again, Roosevelt Island Tram Service Reduced To Single Cabin Monday February 26 - Saturday March 3 For Service And Inspection Says RIOC

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

Regularly-scheduled service and inspection work on the Roosevelt Island Tram will reduce commuter service to ONLY one cabin from Monday, Feb. 26 to Saturday, March 3.

To assist with overcrowding during this period, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation will operate a Red Bus shuttle during the afternoon peak commuter period from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The shuttle will depart hourly from the Roosevelt Island Tram Station, starting at 3 p.m. and arrive at the southwest side of Second Avenue between 58th and 59th streets. It will return every half-hour on the hour with the last trip being at 8:30 p.m.

There will be no shuttle bus service on Saturday, March 3.
.. from last July 24 - December 17 the Roosevelt Island Tram operated a single cabin during the Tram Station Repair Project resulting in very long lines and frustrated residents...
... Tram Platform repairs are still scheduled for Spring and will require a single cabin operating for 3 weeks. 
Plan accordingly.