Saturday, July 23, 2022

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Friday, July 22, 2022

Roosevelt Island Community Gardeners Collaborate Bringing Native Plantings To Local Urban Ecosystem At Cherry Grove Bed On Waterfront Promenade Across From Riverwalk Commons - Any Ideas For Next Gardening Project?

Roosevelt Island Garden Club (RIGC) member Julia Ferguson reports on a new community planting project taking place at the Cherry Tree Grove on the East River waterfront promenade across from the Rivewalk Commons. 

According to Ms Ferguson: 

RIGC has been working on a collaborative community outreach program. The focus of the outreach series is Roosevelt Island as an Ecosystem in which soil, climate, water, and plants, trees and landscape interact with humans, animals, insects, birds to sustain life on our little urban island. 

RIGC has collaborated with Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), Cornell Tech, iDig2Learn, and NYC Compost hosted by BigReuse for this project. The project has two parts: 

  • Learning about how ecosystems work with specific examples, and planting native plants to provide habitats for beneficial insects and
  • Bring beauty to the island, and increase biodiversity.

Roosevelt Island resident and RIGC member Jack Burkhalter, an urban naturalist, worked closely with RIOC's Matt Kibby’s oversight to design and plan out the details of the planting. 

RIOC provided over 1000 native habitat bare roots and plant plugs for ground cover plants. Cornell Tech Students and RIOC staff prepped the site. And on April 30, 2022 for #EarthLove Day, over 60 people, including lots of children, visited the educational table in the park west of Meditation Steps and learned about how violets, milkweed, and sumac trees nurture pollinators and ants, and how these insects benefit these plants. An equal number of Roosevelt Islanders of all ages and abilities joined to help plant over half of the planting area under the four old Yoshino Cherry trees. On that day, a white throated sparrow was singing his joy, and we may have heard the cherry trees thank us as we brought them new companion plants and tickled/aerated their roots.

Lady Ferns, Foam Flowers, Violets, Wild Geraniums, Penstemon, and Pennsylvania Sedges: all of these ground covers will be pleasing to see and they will also welcome butterfly larvae, native pollinators, and help support bird life especially in the spring. Phase 2 plans are for Wild Ginger, more Penstemon, White Wood Asters, and a low growing soft Goldenrod to provide fall nectar for pollinators and continued colors in autumn. 

I spoke with Ms Ferguson and Mr Burkhalter earlier this month as they were working on the Cherry Tree Grove planting to learn more about the project and their future Roosevelt Island Ecosystem collaborative plans.

Ms Ferguson adds:

On April 7, 2022, Rebecca McMackin, Director of Horticulture at Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) spoke with Roosevelt Islanders in a free virtual talk. Ms. McMackin knows about the challenges and rewards of turning an urban landscape (Brooklyn piers and industrial area) into a thriving, stunningly beautiful and healthy ecosystem. We appreciated Rebecca’s inspiration and willingness to share her learning: the principles, and the practices of her entire BBP Horticulture Staff where the “dynamic relationships” of both people and ecosystems are honored and where the lives of plants, caterpillars, butterflies, birds, and people fit together “seamlessly” in an urban setting.

Over 80 people from all five boroughs of NYC, from places across the U.S., and from Nova Scotia to New Zealand were able to join us for Rebecca McMackin's talk. Click here to read through some of the key takeaways and watch the April 7, 2022 recording of Rebecca McMackin from Brooklyn Bridge Park: A case study for seeing Roosevelt Island as an ecosystem.

These days, more people are looking closely at building and grounds sustainability as well as landscape ecology practices when they make decisions on where to live and work. Together as an Island community, we can continue to create a model for ecological health and beauty through collaborative projects. With Roosevelt Islanders help we have completely planted Phase One for this little habitat site. It takes a village and we are especially lucky in that regard. Gratitude for another RI habitat planting providing health and beauty after EarthLove Day 2022! 

Stay tuned for other opportunities to learn and engage with this idea and more from “Roosevelt Island is an urban ecosystem.” Write to if you are interested in possibly volunteering for the fall planting at this site.

Thank you so much to RIOC, the RI community, and RIGC members for all the help.  With Roosevelt Islanders’ help we have now planted another lovely little habitat site. This established landscape bed will glow in a year or two as the plants fill in. 

Any ideas for the next collaborative Roosevelt Island urban ecosystem gardening project?

You're Invited To Opening Reception For New Roosevelt Island Gallery RIVAA "Deep Focus" An International Group Exhibition Saturday July 23, Artists From South Korea, Romania, Hungary, US And Other Countries - Gallery RIVAA Renovation Go Fund Me Campaign Too

According to the Roosevelt Island Gallery RIVAA

RIVAA would like to announce the opening of our new exhibition “Deep Focus.”

The opening reception will take place this Saturday, July 23rd from 5-8 PM at Gallery RIVAA.

You're invited.

This is an international exhibition with works by artists from South Korea, Romania, the US, Hungary and other countries. Ik Son Jin and Ioan Popoiu curated the exhibition.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Roosevelt Island Resident Credits Public Safety Department For Making Her Feel Safe In Early Morning Darkness While Waiting Outside For Car Pick Up Going To Airport - Watch PSD Chief Kevin Brown Discuss Community Policing With RIRA Public Safety Committee

A Roosevelt Island resident reported yesterday:

Today the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department played it right. 

I had to leave for the airport at 4:40 in the morning. It was pitch black outside and 3 Ubers canceled on me. 

I was waiting outside with 3 pieces of luggage and wanted an officer to be nearby just in case because there were just random cars driving by. 

Although police cars were patrolling the Island, I didn’t see anybody near me for a few minutes. So I called the Public Safety Department and asked if they could send someone to hang around and patrol near Bread and Butter Deli until my car came and 1 minute later they sent an officer who stood nearby until my car arrived. 

It meant a lot that they listened and made me feel safe. I know they don’t have a great reputation at the moment, and I am usually very critical about them too, but just wanted to give credits when credits are due! 

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Chief Kevin Brown usually meets once a month with member of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee (PSC) to listen and discuss community concerns.

During RIRA PSC June 21 meeting, Chief Brown discussed his belief in community policing and said:

... I truly, truly, truly believe in community policing. One of the premises of community policing is coming together with the community and to listen, to have different ideas and have a great way to proceed forward.

I welcome coming to this committee. I told somebody this today, my door is open. Anytime that anyone wants to speak with with me or my deputy, our door is always open for for any comments, for any  type of dialogue or any type of meetings to have a great relationship with the community and also to have a great change when it's necessary or needed... 

Chief Brown discussed a variety of topics at the RIRA meeting including Public Safety Department staffing levels noting that the Public Safety Department is as close to full staff as they have been in a long time except for 2 Officers who recently resigned to join the NYPD. 

Here's the full RIRA PSC meeting discussion with Chief Brown.


If you wish to attend the next RIRA PSC meeting with Chief Brown, contact PSC Co-Chair Erin Feely-Nahem

During June 11 2022 Roosevelt Island Day, RIRA President Rossana Ceruzzi and VP/PSC Co-Chair Erin-Feely-Nahem talked about the work RIRA does advocating for the Roosevelt Island community including the traditional bagels for Roosevelt Island Day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Roosevelt Island Man Among Suspects Indicted By Queens District Attorney As A Major Drug Trafficker Allegedly Packaging And Selling Heroin, Cocaine And Fentanyl From An Open Air Drug Market In Jamaica Queens - Also, Charged With Criminal Possession Of A Weapon

Early morning on July 13, at about 6 AM, a Roosevelt Island Tipster noticed:

NYPD folks in mostly black shirts & pants & bulletproof vests, some with guns & longer guns around and in 580 Main Street. Mostly unmarked SUVs and Sedans parked by crosswalk.

 The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Daily Blotter reported:

07/13/22 – 0604 – 580 Main Street – NYPD Activity – NYPD, PSD Responded – Report Filed
I contacted the NYPD several times this past week but they had no information available on the July 13 Roosevelt Island incident. 

Now we know what happened. 

According to a July 19 press release from Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, NYPD officers were executing search warrants in multiple locations including a Roosevelt Island apartment which:

... yielded four illegal firearms (including a MAC-11 submachine gun), more than five kilograms of heroin and cocaine, and cash....

Image From Queens DA Press Release

It is not clear what weapon was found in the Roosevelt Island apartment.

Yesterday, Queens District DA Melinda Katz announced a Queens Grand Jury indictment of 4 men, including a Roosevelt Island resident, charged with:

... conspiracy and criminal sale of a controlled substance for allegedly packaging and selling an assortment of narcotics to walk up customers- including heroin, cocaine and fentanyl- from an open-air drug market on a dead-end Jamaica street on multiple occasions between May 2021 and June 2022.... 

According to this July 19 press release from the Queens DA's Office, the Roosevelt Island resident was:

 ... charged in a 68-count grand jury indictment with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and conspiracy in the fourth degree. ... Additionally, the defendant was arraigned last Friday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Denise Johnson on a five-count criminal court complaint charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, operating as a major trafficker, conspiracy in the second degree, possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree.... 

**Criminal complaints and indictments are accusations. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Click here for the full Queens District Attorney press release for more information.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

You're Invited To Learn What Are Blockchains And What Are They Good For At Roosevelt Island Community Conversation With Cornell Tech Professor Ari Juels - Register Now For Wednesday July 20 Virtual Zoom Event

Cornell Tech Assistant Director of Community & Government Relations Jane Swanson reports:

You are invited to the next Community Conversation with Cornell Tech: What are Blockchains and What Are They Good For? This event will be held on Wednesday, July 20th from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm and should be very interesting – and illuminating! Register HERE

Bitcoin and blockchains—the technology that makes cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin possible—have become inescapable phenomena in finance and even popular culture. Despite their rise in popularity, though, there’s considerable bewilderment around blockchains and their capabilities. In this talk, Ari Juels, the Weill Family Foundation and Joan and Sanford I. Weill Professor at Cornell Tech and Co-Director of the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3), will aim to demystify this intriguing technology. He will explain how blockchains mean much more than Bitcoin and indeed how blockchain-based digital apes may be harbingers of our future in leisure and the arts.

We hope to see you at this virtual event.

According to Cornell Tech:

Ari Juels is a Professor at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech and the Technion. He is a member of the Computer Science field at Cornell University. His interests span a broad range of topics in computer security, cryptography, and privacy, including cloud security, financial cryptography, cybersecurity, user authentication, medical-device security, biometrics, and security and privacy for the Internet of Things....
Watch Professor Juels discussing the Blockchain

and testifying before Congress on the Blockchain in January 2022.


Click here to register for the Wednesday July 20 Virtual Conversation with Cornell Tech Professor Ari Juels to learn more about the Blockchain and what it is good for.

Watch these past Cornell Tech Faculty Roosevelt Island Community Conversations with:

  • Professor Serge  Belongie on Computer Vision, Machine Learning and Augmented Reality. Watch the video here.
  • Professor Nicolai Dell on Creating Tech For Underserved Communities. Watch the video here.
  • Professor James Grimmelman on Law, Technology and the Sealand Data Haven. Watch the video here.
  • Professor Wendy Hu On Self Driving Cars and Human Interaction With Automation. Watch video here. 
  • Digital Life Initiative on Social Media Political Manipulation of Elections and Ad Tracking. Watch video here.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Waterfront Alliance Celebrates City Of Water Day Last Saturday On Roosevelt Island And Communities All Around NYC/NJ 520 Miles Of Coastline - Watch Roosevelt Island East River Shoreline Water Quality Test

According to The Waterfront Alliance

City of Water Day

July 16, 2022

Located throughout the New York-New Jersey region

The 15th annual City of Water Day returns to the shores of the metropolitan region on Saturday, July 16, 2022. A celebration of the waters that surround us, and an opportunity to learn about the current and future impacts of climate change and sea level rise, City of Water Day is organized by the Waterfront Alliance, the NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP), and many other partners. From boat rides to kayaking, from water quality workshops to birdwatching walks, City of Water Day activities are free and open to all. Underscoring the importance of a resilient and equitably shared waterfront, dozens of shoreline communities in New York and New Jersey will produce satellite In Your Neighborhood events on July 16, City of Water Day.

For the first time in 15 years, Roosevelt Island hosted a City Of Water Day event 

in front of the NYC Ferry Dock area.

I spoke with Waterfront Alliance representative Mackenzie Pope who tells us about City Of Water Day and demonstrates Roosevelt Island East River shoreline water quality tests.

Learn more about the Waterfront Alliance at their website and Twitter Page.

The Twitterverse shows us more City Of Water Events from other local NYC/NJ waterfront communities.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Predictable Big Mess At The Roosevelt Island Manhattan Tram Station Today With No F Train Service From Manhattan And Only 1 Tram Cabin Working - 2 Hour Waiting Time For Residents To Get Home, Silence From RIOC

Reported last Friday:

Roosevelt Island Transportation Could Be A Huge Mess This Weekend, Planned F Train Subway Service Disruptions And Only 1 Tram Cabin In Service - Be Prepared For Long Lines, No Response From RIOC To Community Concern.

Guess what happened today?

The Roosevelt Island Manhattan Tram station was jam packed with long lines stretching down Second Avenue to 59th Street.

I've been receiving photos and messages all day from angry and frustrated Roosevelt Island residents waiting on these long Tram lines at the Manhattan Station including:
  • Longtime island resident here. Currently smushed on the Manhattan side having to let multiple trams go due to crowds. Between the heat and covid, this situation is extremely unhealthy and unsustainabl - curious if there is some sort of petition or something going around to get the red bus Manhattan shuttle service to operate on weekends while there is only one cabin running on the tram.
  • Current situation at the tram… At least 2 hour long lines … this whole weekend has been absolutely horrible for RI residents. And I’m sure that half of the people (if not more) waiting in that line were tourists. I understand that the tram is good for RI local tourism, but there should be something done for residents during mess like this one. I gave up waiting. Ubered…

Another resident waiting on the long Tram Line wrote:

Saw your video long lines. But also those lines are for people just to buy a metro card and the incompetent security won’t let you in even if you have your metro card. They want you stay in the same line. I just had the most stupid discussion with 2 of them and they won’t let you go because they say you have to be on line to buy a metro card as other ones. Even though I have my metro card already and I don’t have to buy any and I am a resident. What a shitshow

And comments from Roosevelt Islander Instagram Page

  • There should really be resident-priority access. At least during certain days/times
  • There needs to be a line for residents and a line for visitors. We should get RI residents cards.
  • Absurd… they need red bus shuttles like they did during the week
  • Public Safety could barely handle the rush and they certainly didn’t care about Masks!!!
  • I had no choice but to take the tram when the F train wasn’t servicing 63rd and lex. Thankfully I had both my kids and the stroller so PSD let me go up the elevator without waiting. Otherwise would have been ridiculous

This mess was all so predictable but no action or communication from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) or RIOC President Shelton Haynes.