Saturday, December 4, 2021

Take A Walk Along The Roosevelt Island Holiday Trail, Watch The Tree Lit Up And Listen To Some Wonderful Carols Performed By The Main Street Theatre And Dance Alliance From The Warm Comfort Of Your Home - It Was Pretty Cold Last Night But Very Enjoyable And Fun Time

It was a chilly evening last night on the Roosevelt Island Holiday Trail organized by RIOC. Fortunately, the cold weather and frozen fingers did not stop anyone from enjoying themselves and having a good time particularly when listening to the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance singing Holiday Christmas songs in Good Shepherd Plaza.

or visiting

the various

local community

 groups stationed

along the Holiday Trail

Watch for the lighting of the Roosevelt Island Holiday Christmas Tree.

The Tree in Meditation Lawn looks great 

and listen to more Carols from the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance.

Despite the cold and the scaled back celebration with no Santa Claus this year, it was still a very nice evening.

Friday, December 3, 2021

You're Invited To The Roosevelt Island Gallery RIVAA Artist's Group Show, "Miracle On Main Street" Opening Reception Saturday December 4, Exhibition Thru January 23

Roosevelt Island Gallery RIVAA reports: 

Miracle on Main Street 

Saturday, December 4, 2021 to Sunday, January 23, 2022 

Opening Reception: Saturday, December 4, 6 - 9 pm 

You are cordially invited to the opening reception of the RIVAA Artist's Group Show: 'MIRACLE ON MAIN STREET' on Saturday, December 4th from 6-9 pm at Gallery RIVAA (527 Main Street).

Trader Joe's Bridgemarket 59th Street Store Opens Yesterday To Large Crowd Of Very Happy Customers, Only 1 Block From The Roosevelt Island Tram - Take A Tour And Meet Store Manager Captain Brian Who Loves Roosevelt Island

Grocery shopping for Roosevelt Island residents just got a whole lot better.  

The NYC 59th Street Bridgemarket Trader Joe's under the Queensboro Bridge and only one block from the Roosevelt Island Tram

opened yesterday morning 

to an expected large crowd of very happy Roosevelt Island and Upper East side customers.

The lines were long but very orderly and manageable, not a long wait at all.

I spoke with Trader Joe's Captain Brian yesterday who tell us about the new store and says about Roosevelt Island:

... I'm very familiar with it.  It's one of my favorite places in New York. I think it's a beautiful place. I love visiting there and I've been there a couple times since I've been working out of the store so love it.... 

... the Tram goes almost directly over the store so it seemed logical to pay a little homage to the Tram being right next to us...

A very happy Trader Joe's customer Kelsey Fowler gives a great first hand account of the Trader Joe's 59th Street Grand Opening and tour of the store. Watch and enjoy her happiness and excitement.

The store is open daily from 8 am to 9 PM.  

As one Roosevelt Island resident commented:

This is the best thing ever!!! Now all I need is an outdoor volleyball court on the island and all my dreams will have come true

If only they delivered. 

Roosevelt Island and Upper East Side NYC Council Member Ben Kallos adds

Just as I got elected, A&P went bankrupt and we lost our flagship Food Emporium. 

We spent the past 8 years working with EDC and multiple owners who cycled through the space. We reached out to every supermarket in America to get this largest of empty storefronts filled. We even tried creative ideas like pop up markets. After years of working to fill the space, I couldn't be prouder that the Trader Joe's everyone's been asking for is open. 

I promise I didn't put in all this work just for the Thai Lime & Chili Cashews. :

More info on Trader Joe's available at their web site.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Great News - Roosevelt Island Will Soon Be Getting A NYC Health & Hospital Test & Trace Corp Mobil Covid Unit Says Incoming NYC Council Member Julie Menin

Reported last Tuesday that the Roosevelt Island Youth Center closed due to multiple Covid 19 exposures and PS/IS 217 school parents were pleading for a Roosevelt Island Covid Test site. To date, a petition to bring Covid test site to Roosevelt Island has 344 signatures.

Yesterday, I asked newly-elected, incoming Roosevelt Island/Upper East Side NYC Council Member Julie Menin:
There is no Covid Test site on Roosevelt Island. RIOC is silent on this. A group of parents have started a petition to bring Covid Test site to Roosevelt Island. Any comment on this? Anything you can do to help....
Ms Menin reported this afternoon:
I spoke to the City’s Test and Trace Corps and they will deploy a mobile unit to Roosevelt Island to meet residents’ concerns. It will be open to the general public.
I spoke with Ms Menin a few minutes ago. She said that as a former NYC Commissioner and head of several NYC Agencies, she was able to use her City Hall contacts to secure a NYC Health & Hospitals Corp Test and Trace Corp mobile unit for Roosevelt Island.
The mobile unit will perform both rapid and PCR testing. 

The location and hours of the mobile unit are still to be determined though it can easily move to wherever on Roosevelt Island it is most needed.

Good job by our incoming NYC Council Member Julie Menin (pictured below campaigning last September at the Farmers Market).

UPDATE 12/3 Ms Menin adds:
The mobile van will arrive between 8 am and 8:30 am on dec 6. It will be there Dec 6 through dec 12th. Location is still tbd.

UPDATE 12/4 - NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright reported yesterday:

I'm delighted the city responded quickly to my call for a much needed testing unit starting next week on Roosevelt Island. 

My compliments to resident Susy Del Campo, Wendy Hirsch of Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, and the Roosevelt Islander for their advocacy efforts to keep the community safe as we navigate through the evolving pandemic. 

And from the NYC Health & Hospitals Corp:

All schools have regular surveillance testing in order to detect transmission that may be occurring in the building. We have proven that schools remain among the safest spaces in NYC as it relates to transmission. While we don’t station mobile testing vans at schools (so as not interfere with the surveillance testing happening within the school), we can certainly deploy a van to Roosevelt Island in the coming week that is open to the general public.

Roosevelt Island RISA Holiday Village Festivities This Weekend And RIOC Scaled Down Holiday Trail Friday December 3 With Tree Lighting & MST&DA Carolers

Roosevelt Island Seniors Association (RISA) President Andrea Jackson reports: 

The " Holiday Village " event is a wonderful blend of Community Organizations, Businesses, Vendors, and residents, bringing together a host of festivities and a resounding atmosphere of the Holiday season. The event begins December 3, 2021through December 5, 2021, from 10 AM - 6:30 PM at Good Shepherd Plaza. 

Featuring Live Jazz, unique gifts, refreshments, Santa's Chairs, attractions for the entire family, and much more. Come by share in the fun and contribute to our Toy, sock, hat, and glove drive for the "Samaritan Village" Family Shelter. For more information email Admission is Free, Social distancing, mask-wearing, and compliances are enforced.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) adds:

Tis the season, Roosevelt Island! 

It's the most wonderful time of the year! You may have spotted decorative garland, twinkle lights, a sleigh, giant gift boxes, and more as Roosevelt Island has entered the holiday season. To celebrate the season, since we’re unable to return to full holiday activities at this time, we hope you’ll join us for the Roosevelt Island Holiday Trail on Friday, December 3rd, from 5 PM – 7 PM!  

The Roosevelt Island Holiday Trail is a festive and fun collection of stops where RIOC, in partnership with community groups, businesses, and partners will offer holiday-themed music, treats, information, and more!  

The Holiday Trail will take revelers to various island locations, from the NYC Ferry landing to the RISA Holiday Village at Good Shepherd Plaza (543 Main St.). This scaled-down free event will be a festive day of fun and a chance for all to show off your ugliest Christmas sweaters or best holiday regalia, as the tree will be turned on at 7 PM on the Meditation Lawn.  

We hope you can come out and celebrate the holiday spirit!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Cornell Tech Working On Project To Improve Roosevelt Island Local News Gathering - Will You Help?

Roosevelt Islander Online relies on your written tips, photos, videos and documents to report on local Roosevelt Island news. I greatly appreciate the efforts by residents to help inform the Roosevelt Island community.

A group of Cornell Tech students are working on a project to improve the Roosevelt Island news gathering process. Will you help?

According to Tim Bernard, one of the Cornell Tech students working on the project:

Answer quick questions to support the Roosevelt Islander!

A group of Cornell Tech students are developing a system for members of the public to respond to requests for tidbits of information, photos, etc. from local news agencies, starting with the Roosevelt Islander. Sign up as a contributor here.

NY1's Pat Kiernan discussed the importance of local news in this 2019 video report.

According to Mr Kiernan:

 ... there will be over the next decade more big shifts and how local reporting is done and how people learn about that reporting and what they do with it when they get it.

Sign up here to help Roosevelt Island and local NYC news gathering.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Roosevelt Island Youth Center Temporarily Closes Due To Possible Multiple Covid 19 Exposures - Parents Of PS/IS 217 Students Pleading For Roosevelt Island Covid Testing

Earlier today, I asked the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

I'm told that the youth center has multiple positive Covid cases among kids and staff, and RIOC closed down the center until further notice.

Is that true?

Does RIOC have any plans to bring back Covid Testing site to Roosevelt Island....

This evening, RIOC Public Information Officer Amy Smith replied:

For the first time this year, the Roosevelt Island Youth Center (RIYC) has temporarily closed due to evidence of possible COVID-19 exposure. We did not hesitate in halting operations of the RIYC in order to keep our participants and staff safe. Although not ideal, closing is a step we proudly take, particularly as the Omicron variant raises cause for concern. During our closure, we will be working through our multi-layered response and we will update our participants when it has been deemed safe to reopen. We will remain transparent in sharing this information and updates with island partners and encourage families to continue to reach out to us directly with any questions or concerns.

Parents of PS/IS 217 students are pleading for Covid Testing on Roosevelt Island:

Twice a week, but afternoons only.

That way they will have the foot traffic in RI, kids can get tested after school, parents can return home and get tested with their kids (as kids will be pick up from after school programs) Maybe even one Saturday at the Farmers Market.

UPDATE 12/1 - A concerned long time Roosevelt Island resident adds:

There’s been no new RIOC Advisory of any type on this particular outbreak, and / or including yesterday’s updated NYC DOHMH recommendations about masking indoors. 

Were kids & adults wearing masks in RIYC at all times? 

What kind of contact tracing is going on? 

How are they coordinating with PS/IS 217 & other places kids go to school or after school programs? 

And why aren’t more folks clamoring for some weekly on-site testing van or service via NYC DOHMH or HHC?

A petition has been started to bring a Covid Test Site to Roosevelt Island. So far, 276 have signed.

Roosevelt island NYC Council Member Ben Kallos reports:
We are working with schools throughout the district on similar requests. We got testing before and we will get testing back to Roosevelt Island.

What Do Charles Dickens, Nellie Bly, Scrooge, Smallpox Hospital, Octagon Lunatic Asylum, Red Bus And The People Of Roosevelt Island Have In Common? They're All Appearing In Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance Holiday Musical "The Ghosts All Around You", Buy Your Tickets Now And Consider A Giving Tuesday Donation For New Sound System

According to the Roosevelt Island Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance:

Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance announces the opening of “The Ghosts All Around You” in the Howe Theatre, running Dec 10-12 and 17-19 (in-person & livestreamed). A multigenerational, multicultural cast of talented MSTDA actors, along with a stellar creative team including acclaimed director Steven Eng and a longtime creative contributor to MSTDA, assistant director Jacqueline Lucid are launching what is sure to become a holiday tradition for Roosevelt Island, right on Main Street NYC!  

                                                                Image From Irena Island Images

What do Charles Dickens, Nelly Bly, Scrooge and the people of Roosevelt Island all have in common? They will all be appearing live this holiday season on Roosevelt Island! The ghosts of Roosevelt Island will be coming to life to tell a tale in which worlds are interwoven in a gripping and meaningful story of equality, human connection and compassion, just in time for the season of giving! 

Composer and Co-writer, Fadner has been riding a ghostly train of thought similar to the “greatest writer in English history”, Charles John Huffman Dickens. Jonathan Fadner’s driving musical score ranges from totally rockin’ to heartbreakingly beautiful. 

The musical is set on Roosevelt Island, featuring landmarks such as the Smallpox Hospital and The Octagon (formerly the NYC Insane Asylum). Even the Roosevelt Island Red Public Bus plays a role! Every year, since her husband William (played by Gabriel Portuondo) died, the struggling yet optimistic single mother Cheryl Makepeace (played by Kimbirdlee) reads “A Christmas Carol” to her three young children, hoping to teach her kids goodwill and kindness. This year, the family moved to Roosevelt Island, and Cheryl works for the modern day Scrooge and real estate tycoon, Potiphar Stingyas (played by Russ Cusick.) Circumstances arise to reveal inequalities and painful pasts which lead to self-examination, redemption and valuable life lessons, as the ghosts of the past try to break through and a memorable story is told and sung.

Last year was a time of development for “The Ghosts All around You.” At the time, the city was in the grips of the Covid 19 pandemic and life was scary and uncertain. MSTDA forged ahead by reinventing their programming and allowing creative artists a safe haven to be creative and stay connected and safe. Their perseverance is paying off this year with a staged production of the new musical, including costumes by Amelia Dombrowski, choreography by Isaiah Reynolds, lighting design by Zackry Childers (stage manager), music direction by Jonathan Fadner, and digital projection and set design by Rachel Reuben. Executive Director Kristi Towey, AED/THeatre Dept Head Kimbirdlee Fadner and the MSTDA Board of Directors are thrilled to produce this community-minded new work.
Here's a montage of 2020 performances from The Ghosts All Around You by the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance.

Also, consider making a Giving Tuesday donation to the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance.

Global Citizen Oriented New City NYC Church Being Planted On Roosevelt Island By Local Husband & Wife Residents - Joining A Variety Of Roosevelt Island Christian, Jewish & Islamic Communities & Rich History Of Roosevelt Island Worship

A new church is being planted on Roosevelt Island. According to husband and wife founders Piero Gorriti (Pastor) and Andrea Gorriti-Oliveros (Community Life Director) of New City NYC:

We have been residing in Roosevelt Island for almost two years, we moved a couple of months before the pandemic hit. 

As internationals from Peru and as a young married couple, we found ourselves welcomed and understood in Roosevelt Island. We do not know of another place with the diversity found here, where our neighbors are literally from every continent with different types of visas or as permanent residents. 

Now, with a one year old, we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, we have found a community where though we are from different cultures and backgrounds, we relate and understand each other in our struggle of missing our respective home-countries while trying to make this little island our home. 

We are a new international church in Roosevelt Island. We will start gathering weekly at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd (543 Main Street) on Sundays from 4-6pm.  Here is a brief story of who we are:

Our hearts are torn between different places: Adapting to a new place we are excited to call home, missing our culture of origin, and yet at the same time in awe on discovering new cultures and finding beauty in diversity. These are all too common experiences that my wife Andrea and I encountered as Peruvians working in NYC. 

We quickly found out that we were not the only ones that have had these experiences. There was a community of like-minded Global Citizens who have had experiences not too different from ours. Global Citizens are those whose lives transcend beyond national borders, reflecting a global identity due to their geographical location, cross-cultural experiences, and personal interests. 

Here is a photo we took for our Fall Kick Off event this fall. We invited residents of Roosevelt Island to participate with their families

With both the joys and struggles, the failures and successes that come with being a Global Citizen, we realized we couldn't do this alone, and we needed a community where we felt understood and known. Out of that necessity, and a dream of seeing a community of Global Citizens that resource, empower and propel each other into their God-given destiny, was that New City NYC was birthed! 

We hope that regardless of your background, whether you've just realized you are a Global Citizen or you have known you are for a while, we invite you to be a part of this community from all around the world! 

Last Sunday, Nov. 28th started our advent series, we would love to have you as we prepare our hearts for Christmas. All are welcome. For more info and other events you could get involved visit us at our website New City NYC and Instagram 

Roosevelt Island has a variety of religious groups including:

Please let me know if I am missing any other Roosevelt Island religious group.

Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy has a very interesting chapter in her Roosevelt Island book about religion on Blackwell's (now Roosevelt) Island. Also, 2015 issue of Blackwell's Almanac 

has more about the  history of Roosevelt Island worship (pages 5-8)

Monday, November 29, 2021

After 6 Years Of Planning, Fundraising & Construction, Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 Green Roof Opened Today With Ribbon Cutting And First Plantings By Students - This Is Freaking Beautiful Says Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

After more than 6 years of planning, fundraising and construction, Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 Green Roof opened today with a ribbon cutting and first plantings by students.

 NYC Council Member Ben Kallos hosted the PS/IS 217 Green Roof Ribbon Cutting Ceremony saying:

What a wonderful day to be  here on the new PS/IS 217 Roosevelt Island Green Roof which is officially open for business... 

PS/IS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman remarked:

As principal, it is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to the opening of the Roosevelt Island School-- Green Roof. And what a roof it is! The purpose and beauty of its design, landscaping, materials and setting are so obvious that this space in which we find ourselves, seems to speak for itself.... 

... We have waited so long to be here today. The green roof is a wonderful addition to our facility. As is usually the case, wonderful things take a lot of work and in this case that work was done by a lot of people. It is appropriate at this ceremony to assure those who worked so hard that we will make the most of their creation and it is appropriate that we thank them: 

For the initial concept, we thank Ms. Fokine, who was inspired by her trip to Japan.  

We thank Christina Delfico who took that dream to its first steps of realization.  

For funding Council Member Kallos, Assembly Member Seawright, Manhattan Borough President Brewer, Congresswoman Maloney and NY State Senator Serrano who backed this project.
For our PTA and RI community constituents who got out the vote and championed our vision - RIOC, RIRA, Roosevelt Island Garden Club, the Girl Scouts, and Roosevelt Island Parent Network. 

For the designers Mary Rice, Abel, Bainnson & Butz who heard what we wanted and realized our vision in their plans. 

For our construction team led by Muhammed Siqb Arshed  

And for our Custodial EngineerJeff Atkins and the custodial staff who has tended this space in all its stages of completion. 

And we thank forward all those who will tend this incredible space and make it a vibrant learning, a multi-enriching and a spiritually healing place.

 Roosevelt Island Girl Scout Troop 3001 has advocated for the Green Roof since 2015. Troop Leader Yitza Martinez and two Girl Scouts spoke at today's event.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said of the new PS/IS 217 Green Roof:

This is freaking beautiful...

The current Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA thanked the prior PTA's for all their work getting the Green Roof built.

NYC Schools District 2 Superintendent Kelly McGuire thanked everybody involved in the Green Roof project.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp President Shelton Haynes said the PS/IS 217 Green Roof:

... is a testament of when community and government work together great things happen, so congratulations. We're very excited about this space...

And this all began in 2015 with the Roosevelt Island Girl Scouts campaigning for Participatory Budget funding from Council Member Kallos.

According to this press release from NYC Council Member Ben Kallos:

Students at PS/IS 217 have a new educational green space on their roof, thanks to funding from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Ben Kallos, and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. Today they celebrated completion of the project, including a ceremonial planting.

$1 million in funding for this project comes from Council Member Ben Kallos, which was allocated from participatory budgeting that the school won in 2015 and 2016 thanks to the advocacy of the Roosevelt Island Community. Borough President Brewer funded $250,000 and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright contributed $500,000 to the project.

To win funding through participatory budgeting, the whole Roosevelt Island community worked together to turn out a winning number of votes. Community members that advocated for the project include the PS/IS 217 PTA, Girl Scout Troops 3001 and 3244, Roosevelt Island Garden Club, Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network, Sharon Bermon from the NYPL Roosevelt Island Branch, and community activist Christina Delfico.  

“STEM education is a vital part of shaping our future generation of leaders,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I am excited to celebrate the completion of PS/IS 217’s green roof, which will provide students with the opportunity to play and learn in new ways. I look forward to seeing all that the school is able to accomplish with this space.”

“I am thrilled to be here at the opening of the new educational green roof at PS/IS 217,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “Giving the next generation of leaders the tools to excel in STEM starts in the classroom, and I am proud that our City schools are at the cutting edge of ensuring just that. I thank Councilmember Kallos, Borough President Brewer, and Assemblywoman Seawright for our ongoing partnership in ensuring New York City’s students are at the forefront of learning.”

“I’m excited to be able to celebrate the completion of the green roof at PS/IS 217, a project that will provide educational space to learn about the importance of protecting our environment,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I know that this space will benefit students for years to come by acting as a learning hub for 21st century skills and advancing scientific and environmental knowledge, in addition to supporting our city’s climate resiliency efforts by keeping the roof cooler, acting as an insulator, saving heating and cooling costs, helping to protect the school from environmental wear and tear, as well as reduce noise.”

“As a member of the Assembly Education Committee, proud public school parent and former PTA activist, I was please to award PS/IS 217 on Roosevelt Island with $500,000 for the creation of a Green Roof and construction of a STEM learning Hub. Our students deserve a safe place to learn and play. I commend Principal Mandana Beckman, school leadership, and PTA for seeing this through for the benefit of students and educations at PS/IS 217,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.  

“This green roof provides flexible outdoor classroom space for educational gardening, theater and performing arts, and general student education, and recreation,” SCA President and CEO Nina Kubota said. “It’s a great example of the SCA’s steadfast commitment to provide enhanced educational services and better facilities for the City’s kids and the teachers and staff who serve them.”
“So many people had a small role in making a big impact,” says local sustainability advocate Christina Delfico. “This roof top project proves that community, schools, and government can create a sea of wide open green space to excite students in every subject of learning.”...

Learn more about Green Roofs from this 2015 visit to the Randall's Island NYC Parks Department 5 Boro Green Roof Garden.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Happy Chanukah From Roosevelt Island - Join The Chabad Of Roosevelt Island For Family Public Menorah Lighting Saturday December 4 At Rivercross Lawn - Pass The Latkes Please & Chanukah Songs From The Maccabeats And Adam Sandler Too

Tonight is the first of eight Chanukah nights.

The Chabad of Roosevelt Island invite you to the Annual Family Public Menorah Lighting for the 7th Chanukah Light at the Rivercross Lawn on December 4 at 6:30 PM.

Come together to celebrate Jewish pride!

Enjoy hot latkes, hot drinks, music, dreidels and other  ttreats.

For more information contact

The Maccabeats celebrate with a new 2021 Chanukah song

and A Latke Recipe.

Also, enjoy Adam Sandler's Chanukah Song.

Happy Chanukah Roosevelt Island.
UPDATE 11/29 - A little Chanukah history.