Friday, February 8, 2019

Roosevelt Island Octagon Building Morning Red Bus Rush Hour Express Route Now Making Stop At Good Shepherd Plaza - Adds A Few Minutes For Octagon Residents But Helps Out Mid Island Residents Says RIOC President

A Roosevelt Island Octagon Building resident asked this morning - Where are the Red Buses?

I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Susan Rosenthal if there was a problem with the Red Bus this morning. Ms Rosenthal replied:
There was no problem with the red bus this morning. FYI, RIOC notified Octagon management before we added one stop to the Octagon express.
The new stop is at the Good Shepherd Plaza.

One Octagon resident expressed dissatisfaction with the additional morning Red Bus express stop:
Can you explain how the bus service came to the logic that the express bus service from the Octagon needs to stop at the chapel?...

... The Octagon express bus makes a stop now at the chapel.

The 7:00am local lapped us yesterday.

The bus driver announces that we have to stop there now due to a lack of service mid Island. Obviously there is no luck when the local bus also leaves at 7:00 and now beats the express to the tram.

The bus driver one day announced that there should be a stop at the chapel after a lady stood in front of the bus to get on it.

Ever since then it stops at the chapel....
Ms Rosenthal adds:
... There are 4 local buses and 1 express during morning rush hour. The Octagon express is never totally full when it passes the Chapel, while (before adding the one stop), it was not unusual for there to be insufficient space to accommodate all the passengers waiting for the bus at the Chapel when the local arrived; as a result, the local left passengers at that stop—requiring them to wait for the next bus. By adding the one stop to the express, no one is left behind and the only harm to Octagon residents is an additional 1-2 minutes that it takes to load passengers at the Chapel. We thought in the spirit of being good neighbors, adding the one stop made good sense...
In the past, the Octagon building management paid for the Octagon Red Bus Express as an amenity for its residents. Don't know if that arrangement has been changed with the new Good Shepherd Chapel stop.

According to the RIOC 2019-20 Budget (Page 14)  RIOC receives 125,000 in revenue from Octagon Red Bus morning rush hour express.

UPDATE 2/11 - Ms Rosenthall adds:
In the original ground lease the monthly fee for bus service was $100,000---I think it increases 2% each year. Tenant’s obligation stops if we discontinue bus service. We receive the bus payment so long as we provide bus service “of a similar nature to that provided …to other residents…”
And the Roosevelt Island Twitterverse reacts:

Roosevelt Island Transportation This Weekend - Good News, 2nd Weekend In Row Of Roosevelt Island F Train Service To And From Manhattan - Starting Next Week Only 1 Tram Cabin Running For At Least 10 Weeks

According to the MTA, there will be Roosevelt Island F Train service this weekend.

As previously reported, due to the Tram Overhaul project starting second week of February and continuing for at least 10 weeks with only one Tram Cabin operating:

... RIOC officials received assurances that there will be no disruptions to the subway’s F Train line that services Roosevelt Island, including weekends through April 19.

Additional service will be provided via the E Train line, weeknights March 18 – March 22 and March 25 – March 29; and all four weekends March 23 – April 25.....
 Both Tram Cabins operating at full capacity this weekend.

There is Roosevelt Island ferry service on the Astoria Route. Here's the Winter Schedule for Roosevelt Island ferry service.  

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Broken American Campaign Finance System Explained By Newly Elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 5 Minute Q&A Game With House Oversight Committee Witnesses Yesterday - Watch The Video, She's Very Impressive

Newly elected Bronx/Queens Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explains the broken American campaign finance system in a 5 minute question and answer game with witnesses at House Oversight Committee hearing yesterday.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez knows how to ask questions. Am looking forward to what she does in Congress.

It's Tax Season, Be Alert To Phony Phone Call IRS Scams Warns Roosevelt Island NYC Council Member Ben Kallos & NYPD 19 Precinct - Listen To This Scam Call

Roosevelt Island's NYC Council Member Ben Kallos and the NYPD 19th Precinct alert us to being aware of phone call tax scams.

The NYPD 19th precinct covers the Upper East Side including the Roosevelt Island Tram station on 2nd Avenue. The 114 precinct in Queens covers Roosevelt Island.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Roosevelt Island Octagon Soccer Field Renovations Delayed At Least Thru Fall 2019 Says RIOC- Community Seek Greater Access To Ball Fields For Local Kids and Residents, Limit Permitting To Off Island Groups

In August 2018, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) abruptly closed down the Octagon Soccer Field announcing:

Deteriorating turf conditions at the Octagon Sports Field have forced its closure, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation announced today.

The field, which is located on the northern part of the Island, is an outdoor soccer field, used by the community daily and is one of the most popular fields on Roosevelt Island. It is used from March to mid-November, for activities including soccer, football, lacrosse, and rugby.

Existing permit holders including several adult sports leagues that held paid reservations-at $175 per hour- are being contacted and will be given refunds, RIOC said.

Due to numerous unsafe snags, rips and tears on its turf, RIOC plans to repair and redevelop the field as well as all surrounding fixtures and facilities, including comfort stations, seating, security features, and lighting design.

This major renovation will begin in the Fall of 2018....

As of February 2019, the Octagon Soccer Field renovations have not begun.

RIOC reported on February 1:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation announced several new field usage policies today to provide more options for outdoor play while the Octagon Field is under renovation.

RIOC policy changes:

All permitting on Firefighter’s Field, excluding RIOC programming, will be suspended on Fridays and Saturdays, allowing open play until the Octagon Field renovation is complete;

Island residents will be surveyed to seek new community usage policies for the renovated Octagon Field.

Capobianco Field will be opened to permitted requests to alleviate overuse of Firefighter’s Field.

“We understand that the closing of Octagon is a serious inconvenience to young soccer players, their teams, and parents,” said Susan Rosenthal, CEO and president of RIOC. “We’re announcing these updated policies today to let the community know we’re listening, we’ve heard you, and we’re working to accommodate your requests.”

Octagon Field was closed last summer due to safety and liability concerns about the deteriorating field conditions. A full-scale renovation is underway, which will include new turf, bleachers, and a new comfort station.

While the pre-construction phases for the Octagon renovation project began in June 2018, due to unforeseen delays, the field work is now expected to be complete in Fall 2019. Once field work is complete, the Octagon will be re-opened for public use while the adjacent work on the bleachers and comfort station are completed.
RIOC did not say what are the "unforeseen delays" in renovation of the Octagon Soccer Field.

Roosevelt Island parent Miguel Pincay expresses the opinions of many who use the Octagon Soccer Field and other Roosevelt Island ball fields:
The condition of the Firefighters field is now worse than the Octagon Turf field.

The Sunday football league is the reason why the field was unusable after just a couple of weekends.

The community knew that and made it known to RIOC, yet, the Sunday Football league must go on.

The Cappobianco field sits on a slant and it doesn’t drain well. The Pony field has even worse drainage issues.

Still, RIOC wonders why the community is frustrated and fed up.
According to RI Fields For RI Residents Facebook Page
For those who don't already know the issue is this....

Roosevelt Island has an abundance of playing fields and yet because of RIOC’s permitting policies the reality is we, the residents, have limited access to them for open play and pick-up games. Organized teams and groups (mostly from off-Island) are prioritized over our children’s right to play spontaneously in their own backyard. Our property tax helps pay for these fields!

Capobianco Field which was a dedicated open play field will now be permitted out because of Octagon Field’s closure.

Capobianco and Pony Fields will be permitted out every day of the week.

Firefighter’s Field will be permitted out Mon-Thurs and Sunday.

Firefighter’s Field will be reserved for RIOC’s youth soccer program every Saturday starting in the spring.

Octagon Field is closed until Fall 2019 earliest and after that we expect RIOC will want to heavily permit it out

This means that the only time for open play for our kids and our community is Friday at Firefighters Field -- but because of school/work, that really means Friday afternoon/evenings at Firefighter's Field is the only time we can reliably count on having access to a field for open play.

What we want:

Limited permitting for non-RI sports groups. Permitting when children are less likely to use field (after 8pm, and during school hours).

Dedicated open play hours for residents (permits not required to use fields during these times) on weekends during the day and after school, for example.

Organized RI youth teams that are not part of RIOC’s youth programming should have equal access to fields for permitted practices and games.

Improved field maintenance and implementation of rules that will help keep fields in better condition (for example, an enforced policy that flag football cleats are not permitted on fields as they cause damage making them unsafe).

Stay tuned for more.

UPDATE 10:15 PM - During this eventing's Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Meeting Public Session, Roosevelt Island mom Lauren Blankstein and her son reported on the lack of available playing time for local kids on Roosevelt Island ball fields due to the closing of Octagon Field and permitting of other fields to off-Island groups.

According to Ms Blankstein:
... I don't understand how on this Island with all this open space and green space that our kids are so restricted...

... Where are our kids supposed to play...
Ms Blankstein's son Niv Betel added
... I don't know if I'm right or wrong ... but I feel that...
RIOC thinks the:
... beautiful fields can only be used for business and not for residents. And I feel that's wrong.
Here's the presentation by Ms Blankstein and Seth.

You're Invited To Roosevelt Island Black History Month Celebration At Gallery RIVAA - Opening Reception For Cultural Preservation Art Exhibition Saturday February 9, Curated By Local Resident Lorraine Williams

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) and Gallery RIVAA are hosting a celebration of Black History Month at Gallery RIVAA on Saturday February 9 with an opening reception  for "Cultural Preservation", an art exhibition curated by resident Lorraine Williams.

According to RIOC:

The Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association (RIVAA), in partnership with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), will host its Annual Black History Month Exhibition, “Cultural Preservation”, starting this Saturday, February 9th through Sunday, March 3rd.

Curated by Island resident Lorraine Williams, this eclectic showing of art includes a variety of mediums, styles, and messages and includes works from artists Andrew Nichols, Aziza, Bianca Dorsey, Ida Owens, LeVar “Var” Lawrence, Mauricio “Gleams” Baez, Micheline Hess, Mona Coichy Haigler, N. Steven Harris, Saundra Lamb, as well as art and artifacts from Nigeria and Madagascar.

Join us for the opening reception this Saturday, February 9th from 5-8 PM at Gallery RIVAA (527 Main St.). Featuring music and spoken word performances from The RI Jazz Collaborative with Lynn Beville, and a special reading by David Lamb and children from the Roosevelt Island Youth Center. Admission is free and open to the public.

Gallery RIVAA hours for the exhibition are Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 – 9 PM, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM – 5 PM.
RIOC Public Safety Department Deputy Director Kevin Brown spoke at the Senior Center about what Black History Month means to him at the Roosevelt Island 2017 celebration:
... growing up under the guidance of his grandmother, who taught him to keep his head up and overcome any and all obstacles with steadfastness. He confessed his pride in his children and their successful education, always instilling progress upon them, following a life-long view on life through the teachings of his grandmother....

More on Black History Month from these young people

and this February 1 CBS News report.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

More Than 5 Years And Counting, Drivers Continue To Ignore Roosevelt Island Stop Signs - Residents Ask RIOC To Do Something About Problem

In August 2017, Roosevelt Island Resident Scott Piro reported:

I shot this video at 7:30am EDT on Wed, Aug 23, 2017. You can see about half the northbound traffic completely disregard the stop sign, while the other half at least applies brakes and slows down somewhat (without coming to full stop).

The concern is those who breeze through the stop sign without any braking at all. Let's install a camera there that captures their behavior - and their license plate info in order to mail them a traffic violation/ticket. Other ideas include stationing a Public Safety officer just beyond the intersection to do the same function. And, installing a speed bump could be very effective.

This was a random video I captured. I sit on the Tennis Association bench in front of this stop sign every weekday morning around this time. I have observed much more egregious violations, I assure you - where car after car after car ignores the stop sign and speeds through without any attempt to even slow down a little. This was a relatively tame example I captured this time on video.

Let's install one or more mechanisms to modify the traffic behavior we are seeing here constantly.

This is part of a series of traffic dangers present around the Octagon building.
Today, the Roosevelt Island Twitterverse shows drivers continue to ignore the Stop Signs:

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp responds:

In December 2017,  RIOC President Susan Rosenthal said that the Public Safety Department was going to start to use radar equipment to address the speeding problems on Roosevelt Island

and in April 2018, RIOC President Susan Rosenthal reported:
... Radar Speed Signs

Radar speed signs, also known as driver feedback signs, are designed to slow down speeding drivers by alerting them of their, speed. They are being used across the country and in the past week, you might have noticed that two have been installed here on Roosevelt Island; one near Coler Memorial Hospital and the other near the Cornell Tech loop. The signs are mobile and can be moved to different locations throughout the Island as needed.

We remind everyone that the Island-wide speed limit is 15 miles per hour. Please slow down; speeding is hazardous to yourself, other motorists and pedestrians. Island speed limits will be monitored and enforced by the Public Safety Department....
Enforcement of traffic laws are needed here.

UPDATE - Another view on the Roosevelt Island traffic stop signs and reply:

You're Invited To Eleanor Roosevelt The War Years & After Free Public Lecture Presented By Roosevelt Island Historical Society Thursday February 7 At RI Public Library - Learn About Eleanor Roosevelt From Author And Distinguished Professor Of History And Women's Study Dr. Blanche Wiesen Cook

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) is hosting a free public lecture titled Eleanor Roosevelt The War Years & After Thursday, February7 (6:30 PM) at the NY Public Library Roosevelt Island Branch (524 Main Street)

According to the RIHS:

Do you really know Eleanor Roosevelt? She was the author of 27 books, newspaper columnist of astounding output, advisor to her husband/president, ambassador to the United Nations and more. Dr. Blanche Wiesen Cook, Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, will recount facts and anecdotes about Eleanor Roosevelt from her three-volume biography

at a lecture presented by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society at the New York Public Library Branch on Roosevelt Island, on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 6:30 p.m.

The event is FREE and open to the public. It is the fourth in the Society’s annual series of fall lectures, which is supported by funds provided by Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s Public Purpose Fund and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, with funding from the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development.

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society promotes awareness of the Island’s unique story and pursues preservation of its landmarks and artifacts.

For more information, please visit
Here's Professor Cook discussing Eleanor Roosevelt.

You can learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt at the RIHS free lecture on Thursday, February 7 with Professor Cook at the Roosevelt  Island New York Public Library Branch.

Professor Cook's books on Eleanor Roosevelt available for purchase at Amazon.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Saturday Morning Roosevelt Island Peace And Quiet Disrupted By Loud Jackhammer Construction Noise From Hudson Related Affordable Housing Building Site - Resident Asks Why Work Is Allowed On Weekend?

For many people, the weekend is a time for a little bit of peace and quiet, especially early in the morning.

But for at least the last 2 Saturdays, the peace and quiet of some Roosevelt Island residents in Southtown was disturbed by the sounds of loud jackhammers at the Hudson Related Riverwalk 8 affordable housing building construction site (460 Main Street).

A Roosevelt Island resident reported Saturday, February 2:

Loud construction is normally not allowed in NYC on weekends. However, the new construction site has been jackhammering away all Saturday morning. How is this allowed? Our concierge seems to think RIOC is responsible. It’s really, really noisy!
In response to my inquiry, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp President Susan Rosenthal (RIOC) replied:
I’ll be happy to look into this.
According to the NYC Department of Buildings:
You can report a building construction violation.

The Department of Buildings allows for construction Monday to Friday between 7 AM and 6 PM. Construction done without an approved variance on weekends or on weekdays before 7 AM or after 6 PM is not allowed. Owners of one- or two-family homes may make alterations or repairs on Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM if their home is more than 300 feet from a house of worship.
And, a Saturday work variance for January 26 and February 2 was obtained by Monadnock Construction for 460 Main Street Riverwalk Building 8.

According to the permit the reason for Saturday work variance was Public Safety to conduct excavation and foundation work - hazardous conditons.

As of today, no additional permits have been issues for Saturday work.

You can report a NYC building construction complaint here and let RIOC know as well.

I've asked Hudson Related for comment and will update when more info received.

UPDATE 3:55 PM - A Hudson Related representative replies:
Contrary to the resident’s comment below, construction activity on Saturdays in NYC is actually pretty typical.