Saturday, May 1, 2021

Congratulations Roosevelt Island Senior Center Food Pantry Volunteers - Received NYC Mayoral Service Recognition 2020 Resilience Rising Award For Efforts Helping To Feed Community Members In Need During Covid 19 Pandemic

The Roosevelt Island Senior Center and a group of Roosevelt Island Food Panty volunteers were among those recognized for their efforts helping others during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

Roosevelt Island Food Panty Volunteer and NYC Emergency Management Department (NYCEM) Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member Frank Farance shares these photos

and reports:

Roosevelt Island Food Pantry was an awardee in the NYC Mayoral Volunteer Service Recognition on Thursday, which awarded New Yorkers with significant volunteer efforts (note: NYCEM CERTs were another organization who were awarded, too).

Please find some photos from yesterday's food pantry - it was extremely busy!

  • CERTs doing food deliveries (that's Paul) to people who are infirm or have mobility issues - still about a dozen deliveries a week
  • Paul Curiale, Tricia Shimamura (holding Fresh Direct bag), Frank Farance - Trish is currently Vice Chair of Manhattan Community Board 8 (Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island) and candidate for City Council Member (Ben Kallos's seat), and she's a regular weekly volunteer
  • Paul Curiale, Dimaura Cole, Frank Farance in the Senior Center garden - Dimuara is a Girl Scout Troop Leader (Girl Scouts also support the food pantry), and she's already entered for CERT training and awaiting her slot
  • Paul Curiale, Millie Reyes, Mary Coleman, Wendy Hersh, Frank Farance - Wendy and Mary run RIDA (Roosevelt Island Disabled Association) who run the food pantry, and Millie is a volunteer who knows all the families and does check-in for the food pantry
  • Public Safety is at the door, managing the crowds in the lobby, and the crowds outside
  • A couple photos showing the excellent food and the main food pantry departments (yes, they have departments!):
    • meat
    • dairy
    • cereals
    • pasta and sauce
    • rice and beans
    • baking goods
  • and the far room has
    • fresh fruits and vegetables
    • canned goods
    • breads
  • Trish is helping set up the food display for the photo
  • Paul is delivering to a client - she is unable to get food, she uses a walker (photo is redacted / de-identified)
  • Frank delivering in Eastwood/RL, excellent groceries visible in the box - for these home-bound clients,Mary and Wendy shop for them according to their requests, and then CERTs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc. make deliveries to their homes (no-contact, social-distancing, and other health guidelines in use)
  • 556 Courtyard: the photo doesn't capture how beautiful, relaxing, and lush this place is - a wonderful gem in the heart of Roosevelt Island
Again, a really great volunteer event!
Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) President Wendy Hersh organized the Roosevelt Island Food Pantry with the help of many volunteers. I spoke with her last February about the Roosevelt Island Food Pantry.

Mr Farance gave us a tour of the Food Pantry operations last Saptember.

More info about the Roosevelt Island Food Pantry at this prior post.

Congrats to the Roosevelt Island Food Pantry volunteers on their award and thank you for all your efforts serving the Roosevelt Island community.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Roosevelt Island Residents Ask Why RIOC Is So Privileged They Will Not Abide By Parking Rules That Apply To Everyone Else In The Community - RIOC Says False Parking Narrative Circulating Through Community And Attacks Media

As reported April 21:

During the April 20 Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee virtual Zoom meeting last evening, RIRA President Rossana Ceruzzi asked Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Chief Kevin Brown about the newly reserved parking spots across from 475 Main Street and the Rivercross Lawn that had previously been public parking spots.

PSD Chief Kevin Brown answered that the spots will be reserved for Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Shelton Haynes and his guests. As previously reported, Mr Haynes will soon be moving his offices "temporarily" to Blackwell House....

Reactions from community members included:

  • The arrogance of this new RIOC leader is astounding. He can park and so can his visitors... Listen if Tish James or the Governor come, they will park wherever the want. No one else 'merits' a free parking space. This type of behavior defies the very values this community was build on. Does anyone in that office know our history? Parking spaces are just another indication of the much greater problem! 
  • RIOC treats us like we are a guest in our own home. This is just straight up rude.
  • I am curious though, if the spaces are for RIOC employees, why wouldn't they park on the garage roof top like all other employees and business owners who work on Roosevelt Island?
  • That is a shame. Blackwell House always used to be a "community" space for resident gatherings, celebrations, etc. RIOC really knows how to take the "community" feel out of a community. (And now they are taking parking spaces away from residents too).

In response to my inquiry seeking comment on the removal of public parking spots, RIOC Public Information Officer Amy Smith replied and her answer below was included in the April 21 story:

RIOC remains committed to being a good neighbor and community partner through thoughtful attention to island life. As to not interfere with the flow of traffic, prevent the possibility of vehicles inadvertently parking illegally, or create unwanted disruptions to surrounding businesses, an area on Main Street has been designated to accommodate visitor, vendor, and Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) vehicles pertinent to RIOC business operations. 

During the April 22 RIOC Board of Directors Meeting Public Session, Roosevelt Island residents expressed their disapproval of removing the 4 public parking spots to be reserved for use by RIOC, asking for example:

Please share with the community why parking spaces have been reserved for RIOC President and his guests. In other words, what makes this job so extraordinary that he and his visitors will not abide by the parking rules that apply to all other businesses and employees  and their visitors?

Mr Haynes replied there was a false narrative being reported to the community. Mr Haynes added to what Chief Brown said during the April 20 RIRA Public Safety Committee meeting by saying that the parking spots were reserved for RIOC employees, vendors and visitors during the hours of 7:30 - 4:30 and then open to the public. 

Nothing Mr. Haynes said contradicted the reporting of what Chief Kevin Brown said during the RIRA Public Safety Committee meeting. There was no false narrative in the reporting. RIRA President Rossana Ceruzzi, Vice President Erin Feely-Nahem and Common Council Member Frank Farance, who all attended the PSC meeting, confirm the reporting of what Public Safety Chief Kevin Brown said.

Also, note that Mr Haynes did not answer the question of Roosevelt Island residents asking why RIOC employees, vendors, visitors and guests receive special parking privileges that nobody else receives. 

Mr Haynes, please tell community members why can't RIOC use public parking spaces, the Motorgate Garage or use public transportation as everyone else does instead of privileged reserved parking spots? Maybe the docile RIOC Board can answer that question too?

Here's portion of the RIOC Board Public Session discussion of the reserved parking spots including RIOC Board members David Kraut and Jeffrey Escobar accepting Mr Haynes version of events without asking questions or challenging the need for RIOC special parking privileges not available to the public and attacking local Roosevelt Island media.

Following the April 22 RIOC Board meeting, I sent the following email to PSD Chief Kevin Brown and Deputy Chief Anthony Amoroso: 

During the April 20 RIRA Public Safety Committee virtual zoom meeting, in response to a question from RIRA President Rossana Ceruzzi asking about the 4 newly reserved parking spots between 475 Main Street and the Riverwalk Commons you responded that the reserved parking spots were for RIOC President Shelton Haynes and guests for his new temporary office space at Blackwell House.

Please confirm that is an accurate reporting of what you said.

Here is the Roosevelt Islander story published on April 21. including a statement from RIOC about the matter. Tell me if anything is not accurate or fairly reported about what you said.

During last night's RIOC Board meeting, in response to community criticism,  RIOC President Shelton Haynes said the reserved parking story was inaccurate and reported with a false narrative.

If my reporting of what you said is not accurate, please tell me what you did say.

Receiving no response, I resent the email yesterday noting that the original email incorrectly said Riverwalk Commons instead of Rivercross Lawn..

Shortly thereafter, RIOC sent out this advisory:

It has come to our attention that there is a narrative circulating through the community that the parking spots on Main Street, which have been designated for use by vehicles pertinent to the operations of Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), were reserved for our President and CEO, and his guests. This narrative is false. To be clear and in an effort to maintain transparency, RIOC is reiterating that these four parking spots are designated for use by contracted vendors, visitors, and RIOC vehicles germane to efficient operations of Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. These parking spots are reserved only during RIOC business hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  

Again, there is no false narrative circulating through the community about the parking spots being reserved for RIOC. Whoever wrote this statement on behalf of RIOC is misrepresenting what was reported and not answering why RIOC receives special parking privileges not available to the public.

Chief Brown's name is not associated with this statement because he knows what he said and will not lie. 

It is interesting to note that the RIOC Communications Team, supported by Mr Haynes, will not allow Chief Brown to answer questions from the Roosevelt Island media. Up to a few months ago, Chief Brown and before him, Chief Jack McManus provided very valuable information to the Roosevelt Island community through local media. But no more.

According to Frank Farance, who attended the RIRA Public Safety Committee meeting: 

I watched the presentation at the RIOC Board meeting, including David Kraut's criticism of Rick's reporting in the Roosevelt Islander blog.

First, Rick accurately reported what was said: Kevin reported Shelton would be having meetings at Blackwell House, and Shelton would need the spots for himself and visitors (meeting attendees).

Second, David Kraut should know better: David Kraut was not there at the PSC meeting, he has no authority on reporting what happened at that meeting.  Surely if the roles were reversed where I were saying something false and David and Mike Shinozaki were first-hand witnesses, David and Mike would be complaining loudly in public.  So why not the same standard when the roles are reversed?

Third, as one executive to another, I can completely understand that your messaging in the board meeting might be different.  And I'll give Kevin the benefit of the doubt that he attempted to present it honestly and correctly in the RIRA PSC meeting, but there might have been a word or two imperfect - an honest mistake.  And I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you, as CEO, discovered you needed some clarification and precision on what a staff member said.  Really, that's no problem and all of us understand that - and please don't punish Kevin or Anthony as they do good work for the community.

Meanwhile, I've been doing my own investigation and reporting on the reserved parking situation, and I see Rick has got a story coming up, so I will provide my findings to Rick (whether they agree with Rick or not).  Myself, as the Island's authority on the parking here, there are 50 spaces from the school to Rivercross and that covers about 6300 residents, i.e., half the Island's population.  Meanwhile, there are on average 50-60 spaces PER BLOCK over the bridge in LIC with a population of about 300 per block, i.e., 1 spot per 5-6 people in LIC compared 1 spot per 125 people on Roosevelt Island.  Thus, parking is scarce, and losing 4 spots (about 10% of our street parking) is significant.

And that doesn't even get into the question that residents and elected officials might have on the propriety of RIOC consuming yet another space that is unavailable to Island organizations - RIOC has consumed the community center, the youth center, Blackwell house, etc., i.e., RIOC has lots of available space already.  So why does the RIOC President need a fancy office in Blackwell House?  Does this mean that the public purpose of Blackwell House - which spent so much money from multiple sources on renovation - is no longer accessible to the public because the RIOC CEO's offices are there?  Regarding those visiting contractors, why is 680 Main (with large facilities, infrastructure, renovations, and immediate parking) or 591 Main or Sportspark (with all its infrastructure and renovations) no longer viable for meetings with contractors?  I think the public needs to understand why the RIOC CEO office is moved to the fancy Blackwell House (yet RIOC complaints about loss of money in the pandemic) and why that location is necessary for contractor's visits and the President's parking spot?  Maybe there are reasonable answers to those questions, and conveying your rationale to the community would be helpful ... which means talking Rick, David, and RIRA.

Ya know, the New York Post doesn't like de Blasio, yet their reporters aren't excluded, right?

Fourth, there are many good things going on right with RIOC, RIRA, and the community: the collaborations with Public Purpose Funds, the Bike Safety efforts, ongoing efforts with Public Safety, RIOC/PSD's collaboration at the Food Panty, and such as a welcome resurgence for RIOC-RIRA collaboration - last collaborations were 2008-2010 (RIOC Pres: Shane, RIRA Pres: myself) and 2013-2014 (RIOC Pres: Indelicato, RIRA PSC Chair: Feely-Nahem).  Shelton, you and your team are doing good work with the community now, and I **consistently defend you** and talk about your successful efforts, and many of us have a desire to support your fresh approaches.  Full stop ... no "but's" or qualifications to that statement.

Several of us are concerned about retaliation from RIOC when expressing differences:

  • Rick gets cut out of regular communications that he used to get from RIOC, e.g., public safety blotter, access to RIOC staff
  • Rossana is rudely dis-invited and humiliated by Erica's crew, as reported by several people
  • And so on.
Do you think the Island feels like they can disagree with RIOC without retaliation or excommunication?  Of course not, and that's Erica who sets that tone.  Why does it make sense to exclude the RIRA President from a Grand Opening?  How does that help RIOC?  The Island community has a long memory on this kind of RIOC tactic, you can search for "RIOC bunker mode" and you'll find two-decades-plus reporting on this, for most RIOC presidents going back to Jerry Blue in the 1990s.  It never works, and for whatever disagreement RIOC was trying to deny or cover up, the long-lasting memory of the community is: RIOC's bunker mode, cover-up, and ex-communication.  Regardless of what Erica says, it is in YOUR (Shelton's) best interest to communicate consistently and transparently, even with those who write critically (e.g., David Stone).   I urge you to rethink this, prohibit retaliation, and take charge of your communications for the benefit of the corporation and its constituents.

Fourth, I don't believe Rick is perfect, I don't agree with him many times, but he does his Professional Best, he is a Good and Honest Reporter, and he will gladly make corrections and do it promptly.  Rick is the Authority on Roosevelt Island as City, State, and Federal officials and major news organizations see Rick's work as authoritative.  Rick has consistently published about a dozen articles a week for over a decade.

Again, why is it in RIOC's interests to ex-communicate the Island's trusted news and information source?  How does that help RIOC?

Shelton: Rossana, Erin, I, and others wish you success as RIOC President, and we wish success to RIOC, too.
Candidates running to represent Roosevelt Island in the NYC Council want to know why RIOC gets special parking privileges not available to the public too.

 Stay tuned. 

UPDATE 8PM - Roosevelt Island Daily

 and Frank Farance

share these images of Mr Haynes RIOC reserved parking space signage.

Roosevelt Island Transportation This Weekend - F Train Service To And From Manhattan, Tram Social Distancing 55 Riders Per Cabin, Ferry & Citibike Too

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

Roosevelt Island E Train service to and from Manhattan too.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) adds:
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 Monday, March 8th, from 35 to 55 passengers per cabin, and we will continue to assess and gradually increase ridership 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 extends to East 90th street on the Upper East Side.

And Roosevelt Island Ciibike docking stations too. 

Sponsored Post - Check Out Roosevelt Island Foodtown Supermarket April 30 - May 6 Spring Savings, Product Offerings & Cinco De Mayo 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 30 - May 6 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 29, 2021

Long Time Roosevelt Island Resident Stunned At Amount Of Garbage Left Out In Open At Lighthouse Park This Morning

A Roosevelt Island Tipster reports walking in Lighthouse Park this morning about 7:45 and was stunned to see this:

 In 30 years living on Roosevelt Island,  I have NEVER seen anything like this.

 I reckon either visitors or transient residents. Either way, the men and women who work so hard to keep this island clean are not the personal cleaners for these slobs..

Funny I looked for alcohol and beer bottles NONE. They did this sober. 

I walked by again at noon and it was all clean.

Manhattan District Attorney Candidate Diana Florence Meets And Speaks To Roosevelt Island Residents At Farmers Market Last Saturday - Watch Video Of What She Has To Say

According to the NY Times:

The race to become Manhattan’s next district attorney is shaping up to be one of the most important in decades, a watershed contest that is likely to fundamentally change the mission of the prominent office and may affect the future of former President Donald J. Trump. 

Yet the eight candidates are all relative unknowns, and, with no public polling, there is no clear front-runner. The victor is likely to win the general election in November without having received a majority of votes in the Democratic primary. ...

Diana Florence is among the candidates seeking to replace Cy Vance as Manhattan District Attorney. According to Ms Florence's website:

Diana Florence began her career as a prosecutor 25 years ago in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, putting people first. There she fought for people who never thought they’d win, going after powerful interests and large scale corruption. She won landmark convictions against companies and individuals for defrauding 9/11 charities, terrorizing the elderly, domestic violence, wage theft, and deadly work conditions. She held powerful interests accountable by prosecuting developers and construction companies for cheating workers and taxpayers. In a historic case against Harco Construction, she ultimately secured justice for the family of a 22 year-old construction worker, Carlos Moncayo, who was buried alive at work....

Ms Florence was at the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market last Saturday speaking with residents about her run for Manhattan District Attorney and local issues. I spoke with her too. Here's what Ms Florence had to say.

Learn more about Ms Florence's campaign for Manhattan District Attorney, experience and views on issues at her website.

 Ms Florence's opponents in the June 22 Manhattan District Attorney Democratic Party are:

The Gotham Gazette has more information on all the candidates for 2021 Manhattan District Attorney election.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

NY Times Food Reviewer Pete Wells Features Astoria Restaurant Nneji Serving West African Dishes - Nneji Owner Beatrice Ajaero Is A Long Time Roosevelt Island Resident And Saturday Food Market Vendor

Congrats to Roosevelt Island resident and Farmers Market vendor Beatrice Ajaero for the wonderful write up of her West African restaurant Nneji received from NY Times Food columnist Pete Wells today.

According to the NY Times: 

The last time I picked up dinner from Nneji, a small shop in Queens that sells African products and food for takeout, something new was hidden under one of the steel lids that cover steaming pans of marigold-yellow wilted onions, glossy red tomatoes stewed with a cow foot or two, lumps of goat that have taken in by osmosis the sweetness and power of several different peppers, and other long-simmered West African pleasures....

Click here for the full NY Times article.

Nneji is located in Astoria at 32-20 34th Avenue.

Ms Ajaero's Nneji restaurant was featured by Channel 7 Eyewitness News in November 2020

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


Stop by the Farmers Market on Saturday and check out Ms Ajaero West African dishes or take a trip to her Nneji take out restaurant in Astoria. 

Maybe she will open a spot on Roosevelt Island some day.

Great View Of Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossoms Grove From Roosevelt Island Tram High Above Over East River

Never get tired of seeing this.


Click icon at bottom right of video for full screen view.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

NY Times Reports On Roosevelt Island Resident Moving Down Main Street To Building Of Her Dreams With Help Of Local Media - Take A Virtual Tour Of The Hudson Related Riverwalk Park Roosevelt Island Affordable Housing Building

As reported just before Thanksgiving last year

Roosevelt Island resident Rodica Miller thought she hit the jackpot when she learned  her lottery application for an apartment in the Roosevelt Island Hudson Related Riverwalk Park affordable housing building was selected. But there was a problem - getting out of her existing lease recently renewed this summer at Roosevelt Landings....

In reply to my inquiry for comment on the situation last November a C+C spokesperson replied:

... C+C typically does not allow mid-term lease breaks, but Ms. Miller now has an opportunity to live in affordable housing, which we won't deny her. Due to the unusual nature of her lease-break request, we are happy to grant an exception to our policy so Ms. Miller can move into her new apartment and avoid any undue financial hardship."...

After learning the good news just before Thanksgiving, Ms Miller wrote:

... I just received a phone call and an email from C+C Management and they agree to terminate my lease early. I’m so excited and relieved! Thank you so much for your help!

Also, Rebecca Seawright’s office responded right away and offered me a free legal clinic. I was impressed by their prompt follow-up. The person from C+C Management who contacted me was Doryne Isley. She was super nice and she wrote me a lovely email. So happy it all worked out!...

Yesterday, The NY Times featured Ms Miller's story in the Renters column.

Click here for the full NY Times Renters Column story.

Hudson Related is the private developer of the Roosevelt Island Riverwalk Park affordable housing building. 

Last November, before residents started to move in, Related Companies representative Jamar Adams gave a tour of the building.

Over 77 thousand applications were sent in for the 313 available units.

Mr Adams has recently started his own firm to build affordable housing.

Monday, April 26, 2021

RIRA Youth Committee Chair Comments On Partial Justice In Conviction Of Derek Chauvin For Murder Of George Floyd And Encourages Continued Dialogue With Local Youth And Young Roosevelt Island March For Justice Organizers

Last June 3, following the killing of George Floyd, Roosevelt Island young people organized an inspiring Black Lives Matter March For Justice

from the Cornell Tech campus to Good Shepherd Plaza where they took a knee in silence for 9 minutes.

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Children, Youth & Education Committee Chair Adib Mansour was one of many very impressed with the young Roosevelt Island March For Justice organizers.

Last July, shortly after the March For Justice, Mr Mansour wrote:

I was very touched to see the youth of the island react to the racial injustice in our country; I was brought to tears to see the youth and the community taking the knee for 9 minutes on June 3rd during the March they organized.

I was born in Lebanon during the civil war there and I know what it feels to fear being in the wrong place at the wrong time, to feel fear in my bones when leaving the safety of my house. The March reminded me of a pledge I took long ago… to fight for freedom, peace and love. I see a lot of parallels in current times, where black people are targeted and killed, even by the authorities that are supposed to protect them. I took the pledge again after the June 3rd March, and that this committee I chair will always be learning on how to bring change and increasing racial equity in our community and our city. As the chair of RIRA’s Children, Youth & Education Committee I am making the commitment that we will be engaging in activities and actions that support our black youth and make sure that we are addressing systematic racial injustices.

Following the April 20 conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, Mr Mansour adds:

Here's  are more scenes from the June 3 Roosevelt Island March For Justice


and the RIRA Zoom conversation with March organizers.  

Sponsored Post - Roosevelt Island Cafe @Cornell Tech Happy Hour, Flatbreads With Choice Of One Topping And Beer $10 Monday To Friday 4 - 7 PM

The Cafe @Cornell Tech invites Roosevelt Island residents to enjoy Happy Hour Flatbreads  & Beer.

Check out the Cornell Tech Cafe daily menu here. 

Among offerings this week is the Hot Wok Station:

... Stir Fry with your choice of proteins, toppings, sauces, rice or noodles...

Also, fresh salads and Chicken Cordon Blue too.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Roosevelt Island Tram Soaring High Above Spectacular Cherry Blossoms On East River Waterfront This Weekend - Roosevelt Island Riverwalk Buildings Red & Yellow Tulips Are Spectacular Too

 NY 1's Roger Clark is obsessed with the Roosevelt Island Tram from across the East River

This view of the Tram from Roosevelt Island is pretty terrific too as it soars over the spectacular Cherry Blossoms just south of the Tram Station and Queensboro Bridge.

Take a look at the Roosevelt Island red and yellow Tulips planted by the Riverwalk buildings.They are spectacular too, but please don't pick them out of the flower beds as some are doing.