Friday, February 24, 2023

Huge RIOC Sportspark Membership Rate Increase Shocking And Unacceptable Says Roosevelt Island NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, She Calls On Governor Hochul To Intervene And Stop Price Hike - Community Starts Protest Petition And RIOC Silent As Usual

As reported yesterday, Roosevelt Island residents have started a petition to protest 

the huge increase in membership user fees 

for the not yet opened renovated Sportspark recreation facility 

announced yesterday by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC).

Earlier today, I asked Roosevelt Island and Upper East Side Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright:

Rioc announced yesterday their plans for the newly renovated Sportspark membership user fees once the facility reopens. 

The announced fees are huge increases over past practice and more typical of private luxury gym memberships such as Equinox or Crunch Fitness than a NY State or City public recreation center such as Riverbank or others. 

Residents have initiated a petition protesting the increase and asking for rates similar to other public facilities. 

Does Assembly Member Seawright have any comment on the matter?
Ms Seawright replied:

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation has dropped the latest in a series of increases for Roosevelt Islanders. The new Sportspark rates revealed yesterday by a 400% increase in a press release and without community input are shocking and unacceptable. I am calling on our Governor Hochul to intervene in the rate hikes pricing people out of Roosevelt Island. From parking to the pool, these hikes add insult to injury at an already consequential time for people’s pocketbooks.

As of 7:50 PM tonight,  226 people have signed the petition protesting the proposed RIOC Sportspark fees structure. Among the many comments to the RIOC proposed Sportpark rate increases are:

Achmed - Was supremely excited about the renovation and re-opening of the facility until I saw the price... Like seriously a LUXURY gym with state of the art equipment, spas, and boutique classes costs nearly the same as this gym. Terrible for the community. And terrible business model. No way non-residents will pay this fee when you can get a LUXURY gym across the tram: 

And for residents -- there just isn't remotely enough value in the new facility to justify the price. Especially considering many of the buildings on RI -- have basic gyms in the buildings. . Really hope someone talks sense into the management.

And more comments:

You can review and sign the petition here.

There has been no response from RIOC President Shelton Haynes and Communications Vice President Akeem Jamal to press inquires or the community petition.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Roosevelt Island Residents Start Petition Protesting Huge Price Increase Announced Today By RIOC For Use Of Sportspark Facility When It Reopens Following Long Delayed Renovation - Is Sportpark A Public Community Recreation Center Or Private Equinox Type Gym?

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) had some news today about the opening of the long delayed Sportspark recreational facility that was closed for renovations in September 2021 and scheduled to open in the Spring 2022, then Fall of 2022, then late Fall/Winter 2022, then late Winter 2023 and as of today early spring 2023. 

According to RIOC:
 ... Membership rates for the use of the facility will include access to the following amenities: swimming pool, basketball court, and recreational room. A promotional rate will be announced in advance of the building’s re-opening on a later date....

Roosevelt Island resident Roberta Kleinman was a regular user of the Sportspark pool before the renovations closed the facility and has been looking forward for it to reopen. Upon learning of the new RIOC Sportpark user fees, Ms Kleinman writes: 

I have no words! The pricing is COMPLETELY OUTRAGEOUS! It is no where near in line with other State or City facilities, and it is triple to approx. 10 times the amount of prices in March of 2020. I am angry and baffled! These prices are PUNITIVE!!! Not in line with a not-for-profit State run facility.

So for a Roosevelt Island adult we’ve gone from $300 to $1500 ($125x12) a year. That kind of increase is unprecedented and absurd. Plus there are many people, such as myself who are only interested in using the pool, and others who would be interested in the gym.

We, as a community have to stop this!

Ms Kleinman has started an online petition to protest the new Sportspark fee structure. According to the petition:

You can view and sign the petition here.

I asked RIOC President Shelton Haynes and Communications Vice President Akeem Jamal today:

I'm preparing a story on RIOC's announcement today regarding fees for use of the Sportspark facility.

What is RIOC's rationale for the pricing structure of fees?

A community petition has begun protesting the huge increase in fees for the Sportspark...

... Will RIOC have any comment for the Roosevelt Island community?

There has been no response from RIOC.

Comments about the Sportspark membership fees on the Roosevelt Islander Instagram page include:

  • The new head comes from Equinox so not surprisingly treating this as a private gym rather than a public recreation center. The petition does a good job of comparing NYC Recreation Center rates and previous Sportspark rates to the new for profit / private gym. How out of touch can they possibly be?
  • I was excited about this but that’s way, way too expensive and out of budget
  • Insane
  • Did y’all think it was gonna get cheaper after a 12 M dollar renovation
  • Then they shouldn’t have spent that much. It’s still a state run recreation center and should be priced for the people who live here.
  • Gym memberships in Manhattan are $120-$300 a month. Having a respectable athletic facility on the island is sorely needed. You get what you pay for.
  • those are private companies like Equinox and others. Sportspark is a NY State recreational facility similar to Riverbank State Park. Why should Sportspark charge Equinox rates instead of Riverbank.
  • These numbers would be more meaningful if you had membership projections for each category of member… profit margin… etc. Then you can look at ideas such as reducing costs for Seniors by increasing non-resident rates..etc.

Today's RIOC announcement adds:

Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s President & CEO Shelton J. Haynes today announced that renovations to the highly anticipated Sportspark Complex are now complete. The nearly $12M renovation that began in April 2021 is slated to reopen in early spring 2023.

“To say I am excited for the reopening of Sportspark would be an understatement – much like the community, I am eager to unveil the new facility,” says Shelton Haynes. “The recreation center is now so much more and will serve as a central hub for the community, emphasizing overall health, wellness, and fitness.”

 Major improvements to the facility include:

  • A state-of-the-art fitness center;
  • A new pool & and elevated amenities;
  • Upgraded HVAC & Lighting;
  • Installation of energy-efficient systems;
  • A reimagined gymnasium;
  • A recreational play area;
  • Brand-new locker rooms;
  • Brand-new single & family restrooms;
  • Brand-new showers;
  • A group Fitness Studio;
  • Event function space;
  • Renovated common areas;
  • A reception check-in system; and
  • Resurfacing of the building’s façade.

Mr. Haynes added, “Once the appropriate New York City inspections are complete, we will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the official opening of the Sportspark complex in the near future.”

RIOC's Instagram page has pictures inside Sportspark.

Is the Roosevelt Island Sportspark facility a public recreational center like Riverbank State Park or a private gym like Equinox

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

There Is A Fire In Your Roosevelt Island Building, What Do You Do? You're Invited To Apartment Fire Safety Plan For The Whole Family Zoom Webinar Presented By RIRA Community Emergency Committee Thursday February 23

What do you and your family do if there is a fire in your Roosevelt Island building as there was at the Riverwalk Park building (June 2022),

outside Duane Reade at 425 Main Street (February 2021)

or at Roosevelt Landings (January 2021)? 

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Community Emergency Committee Chair Frank Farance provides some answers. According to Mr Farance:

Monthly Emergency Preparedness with RIRA Community Emergency Committee

Long time community activist and RIRA member Frank Farance presents his monthly talk on Roosevelt Island Emergency Preparedness. The monthly presentations are typically the 4th Thursday of the month at 8-9 PM so the WHOLE FAMILY can participate.  This month's agenda will specifically cover the apartment fire safety plan, as distributed to all residents in mid January.  Additional topics will include:

  • Understanding Fire
  • Common Home Fire Hazards
  • Preparedness Tips for Home Fires
  • Do's and Don'ts in Kitchen Fires
  • Preparing Children for Fire Safety
  • Special Considerations for People with Disabilities
Date: Thursday, February 23, 2023
Time: 8-9 PM, the WHOLE FAMILY is welcome

Zoom info:
Zoom Meeting ID: 912 3049 8521, Passcode: 591680, Dial in:  +1 929 205 6099

Be prepared.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Child Center Of NY At PS/IS 217 After School Reporters Launch Local Roosevelt Island Merchant Interview Series - Meet Roosevelt Pups Pet Store Owner Nema

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Children, Youth & Education Ad Hoc Committee Chair Adib Mansour reports: 

RIRA’s Children, Youth & Education Committee’s mission is to connect the youth of the island with its community while holding us all accountable for the betterment of our environment. I am proud to announce a new initiative that introduces the youth to our vendors, learn about their past, their aspirations, whilst acknowledges and appreciates their dedication to the island’s residents.

The main reason for the project is for the students to understand the intricacies of how each of the businesses are conducted, then contribute echo friendly suggestions that help our community. The students will go beyond knowing what each store sells, what to eat at our restaurants or to looking through the window at the cute dogs. Through this project the students will learn how to be a reporter, interview our vendors, and help fight global warming on a local level. 

The project starts with interviewing Nema, the owner of Roosevelt Pups. The interviewers are 4th graders at the Child Center of New York after-school program located at PS/IS 217. They are: Sadie, Esther, Phuk Anh, Avy, and Aivan. 

The students walked around, payed attention to the diverse animal products sold at Roosevelt Pups and of course, had the chance to pet some puppies. 

Interview of Nema, Owner of ROOSEVELT PUPS 

Sadie: Hello Nema. Thank you for taking the time to show us around Roosevelt Pups and answering some of our questions to help us understand your business. We are very happy that you decided to have a puppy place on Roosevelt Island.

Here are some of the questions we are curious about:

Phuc Anh: Did you always like animals, and did you have any when you were growing up?

Nema: Honestly, not really and yes, I had a rabbit.

Esther: Where did you grow up?

Nema: Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago

Avy: What did you study and does it relate to your business at RI Pups?

Nema: I did study Accounting and yes it does relate because I got to figure my budgets, figure out payroll and expenses. So definitely it relates. Do you know what I mean? As an accountant I'd take this business and figure out how much I need to spend on buying and selling the merchandise, I have to figure out how much do I charge for dogs to be here. I also did Principle of Business which is like being an entrepreneur. That's my goal in life being a business person maybe I can establish more stores, have more growth, maybe I'd have another Roosevelt Pups or Manhattan Pups, maybe in Florida, who knows?

Aivan: Are you enjoying Roosevelt Pups and is the business doing well?

Nema: I love Roosevelt Pups I love dealing with the dogs. I think the dogs feel the same way about me. I am caring compassionate with the animals.

Business' been pretty okay, though it could be better.

Aivan: Follow up question, what would make your business better?

Nema: I think the foot traffic it's low; Roosevelt Island is a small island, different from Manhattan. Foot traffic means more clientele. Maybe more marketing to have more clients coming.

Sadie: What made you open Roosevelt Pups on our Island? Do you live on the island?

Nema: I do not live on the island, I live in Queens. What made me open it here? It's my business partner -his name is Ibrahim- he's the owner of Pup Culture. He is the one who spoke to me about this and that's how I ended here. He knows Roosevelt Island and he is an entrepreneur.

Phuc Anh: Pup Culture's website lists all the locations in New York City but does not mention Roosevelt Island... how come?

Nema: Yeah, you're right. As you now know, we are not Pup Culture anymore we are Roosevelt Pups so if you go on our website you'll see Roosevelt Pups. Again, there's only one Roosevelt Pups. You can find us on Instagram @rooseveltpupsnyc

 Avy: On your website, you have a quote “Rated Top Dog Daycare and Voted Best Groomer in New York City”. Would you please tell us why and how does it apply to the store on Roosevelt Island.

Nema: Sure! You know why? We take good care of the dogs here. We are like the best daycare!

What do we do here I don't think a lot of dog daycares in the city do this and I don't think they have the space. On Roosevelt Island it is so beautiful to walk the dogs by the water at least two or three times a day. I don't think they can do that in the city. We offer an excellent groomer. After you clients bring the dogs for grooming, they're always happy! I don't think I ever had a client who was not happy with the grooming job so she's really really great. What ever they want done, she can do it. She is excellent!

Aivan: What services do you offer?

Nema: We offer boarding, daycare , and grooming. By boarding we mean overnight boarding - like if you go away on a vacation you can leave the dog with us we take care of your dog, we feed the dogs; if they're on medication we give them their meds, and they sleep here.

Sadie: Besides these Services you also sell products; can you tell us what is your process to choose what you carry in the store and what are your top sellers?

Nema: So we carry one brand Stella & Chewy which I think honestly, from what I see and that I know of, no dogs refuses this brand; they just love it! Stella & Chewy have something they call Dinner Patties, and it also comes in treats as well as frozen -frozen dinner patties. They are our number one seller and honestly I'll tell you no dog refuses this. We have different flavors: pork, beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb.

Esther: Do you use plastic bags for people to carry their products out of the store?

Nema: Honestly I have paper bags; I do have some plastic bags that I had and sometimes clients will just ask me for one, and I'll be honest but I do give them. But I do have paper bags.

Avy: What would you do if one of the dogs ran out?

Nema: I had that incident twice. If a dog ran out, you never run behind the dog; if you run behind the dog, the dog will keep running. We have like a treat and we just sit and call the dog and the dog comes back. Once I had a dog that got off a leash and the dog ran straight to the building where he lived.

Aivan: I know that they put a microchip in the dog's ears and you can use your phone and see where the dog went.

Nema: I can tell you how it works. The microchip goes between the two shoulder blades and then it has to be registered because if it is not registered it won't work. If someone finds the dog and they take him to the vet or a shelter and they scan the dog that got a microchip that is not registered then they would not get the necessary information.

Aivan: What happens if dogs start fighting?

Nema: That's why we always have someone in the run with the dogs. You always pull away one dog from another. I really never had any fight, maybe a little you know but no fight because I will not take an aggressive dog. I always check their temperament first before they go in with other dogs.

Esther: What is your favorite part of Roosevelt Island?

Nema: I love the whole island; oh my God I just love it. I love walking by the waters, it's relaxing. Sitting sometimes right here is so relaxing!

Adib: Do you take the tram?

Nema: No, I don't like that. I'm scared of it.

Fujia: Do you have a favorite restaurant here?

Nema: I wish we had a Roti Shop. Everyone tells me “put a Roti Shop here”. I live in Richmond Hill and there are many Roti restaurants.

Sadie: Why did you change the name from Pup Culture to RI Pups?

Nema: So my business partner from Pup Culture - who is no longer with them- and I think Roosevelt Pups was a perfect name because of the island and the logo has the tram. I think it was just perfect.

Phuc Anh: Do you only carry dogs’ supplies?

Nema: No I also carry cat supplies, and sometimes fish.

Phuc Anh: In what ways do you fight against global warming?

Nema: one, by stop using the plastic bags, definitely.

You Tube video of interview here.

Stay tuned for our next interview with a local Roosevelt Island merchant.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Sponsored Post - Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Café Celebrating Mardi Gras February 21 With Fat Tuesday Daily Dish Special Of Gumbo Hush Puppies, King Cake & More, Also Black History Month Celebration February 23 Special Daily Dish Too - Check Out Cornell Tech Café Menu For This Week

Check out this week’s menu at the Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Café for Daily Hot Lunch Specials, Breakfast Staples, Make Your Own Salads, Flatbread and Neapolitan Pizza, Grab and Go Sandwiches/Salads, Soup, Coffee/Beverage Station & More.

The Cornell Tech Café is celebrating Mardi Gras tomorrow with a Fat Tuesday Daily Dish special including Classic or Vegan Gumbo, Hush Puppies, Hoppin John, Corn on the Cob and King Cake.

On Thursday, February 23, the Cafe is Celebrating Black History Month with a Special Daily Dish. Also, the Cafe will be raffling off 2 cookbooks written by African American chefs including one by renowned chef Marcus Samuelson.

The Cornell Tech Café is a great spot on Roosevelt Island for breakfast, lunch. 

Coffee, Hot Chocolate and Smoothies too 

with a very good wi-fi connection. Bring your laptop if you wish.  
See you at the Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Cafe!

Sunday, February 19, 2023

No Roosevelt Island F Train Service To And From Manhattan This 3 Day President's Weekend, MTA Providing Free Shuttle Buses To Queens Subway Stations - Plan On Long Roosevelt Island Tram Lines

There will be no Roosevelt Island F Train Service to and from Roosevelt Island this 3 day President's weekend.

According to the MTA

Service changes on the A, C, D, E, F, and M lines in February 

Plan on long Roosevelt Island Tram lines this weekend.

No word from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) if they will run a Red Bus shuttle 

to assist residents trying to get to and from Manhattan without F Train service this weekend.

But RIOC did send out this email advisory yesterday:

Due to the ongoing New York City Transit MTA Escalator Replacement Project, the West Roadway from rear of 405 to 475 Main Street will be closed to vehicular traffic (between Tram Road and the Blackwell turn around) on the following night:

Sunday, February 19th, 2023 at 10PM to Monday, February 20th, 2023 at 2AM

All North Bound vehicular traffic must utilize the East side of Main Street in front of 405 to 475 Main Street.

In order to accommodate this work, the bus stop front of the subway will be temporarily relocated south of the subway and pedestrians will be rerouted through the Riverwalk Plaza during this closure.

Flag persons will be onsite to assist with vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Thank you for your cooperation during this time.

See attached photo for bus stop relocation and road closure info.

 A long time Roosevelt Island resident noted:

SO, RIOC cannot get out any information re this weekend’s total F shutdown in both directions, describe any alternate transportation, etc., but still manage to send out an Advisory about Traffic rerouting during overnight escalator work being done on a subway not Even running ... On a holiday weekend ?!

Really ? Really ! Is this the George Constanza show ?

I’ll stop emailing my friends when RIOC stops doing dumb things...

UPDATE 2/20: