Saturday, May 4, 2019

You're Invited To Sunday May 5 Roosevelt Island International Jazz Day Jam Session Celebration At Gallery RIVAA

According to Gallery RIVAA (527 Main Street):

International Jazz Day Jam Session
Sunday, May 5, 2019

3:00pm to 6:00pm

Gallery RIVAA is proud to celebrate the International Jazz Day on Sunday, May 5th, from 3pm to 6pm.

This event is all about sharing, collaborating, and celebrating this amazing International art form that originated in the USA.

So, come and join us on Sunday, May 5th from 3pm to 6pm at Gallery RIVAA.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Roosevelt Island Retail Update - Not Quite Yet, But Roosevelt Island Liu Kou Shui Chongqing Hot Pot Noodle Restaurant On Main Street Almost Ready To Open - Southtown Jupioca Juice Bar Opening Soon Too

Activity could be seen today inside the soon to be open Roosevelt Island Liu Kou Shui Chongqing Hot Pot Noodle restaurant at 568 Main Street.

It appeared as though staff were setting up shop and tasting the noodle soup.

I've been told the store will open within the next couple of weeks.

As previously reported the Roosevelt Island Hot Pot location is intended to be the first of a new chain of restaurants.

Am looking forward to the opening..

The Jupioca Juice bar in Southtown next to Starbucks will open in a couple of weeks as well.

Figment NYC Participatory Art Project Coming To Roosevelt Island's Lighthouse Park June 1-2 - RIOC Working With Office Of Emergency Management, NYPD 114 Precinct, MTA And Other NYC Agencies To Avoid Another Cherry Blossom Festival Transportation Disaster And Insure Safety Of Large Crowd Expected To Attend

Roosevelt Island is hosting the 2019 Figment NYC Participatory Art Project at Lighthouse Park on June 1-2.  The event is expected to draw large numbers of visitors to Roosevelt Island which is of great concern to residents who do not want a repeat of the Cherry Blossom Festival Transportation disaster. As reported April 30:

The April 13 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival was a transportation planning disaster for Roosevelt Island residents and visitors. We are fortunate nobody was seriously injured or even killed by the overwhelming number of people waiting on very, very, very long lines at the Tram, Subway, Ferry and Roosevelt Island Bridge....

To date, not one of the Cherry Blossom Festival organizers, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) and the FDR Four Freedoms Park have apologized, taken responsibility or explained what they will do to prevent future similar occurrences from happening.
During the May 1 RIRA Common Council meeting, RIRA President Lynn Strong-Shinozaki reported to the community:
Many of us were heartbroken and dismayed to hear of the transportation difficulties our neighbors experienced during and after this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Our neighbors fell into two camps:

Some enjoy the quiet, small town nature of our island, and want to keep it that way, with no community events at all.

Some would like to have events, as long as there is preferential treatment to the residents and people who work and do business here, limiting the number of people who have access to the island during events.

Moving forward, what is most important is that the Roosevelt Island community needs to have a strong voice in how Transportation issues are studied, and how solutions are planned and executed. It is absolutely unacceptable for our residents, workers and guests to be denied access to our community.

RIRA will be meeting with the MTA, New York Ferry and NYPD 114, plus, of course, RIOC, to talk about Transportation , Crowd control and the rush-hour problems residents have been experiencing for years. Both Assembly member Seawright and State Senator Serrano will arrange these meetings and champion our community on these issues. We hope to come back to RIRA with them to present solutions in the very near future. Your feedback has been noted.
Roosevelt Island's NY State Senator Jose Serrano addressed the issue as follows:
While the Cherry Blossom festival was a success in some aspects, the transportation issues that occurred on the day of the event are truly troubling. Our office is working alongside Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright's office in organizing a meeting between RIRA, RIOC, RI Public Safety, NYCTA, New York City Ferry and the 114th Precinct in the hopes that we can come up with a plan of action for festivals/events like this on the island going forward. Safe and swift transportation to, from and on the island is a major priority, not just on event days.

We have been continuing a dialogue with RIOC and residents in regards to field access and the construction at Octagon Field. We are thankful for RIOC's compromises so far, which include limited permit times to outside groups, reducing the fencing around the new field, and decreasing the number of trees affected by construction. We remain in communication about further potential improvements to the plan....
What will RIOC do to ensure the safety of residents and visitors to the Figment NYC event. RIOC spokesperson Jessica Murray reported today:
Executives from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) attended a meeting with New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) and other city agencies yesterday to develop a safety and transportation plan for the upcoming Figment Festival. In an April 25th kickoff meeting with NYCEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito, RIOC representatives Susan Rosenthal, Shelton Haynes, Jack McManus, and Kevin Brown discussed concerns which arose from the popular Cherry Blossom Festival held a few weeks prior. They requested participation from other agencies to proactively address safety, crowd control, and transportation issues for future large events on Roosevelt Island, using Figment as a test for an interagency plan.

Commissioner Esposito expeditiously contacted department heads from corresponding agencies (NYPD, DOT, FDNY, NYCEDC, MTA) to request their attention and action to assist RIOC. At this second meeting yesterday, with all the aforementioned parties, it was decided that the Public Safety Department (PSD) will work hand in hand with the 114 Precinct and Transit Authority to manage crowd and security concerns.

Transportation agencies are actively working on solutions to maintain a safe and steady flow of attendees. Vehicles are being strongly discouraged as an option for accessing the island on the days of the event. Members of NYCEM leadership will be on the island for event days to assist with any matters that may arise. A follow up meeting will be scheduled to finalize the safety and transportation plans.

The Figment Festival will take place on June 1st and 2nd primarily in Lighthouse Park, with smaller exhibits positioned at other locations on the island. Figment’s vision for art looks past the white-walled galleries and into the realm of participation. Figment NYC was held on Governor’s Island for 12 years and this will be its first year on Roosevelt Island. This will be Figment’s 70th festival, with events having been held in 20 cities and five countries.
Here's what to expect at the Figment NYC Lighthouse Park event:
What: FIGMENT is an explosion of creative energy. It's a free, annual celebration of participatory art and culture where everything is possible. For one weekend this summer, it will transforms Roosevelt Island into a large-scale collaborative artwork - and then it's gone.

When: Saturday, June 1st 10am-10pm and Sunday June 2nd 10am-6pm.

Where: Lighthouse Park, Roosevelt Island, NYC… Click here for directions.

How Much: FREE! FIGMENT is a free, non-profit event, and we do not accept corporate sponsorship.

What to Bring: Whatever you need for a day of fun. For specific ideas or if you have specific questions, view our list! Note: The event is rain-or-shine. If the forecast calls for rain, be prepared to hide – or dance – under porches, arches, and umbrellas while the clouds pass.

What to Expect: Art and activities in every medium available… especially the art and activities that YOU bring! Click here to see a full list of this year's activities.
More info on Figment NYC at their web site.

as well as volunteer opportunities for the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park event.

Free Monthly Organic Gardening Workshop Hosted By Roosevelt Island NY Public Library And Life Frames RI Living Library, 2nd Workshop Saturday May 4 - You're Invited To Learn Sowing Seeds, Soil Testing & Transplanting Seedlings Into Garden

The Roosevelt Island NY Public Library (524 Main Street) and the Roosevelt Island Living Library are hosting free monthly workshops on organic gardening. The second workshop in the series is this Saturday May 4. According to the Roosevelt Island Public Library:

Saturday, May 4, 2019, 12 noon

RI Living Library & Think Park and RI Public Library Present Free Monthly Workshops on Organic Gardening

Open To All Ages Including Parents & Their Children!

This workshop will include different types of soil: acidic, compacted, sandy, rich, and how to test your soil. The workshop will also include differences between in-the-ground gardening or container planting. We will continue to explore importance of companion planting, shade and sun-loving plants, where to plant diverse species, as well as space required and watering schedule.

The program will begin at the Roosevelt Island Library for a presentation and discussion, followed by a quick walk over to the Roosevelt Island Living Library & Think Park Gardens for a hands-on workshop.

This program is presented as a partnership between the Roosevelt Island Living Library & Think Park and the New York Public Library.
The Roosevelt Island Living Library adds;
All SATURDAY Workshops are 90 minutes, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM, and begin in RI Public Library, where we will discuss the purpose of Workshop and share Library’s resources. The Library will display relevant resources to support this series. Following the discussion, we will walk over to RI Living Library & Think Park Gardens, behind new RI Library site, at 504 Main Street, for hands-on-experience. Please join us for one or all Workshops.
  • April 6, 2019 Seed Selection & Garden Planning
  • May 4, 2019 Sowing Seeds, Soil Testing & Transplanting Seedlings Into Garden
  • June 8, 2019 Garden Pests/Disease: Integrated Pest Management with Natural Remedies 
  • July 27, 2019 Succession Planting & Feeding Your Garden
  • Aug 17, 2019 Harvesting and Preparing Your Garden for Fall
  • Sept 21, 2019 Fall Plantings, Cuttings, Plant Division
  • Oct 12, 2019 What to Plant in Fall for next Spring’s Season
  • Nov 16, 2019 Winterizing your Garden & Planning Next Year’s Garden Layout
Please visit RI Public Library to sign up for Workshops. ALL ARE WELCOME! Workshops will occur Rain or Shine. Workshops are sponsored by Life Frames Inc in conjunction with RI Public Library.

Wake Me, Am I Dreaming, Good News For Roosevelt Island Transportation This Weekend - F Train Service To And From Manhattan, Both Tram Cabins Working And East River Ferry Service For Second Weekend In A Row

Good news, for the second week in a row, Roosevelt Island residents will have weekend F Trains running to and from Manhattan, both Tram Cabins operating as well as the East River Astoria Route Ferry service.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Roosevelt Island to Upper East Side NYC Ferry Service Proposed For Expanded Astoria Route By Hallets Point Developer Durst Organization At CB 8 Transportation Committee Meeting

Roosevelt Island may get ferry service to the Upper East Side under a proposed expanded NYC Ferry Astoria Route by Hallets Point real estate developer Durst Organization.

Expansion of the Astoria route NYC East River ferry service, which includes Roosevelt Island, to the Upper East Side 90th Street dock was among the items on the agenda for the May 1 Community Board 8 Transportation Committee meeting:
Presentation by The Durst Organization on a proposal to connect the Astoria Ferry line in Queens to the 90th Street Ferry Terminal in the Upper East Side (joint with the Parks and Waterfront Committee).

CB 8 member Billy Freeland tweets:

More on the proposed ferry route (including map below)

from this article in The City

Take this virtual Roosevelt Island to Astoria ferry trip.

If the new route is approved, another 5 minutes and you will be on the Upper East Side.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

SPONSORED POST - Get Your Tickets To The Theory Of Relativity Presented By Roosevelt Island Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance Teen Theatre This Weekend May 3 To May 5

The Roosevelt Island Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance  (MST&DA) Teen Theatre is presenting The Theory Of Relativity this coming weekend - Friday May 3 - Sunday, May 5..

According to the MST&DA:
ABOUT The Theory of Relativity

From Drama Desk Award nominees Neil Bartram and Brian Hill (The Story of My Life), The Theory of Relativity is a joyous and moving look about our surprisingly interconnected lives. Whether you're allergic to cats, in love for the first or tenth time, a child of divorce, a germaphobe or simply a unique individual, audience members and actors alike are sure to find themselves in this fresh new musical.
Through a seemingly unrelated collection of songs, scenes and monologues, The Theory of Relativity introduces a compelling array of characters experiencing the joys and heartbreaks, the liaisons and losses, the inevitability and the wonder of human connection.

"Take a Physics manual, blend it with the sound of The Book of Mormon, the hilariously nerdy references of The Big Bang Theory , a sprinkle of Chicago, few drops of Glee, bake it in a Broadway bowl, use all the originality you can have....That’s the successful recipe for the spectacular song cycle, The Theory of Relativity."– Live Like Tom
Performances are:
  • Friday, May 3 @ 8pm
  • Saturday, May 4 @ 8pm
  • Sunday, May 5 @ 7pm
Tickets are:
General Admission $20
Seniors/Students $15 ​
Recommended for ages 10+
Click here for more info and to buy tickets for the MST&DA Teen Theatre performance of The Drowsy Chaperone.

Here's how you get to MST&DA at 548 Main Street.

What Do You Think Of The Proposed $14 Million Roosevelt Island East Side Bike Lane And Bridge Ramp - Will It Improve Safety And Access Or Is It A Safety Danger, Take The Survey

As reported April 24:

NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced funding of $5 million for the Roosevelt Island East Side Bike Lane Promenade

Image From Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC)

 and Bike Ramp project.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) estimates the cost of the Bike Lane and Ramp at $14 million.

Roosevelt Island resident Peter Blumen opposes this Bike Ramp and Lane plan. Mr. Blumen writes
“NOTHING IS DECIDED YET” is the dog whistle to the developers and architects to keep working on the bike bridge. So said our local appointees last year. With fresh images of crowding this weekend in our minds, I re-addressed myself to the dangers of the proposed, planned, and budgeted Bicycle Ramp. The proposed bridge, not the result of any public outcry, will increase danger and guarantee injuries to bikers and pedestrians. Bicyclists have been able to access our island just fine as is. A dedicated ramp can only create opportunities for accidents and aggression. Also likely the upshot of lobbying for NYS budget money, $5m has been approved what will bloom likely into a $15m+ project.

Poorly planned lanes result in injury and death. In October 2014, Anna Maria Mostrom, 29, died on Roosevelt Island’s Main Street due to a poorly designed bus route. That simple unoffending loop into the Motorgate was enough. Everyday a white memorial bicycle sits chained 20 feet away to remind us.

I have conducted an online poll the last two years for public opinion and both times Islanders have expressed a significant majority against the need and desire for the proposed ramp.

Click here to take the Survey.

Indeed, it must be the creature of construction and architectural firms insouciance while vying for the $14,000,000 to build it. An example of mixing bicycles and pedestrians (without an accelerating ramp).

Please go to this site and register your vote either way about the proposed bridge.
RIOC has more on the Roosevelt Island Bike Ramp/Lane plan.
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) is excited to be the recipient of a $5 million award from the New York State Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) for the construction of a bike lane on the east promenade of the island. We look forward to the planning of this project, which includes infrastructure improvements, electrical updates, as well as pavement, landscape, lighting, and signage finishes.

"New York State is making historic, nation-leading investments in cleaner and more sustainable transportation infrastructure which is crucial to the growth of local economies," New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, said in a statement. "These investments in bike and pedestrian enhancements across the state will help revitalize communities, reduce our carbon footprint and demonstrate once again that New York is building for the future."

In April 2017, RIOC was also approved for a $2.96 million award from the TAP Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) towards the estimated $4 million bike ramp project construction.

“The proposed bike ramp and bike lane projects aim to improve access and circulation to the island by constructing a bike ramp that will provide cyclists safe travel from the top of the Roosevelt Island Bridge down to the East Promenade” said Susan Rosenthal, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. She adds, “The new bike lane will provide a safe path for cyclists along the waterfront of the island, away from Main Street vehicular traffic.”

RIOC has procured Dewberry Engineers and their team, including Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, to design the ramp and lane projects.
According to Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Planning Committee Chair Mickey Rindler:
The Roosevelt Island Residents Association and its Planning Committee have advocated for bicycle lanes for many years. We are very happy to hear that Governor Cuomo has approved $5 million in funding for the proposed helix bike ramp and east side bike lane. Several of our members attended the open house and route walk last fall and gave feedback to the consultants RIOC hired to design the new ramp and lane. We look forward to continuing to have input into the design and implementation once the draft plans are received by RIOC. Our goal is to ensure that the paths improve not only the quality and safety of bicycling on the Island, but also the safety of pedestrians and other users of our promenades, street crossings and walkways.
RIRA Vice President and former Planning Committee Chair David Lawson, writing in a personal capacity says:
As the former Chair of the RIRA Planning Committee forth past four years, having led the effort of RIRA for the modernization and diversification of transportation means on Roosevelt Island in light of its growing population, having advocated tirelessly towards Susan Rosenthal, President and CEO or RIOC for the development of bike and pedestrian lanes on the island for safety all Roosevelt islanders, I salute this decision by Governor Cuomo and thank Susan Rosenthal for her unwavering support on this matter.

The proposed Roosevelt Island bike ramp and Eastside bike lane Promenade will allow for the connection of bicyclists from the top of the Roosevelt Island Bridge down to the East Promenade and provide a two-way ¾-mile safe path for bicyclists and pedestrians along the waterfront of the Island away from Main Street vehicular traffic. This will complement the exiting bike path running around the Cornell campus.

We now hope that this first project and appropriation for enhancing transportation infrastructure will be completed quickly and that additional funding will be forthcoming to allow such bike lane to be built all around the island. I am confident that this will provide Roosevelt Islanders with an alternative mode of transportation and strengthen safety for all, alleviate other limited public transportation means on Roosevelt Island, help reduce carbon emission and contribute to encourage Islanders to bike for commute, pleasure and fitness and to the overall objective of a greener environment for Roosevelt Island, the City and the State of New York.
RIRA Planning Committee member and Roosevelt Island activist Frank Farance adds:
It's unclear what part of the bike ramp project they are paying for. The first thing that needs to be done is an Island-wide survey of bike planning.

For example, it doesn't make sense to study the east side of the Island and not the west side, as traffic patterns would affect each other. Also, they should not just drop a bike lane any where near the intersection at the base of the helix as that intersection has very complex traffic patterns among cars, trucks, bikes, and pedestrians.

 Furthermore, the bike/car traffic needs to be studied at the base of the RI Bridge (Vernon and 36 Ave) as that intersection is already dangerous and adding more bike traffic is likely to cause injury/death. Not to mention, the artists rendering shows a bike ramp that interferes with the emergency access road in the promenade (violates GDP), so a better bike ramp would be inside the helix.
I asked RIOC President Susan Rosenthal:
Has RIOC received the approximately $25 Million from NY State for the Cornell Tech deal yet?

Also,is the $5 million from NY State for the Bike Lane/Ramp allocated as any portion of the money due from the State for the Cornell deal or is it a separate funding source?

Any comment from RIOC about plans for the Bike Lane/Ramp and status of Cornell Tech funds?
Ms Rosenthal replied:
We received the $25 million before the end of the calendar year. The money is being used for a host of projects: approximately 70% for building repairs and maintenance, such as for Blackwell House, Motorgate, Sportspark, Tramway repairs and Youth Center renovations; approximately 30% for land improvements, such as seawall railings and park, playground and field repairs.

The bike ramp and bike lane grants are totally separate from the “Cornell funds”. We are incredibly excited about these two grants; in the past, I’ve shared with you my belief that our island is perfect for a bike lane around the entire perimeter--- these grants are the first steps toward that dream becoming a reality....
A resident commented:
Just what the island needs- hundreds of idiots on bikes visiting the island. There are lots of things they can fix with that money. Way to keep ruining what was once a special place.
I'll use it. I hope it can carry small motor vehicles in an emergency.
The Roosevelt Island Twitterverse asked:

Stay tuned for more and take the Survey to give your opinion on the Roosevelt Island Bike Ramp/Lane.

Giant Roosevelt Island RI Monument Sign Removed From Tram Station Yesterday - For How Long, What Will The Tourists Do Without The Photo Opportunity?

The Twitterverse asked When is the garish RI monument sign coming down?

As I was walking past the Roosevelt Island Tram Station yesterday, I was thrilled to see the Giant RI Monument Eyesore sign being removed and placed on a truck to be carted away

Is it possible that this useless visual obstruction, intended by Hudson Related and Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), for tourists to take pictures with it for an "Instagram" moment,

will be gone forever?

It was so nice walking to the Tram today and not seeing the Giant RI.

Image From Stephen Quandt

Did the RIOC Board Directors finally exercise some backbone and tell Hudson Related and RIOC that the Giant RI Monument sign evaluation period is over and time to get rid of it?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. According to RIOC President Susan Rosenthal, the Giant RI Monument:
... was removed for repairs...
and will return.

Oh crap!

Roosevelt Island Gallery RIVAA Pop Up Art Exhibition At Tata Innovation Center On Cornell Tech Campus - As The Footsteps Fall Paintings By Resident Ioan Popoiu Opening Reception Thursday May 2, You're Invited

Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA will be hosting a pop up art gallery at the Tata Innvoation Center

in the first floor space on the Cornell Tech campus.

The first exhibition will feature the paintings of Roosevelt Island resident Ioan Popoiu with an opening reception tomorrow, Thursday, May 2 starting at 4 PM

According to Mr Popoiu:
... In my work I use the fluidity of the paint as a form of expression, which gives me the opportunity to explore freely and deeply into the universe of abstraction. I began working with fluids sometime in the 80’s, and I became more involved with it in the early 90’s. Even now it still captivates me. Every one of my works is an exploration of color and texture obtained by juxtaposition of many layers of paint and polymer. I like to develop my work by implementing the laws of nature. The shapes and forms in my paintings speak of my surroundings and they are related to the concepts of time and space. The structure and transparency obtained by overlapping multiple layers of color creates a 3-D effect creating a form of expression which is continuously changing.

In recent years I have used bright, fluorescent colors, perhaps as a response to a previous experience I had as a young artist in my native country, Romania. When I first visited the region of Maramures, I was fascinated by the powerful originality of its folk art. People there use very bright colors as a form of expression of their positive vision of life....
Gallery RIVAA, located at 527 Main Street, recently lost it's annex gallery space at the Octagon Building so having a second space, though temporary, is a positive for local Roosevelt Island artists.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

RIRA Refuses To Allow Roosevelt Island Media To Attend SC&E Committee Meeting Discussion Of Cherry Blossom Festival Transportation Planning Disaster - Fear Of Public Humiliation And Misrepresentation Cited As Reason

The April 13 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival was a transportation planning disaster for Roosevelt Island residents and visitors. We are fortunate nobody was seriously injured or even killed by the overwhelming number of people waiting on very, very, very long lines at the Tram, Subway, Ferry and Roosevelt Island Bridge.

To date, not one of the Cherry Blossom Festival organizers, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) and the FDR Four Freedoms Park have apologized, taken responsibility or explained what they will do to prevent future similar occurrences from happening.

On Thursday April 25, I learned that the RIRA Social Cultural & Education (SC& E) Committee was meeting that evening and among the items to be discussed was the Cherry Blossom Festival. RIRA Committee meetings are supposed to be open to the public so I showed up for the meeting to ask about the Cherry Blossom Festival and give RIRA the opportunity to explain what happened and why Roosevelt Island was so unprepared to handle the enormous crowd of people. (RIOC estimated crowd to be approximately 30 thousand people, though I have heard estimates of 40 thousand.)

Upon arriving for the meeting, I was told that I could only attend if I agreed not to report on what was discussed. I objected saying that the meeting was open to the public. I pointed out, and the committee members agreed, that persons attending the meeting can inform their spouses, neighbors or anybody else what happens at the meeting so why couldn't I report the same information to the community on Roosevelt Islander news web site? The SC&E Committee members insisted that nothing discussed at the meeting could be reported in the "press" so I left.

According to the SC&E Committee Code of Conduct:

2. All committee members will be required to adhere to responsible representation and reporting.

Our committee deals with the most inventive and creative aspects of the Common Council. We need to be able to present ideas, projects and concepts within our committee meetings without the fear of public humiliation by unauthorized publication misrepresenting committee work....

... Anyone releasing committee information to any of the Island media/or any other entity without the consent of the committee will be asked to step down immediately....
Before I left, I was told that the SC&E Committee would have a statement on the Cherry Blossom event during 8 PM Wednesday May 1 Common Council meeting at Good Shepherd Community Center which the public is invited to attend.

Had I been allowed to attend the RIRA SC&E Committee meeting, I would have sought answers to concerns such as these expressed by resident Joseph Williams in an email he sent to Cherry Blossom organizers and shares below:
To whom it may concern,

I have been asked to email you directly as you are rightfully embarrassed by the negative publicity around this event and the terrifying ordeal it incurred for residents and attendees.

I was hosting a party for my mother's 65th birthday in my apartment. The overcrowding, transit and security failures caused immense distress to me and my family, in particular to my elderly and disabled relatives, several of whom spent hours attempting to get here and either failed or suffered as a result.

I have a number of questions. I would like answers from the responsible parties.

1. Who is responsible for this event? The poster indicates RIOC, RIRA and Four Freedoms were all participants in the organization. Based on this I am astonished to see the Festival disclaim responsibility for transit and operations...

2. The security checkpoint at the bridge. This was extremely disruptive and poorly organized and managed. My understanding was that Main Street would be open to traffic north of the tram. Cars were being stopped -- causing massive delays -- and turned away for no reason. There was a callous disregard for the needs of the elderly and disabled: my 89 year old grandfather, his wife and my uncle were instructed to abandon their car in Astoria and walk across the bridge rather than being permitted to drop my grandfather at my building. My mother's cousin who is paralyzed on his left side by stroke waited two hours at the checkpoint and ultimately had to go home after being turned away by security. This is not acceptable.

2. What is the intention for future events, and in particular the even larger Cherry Blossom Festival planned for 2020... ?  I would like to discuss this with the responsible parties and please see point 4 below. Comment to RIOC -- I will be phoning your office tomorrow during business hours to discuss this further.

3. The situation in the subway was appalling. My cousin brought her eight month old baby and was on the escalator that stopped with no warning and suffered in the crush to get out. She arrived visibly shaken and afraid that she was going to be injured, trampled or suffocated. She chose to leave almost immediately by ferry and waited three hours.

This volume of people was totally mismanaged. You are lucky you narrowly avoided the absolute catastrophe of a human crush. Please educate yourselves about the dangers of overcrowding in confined spaces --

Comment to RIOC -- The Festival organizers blame the MTA and disclaim responsibility for transit and operations (see RICBF Comment 2, attached). The MTA doesn't operate the tram or the bridge or the ferry. As far as I can tell, the MTA had to twice divert the entire New York City subway system to accommodate your failures. I need to know who is ultimately in charge of operations and security for the island, if not your organization. Should I be contacting our representatives in Albany?

4. With regard to future events:
  • There should be no future unticketed events on Roosevelt Island. Attendees should be required to register for any event.
  • Residents and workers must have access and priority with regard to transit. We are tired of suffering the long delays with tourists clogging our ailing infrastructure and getting trapped in our own homes or turned away trying to gain access.
  • Accommodations must be made for disabled and elderly people to ensure they can access the island when needed, regardless of what events you intend to have here.
This is our home. Roosevelt Island is a quiet, close-knit, residential community with a high proportion of families, elderly and disabled residents. It is not like the uninhabited Randalls or Governors Island that you can use as you wish. Future intentions to treat it as such will be met with intense resistance from those of us who have made this our home. All of the organizations listed have failed the residents of this island.

I look forward to a public apology to residents from the responsible parties, and to discussing a constructive solution for the future.
RIRA responded to Mr Williams as follows:
Dear Mr. Williams,

On behalf of the Cherry Blossom Festival Committee, we were saddened to learn that the special family gathering you had planned on April 13, the day of the Cherry Blossom Festival, turned out so disappointingly for you and your visiting family members.

We apologize for any misunderstanding regarding the activities that the Committee planned that interfered with or disrupted your celebration.

In addition, we are sorry about the delay in responding to your detailed letter of complaint, which was relayed to us on April 14th ; preparations for our own family celebration of Easter impeded an earlier reply.

As you may be aware, the Committee was solely responsible for the performances held at Four Freedoms Park and activities held at Gallery RIVAA and South Point Park. It also coordinated with other community groups and merchants.

To the best of our knowledge, RIOC communicated with the MTA regarding transportation arrangements and with Public Safety regarding local traffic.

Improvements in communication and anticipation of difficult scenarios, however unlikely, will certainly be part of the planning for future events.

Thank you for calling these issues to our attention.

More on the Cherry Blossom Festival transportation disaster

at prior posts.

This screw up belongs not just to RIRA but to RIOC as well.

You're Invited To The Roosevelt Island Day Nursery Fiesta Fundraiser Gala Saturday May 4 - Featuring Sit Down Mexican Feast, Open Bar, Live Mariachi Performance And Silent & Live Auction

The Roosevelt Island Day Nursery is hosting it's annual Gala And Auction this Saturday, May 4. You're invited to the Fiesta de RIDN!

According to the RIDN:

You are invited to Roosevelt Island Day Nursery's annual gala and auction: Fiesta de RIDN!!!

The Gala is a wonderful party, and RIDN’s main fundraiser for the year. Our school has operated as a not-for-profit infant/toddler center and nursery school on Roosevelt Island for over 40 years. Serving families on two campuses, the school nurtures children from 3 months to 5 years of age, and includes three Universal Pre-K classes.

RIDN's annual gala is always a fabulous evening out on Roosevelt Island for parents, teachers, adult alumni and the Roosevelt Island community at large.

This year's Fiesta will be held this coming Saturday May 4, 2019 at the Manhattan Park Theater Club. A dedicated group of parent volunteers has been working tirelessly to put together a fantastic event featuring a sit-down Mexican feast, an open bar, a live Mariachi performance and a silent and live auction.

Tickets start at $75 per person and include our sit down dinner, open bar and live music! Sponsor packages - including the ability to sponsor teacher tickets - are also still available.

Please see the below link to buy tickets, donate (every dollar counts!) or sponsor.

This link will also allow you to buy tickets in advance (they will also be available at the door night of) and to bid on our auction items once they go live (Wednesday).

Click here for more info on RIDN and for the Fiesta de RIDN Gala.

Hey Susan - RIOC President Susan Rosenthal Answers Roosevelt Island Residents Questions On Playground Renovations For Summer, Octagon Soccer Field Fencing, Tree Removal And Enforcing Dog Poop Rules

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Susan Rosenthal answers your questions in this sixth installment of Hey Susan feature.


An occasional column of questions and answers to and from RIOC President and CEO Susan Rosenthal


What is the latest update on the playground updates and repairs? Weren’t there plans to enlarge the playground and redo the sandbox last fall? With summer coming and the kids outside all day, it would be a shame to close them for renovations now. Is there any plans to revise the kids’ sprinklers which could use a major overhaul as well given the rocky sharp surfaces and the poor drainage?

SUSAN: The landscape architecture consultant hired to prepare drawings for improvements needed in the park is currently doing their analysis and inventory of needs. One part of the plan is to replace the sandbox with new “climbing” equipment. Once the analysis is complete, the consultant will make recommendations for work to be included in the contract. We have scheduled design work to finish late summer so the construction work can take place in the fall, when the kids are back in school.


Is it true that RIOC is going to permanently fence in the Octagon Soccer Field and remove about 10 trees?

SUSAN: The design for Octagon Soccer field include a low 3’-6” fence along the south and west sides of the field to keep the ball on the field of play. The fence along the west side will have a 76’ opening at the center of the field for access. There are seven trees in poor condition that will be removed. These trees will be impacted by the excavation work needed to make the paths ADA accessible. We are also planting ten trees as part of the work for this contract.


RI's residents allow their dogs to poop in the small park located in front of Piccolo Trattoria pizzeria. Residents ignore the 3-4 signs that are very well located around this area. On this regard, what can you do? Can RIOC place bigger signs? Can you introduce fines to dog's owner?

SUSAN: We will speak with our public safety officers about strictly enforcing the rules about dog waste and request they issue summons as appropriate. We can also analyze which sites have the most offenders and install additional signage and/or dog waste bag dispensers, as needed.

Do you have a question you’d like to have answered by RIOC President & CEO Susan Rosenthal? Send it to the subject HEY SUSAN! at Want to report a problem? Send us feedback at
Here's just one example of a dog owner ignoring signage right in front of him prohibiting dogs on grass

in the Rivewalk Commons area.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Sponsored Post - You're Invited To Final Weill Cornell Medicine & NY Presbyterian Free Spring 2019 Health & Wellness Seminars - Tuesday April 30 Pre-Diabetes Care

You're invited to the Weill Cornell Medicine & NY-Presbyterian Free Health & Wellness Free Spring 2019 Seminar Series.

Tuesday, April 30 at 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Pre-Diabetes & Diabetes Care: Meals, Monitoring, Medication & More

Presented by:

Felicia Mendelsohn Curanaj, MD
Jane Jeffrie Seley, DNP
Rachel Stahl, RD

Time 6:30–8:00 pm

Place - All seminars held at Uris Auditorium Meyer Research and Education Building Weill Cornell Medicine

1300 York Avenue (at 69th St.)

All seminars are FREE and open to the public. Seating is available for 250 people on a first- come, first-served basis.

American Sign Language interpretive services will be provided at all seminars.

If you require a disability-related accommodation please call 212-821-0888 and leave a message.

Watch the video below to learn more about Weill Cornell Medicine's public outreach programs

including the Health & Wellness Seminars and STEM Education.
The three previous Weill Cornell Medicine/NY Presbyterian Hospital Spring 2019 Health and Wellness Seminars were:
Tuesday April 2
Elder Abuse 101: What Everyone Should Know

Presented by:

Anthony E. Rosen, MD
Leslie Mantrone, LMSW
Alyssa Elman, LMSW

Tuesday, April 9 at 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Mental Health: Understanding the Impacts of Stress and What You Can Do About It

Presented by:

Guy Maytal, MD
Nimali Jayasinghe, PhD

Tuesday, April 16 at 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Love Your Heart: Understanding and Preventing Heart Disease

Presented by:

Nivee P. Amin, MD
Maria Karas, MD
Luke Kim, MD

You're Invited To Roosevelt Island Community Conversation Tonight With Cornell Tech Faculty On Law, Technology & Democracy Monday April 29 - Is Internet Out Of Control, Are Tech Companies Undermining Government Regulation, Is That Good Or Bad?

The Roosevelt Island Community Conversations with Cornell Tech faculty begun last fall, continues this eveing.  On Monday, April 29, Professor James Grimmelman will speak on Law and Technology.

According to Cornell Tech:

Community Conversations with Cornell Tech Faculty James Grimmelmann: Law and Technology

Does it seem like the Internet is out of control? Are technology companies undermining government control and freeing people to do absolutely anything they want online? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?

James Grimmelmann studies law and technology. He tries to understand today's digital controversies by looking for times when similar things have happened in the past. He will explain current struggles to regulate technology by telling the unbelievable real-life tale of HavenCo, one of the unlikeliest startups of all time. Its headquarters was an abandoned World War II anti-aircraft platform seven miles off the British coast — and the story just gets weirder from there. It includes pirate radio, machine guns, rampant copyright infringement, a Red Bull skateboarding special, perpetual motion machines, and the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States.

James will use the story of HavenCo as a jumping-off point for a conversation about technology and democracy.

James Grimmelmann is a Professor at Cornell Tech and in the Law School at Cornell University. James writes about search engines, social networks, data havens, hackers, trolls, copyright-infringing robots, and magical 3D printers, among other things. He is the author of the casebook Internet Law: Cases and Problems, now in its eighth edition, and of over fifty scholarly articles and essays.

Click here to register for the Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Community Conversation with Professor James Grimmelmann.

The first Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Faculty conversation was with Professor Serge 
Belongie on Computer Vision, Machine Learning and Augmented Reality. Watch the video here.

The second Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Faculty conversation was with Professor Nicolai Dell on Creating Tech For Underserved Communities. Watch the video here.

The third Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Faculty conversation was with  Professor Mor Naaman on Tech, Media & Democracy. Don't have video of that presentation.

Fascinating video here on HavenCo and efforts to avoid government regulation of data