Friday, June 18, 2021

Banks Refuse To Open Branch On Roosevelt Island Main Street But Will Consider Area Near RI Transportation Hub In Southtown, Says RIOC - Sportspark Building Being Offered

Roosevelt Island has been without a bank since Amalgamted Bank closed it's Main Street branch last September

Since that time, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), Main Street Retail Master Leaseholder Hudson Related, local politicians and residents have been unable to persuade any bank to open on Roosevelt Island. 

During yesterday's RIOC Operations Advisory Committee meeting, RIOC President Shelton Haynes and Chief Financial Officer John O'Reilly reported that banks refuse to open a branch on Main Street. 

However, there is interest in opening a bank branch near the Roosevelt Island Transportation Hubs, Tram, Subway and Ferry in Southtown near the Riverwalk Buildings, Cornell Tech and the newly opened Graduate Hotel. 

RIOC plans to offer space in the renovated Sportspark building to a bank that may be interested in the location.

Upon hearing of RIOC's plan, RIOC Directors Michael Shinozaki and David Kraut warned of expected community opposition to placing a bank in Sportspark, instead of on Main Street where most of the residents who have been asking for a bank branch live.  Mr Shinozaki said:

...The perception problem you're going to have is that this is a facility being put in for the benefit of Cornell and not for the residents of the Island...
Mr Kraut added:

... It's no good putting banks in Sportpark when the people live on Main Street... We always have to be careful who we're carrying water for. Are we carrying water for the people who live here or some other entity?...

Mr O'Reilly replied:

The issue is the banks themselves are reluctant to go to Main Street.... We're not pointing them to Sportspark....

...They see the Transportation hubs... attracting business to their brick and mortar....

Today I asked one Long Time Roosevelt Island resident who's been asking for a new Roosevelt Island bank branch about the possibility of Sportspark as a location. The reaction:

... As far as a bank — anywhere accessible by Red Bus is ok by me....

According to Mr. O'Reilly, Amalgamated Bank closed their Roosevelt Island branch with 800 customers and $9 million in deposits, needing $20 million to break even.At closing, RIOC had over $40 million in deposits at the Roosevelt Island Amalgamated Bank  branch. But, Amalgamated did not give the Roosevelt Island branch any credit in evaluating it's viability for the RIOC $40 million deposit which was credited to the Amalgamated corporate group.

Here's the RIOC Operations Advisory Committee meeting discussion about the possibility of a Sportspark Bank branch (25 minute mark).

RIOC OPS Committee - June 17 2021.m4v from Diva Communications on Vimeo.

Also, RIOC is seeking to place more ATM machines at various locations around Roosevelt Island.

Stay tune for more. 

UPDATE 8 PM - The Long Time Roosevelt Island Resident adds:

Totally agree with anyone who argues for the fact that most of the population lives between Manhattan Park and North of the Tram, and that the RIOC & Hudson Related folks as well as our newest neighbor totally disrespect the actual folks who live AND work here.  Especially the elderly, disabled and the Island businesses and non-profits that need an accessible brick & mortar bank.

Let the hotel & Cornell get some ATMs and give us a conveniently located branch of a financially stable, healthy Bank IN THE HEART OF THE ISLAND.

NY Times Article Says Roosevelt Island Wants More Visitors, Is That True? Can Roosevelt Island Continue To Be Peaceful, Serene, Green Oasis And Encourage Tourism At Same Time?

According to June 17 NY Times article:

Why This Overlooked Residential Island in N.Y.C. Wants Tourists 

With a tech campus, a chic hotel, ample green space and its famous tram, Roosevelt Island would like more visitors, please....

... Although many locals are thrilled about the attention the island is getting, the population of around 14,000 is still not enough to keep these new businesses thriving, said Shelton J. Haynes, the president and chief operating officer of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, which functions like a local government.

“These small businesses definitely need tourists to come in,” he said. “Many were hit very hard during the pandemic. Especially now, they need a hybrid of residents as well as tourism to stay alive.” The corporation is considering a series of free tours, both on foot and by bus, to bring in more people, Mr. Haynes said.

UPDATE 6/20:

I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Information Officer Amy Smith: 

Shelton is quoted in June 17 NY Times article about Roosevelt Island wanting more tourists as saying there are around 14 thousand residents living on Roosevelt Island.

Where did he get the 14 thousand population number from?

Is it from the most recent census or a statistic from RIOC?
Ms Smith answered:
You are correct that 12,000 more closely reflects the 2010 census data and Mr. Haynes was misquoted. We’ve reached out for a correction.

Sponsored Post - Last 3 Days Of NYC Early Voting Today Thru Sunday June 20 At Roosevelt Island Sportspark 250 Main Street, Primary Election Day June 22 - Learn About NYC's New Ranked Choice Way To Vote In June 2021 Primary, View Sample Ballot Too


Today, Saturday and Sunday (June 18-20) are the last 3 days for NYC Early Voting. Roosevelt Island early voting location is at the Sportspark facility, 250 Main Street. The Sportspark entrance for early voting is at North Loop Road which is between Sportspark and the Cornell Tech campus. Hours are:

  • Friday 7 AM - 4 PM
  • Saturday 8 AM - 5 PM
  • Sunday  8 AM - 4 PM

The Roosevelt Island June 22 Primary Election Day polling location is at PS/IS 217, 645 Main Street.

According to the NYC Board of Elections:

Ranked-choice voting will be used for the June 2021 Primary Election. New York City will use ranked-choice voting for Primary and Special Elections for the following NYC municipal offices: 

  • MAYOR 
You can rank up to 5 candidates in order of preference: your 1st choice candidate, your 2nd choice candidate, and so on up to your 5th choice candidate.


Below are Roosevelt Island sample ballots for the Democratic and Republican Party June 2021 primaries. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Fantastic Bird's Eye View Of Roosevelt Island, Central Park And Manhattan Skyscrapers

Sponsored Post - Elect Kim Moscaritolo To Represent Roosevelt Island, Upper East Side & East Harlem In NYC Council District 5 - Early Voting Thru June 20 At Sportspark, 250 Main Street, Primary Election Day June 22 At PS/IS 217

Kim Moscaritolo is a candidate to represent Roosevelt Island, the Upper East Side and East Harlem in NYC Council District 5. When Kim became frustrated with the lack of political engagement in her neighborhood, she, along with some friends, founded the Four Freedoms Democratic Club. The following year she ran for Democratic District Leader on a platform of reform and transparency, and won against a longtime incumbent. Since being elected Kim has led a reform movement within the Manhattan Democratic Party, fighting for stronger ethics rules, and pushing for a ban on paid lobbyists in party leadership positions. She has also recruited dozens of people to run for County Committee, the most local elected office in New York.
Kim Moscaritolo spoke about the issues at last Saturday's Roosevelt Island Day

NYC early voting runs thru June 20. Roosevelt Island early voting location is at the Sportspark facility, 250 Main Street. Primary Election Day is June 22. Roosevelt Island Primary Election Day Polling location is at PS/IS 217 (645 Main Street). 

This year, NYC has ranked choice voting. This is how it works.
Learn more about Kim Moscaritolo's campaign to represent Roosevelt Island, the Upper East Side and East Harlem in NYC Council District 5 at her website.

Roosevelt Island Resident Unable To Get Monthly Parking Spot At Motorgate Garage, Shocked To Learn There Is Waiting List - At Least 200 On Motorgate Parking Waiting List But No Waiting For RIOC Staff And Visitors At 4 Reserved Main Street Parking Spots

A Roosevelt Island resident asks:

As a new resident of Roosevelt Island I was shocked to learn of the wait list for monthly parking spaces at the only garage on the island. Is this an area that is being addressed? I understand the concern to keep the amount of cars on the island to a minimum but offering parking to local residence should be a priority for the community. 

 I have never seen the garage full so I am curious who we need to contact to open up more spaces for residents who should be the priority for parking. As a person with a disability transportation is key and having to park off the island is not something that is sustainable. I wish I knew this was going to be an issue prior to moving to the island. Now with the new hotel, I am sure that parking will be an even bigger issue. 

I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Information Officer Amy Smith if there was a waiting list for monthly Motorgate parking garage spots and:

...How many parking spots are in Motorgate and how many are available on a monthly basis?

Has anything happened to reduce the amount of monthly parking spots?

Ms Smith answered:

While the construction performed improved Motorgate Garage from a safety standpoint by expanding disabled spots and adding safety zones on each floor, as well as corrected structural damage like leaks and waterproofed surfaces, it was never meant to expand the garage.

These improvements, combined with an increased number of residents opting to drive rather than take public transportation due to COVID-19, as well as a general increase in Roosevelt Island residents, has given way to a wait list for a spot in Motorgate Garage. 

A Motorgate Parking staffer said there are at least 200 people on the monthly parking waiting list and no idea when more spaces would become available but there are daily parking spots available.

As previously reported, RIOC has reserved 4 very scarce Main Street parking spots

for itself during weekday business hours despite the outrage of many community members.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Watch Roosevelt Island Fireside Chat Interviews With Candidates Running For NYC Council District 5, Manhattan Borough President, District Attorney & Democratic Party District Leader - Early Voting Thru June 20 At Sportpark, Primary Election Day June 22 At PS/IS 217 & Learn About Ranked Choice Voting Too

 As previously reported:

Joyce Short and Ellen Polivy, two long-time Roosevelt Island activists, founded the Political Engagement Group (PEG) in order to revive Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s concept of “Fireside Chats,” right here on Roosevelt Island. Their aim is to provide voters on the Upper Eastside and Roosevelt Island with a personal view of the people, their platforms, and their interests in our communities, in order to help their neighbors make enlightened decisions when they cast their votes on June 22nd. 

Click here to view the Roosevelt Island Fireside Chats on You Tube with:

NYC early voting runs thru June 20. Roosevelt Island early voting location is at the Sportspark facility, 250 Main Street. Primary Election Day is June 22. Roosevelt Island Primary Election Day Polling location is at PS/IS 217 (645 Main Street). 

This year, NYC has ranked choice voting. This is how it works.

Lush Life, New Work By Roosevelt Island Artist Tony Vita Exhibiting At Octagon Gallery Presented By Gallery RIVAA - You're Invited To Opening Reception Thursday June 17

You're invited to June 17 opening reception for Lush Life, a new work by Roosevelt Island artist Tony Vita, from 5-8 PM at the Octagon Gallery (888 Main Street) presented by Gallery RIVAA.

For more info about Mr  Vita, check out his website and enjoy these whimsical Roosevelt Island banners

Sponsored Post - Elect Esther Yang Democratic Party 76 AD Part A District Leader Representing Roosevelt Island & Upper East Side - Early Voting Thru June 20 At Sportspark, 250 Main Street, Primary Election Day June 22 At PS/IS 217

Esther Yang is a candidate to  represent Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side as Democratic Party 76 AD Part A District Leader.

Esther Yang is a mom, judicial delegate, "New Yorker of the Week" by NY1 for her work with children and the creator of bully-free zones in public schools. For over 20 years, she has served as a community organizer and activist. She is a wellness advocate and educator that teaches yoga, karate, and meditation in schools and colleges across Manhattan. She is the author of "Love Yourself, the Heck with Everyone Else" and guest speaker on Mind Body Medicine at Cornell Medical School.  

Esther has a passion for improving the community by working closely with voters and elected officials. "As I have always done in the past and continue to do today and everyday, I am committed – heart and soul – to working hard for all of you and for everyone on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island."

What is a District Leader?

District leaders are unpaid elected officials representing your district at the county level. District leaders are expected to staff poll sites, assist in the selection of judicial nominees, help facilitate the party’s activity within their district and influence policies/structure of their local county committee.

Esther Yang is endorsed by Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang,

and Roosevelt Island Assembly Member Rebecca Seawight, among other elected officials, as well as Roosevelt Island resident Joyce Short.

Meet Esther Yang at the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market where she has been a frequent visitor.

More info about Esther Yang's candidacy for Democratic Party 76 AD Part A District Leader at her website

Roosevelt Island early voting is available now thru Sunday June 20 at the Sportspark building (250 Main Street) and at PS/IS 217 (645 Main Street) on Primary Election Day June 22.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Roosevelt Island Inspired Painted Picnic Tables Return To Good Shepherd Plaza With New Artful Look And They Look Terrific - More Roosevelt Island Outdoor Seating Picnic Tables Would Be Great Too

Roosevelt Island residents were concerned last week when they discovered the very popular picnic tables disappeared 

from their spot behind the church in Good Shepherd Plaza only to be relieved to learn the picnic tables were moved temporarily near the Meditation Steps so they could be painted by local organizations during last Saturday's Roosevelt Island Day Celebration.
The newly painted Roosevelt Island inspired themed picnic tables were returned to Good Shepherd Plaza yesterday and they look terrific.

According to Shops On Main Street:

Last spring, Shops On Main gifted RI’s Good Shepherd Plaza six picnic tables. It's been such a pleasure to see so many islanders use them and we’re delighted to offer SoM’s restaurants and cafes more outdoor seating options. 

This year we're taking it a step further by making the tables fun, creative, and captivating by inviting six island-based organizations to turn them into artful masterpieces with a theme of ISLAND INSPIRED. Among the participating groups are the Main Street Theater & Dance Alliance, The Girl Scouts, Cornell Tech, RI Youth Center, WFF, and Island Kids. 

Each group will be provided art materials to bring these tables to life on Saturday, June 12 on Meditation Lawn. The public is invited to come out and watch. The final creations will be returned to Good Shepherd Plaza and bring ongoing connection and joy to islanders long after Roosevelt Island Day 2021.

Enjoy outdoor eating at the Roosevelt Island Good Shepherd Plaza Picnic Tables with your family, friends and neighbors.

I'd love to see more picnic tables for outdoor seating, particularly by Blackwell House.

Roosevelt island Residents Association New Communications Initiative - Print Newsletter To Inform Community About Committee Work, Upcoming Meetings & Special Events Debuts At Roosevelt Island Day

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Rossana Ceruzzi, Vice President Erin Feely-Nahem and Common Council Member Frank Farance were handing out copies of a new RIRA communications initiative - a printed newsletter - during last Saturday's Roosevelt Island Day.

According to Ms Feely-Nahem, the purpose of the newsletter is to: 

... update the community to some of the work RIRA committee's are doing and upcoming information, meetings, special events, etc.

Mr Farance adds: 

We (Rossana, Erin, and I) gave away all our copies on Roosevelt Island Day. We're going to try to do this on a semi regular basis, the newsletter was well-received by both residents and politicians/candidates. Enjoy!

Here's the RIRA June 2021 Newsletter.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Roosevelt Island Carter Burden Network Senior Center Post Covid 19 Reopening Today - Staff Excited To Welcome Everybody Back

New York City Department For the Ageing (DFTA) Senior Centers opened today as we continue to resume normal life post Covid 19 pandemic.

According to the Carter Burden Roosevelt Island Senior Center (RISC):
RISC has been given the green light to open our doors. NYC Department For The Ageing (DFTA) and our Mayor have given the ok! 

We will begin slowly, carefully and safely. We have many protocols and guidelines to follow.  

The health and safety of our clients and staff are our priority. 

We will open the doors at 10:00am, a daily hot congregate meal will be offered with limited seating(25% capacity) daily grab – n- go will also be available. 

Folks are welcome to sit in the garden and enjoy their lunch as well.  

Initially services will be limited, the computer lab will be open with limited capacity, games on the patio weather permitting, bingo. 

A weekly schedule will be available. Case management will be by appointment only to begin. 

Hopefully by mid-July more classes and services will become available. 

The staff at the Roosevelt Island Senior Center is excited to be welcoming back our members! 

We ask that all entering the Senior Center wear a mask. Temporary change of hours; Monday-Friday 10:00am – 3:30 pm

Roosevelt Island Senior Center Director Lisa Fernandez and other staff members were at Roosevelt Island Day celebration last Saturday announcing today's opening and are very excited to welcome everybody back.

Ms Fernandez adds that 60 people visited the Senior Center today.

Manhattan Borough President Candidate Lindsey Boylan Says Her Experience Overseeing RIOC Will Benefit Roosevelt Island Residents During Campaign Visit Yesterday - Watch Video Interview And Learn More About Her Campaign

Lindsey Boylan is a candidate in the June 22 Manhattan Borough President Democratic Party Primary. According to Ms Boylan's web site

We need a justice-first Manhattan Borough President. Lindsey is an unapologetic progressive with nearly a decade of experience as an urban planner and public servant, managing public parks and spaces and overseeing housing, economic development, and disaster relief for the State of New York. Lindsey is running for Manhattan Borough President because we need bold progressivism, radical accountability, and executive experience for our City.

Ms Boylan campaigned on Roosevelt Island yesterday afternoon, speaking with residents about their issues and concerns.

I spoke with Ms Boylan yesterday in front of the Nisi restaurant. Ms Boylan was very knowledgeable about Roosevelt Island issues having overseen the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) during her time as the Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Housing for NY State. According to Ms Boylan:

... I oversaw the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. Alot of the complicated issues was how to age out of Mitchell Lama and one of the last things that I was engaged in was both Westview and thinking through how to preserve as much affordability as possible ...

... One of the goals has to be how can people living on Roosevelt Island benefit the most and feel like they are a part of all of the planning, even that's happening south of the tram and in Cornell Tech, and how do we make sure that the first priority is always people who live on Roosevelt Island and how do we enhance all the things that are wonderful here. 

So I guarantee you, I'm the most experienced with RIOC because I oversaw it when I was the Secretary. Resiliency issues that we are undoubtedly going to be dealing with, infrastructure support, particularly for the walking ways and the waterfront and then integration of Cornell Tech, all those things are stuff I'm very familiar with and it would be so fun to work together to make sure that Roosevelt Island is the place that we all know it can be and continues to be deeply affordable livable in whatever ways I can do that. 

Learn more about Ms Boylan's campaign for Manhattan Borough President at her website.

Ms Boylan's opponents in the June 22 Democratic Party Primary are: 

You may ask what exactly does a Borough President do? According to The City:

... A borough president is an advocate for their borough in a number of ways. 

First, they have a sizable chunk of change at their disposal to fund local initiatives, groups and projects like buying technology for public schools, renovating local parks or spearheading community health outreach.

Borough presidents share about 5% of the city budget to fund things in their borough — about $4 billion among them, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board.

Borough presidents can also introduce bills in the City Council, though they do not get a vote.
They weigh in on land use proposals — in other words, development projects that need public approval — with an advisory vote and written decision. Their input is not binding, but it can be quite influential if they are staunchly for or against a project and lobby Council members or the mayor. 

Working with local City Council members, Borough presidents also appoint all members of community boards, the local bodies that weigh in on everything from new bike lanes to liquor licenses for restaurants. With that power, the borough presidents can exert significant sway over neighborhood-level politics and projects....

Click here for more from The City on NYC Borough Presidents. 

And Gothamist has more on what the Borough President does.   

NYC early voting started yesterday, June 12, and runs thru June 20. Roosevelt Island early voting location is at the Sportspark facility, 250 Main Street. Primary Election Day is June 22. Roosevelt Island Primary Election Day Polling location is at PS/IS 217 (645 Main Street).

This year, NYC has ranked choice voting. This is how it works.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

NYC Mayoral Candidate Katherine Garcia Campaigns On Roosevelt Island Today Meeting Enthusiastic Supporters And Early Voters While Walking Down Main Street - "I Don't Just Want The Title Of Mayor, I Want To Do The Job Of Mayor Says Ms Garcia

NYC Democratic Party Primary Mayoral candidate Katherine Garcia campaigned on Roosevelt Island today.

Ms Garcia met and spoke with enthusiastic Roosevelt Island supporters and early voters 

as she walked down Main Street to Nisi restaurant.

I interviewed Ms Garcia outside the Nisi Restaurant. Ms Garcia said:

... I don't just want the title of Mayor, I want to do the job of Mayor....

More info about Ms Garcia's campaign available at her web site.

Ms Garcia's opponents in the June 22 Democratic Party Mayoral Primary are:

NYC early voting started yesterday, June 12, and runs thru June 20. Roosevelt Island early voting location is at the Sportspark facility, 250 Main Street. Primary Election Day is June 22. Roosevelt Island Polling location is at PS/IS 217 (645 Main Street).

This year, NYC has ranked choice voting. This is how it works.