Friday, April 16, 2021

Is A Perfect Storm Brewing For Roosevelt Island Weekend Transportation Disaster? No Subway Service To And From Manhattan, Large Crowds Of Visitors Anticipated For Cherry Blossoms And Tram Operating At Half Capacity Of 55 Riders Per Cabin For Covid Social Distancing - Don't Worry, RIOC Says It Has A Weekend Safety Plan

Do you remember the 2019 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Disaster?

Well, be aware that there is no Roosevelt Island subway service at all this weekend - no Manhattan or Queens bound service.

According to the MTA

Learn how we're modernizing the signals on the E F M R in Queens 

Apr 16 - 19, Fri 9:30 PM to Mon 5 AM* 

F No service at 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av/63 St and 57 St  

F Trains run via the E in both directions between Roosevelt Av and 5 Av/53 St. 

Free shuttle buses run between Roosevelt Island and Queens Plaza, stopping at 21 St-Queensbridge and Queensboro Plaza.

The weekend weather forecast is for spring like temperatures and sun so expect large crowds of visitors coming to Roosevelt Island to see the Cherry Blossoms even with no organized festival taking place.

Roosevelt Island resident Jim Luce reminds us why there is no longer a Cherry Blossom Festival on Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island residents do not want a repeat of the 2019 Cherry Blossom Festival dangerous overcrowding disaster when both the subway and Tram were supposed to be running.

Without Roosevelt Island subway service this weekend, the Tram operating at only 55 passengers per cabin due to Covid 19 social distancing protocols and large numbers of visitors coming to see the Cherry Blossoms,  the potential exists for a very unpleasant weekend.

This morning, I asked the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Shelton Haynes:

There is no Roosevelt island subway service to and from Manhattan tomorrow. 

Will RIOC run red bus shuttle to Manhattan and both tram cabins? 

What does RIOC plan to do about large crowds expected to see the cherry blossoms. 

Will extra PSD officers monitor crowd control at the Tram, Ferry and throughout the Island? Has NYPD been alerted about situation? 

There has been no announcement yet from RIOC on any plan for this weekend’s potential transportation mess.

RIOC announced a weekend safety plan this afternoon at about 4 pm:

In anticipation of an increase in visitor and pedestrian traffic to the island this weekend to view the Cherry Blossoms, alongside the disruption in F train service to the R.I. station, the following safety controls will be activated, effective Saturday, April 17th at 7 AM through Monday, April 19th:

Overcrowding Safety Controls:
  • NYPD and PSD will enforce social distancing throughout the island as well as at highly frequented locations on the island 
  • Large crowds will be managed by PSD officers with the assistance of the 114th Precinct 
  • Parks will be monitored by PSD throughout the day. Please note that parks will close in the occurrence of overcrowding on the island. 
  • Cornell security have been alerted and will monitor and discourage large gatherings on the Cornell Tech campus 
  • Face coverings will be distributed to anyone in need of a mask by PSD. 
Transportation & Island Services:

Subway- There will be NO F Train service at Roosevelt Island, 21 St.-Queensbridge, Lexington Av/63 St., and 57 St. this weekend. Free MTA shuttle buses will run between Roosevelt Island and Queens Plaza, stopping at 21 St-Queensbridge and Queensboro Plaza. Free MTA shuttle buses will run between Roosevelt Island and Queens Plaza, stopping at 21 St-Queensbridge and Queensboro Plaza. For details, visit

Red Bus- Shuttle service will be provided hourly from the R.I. Tramway, and on the half hour from the Manhattan Tram station. A separate transportation advisory will be sent momentarily detailing transportation options. 

Tram- PSD officers will be present at each station and will enforce social distancing. Passengers should plan accordingly as they may experience long lines.  

Ferry Service- Ferry service will run on normal weekend service hours, however, in the event of large crowds, service will be limited to essential workers only.  For schedule info, visit: 

Vehicular Traffic:
In the event of overcrowding, vehicular access to the island will be restricted to island residents and workers only. PSD and NYPD will be stationed at the entryway of the bridge (Vernon and 36th Ave.) to monitor and redirect, if needed. 

Citations will be issued to any cyclist/motorized scooters who do not adhere to NYC bike laws.

Garbage Removal:
There will be an increase in waste management this weekend to address any littering caused by overcrowding. 

Thank you for your cooperation during this time. Please remember to enjoy your weekend in a safe and mindful manner. For more information, please call PSD at 212-832-4545.
Here's the NYC Ferry Roosevelt Island Astoria Route Schedule which extends to East 90th street on the Upper East Side.   

There are Roosevelt Island Ciibike docking stations too.

UPDATE 4/22 - Although there were long lines at the Tram at certain times last weekend, it was not the disaster some feared. The cloudy and cooler than expected temperatures probably kept some visitors away.

The Manhattan Tram station line was very long Sunday afternoon stretching to 2nd Avenue and 59th Street

 as I was coming home, so I jumped on the Red Bus Shuttle back to Roosevelt Island for a very pleasant 20 minute ride home.

It's Been A Tough Year For Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 2021 Graduating Class of 28 Students Due To Covid 19 Pandemic - Help Them Celebrate Graduation With Senior Class Trip To Six Flags Amusement Park By Contributing To Go Fund Me Campaign

A Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 parent is asking for community help to send the graduating 8th grade class of 28 kids on a Senior Class trip to Six Flags Amusement Park in celebration of their upcoming graduation.

According to the parent:

It’s a small class of 28 kids. Most of these kids have been through school together since Pre-K up. They’re this cute little 217 Family. Like many of us were.

These kids have had it rough, they’ve missed out on their last year of school together. Many of the memories they will have will be of tiny thumbnails of each other on a computer screen. 

As of right now, we the parents of the 8th grade in 217 are trying to help these kids have a safe and memorable last school trip together. There are families who are struggling to pay Senior fees, picture day and a class ring. And we collectively are trying to make this trip available to all of the kids, without an extra bill to the households. We are looking to raise funds to bring the entire 8th grade class to Six Flags for a day of fun. 

If you can help, here's the Go Fund Me Page 

We are a group of parents trying to give our children the best graduation send-off possible. 

Our children are graduating from 8th Grade and due to Covid, their school is unable to provide the traditional senior activities, trips or celebrations. These kids have been struggling with remote and blended classes for half of their 7th grade and their entire 8th grade. 

That means half of the middle school experience was lost. They have essentially become teenagers alone at home. They have persevered and deserve a celebration. The students would like to go on the annual senior trip as an entire class of 28 kids. 

Some parents are unable to afford a contribution in these tough times and accomplishing this goal will take even more funds than usual because of Covid 19 rules and regulations. For instance, to get there they would need a bus with enough space to socially distance and at over $1,000. It is very expensive to rent for the day. 

Some kids are already struggling with paying the school the requested senior dues. This fundraiser is to be used to help pay the expenses, and only the expenses, for the transportation and entrance fees for the entire class to get the best ending to their middle school experience as possible: a fun day at Six Flags doing what kids should be doing, celebrating at an amusement park. They are hoping that we can all help make that happen.

Click here if you wish to help.

Sponsored Post - Check Out Roosevelt Island Foodtown Supermarket April 16 - April 22 Spring Savings, Product Offerings, & Special Items - Online Shopping, Delivery Option, Digital Coupons & 30 Day Health Challenge Too

The Roosevelt Island Foodtown Supermarket

invites you to check out their April 16 - April 22 Weekly Flyer for Product Offerings, Specials and 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.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

RIHS President Says More PSD Officers, Bathrooms, Trash Cans And Staff Needed For Thousands Coming To Visit Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossoms - RIOC President Says RIHS President Putting Out False Narratives And Irresponsible Statements About RIOC

Roosevelt Island Historical Society President (RIHS) is a concerned and knowledgeable observer about goings on in the Roosevelt Island community.

                                                                                                      Image From RIHS

Last Tuesday, Ms Berdy wrote to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Shelton Haynes and Public Safety Chief Kevin Brown, copying Roosevelt Islander and Roosevelt Island Daily editor David Stone. Ms Berdy wrote:

Last Saturday we had thousands of visitors on the island to see the cherry trees.  Aside from one lone officer at the Tram Station, there were no officers around monitoring traffic or pedestrians.  Standing on the terrace of the kiosk, we have a bird's eye view of tram, traffic, pedestrians and if PSD is around.

If the weather is as good as last Saturday, we will have more visitors this weekend.

We need more port-a-potties, food trucks and staff around to empty overflow trash cans.

You and your staff are choosing to ignore basic safety and comfort for visitors and residents.

I am tired of hearing that Covid is preventing staffing. By now, everyone should be here at work.  RIOC has used Covid as an excuse long enough and it would be helpful if we got on board with running the island and not running away from it.

Yesterday Mr Haynes replied:

RIOC Public Safety department and NYPD 114th officers were present on Saturday as we had approximately 300+ visitors come to Roosevelt Island to enjoy the cherry blossoms. You have been putting out false narratives and irresponsible statements about RIOC for months. I have also received correspondence from RIOC employees that you have recently called them with profanity laced tirades of concerns that you have. COVID 19 is never an excuse that we use and that is probably the most offensive and tasteless comment one could make. We have had several employees that have either contracted COVID 19 or had to quarantine after providing essential services to the residents of Roosevelt Island. I would expect more respect and appreciation for all of the work we do.

I replied to Mr Haynes asking him:

Did you mean approximately 3 thousand or 3 hundred visitors plus. Also, we do need more trash cans around the Island when large crowds are expected particularly around Riverwalk Commons and West promenade next to Cornell. 

Mr Haynes responded:

Yes, 300 was the number as I was in contact with PSD leadership all day Saturday. With regard to trash cans, they have been ordered previously and should arrive this week.


For clarity, did you not recently reach out to RIOC inquiring about the dozens of PSD and NYPD that were present on Saturday as you received reports larger gatherings? Please advise.

I replied:

Yes I did and RIOC responded. I included response from Amy in update to the post. 

Ms Berdy replied:

Since we had over 300 visitors in the kiosk and from personal observations, there were thousands of visitors on Saturday. 

Glad to hear of more trash cans.
Can we resurrect the toilet project on Firefighters Field as an emergency project?
Roosevelt Island Daily editor David Stone adds:
And with all due respect, I should add that Judy’s comments reflect what I’m hearing from multiple people and have observed myself. Taking your anger out on her — or me, as you did recently -- is not productive. If you really want to “work with everyone,” as you have said, invalidating concerns with angry public blasts is not the way to do it. It’s not that anyone is more right or wrong but that there are valid perceptions that may not agree with yours.
Also, I asked RIOC:
Is it true that Shelton will move his office to Blackwell House 2nd floor?  Will any other RIOC staff have offices in Blackwell House?

Will the Roosevelt Island Historical Society have any space at Blackwell House?
 RIOC Public Information Officer Amy Smith replied today:
As you may be aware, RIOC will be relocating from our 591 Main Street location this summer. RIOC employees will be relocated to temporary and ultimately more permanent locations in months to come, one such location being Blackwell House. However, RIOC intends to honor its agreements for use of its facilities and other spaces.

As reported in April 2011:

As a requirement of the funding agreement, in the amount of $364,000, between RIOC and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) for the interior renovation of Blackwell House that for a period of twenty (20) years after completion of such construction, Blackwell House be kept open for public view and community and public programming to the extent practicable.

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) has proposed a (5) year license agreement for the partial use of Blackwell House for the purpose of hosting public exhibition events, archival storage and the use of a second floor office for event planning and research in Blackwell House. The terms and conditions of the agreement are as follows:

Term: 5 year term commencing upon the date of Certificate of Occupancy or a reasonable time thereafter.out

Use of the Following Areas Within Blackwell House:

  • Attic: Storage Space (470 sq. ‘) – This space used to store archives (documents and photos for public (general public, historians and students) to review. 
  • Second Floor: Small Office- (232 sq.’) – planning events and historical research space to review archives. The public to make appointment through curator, RIHS. 
  • First Floor: Closet/Information Booth (15 sq.’).
Additional use of 1st Floor Public Meeting Room for the following dates, subject to availability deemed by RIOC;...

The Blackwell House renovation was finally completed and opened in November 2020. Following a Grand Opening ceremony, Ms Berdy spoke about

the history and future plans for Blackwell House.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Roosevelt Island's New Outdoor East River Waterfront Event Space And Outdoor Restaurant Cafe The Sanctuary Will Open In Early May

Roosevelt Island's new event space and outdoor restaurant cafe, The Sanctuary,

located on the East River West Promenade next to the Octagon building, is about to open. Owner Frank (Turtle) Rafaelle says The Sanctuary event space and outdoor restaurant cafe will start with a "soft opening" in early May.

The outdoor restaurant cafe will offer custom wood fired pizza, sandwiches, salads, vegan offerings and bar service.

Are you interested in hosting an event at the Sanctuary? Here's the rate sheet.

Meet The Sanctuary owner Turtle who spoke during the September 2019 pre-Covid Pandemic opening night event fundraiser for Queens based Titan Theater Group. Turtle described his intent to develop The Sanctuary as a Roosevelt Island "community centric space" as well as his strong interest in helping local non profit organizations.

Stay tuned for more info as The Sanctuary opening date gets closer.

More info available at The Sancturay website.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

RIOC Approves $11 Million Renovation Of 56,000 Sq Ft Roosevelt Island Sportspark Recreation Facility Beginning This Summer, New Locker Rooms, Mechanical Equipment, Gym Flooring, Weight Room, Adminstrative Office & More - Phased Work Will Allow Pool To Stay Open For Summer, Gym Will Close

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) reported today:

Please be advised that mobilization will begin in late April for the highly anticipated renovations on the Sportspark facility. The renovations will include the installation of energy-efficient systems, the addition of a fitness center, a multi-purpose meeting and event space, as well as upgrades to the gymnasium, locker rooms, and building façade. Please note that the work will be completed in phases, with regular updates to the community on the progress of the project.

The $11 million Sportspark recreation facility

renovation plan was approved during the March 16, 2021 RIOC Board of Directors meeting (video of meeting here).  

According to this March 11 memo excerpt from Project Coordinator Michelle Edwards to RIOC President Shelton Haynes in support of the Sportspark Renovation Project award for construction to Vanguard Construction & Development Co:

Sportspark is a state-provided recreation facility that serves Roosevelt Island and the community. The Sportspark Building consists of two floors and is approximately 56,000 gross square feet. After 40 years of use, the facility is in need of infrastructure and general renovations to accommodate current and future programming and operational needs. 

The Sportspark Renovation project entails demolition and removal of existing mechanical, electric, and plumbing (“MEP”) infrastructure serving the East and West portion of the facility; and the installation of two new HVAC units and new ductwork in the Eastside pool area. In addition to this, installation air handling units will also be installed, as well as unit heaters, among other renovations on the east and west side locker rooms. Steel dunnage will be done for HVAC on the roof; and upgrades to the fire alarm, and a BMS system, will also be installed in the facility. 

For Sportspark, architectural upgrades include reconfiguring locker rooms, upgrades to finishes, and new light fixtures on the East and West Side. Work on the Westside consists of a new administration office, new reception area, new weight room, a renovated multipurpose room for the second floor, and new gym flooring. Finally, upgrades will be made to the main Westside entrance with a new curtain wall and exterior cladding with “Sportspark” signage....


... RIOC Capital Planning and Projects recommends – subject to the satisfaction of all contracting requirements, that the Board of Directors authorize and approve entering into contract with Vanguard Construction & Development Co., Inc. for providing construction services for the Sportspark Renovation Multiphase Project for a total amount of $ 9,931,152.00 with a 20% contingency of $1,986,230.40, bringing the total authorized not-to exceed amount to $11,917,382.40.

RIOC Chief Financial Officer John O'Reilly reported to the RIOC Board Directors during the March 16 meeting that the Sportspark renovation work timeline will be done is separate phases starting from the west side of the building beginning with the lobby and then to the east side pool. The Gym will close for the summer and reopen in September.The Sportspark Pool 

will remain open throughout the summer and then close for renovation which is expected to be completed by spring 2022.

Mr O'Reilly added that a new gym floor will be placed on top of the existing gym floor instead of repairing the existing damaged floor in order to avoid:

... an environmental issue. The glue that was used to put the floor down back in the day is now no longer used because of environmental issues. So what we are going to do is similar to what we did in Southpoint Park. We're going to cap it and lay a new floor over the top of it so we don't have to take the floor up and deal with the environmental hazard of the glue issue that's on the bottom of the floor....
Here's the discussion of Sportspark

RIOC Board Meeting - March 16, 2021 from Diva Communications on Vimeo

renovation timeline.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Brothers Bring Fresh Grown Gourmet Queens Mushrooms To The Saturday Roosevelt Island Farmers Market - Try The Golden Oyster And Italian Oyster Mushrooms, More Selections Coming Too

Mushroom Queens is a new vendor at the Roosevelt Island Saturday Farmers Market. According to Mushroom Queens:

Mushroom Queens grow fresh gourmet mushrooms in the heart of Queens to please the palates of NYC.

Our Story

The mushroom brothers always liked mushrooms. Throw them on pizza, in a salad, maybe grill some up, delicious. But we learned that we didn’t really know how amazing mushrooms could be. 

In 2015 our lives took us out of our home town of Queens, NY and across the continent. One to Colorado and the other to Alaska. Out in the mountains we discovered how amazing these little guys could be. The textures and flavors from fresh, wild mushrooms were unlike anything the supermarket could offer. Our culinary worlds were forever changed.

We wanted to share these mushrooms with our family and friends year round. We had to grow them. Beautifully delicious mushrooms started growing in our kitchens and sizzling in our pans. 

Now we brought our mushrooms into the heart of Queens so that our NYC family can bring the flavors and textures of fresh mushrooms into their homes.

Gourmet Queens Mushrooms are now also available at the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market for $5 a pint. 

I spoke with Adam, one of the Queens Mushrooms brothers at last Saturday's Farmers Market.

More info on Queens Mushrooms, including recipes, available at their website.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Saturday Afternoon 2021 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Walk

The NYC Walking Show visited Roosevelt Island to visit our Cherry Blossoms.

Come along for the walk.

And from Tuesday April 6.

UPDATE 4/12: Yesterday, I asked Roosevelt Island Public Safety Chief Kevin Brown:

I’m told more than a dozen NYPD officers, and PSD officers, had to respond to large crowds at the West promenade near Cornell and Southpoint park viewing the Cherry Blossoms last night.

Is that true?

Were there any disturbances?

Any arrests?

RIOC Public Information Officer Amy Smith replied:

The beautiful day on Saturday drew crowds to the promenades to view our vibrant cherry blossoms that are in peak bloom in some areas of the island. Despite the plethora of revelers, PSD, in conjunction with the 114th Precinct, noted that it was a peaceful day enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

Candidate To Represent Roosevelt Island And UES As Democratic Party Part A 76 Assembly District Leader Esther Yang Meets And Speaks To RI Residents At Saturday Farmers Market, Watch Video Interview Of What She Has To Say

Esther Yang has been a familiar presence recently at the Roosevelt Island Saturday Farmers Market talking with residents about local issues and her campaign for Democratic Party 76 Assembly District Part A Leader.

I spoke with Ms Yang yesterday at the Farmers Market. Here's what Ms Yang had to say.   

According to Manhattan Democrats:

A District Leader is an unpaid volunteer elected official. All formal parties in New York State are required to have at least one District Leader (DL) per Assembly District (AD). These positions are subject to primary elections every two years. This ostensibly guarantees that any party with formal status in New York State (e.g. a permanent ballot line) is democratically governed by its members. In essence, the District Leader is the representative of the party members in their district to that political party’s apparatus. 

From part one of Paul Newell’s “What’s a District Leader?“...

More info on Ms Yang available at the website.

Rebecca Weintraub is also running for 76 AD Part A District Leader.

UPDATE 4/19 - Meet Ms Weintraub too.