Friday, November 13, 2020

RIRA Rebels Take Charge Of Roosevelt Island Residents Association Common Council - Commit To Preserving Quality Of Life, Make Community Safe For Everyone, Engage With Youth & Rebuild Trust Within The Community

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Nominations Committee Chair Adib Mansour reported October 21:

... Earlier this month, the RIRA Common Council unanimously decided that RIRA 2020 election be rescheduled to 2022, as a result of COVID-19 and exceptional and unprecedented circumstances, presenting life-threatening risks and complex logistical constraints that do not allow for a fair and transparent RIRA election to proceed.
Consequently, the outgoing Common Council members will remain seated through the upcoming term Nov. 2020 - Nov. 2022. Nevertheless, a RIRA nomination campaign has been launched to invite and encourage Roosevelt Island residents to join RIRA, as a majority of RIRA Common Council seats (34) are currently vacant. Interested residents will be voted in by the current Common Council members on November 4th....

On November 4, current RIRA Island Services Committee Chair Rossana Ceruzzi was selected as President and Public Safety Committee chair Erin Feely-Nahem was selected Vice President.

According to Ms Ceruzzi:

RIRA focus will continue to be on the relevant, critical issues of the community including supporting local businesses and increasing opportunities to engage our youth. 

RIRA is a relentless advocate for Roosevelt Island and will always fight to preserve our quality of life and strive to make our community safe for everyone.” 

As we are in the process of forming the new committees, including the communications committee, and appointing the respective Chairs, ad interim, every communication with RIRA will be only directed to President and VP. 

 I would like to add that one of our priorities will be improving and increase RIRA’s communications/updates with our local media.

And Ms Feely-Nahem:

Thankfully this year Adib Mansour volunteered to Chair the nomination committee. He did an amazing job, with very little help, and managed to bring in 11+ recruits, all skilled, and excited to fill a majority of the vacant seats that existed on the semi-dormant Common Council.The energy, and enthusiasm displayed by the candidates was contagious, and following introductions and discussion, purpose returned, and excitement in the possibility of a “new” Common Council was obvious.  Alongside the old board members who remained, new candidates were seated and all voted to elect the new Officers for the 2020-2022 term.

For me this past term taught me the importance of having an active Vice President. I accepted the challenge and ran for Office. Elected, in this capacity I am very excited to work with Rossana Ceruzzi in her role as President. I am confident that with the election of new RIRA officers, which includes Bafode Drame as Treasurer, the Common Council will be able to rebuild trust within the community. In time I believe we will once again become the voice utilized for the betterment of the Island, as determined by the Residents’ needs. I look forward to serving as an “interim” VP, until such time as a safe election can be held, and the position filled by an Island wide vote.

I hope that we can create a Common Council that residents will once again use as a resource for getting things done that they feel will benefit our community. Our goals will be determined by the needs of the community. 

RIRA Island House Common Council Member Frank Farance adds:

I'm very happy with the new elections, officers, and Common Council. 

The new members introduced themselves and we have new volunteers with interesting and helpful expertise. One thing that this community will appreciate is that our new leadership - Rossana and Erin - are active and accomplished community activists who stand up for the needs of our community. 

This is in contrast to the past half-dozen years where RIRA might be described as the "Cherry Blossom Residents Association" - a RIRA leadership focused upon activities that residents can only participate if they sign non-disclosure agreements - really! 

During that time, other committees such as the Island Services, Public Safety, and Public Purpose Fund committees focused upon individual good works but lacked the advocacy of the RIRA President and RIRA Vice President. In short, we're back to actually representing residents' interests to RIOC, the City, and other entities, we're back to a transparent organization, and that is consistent with RIRA's core mission for the past four decades. 

After the October 2019 RIRA meeting, a group of Common Council members, including Ms Ceruzzi, Ms Nahem, Mr Mansour and Mr. Farance, walked out of the meeting and expressed great concern over the future of RIRA as an organizaton due to what they believed was a lack of transparency and internal dissension. 

Here's what they said.

Now the Rebels are in charge of RIRA - let's see what they can do.

Sponsored Post - Get Ready For Thanksgiving, Check Out Roosevelt Island Foodtown Supermarket November 13 - November 19 Product Offerings, Specials & Sales Items - Online Shopping, Delivery Options, Digital Coupons, Nutritional Tips & Social Media Facebook And Instagram Too

The Roosevelt Island Foodtown Supermarket 

invites you to check out their November 13 - November 19 Weekly Flyer for Product Offerings, Specials & Sales Items

Click here to visit the Roosevelt Island Foodtown Supermarket web site for online shopping, delivery options, digital coupons, weekly flyer and more

Follow Roosevelt Island Foodtown Supermarket on Facebook

and Instagram too.

Roosevelt Island Transportation This Weekend - Subway, Tram, Ferry & Citibike - Keep Your Social Distance And Wear Face Covering On Public Transportation - Tram Cabin Social Distancing Capacity Increased To 35 Passengers

According to the MTA, there is Roosevelt Island F train service to and from Manhattan this weekend. 

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

While we continue to follow social distancing and align our operations with New York Forward guidance, we also continue to incrementally increase the number of passengers permitted on the Tram. Tram capacity will increase on Sunday, November 1st, from 20 to 35 passengers per cabin, and we will continue to assess and gradually increase in phases. 

We understand the need for this mode of transportation, however, the health and safety of our riders and operators are our priority. We appreciate your cooperation.

Here's the NYC Ferry Roosevelt Island Astoria Route Schedule which now extends to East 90th street on the Upper East Side. 
Also, Roosevelt Island Citbike docking stations.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Black In The Core Visits And Reports On Fascinating History, Evolving Present And Likely Future Of Roosevelt Island - Sees Gentrification And A Stolen Dream For Working And Middle Class People

You Tuber Black In The Core visited Roosevelt Island recently and made an excellent video report on Roosevelt Island history and current issues of affordability and gentrification.

According to  Black In The Core:

There's more to New York City's Roosevelt Island than some random landmarks and a place to see the skyline. In this first episode of Black in the Core we'll see the tourist sites, but we'll also dig deeper.

We'll examine the island's fascinating past, evolving present, and likely future, joined by some long-time island residents. In its early days of being called Blackwell's Island and Welfare Island, it was a place of hospitals, asylums, and prisons. It was renamed Roosevelt Island in the 1970s, when New York officials decided to create, in the words of the master plan, a "multi-mix community in every way". 

Celebrated architects and urban planners were brought in to design a brand new island town in the middle of the metropolis. They combined progressive architecture and technology with socioeconomic guidelines, and a racially and economically diverse community was born. Clean, safe, car-free, and surrounded by parks and water, it was a success close to an urban utopia as you can imagine.

But now, decades later, the affordable housing is being transitioned to luxury units and a new technical college is pushing prices even higher. The Black, brown, and working class white people who formed a unique, close-knit community are being economically pushed off the island by wealthy newcomers. Will this oasis in the city be turned into just another Manhattan neighborhood, with no sense of community or soul? Watch this episode to learn more.

2000 Median Income: $49,976. 

2010 Median Income: $76,250. 

47% jump in 10 years!

Watch the entire video  - it's very well done.

One does not necessarily have to agree with all of the reporting in this video but the issues raised of gentrification and affordability are real.

The video does not mention the new 340 unit Hudson Related Riverwalk Park affordable housing building in the process of opening on Roosevelt Island or the hard fought affordability plans negotiated for privatization of the original Mitchell Lama buildings.

Here's an introduction to Black In The Core.

Check out more from Black In The Core.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day 2020, Thank You To All Members Of The Military For Your Service - US Army Field Band Sings America The Beautiful As Veterans Day Tribute

Today is Veteran's Day.

As a Veterans Day Tribute, the United States Army Field Band sings America The Beautiful.


According to

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as "the Great War." Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars...

For Veterans Day 2018, Roosevelt Island

honored some of our local veterans (approximately 300 veterans live on Roosevelt Island as of 2019)

during a ceremony organized by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC). 

If you know a Veteran or see one on the street today, please take a brief moment to thank them for their service to our country. Also, don't just thank them today but do it throughout the year and thank our active duty soldiers as well.

Roosevelt Island Sportspark Pool Shut Down Because Lifeguards Quit And NY State Hiring Freeze Prevents New Hires But Will Open As Soon As Possible Says RIOC President - Swimmers Start Petition Asking Pool Reopen Without Delay

Reported last Friday that on the previous day:

... Roosevelt Island swimmers were disappointed to learn without any advance notice that the Sportspark Park is closing effective immediately....

In reply to my question asking reason for the Sportspark pool closing, a Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) spokesperson explained:

Now that we have entered the Fall season, we are reevaluating pool operations and are currently in a transition phase with staffing.

I followed up:

Does that mean the pool is closed because RIOC does not have enough staff to operate it?

Yesterday, I spoke with Acting RIOC President Shelton Haynes about the Sportspark pool closing and followed up today:

Based on our talk yesterday, I want to make sure info about pool is accurate. The pool was closed because of staffing shortages. 2 lifeguards quit and the State has imposed a hiring freeze that prevents RIOC from replacing the lifeguards at this time. Is that accurate? Is there any other reason the pool cannot open? Any idea when the pool will reopen?
Mr Haynes repled:

We did in fact lose two lifeguards the same week. RIOC will be hiring to replace those positions ASAP. Once we have adequate staffing and ensure they are properly trained. We will reopen the pool. Our goal is to open the pool ASAP.

Today, Sportspark pool users created an online petition asking RIOC to reopen the pool without delay.

You can sign the Petition here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Local Activist Efforts To Make Roosevelt Island Bridge Bike Lane Metal Grating Safe Getting Closer To Success - NYC DOT Will Seek Funding For New Decking In Next Budget, No More Riding On Industrial Cheese Grater

As previously reported, Roosevelt Island resident Paul Krikler has been working to make the Roosevelt Island Bridge Bike lane safe for cyclists. According to Mr Krikler:

... It’s like riding over a an industrial cheese grater....

... The metal grille surface on the bridge is fine for cars but the metal grille makes it extremely uncomfortable to ride across on a bike. Further, in wet and / or cold conditions, the surface becomes very treacherous to cycle across and becomes extremely slippery. I have seen people slide over and fall....

I spoke to Mr. Krikler last Saturday as he was seeking signatures from bike riders on a petition

 asking for a safe surface covering on the metal grating bike lane.

The Roosevelt Island Bridge and bike lane is under the jurisdiction of the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the metal grating bike lane safety problem has been reported on as far back as 2011.

Today, some good news. According to a spokesperson for Roosevelt Island's NYC Council Member Ben Kallos:

DOT is evaluating bike-friendly materials for the bridge deck and will ask for funding in the next budget.
Council Member Kallos adds: 

Our office is looking forward to seeing DOT's plan and suggestions. Any opportunity we get to help improve the City's bike infrastructure is an opportunity we like to take advantage of,...

Great job by Mr Krikler bringing attention to this issue. Local activism can work sometimes.

UPDATE 10:30 PM:

RIOC Says Public Safety Department Determined Citizen App Report Of Shots Detected On Roosevelt Island To Be Unfounded - NYPD Says Roosevelt Island Safest Neighborhood In NYC

Following last month's shooting incident at the Octagon parking lot, any report of gunshots on Roosevelt Island raises alarms by residents, even though Roosevelt Island is considered to be the safest neighborhoods in NYC according to the NYPD.

A tipster sent in this Citizens App report of shot detected on Roosevelt Island
I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC Public Safety Department Chief Kevin Brown:
Does PSD have any reports of shots fired on Roosevelt Island in the last few days. Screenshot of Citizens App below sent yesterday describes “shots detected”. The incident may have taken place yesterday or day before. Any info on this report of shots being fired?
RIOC spokesperson Jessica Cerrone replied::
This report was determined to be unfounded by our Public Safety Department .

Monday, November 9, 2020

Roosevelt Island Resident Beatrice Ajaero New Nigerian And West African Nneji Take Out Restaurant In Astoria Profiled On Channel 7 News Neighborhood Eats Segment - Her Delicious Dishes Available At Roosevelt Island Farmers Market Too

Roosevelt Island resident Beatrice Ajaero and her new Astoria restaurant, Nneji, serving Nigerian and West African dishes, were profiled by Channel 7 Eyewitness News Neighborhood Eats segment last Friday, November 6.

According to Channel 7 Eyewitness News:

... At Nneji, she's serves Nigerian and West African food like goat stew, egusi soup with melon seeds, and red stew flavored with cow skin.... 

... Beatrice started selling her food two years ago at the farmers' market on Roosevelt Island, where she grew up and still lives, but neighboring Astoria was always a culinary destination for her family...


Gothamist gives Nneji a great:

Nneji hides its wonders well. This narrow storefront in Astoria opened mid-pandemic and, since the front window is stacked high with colorful bags, it's not immediately clear what's going on inside. Even a quick peek in the door only reveals a pastry counter stocked, as it turns out, by the nearby Rose and Joe's Italian Bakery. But I'm here to tell you that the reason you're here on 34th Avenue is to feast on some exceptional West African stews,...

Read the full Gothamist review here and photos of dishes too.

Ms Ajaero also sells her dishes and more every Saturday at the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market with her Mom. In 2018, I spoke with Ms Ajaero


Check out Ms Ajaero's delicious Nigerian and West African dishes at the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market every Saturday or visit her take out restaurant Nneji in Astoria, a 10-15 minute walk from the Roosevelt Island Bridge. Nneji is located at 32-20 34th Avenue

Also, the Channel 7 Neighborhood Eats reporter  Lauren Glassberg grew up on Roosevelt Island.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Brilliant Autumn Leaf Colors Light Up Roosevelt Island Fall Foliage On A Beautiful November Sunday - NYC East River Skyline Views Pretty Good Too

What a spectacular Roosevelt Island November Sunday today. The autumn leaves changing color all over Roosvelt Island was a sight to behold.
Take a look.

The Manhattan skyline view seen today from Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech campus was pretty good.

Queens skyline view was not too shabby either.

It was a great day to enjoy the sunshine, food and drink at Cornell Tech Cafe outdoor patio on a beautiful Roosevelt Island November Sunday.