Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Sponsored Post - Get Ready For Fun At The Roosevelt Island Racquet Club Advantage Winter Holiday Tennis Camp December 18 Thru 22 And 26 Thru 29 - Sign Up Today


Get ready for fun at our Winter Holiday Camps at Roosevelt Island Racquet Club (RIRC). Come for the day, choose a week, or two – it’s up to you! There are two levels of instruction:

QuickStart Camp for younger players

  • Ages 4-8 (Red ball level)
  • Perfect opportunity to get your little one more time on the court
  • Games and drills improve kids’ agility, balance and technique

Junior Tennis Camp for tennis lovers

  • Ages 8-17 (Orange, green, yellow ball level)
  • Designed for players seeking fun and intensity!
  • Girls and boys develop proper tennis technique, improve rallying and point play skills 


For more information, please contact Mike Barbato at 212.935.0250 ext 819 or email


The Shop Pop Up Artisanal Market Featuring Indian Clothing, Home Decor, Jewelry & More At Roosevelt Island RIVAA Gallery November 30 Thru December 3 With Opening Reception Tomorrow - Block Printing Lessons For Adults And Crafts For Kids Too

"The Shop" Pop Up Artisanal Market

featuring home decor, table top, clothing, jewelry, accessories and gifts

is coming to Roosevelt Island's RIVAA Gallery beginning November 30, thru Sunday December 3 with an opening reception tomorrow.

According to RIVAA Gallery:

THE SHOP | beautiful living

Returning for a Second Year

Choose from a selection of high-quality Indian crafts and clothing to beautify your environment.

Plenty of ideas for holiday gifts and we are sure you won’t be able to resist buying something for yourself.

Thursday, 11/30 11 AM - 9 PM

Friday, 12/1 2 PM - 9 PM

Saturday, 12/2 11 AM - 9 PM

Sunday, 12/3 11 AM - 9 PM

I spoke with the owners of The Shop Pop Up market as they were setting up at RIVAA Gallery today.

Stop by RIVAA Gallery this Thursday thru Sunday and check out The Shop Pop Up artisanal market. 

More info about The Shop available at their website.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A Rare Up Close Side By Side View Of Roosevelt Island Tram Crossing East River To Manhattan Station - Who Wants To Ride On Top Of Cabin?

Yesterday afternoon was one of the rare times when both Roosevelt Island Tram cabins were traveling in the same direction at the same time over the East River to Manhattan 2nd Avenue Station.

One cabin was being used by passengers and the other was being used by the Tram staff for maintenance inspection with a worker riding on top of the cabin and Tram employees in the cabin waving a friendly hello to passengers in the passing cabin.

Help Make A Child's Holiday Season Special, Roosevelt Island Holiday Toy Drive Accepting Donations November 27 To December 15 At Several Local Drop Off Locations Says RIOC

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

Dear Roosevelt Island Community:

Join us in spreading joy and cheer in support of our Roosevelt Island Youth!

Participate in the 4th Annual Holiday Toy Drive by donating brand new children’s toys or games for all ages.

Drop-off locations are the Youth Center, P/IS 217, the Food Pantry, the NYPL, and PSD from November 27th to December 15th.

Make a child's holiday season special!

For more information, email

Thank you!

Monday, November 27, 2023

Watch Video Of Travel Vlogger Exploring Roosevelt Island With A Long Time Resident As Guide, It's A Hidden Gem And NYC's Best Kept Secret Says Visitor - Local Residents Know It's Not Hidden Or A Secret Any Longer

Local resident Miro played tour guide for travel vlogger Here Be Barr's visit to Roosevelt Island. The video is very well done and entertaining. 

While sitting on the Meditation Steps enjoying a Shawarma wrap from Roosevelt Island's ME Eatery and pointing towards Manhattan, Here Be Barr says:

... Crossing from that Island to this Island, my blood pressure's gone down. There's definitely something more relaxing in the air here...

Watch and enjoy although I'm sure many residents would prefer the days when Roosevelt Island was hidden and a secret from the tourists.

Here's the perspective from Paul and Marcus on their recent visit to Roosevelt Island.

Sponsored Post - Check Out Café At Cornell Tech November 27 Weekly Menu For Daily Hot Lunch Meals, Specialty Sandwiches, Breakfast Items, Pizza Station, Salads, Sushi, Coffee,Tea, Smoothies, Beer, Wine, Wifi & Wonderful Outdoor Patio Too

 Check out the November 27 weekly menu at the Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Café.

The Cornell Tech Café is a great spot on Roosevelt Island 

for breakfast, lunch, Daily Hot Lunch Meals, 

Specialty & Grab and Go Sandwiches, Make Your Own Salads, Flatbread and Neapolitan Pizza, Salads, Soup, Coffee, Smoothies

Thursday Sushi,
beer, wine

and more.  

Bring your laptop if you wish. The Cafe has very good wi-fi connection  

and great outdoor patio seating areas

 to eat, relax and people watch, 

even as the weather gets colder.

The Cafe is open Monday thru Friday 8am to 7 pm. Saturday and Sundays 11am to 5pm.

More info at the Cornell Tech Café website and Instagram Page.

See you soon at the Cornell Tech Café.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Roosevelt Island Open Doors Reality Poets Invite You To Nursing Home Lives Matter Gala November 29 At Cornell Tech Tata Innovation Center - Their Fire Through Dry Grass Documentary About Coler Nursing Home Residents And Workers Experiences During Covid Available For Streaming, Watch It Now

Our Roosevelt Island neighbors, the Open Doors Reality Poets residents of the Coler Rehab & Nursing Facility, invite you their First Annual Nursing Home Lives Matter Gala

taking place November 29 at the Cornell Tech Tata Innovation Center.

According to Open Doors NYC

OPEN DOORS would be honored by your presence at our FIRST ANNUAL NHLM GALA! 

Featuring performances by the Reality Poets and our community, join us for an evening of poetry, mingling, and celebration as we look to the future of #NursingHomeLivesMatter!

Wednesday, Nov 29th, 2023

5:00PM ET


11 E Loop Rd, New York, NY 10044

(Cornell Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island)

Attire: Come as you are!

There will be light snacks and drinks, and the Reality Poets and featured guests will perform between presentations. We can't wait to see you there!


NHLM Gala is free to attend. However, we encourage attendees with financial means to consider making a donation to OPEN DOORS to help us offset cost of the event and continue to provide support for the Reality Poets, educational workshops, and community activism.

Even if you cannot attend, you are still welcome to make a donation!


According to Open Doors:

Before we officially came together as the Reality Poets, we were a loose group of wheelchair users who would sit outside the massive brick building at the tip of Roosevelt Island, smoke and share stories. Many of us were gun violence survivors and all of us felt there was nothing to do living in the nursing home. In 2016 a local artist started a project for us called OPEN DOORS, and from there the Reality Poets were born. Thanks to our vision and leadership OPEN DOORS is now a dynamic creative collective, educating our youth and producing artistic collaborations, including a poetry anthology, original play and hip-hop album.

During the pandemic we were dehumanized and confined inside our nursing home. Realizing we had the microphone at the center of the storm, we began advocating for all those living and working in long-term care, particularly Black and brown nursing home residents who saw twice the amount of COVID deaths as their white counterparts. In 2020 we launched the Nursing Home Lives Matter movement and are now warriors with a mission to end racism and ableism in long-term care.

As previously reported:

... Coler residents and Open Doors Reality Poets teamed with documentary filmmaker Alexis Neophytides  to show what it was like at the Coler nursing home during the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic.  

Fire Through Dry Grass is a documentary film about the experience of residents and workers at the NYC Health & Hospitals Corp Coler nursing facility on Roosevelt Island during the Covid pandemic....

Here's the trailer for Fire Through Dry Grass

and click here to watch the full Fire Through Dry Grass documentary presented by the PBS Point Of View series. 

Click to RSVP for the November 29 Nursing Home Lives Matter Gala.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Follow Along On A Late Night Adventure With An Urban Explorer Sneaking Inside The Abandoned Roosevelt Island Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital - Future Use Of Ruins Proposed As A Memorial To Health Care Workers Fighting Infectious Disease

In 2021, urban explorer Andrew Wonder made a late night visit to Roosevelt Island and took us inside the Renwick Ruins Smallpox hospital. Follow along.  

NBC New York reporter Ryan Baker visited the Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital Ruins earlier this year. He reports on the fascinating history of the Smallpox Hospital and a possible future use of the site being proposed by Friends Of The Ruins as a Memorial to:

... those we lost to COVID-19 as well as scientific advances and the frontline workers fighting viral and infectious disease....

Learn more about the mysteries of the Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital and Friends Of The Ruins proposed memorial from this prior post.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Roosevelt Island Haki Compost Collective Food Scrap Drop Off Site Moving To Winter Home Under Motorgate Plaza Helix With The Farmers Market Saturday November 25 - More Volunteers Needed To Continue The Haki Compost Food Scrap Drop Off Site Service, How About You?

This Saturday, November 25th the Haki Compost Collective Food Scrap Drop Off site will move to its winter home 

under the Motorgate Plaza Helix 

with the Farmers Market. 

According to the Haki Compost Collective:

VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm: Haki Compost Collective is hosting a volunteer orientation during the Saturday food scrap drop-off-for-compost hours. Please swing by anytime from 11 am through 12:30 pm to find out how you can be a part of it.

Today, I spoke with Roosevelt Island resident and Haki Compost Collective volunteer Melissa Wade. Ms Wade describes how the Roosevelt Island Haki compost food scrap site got started and the need for new volunteers to keep it going for the Roosevelt Island community. According to Ms Wade:

Haki was started as an all volunteer effort three summers ago when the City cut the budget the first time during the pandemic. Danica Lam lived here on the island and worked with Big Reuse as a staff member. She thought that we would have enough people who were interested to pick it back up and get it started again as volunteers and she was right, we did.

Since that time we have trained 77 Roosevelt Island members over the years to participate as the volunteer force who keep Haki going from the setup to the maintenance to the tear down working with our Big Reuse Partners.

But as everyone knows New York is a transient place and Roosevelt Island is a pretty transient place too so over the years we've had many people come and go and right now we're a little light on volunteers 3 years in.

So my hope in speaking with you today is that people who have thought about it, who use Haki, who bring us our scraps and who want to see this keep going would come out and participate as volunteers... 

If you wish to help Haki continue the Roosevelt Island compost food scrap drop off site, come to their orientation meeting tomorrow at the Motorgate Plaza and learn more. You can also contact Haki through their Instagram Page.

The Haki Compost Collective adds:

The Haki Compost Collective thanks you for dropping off your food scraps on Saturdays. Since November 2015, we have collectively diverted over 341,017 pounds of food scraps from landfill, or 170 tons, equivalent to 85 SUV's in weight!

Several dump truck loads of nutrient-rich compost have come back to the Island trees, flowers and gardens and been given back to neighbors for their house plants.

Compost boosts storm water absorption in soil to reduce flooding. Compost-amended soils also aid tree growth which increases their CO2 capture and oxygen release amounts.

Even the Great Pumpkin Event is part of the Big Reuse, Haki supported, compost outreach for islanders!


Last week on Thursday, Mayor Adams !!! ELIMINATED !!! Community Composting in NYC as of January 2024.

What does this mean for Roosevelt Island?

Big Reuse, one of the several community composting organizations in NYC and the one that serves Roosevelt Island, will have to CLOSE DOWN its composting plant underneath the Queensboro Bridge and will stop picking up our food scraps on Saturdays.

Please sign this petition to keep City Community Composting going.

So far, over 24,000 people have signed the petition.

We need your signatures, too!

More Bad News:

We heard that the orange sidewalk "Smart" bins which accept plastic and food scraps for methane gas capture at the Newtown Creek wastewater plant will NOT be connected to the grid to heat 1200 homes as was the case during their pilot program. The facility will continue to get energy to operate from the burning of food scraps and other waste.

Haki volunteers hope to see you Saturday as we continue to serve neighbors with this human-led waste reduction program that mirrors nature’s no waste system.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving From Roosevelt Island, Tradition, Family, Food, Football, Local History And Alice's Restaurant - Roosevelt Island Pilgrims First Thanksgiving Too

Happy Thanksgiving Day wishes to everyone out there in Roosevelt Island land and elsewhere. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! 

Since Thanksgiving is a day all about about Tradition, here is my traditional Thanksgiving Day post started in 2007:

In addition to family, great food, the Macy's Parade, Miracle on 34th Street, March of the Wooden Soldiers and football, listening to Arlo Guthrie's rendition of Alice's Restaurant on WNEW-FM was, for me, a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition.

A former station DJ remembers Thanksgiving and Arlo Guthrie this way on the blog All Mixed Up Radio.

Every year a couple of days before Thanksgiving, it starts. It's slow at first, and then turns into a non-stop avalanche of phone calls. And no matter how many times a station runs promo announcements telling people exactly when it will be played, the calls still come.
"What time are you playing 'Alice's Restaurant?'"...
Yes, in the olden days people used to listen to music on the radio. Imagine that!...

Here's how Alice's Restaurant became a Thanksgiving tradition:


 and the full song with scenes from the movie.

Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy shares a Thanksgiving story from Roosevelt Island's past when it was known as Welfare Island and housed a penitentiary

Also, former blogger Roosevelt Island 360 tells us about the first Roosevelt Island Thanksgiving in 1975 as reported by the NY Times.

According to the 1975 NY Times article:

One of the nation's newest settlements, a small community of pioneers, is about to celebrate its first Thanksgiving Day on its rockbound island home in the East River.

The situation on Roosevelt Island, which separates midtown Manhattan from Queens, is not quite the same as the one that faced the first New England homeowners centuries ago. The 170 rent‐paying families, the first in the ambitious planned development being built on the island, have not been undergoing hardships. Maybe inconveniences here and there, but not questions of life and death.

Heat comes up (with or without banging the radiator to alert the super, New Yorkstyle). There is light and shelter and the natives are rather nonexistent.

Last night, the new islanders fed one another at an ethnic buffet representing the many diverse strains of humanity they stem from. Tonight there will be an ecumenical service at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, the church built in 1889 and now put to work as a community center. Tomorrow will be a family day, when people may talk turkey around their tables.

Click here for the full NY Times article on the Roosevelt Island Pilgrims first Thanksgiving.

Here are some scenes from today's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Also: Macy's Thanksgiving Parade balloons from the past. 

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Roosevelt Island Saturday Farmers Market Temporarily Relocating To Winter Home Under The Motorgate Helix Starting Saturday November 25 - Haki Compost Collective Food Scrap Drop Off Site Moving To Motorgate Helix November 25 And Need More Volunteers Too

The Roosevelt Island Saturday Farmers Market is relocating from Good Shepherd Plaza to their temporary winter home under the Motorgate Helix starting this Saturday, November 25.

According to Farmers Market vendor Israel Wengerd of Wengerd Farms: 

The annual move is necessary to be out of the inclement winter weather.

The Roosevelt Island Farmers Market at Motorgate Plaza under the Helix is open early morning to mid afternoon on Saturdays in good weather and bad offering a wide variety of healthy and delicious tasting fruits, vegetables and much more. 

Also, relocating to Motorgate Plaza for the winter is the 

Haki Compost Collective Food Drop Off Scrap Bin.

According to the Haki Compost Collective:

We will be moving to it's winter location by the Motorgatw Garage, along with the Roosevelt Island farmers market. 

Join us this Saturday to learn how you too can become a volunteer!

Curious about when we will be collecting food scraps this holiday season? This year, we will collect on Saturdays as we normally do, between 9am -2pm.

See you at the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market Saturday under the Motorgate Helix next to Foodtown.

Bang, Bang, Bang, Roosevelt Island Residents Report Hearing Possible Multiple Gunshots Near Manhattan Park And Octagon Buildings Overnight Last Thursday - RIOC PSD And NYPD 114 Precinct Received Reports And Shotspotter Sensor Tech Did Not Detect Any Gunshots At The Time They Say

Last Friday morning November 17, a Roosevelt Island resident asked:

I live in the Octagon and in the middle of last night, I heard what sounded like several gunshots. I went to Citizen this morning and found this post

 Have you heard anyone else report anything? Very unsettling. 

A Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park resident reported:

Gun shots at 30 River Road

At approximately 2:44AM on Friday morning we were awoken by what I thought was a loud banging on our wall. Then we heard nearby gunshots maybe six, fired from below our open window, near the entrance of Manhattan Park, at 30RR. Looking out the window, we saw no one, no police, no cars, nothing.

So we went back to bed only to be awoken about 15-20 minutes later to more distant gun shots. What on earth is going on here? Can you report on this incident?

Other residents heard the commotion and apparently someone called police.

Another Manhattan Park resident reported:

I'm at 30 RR, and my wife and I were awakened around 2am by the very distinct sound of gunshots (our window was open). We heard 6-8 gunshots followed by a pause and then another 6-8 gunshots. 

After about 15 minutes or so, there was another series of gunshots that sounded a little more distant, though I'm not really sure. I don't know where exactly the gunshots were, but definitely in the north side of the island around the Manhattan Park apartments or the soccer field... 

I'd be really interested in an update, to see if shell casings were recovered. 

Just to be clear, my wife and I both know what a handgun sounds like, and this was definitely it. I suspect that the shooter emptied two clips and then emptied a third clip later as he was walking around. We didn't hear any yelling or commotion of any kind. 

At least 3 other residents heard what they thought were gunshots at that time too. 

On November 18, I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Chief Kevin Brown:

Several Roosevelt Island residents reported to me hearing gunshots early Friday morning ... about 2 AM in the vicinity of 30 River Road and 888 Main Street....

... Do you have any information on this important matter of concern to Roosevelt Island residents?...

There was no  response from RIOC

I asked NYPD too. A NYPD spokesperson replied they had no information on any Roosevelt Island gunshots at the time reported.

During the November 21 RIOC Public Safety Department Community Engagement meeting, Chief Brown and NYPD 114 Precinct Commander Deputy Inspector Kenneth Gorman said they received no reports and had no knowledge of any gunshots on Roosevelt Island at that time.

Inspector Gorman added that the NYPD Shotspotter accoustic sensor technology deployed on Roosevelt Island did not detect any gunshots at that time.

Here's the discussion.

According to the NYPD 2021 Shotspotter Impact and Use Policy:

ShotSpotter is a gunshot detection system. ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensors to quickly detect and alert New York City Police Department (NYPD) personnel of confirmed gunfire incidents. The system reduces gunfire incident response times, provides valuable evidence for investigations and criminal prosecutions, and enhances both public and officer safety.

The NYPD produced this impact and use policy because the gunshot detection system processes acoustic data, and shares acoustic and location data with NYPD personnel...

A 2021 BBC report on the Shotspotter sensor detection technology examining whether it is accurate and reliable?.

and a 2022 Bloomberg article reports on NYPD's use of Shotspotter.

Here's the full November 21 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Community Engagement meeting.

According to RIOC:

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Sponsored Post - Thanksgiving Dinner At The Roosevelt Island Graduate Hotel's Anything At All Restaurant, Join Us This Year For A Special Family And Friends Thanksgiving Feast Thursday November 23

Anything At All Thanksgiving Dinner

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Roosevelt Island

The Graduate NY is your home away from home. Join us for a thankful dinner at our family-friendly lobby restaurant AAA. 

22 North Loop Road on the Cornell Tech campus.

Want to host Friendsgiving? Let our culinary team worry about the mess while sipping and spilling all the tea. If food is your love language then join The Graduate family as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Click here to make your Roosevelt Island Thanksgiving Day Dinner reservations.

Monday, November 20, 2023

RIOC PSD Tries To Shut Down "We Need A Functioning & Competent RIOC" Petition Signature Collection Drive At Last Saturday's Roosevelt Island Farmers Market In Good Shepherd Plaza - PSD Says Entire Area Is Permittted Only For Use Of Farmers Market

During the November 18 Roosevelt Island Saturday Farmers Market at Good Shepherd Plaza, local resident Paul Krikler was among a group of three or four residents speaking  to other residents passing by

and collecting signatures for a "We Need A functioning and Competent RIOC" petition to directly elect Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors. 

At about 1 PM, a Roosevelt Island Public Safety Officer instructed the petition gatherers not to approach anyone to collect signatures in the area of the Farmers Market because the PS/IS 217 PTA had a permit for that area and it was only for the use of the Farmers Market

According to the PSD Officers at the scene, someone raised an objection to the residents gathering petition signatures in Good Shepherd Plaza during the Farmers Market. The PSD officer refused to say who raised the objection.

The Co-President of the PTA was at the Farmers Market at the time. She said she did not raise any objection to the petition gatherers and was trying to find out what was going on.

Initially, the PSD officers told the petition seekers they would have to leave the Good Shepherd Plaza area to collect signatures and suggested going across the street or any area other than the Plaza. 

After a discussion, it appeared that PSD agreed the residents could collect signatures outside the Plaza area on the sidewalk. 

Here's what happened.


Asked to comment, Mr Krikler said:

I have total sympathy with the idea that we should not be in the actual market area. People here feel very strongly about this and are keen to engage when they stop. I can see how that would be disruptive to the Farmers Market.

Do not know if the PTA objected or not.

If you wish, clich here to sign the petition. So far, 438 signatures have been collected.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Roosevelt Island Named New York City's Most Peaceful Tourist Spot And Place To Find Some Zen - Uh Oh, Locals Not Feeling The Zen, Heckle A Tourist Or Forget About Riding The Tram Ever Again, Who Squealed They Say

According to Time Out NYC:

Casago, a vacation rental property management company servicing homeowners and guests in Mexico and the U.S., actually did a study to find the most peaceful tourist spots across the U.S., and found that Roosevelt Island is New York City’s top spot to find some zen....

Local Instagram satirist Weird RI humorously reflects the views of many Roosevelt Island residents not happy with publicity encouraging tourists to visit Roosevelt Island by suggesting:

... Heckle a tourist today or forget about riding the tram ever again.

Other residents commented:

  • Find the person who squealed. Make them ride the tram line (from Manhattan) at 12:30 pm on a beautiful Saturday afternoon - no elevator,
  • I have zero zen squeezing onto the tram getting home on weekends, 
  • it’s a terrible place to visit please don’t come here…,
  • Are you kidding, going there is horrible! There’s no subway working, the tram is crowded. Just to arrive and see nothing but residential buildings! What a waste of time and money,
  • We all have leprosy, don’t come here,
  • It's awful here. Stay away.
Not to mention the not very Zen like Swinging Tram ride.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Update On RIOC President And General Counsel Workplace Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against NY State Governor's Executive Chambers And DHCR Staff - More Filings From Lawyers And RIOC Director Provides Added Insight Into What Is Going On - Roosevelt Island Residents Petition Demanding Functioning And Competent RIOC

An update on the September 12 racial discrimination lawsuit filed in the Southern District Of New York by Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Shelton Haynes and General Counsel Gretchen Robinson against members of NY State Governor Kathy Hochul's executive chamber staff and NY State Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR) Commissioner Ruthanne Visnauskas and staff member Alejandro Valella.

The DHCR Commissioner or a designee serves as RIOC Board of Directors Chair.

Ms Visnauskas made a rare public Roosevelt Island appearance at the November 14 RIOC Board Of Directors meeting sitting and chatting frequently with Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson

and she was joined by Mr Vallela.

Whatever matters discussed were done in whispers so the subject of conversation between the Plaintiffs and Defendants in the lawsuit is not known although from all appearances it was very amicable.

As reported November 15:

During the November 14 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors Meeting Public Session, Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) President Judy Berdy spoke for many residents frustrated and angry with the ongoing dysfunction of RIOC...

Following Ms Berdy, I asked:

How can the Roosevelt Island community be assured that RIOC will operate efficiently and competently when it's President and General Counsel are suing the Governor's staff? 


There was no answer.

Roosevelt Island resident Roberta Kleiman has previously asked:

Please let's fix this broken system!

Dear RIOC Board,

How can we fix this????...

On November 16, Ms Kleiman wrote to the RIOC Directors and Mr Haynes asking:

Dear RIOC Board and Mr Haynes,

First I wish to thank all the residents and select board members who spoke at the board meeting this past Tuesday and helped fight for an effective, and elected RIOC Board of Directors. 

Unfortunately I was unable to attend but my main question is How can RIOC fairly and effectively govern Roosevelt Island when it’s 2 senior most executives are basically suing US!  We, Roosevelt Islanders, ARE the state!

Again, I wish to thank those who spoke on behalf of the community for their efforts to bring democracy to Roosevelt Island.

Thank you!

RIOC Board Director Ben Fhala (Seen at far right of image taken from November 14 RIOC Board Meeting video screenshot)

replied to Ms Kleiman today:

Dear Roberta,

I appreciate your ongoing contributions to the dialogue and engagement with this board.

As a Jewish Middle Eastern man with roots in Libya, I've drawn inspiration from the wise teachings of our spiritual leaders. These figures instilled in me a deep understanding that all humans are created in the image of God, and there's always something to learn from each person. Even when faced with adversity or actions I perceive as immoral, unethical, or lacking fiduciary care for RIOC's long-term needs, I strive to embody these teachings.

The most significant conversation I've had with Shelton Haynes and Gretchen Robinson occurred on July 19th. In that meeting, I witnessed a man in genuine distress, making serious claims of racial attacks against him and his staff. While he vaguely referenced members of his oversight, he specifically named multiple individuals in our community and asserted that he had been actively blocked by Chambers and HRC from addressing these attacks on his reputation and character, preventing him from sharing his experience freely. In my understanding, he believed these actions were racially motivated.

During this meeting, I asked Shelton if he could substantiate his claims and if he would be willing to present them to the board members. He agreed, indicating he would do so in the upcoming board meeting. However, during the same meeting, RIOC's General Counsel, Gretchen Robinson, acted more as Shelton's personal lawyer, frequently interjecting into my questions and statements and making me feel like a hostile witness.

At one point, the General Counsel warned me that continued public and RIOC engagement could lead to legal action against me. Despite this, I understood the invalidity of her claims and reported them to new board members Dr. Melamed and Professor Tang. We collectively sought an emergency meeting in August, but the chair, aligned with the General Counsel, denied our agenda items and arranged an executive session to train new board members, a session I deemed illegal under New York laws.

Despite raising concerns about inappropriate topics in the "welcome" meeting and subsequent executive session, in my only meeting with Shelton Haynes, I observed a distressed man in real pain. I genuinely want to hear his perspective and understand if his oversight has been acting in a way that is inappropriate, enabling others to damage his reputation and character.

While the new board members are uncomfortable with many issues presented to us over the last few months, we don't know enough about the claims between the defendants, and our focus is on being true oversight to RIOC and creating an access point and voice for our community.

Bringing me full circle, having a claim against your oversight doesn't translate into an inability to govern fairly and effectively. I remain hopeful that Shelton Haynes and Gretchen Robinson will enable the new board members to exercise genuine oversight going forward, despite actively denying us this opportunity over the last few months.

Please note that I've included Gretchen Robinson, our legal staff, the newly positioned Chair designate, and BCCed Dr. Melamed, who hasn't received access to her government email due to administrative delays at RIOC.


Ben Fhala* Resident Board Member

*Disclaimer: All statements made by Ben Fhala are made in his capacity as a RIOC Resident Board member. He does not represent the entirety of RIOC or the full board but serves as a Resident Board member, offering information to the community and its stakeholders.

Back to the Haynes/Robinson lawsuit.

As reported October 2, according to the Haynes/Robinson lawsuit: filed last September 12

This is a case about how the Executive Chamber for the Office of the Governor of New York (the “Chamber”) and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (“RIOC”) have unfairly subjected Shelton J. Haynes and Gretchen K. Robinson (“Robinson,” and together with Haynes, the “Plaintiffs”), two African American executives, to continuous and pervasive discrimination by, including but not limited to, subjecting Haynes and Robinson to frequent unwarranted investigations by the New York State Inspector General (“NYSIG”) as well as ordering an independent investigation by an outside counsel – something not done for other, more serious allegations – based entirely on specious allegations of wrongdoing. The Chamber did so while simultaneously thwarting Haynes’s and Robinson’s efforts to fight back against the discrimination and defend themselves and RIOC against a multitude of defamatory statements made by a local blogger and a group of disgruntled former employees....

 And reported September 16, 2023:

... Though not named as defendants in the lawsuit, Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson claim in their lawsuit that NY State Senator Liz Krueger, NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Roosevelt Island Daily publisher David Stone contributed to a "racist backlash" against them.

The lawsuit also claims that Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson were excluded from the appointment process of 3 new RIOC Board Members in an attempt to undermine their authority and "ability to discharge their job functions." Haynes and Robinson claim the 3 new RIOC board members are antagonistic to them.

Read the full lawsuit complaint....

Mr Fhala, Dr Melamed and Professor Tang are the 3 new RIOC Board members alleged by Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson to be antagonistic to them.

On November 7, the attorneys for Mr Haynes and Ms Robertson wrote to the Southern District NY Court Judge hearing their case:

...I write on behalf of Plaintiffs Shelton J. Haynes and Gretchen K. Robinson (“Plaintiffs”) to respectfully request that this Court stay proceedings pending the issuance of a Notice of Right to Sue Letter (“the Notice Letter”) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Defendants do not consent to this request....

Attorneys for the defendants opposed the requested stay and replied on November 13:

... To the extent Plaintiffs’ legal strategy has always been to name the Chamber and RIOC alongside the individual Defendants, they prematurely filed this action before exhausting the administrative remedies as to those potential parties. Now Plaintiffs ask this Court to stay their own case indefinitely—a decision that would delay the individual Defendants’ right to respond to serious, although meritless, allegations—as they wait for an EEOC determination.

... More significantly, Defendants have been publicly accused of racial discrimination and retaliation and will suffer prejudice if they are prevented from promptly defending themselves. Defendants are government employees who are the subjects of serious allegations of wrongdoing. The lawsuit appears intended to inhibit Defendants’ ability to execute the duties of their offices, which has posed operational challenges for RIOC. Justice demands a prompt resolution of this case....

On November 16, the Haynes/Robinson attorneys responded:

... At this stage, all that Plaintiffs need to allege are “minimal” facts “suggesting an inference” of such animus. Id. Plaintiffs’ allegations easily meet that threshold. Notably, after its internal investigation, the law firm RIOC hired drafted a report confirming Plaintiffs’ claims of racial discrimination, and Defendants instructed the law firm to remove and sanitize those findings. Compl. ¶ 85. The only plausible explanation for Defendants’ instruction, particularly in light of the favorable inferences afforded to Plaintiffs on a motion to dismiss, is that Defendants sought to cover up the ongoing racial discrimination Plaintiffs faced. This fact alone is fatal to Defendants’ argument.

Plaintiffs’ allegations comparing the adverse conduct against them to the lack of adverse conduct against their white predecessors also raise an inference of racial animus. Plaintiffs allege, for example, that Defendants excluded them from the selection of new Board members, id. ¶¶ 1- 2, 92, and allowed them to be subjected to unwarranted investigations, id. ¶ 46, but treated their white predecessors differently—supporting an inference of racial animus. That racial animus is further demonstrated by Defendants (1) removing an African American Board member with an expiring term while permitting two white Board members to remain despite their expired terms, id. ¶ 103, and (2) preventing African American Board members from serving on their requested committees while appointing a white Board member to his requested committee, id. ¶¶ 103, 107.

Indeed, Plaintiffs’ comparators engaged in more severe misconduct (e.g., using racist and sexually inappropriate language, id. ¶ 7, and drinking alcohol and golfing on the job, id. ¶ 70)— which ultimately cost them their jobs—than that alleged against Plaintiffs, yet they were never investigated by an outside law firm. This raises an inference of racial animus sufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss.... 

Here are the letters from the attorneys for the plantiffs and defendants excerpted above.

Heres the Haynes/Robinson lawsuit complaint.

While this mess all plays out in Albany and the court:

Roosevelt Island residents have organized a petition drive 



You can sign the Petition here, if you agree or at the very least, demand attention be paid to Roosevelt Island residents, workers and all who care about the community.