Saturday, April 29, 2023

You're Invited To Come Celebrate International Jazz Day Sunday April 30 - There's A Jazz Jam Session With Musicians From Around The World At The Roosevelt Island RIVVA Gallery

According to the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA)

Gallery RIVAA (527 Main Street) brings back a much appreciated annual event: the International Jazz Day Celebration Jam Session  Sunday April 30 starting at 3 PM to 6 PM

Bring the family! Join the celebration! Hear musicians from many countries and backgrounds at this iconic event recognized by the United Nations.

All over the world musicians and listeners will be participating in a great musical celebration.

RIVAA makes it extra special by surrounding the music with art.

While entry is free, we suggest a $10 donation at the door. Thank you for your support which helps RIVAA to continue hosting these special events.

Many thanks to Susheel Kurien for holding this and similar, exceptional jazz jam sessions at RIVAA Gallery.

Last March 18, Susheel Kurien and Andrew Baird

performed at the RIVAA Gallery

and Mr Baird gave the audience a brief history of the Jazz Guitar

Friday, April 28, 2023

Young Roosevelt Island Reporters From The Child Center Of NY At PS/IS 217 After School Program Interview Local Mediterranean Eatery Owner And Baker Alon Kruvi - Reporters Learn How Sourdough Bread Is Made And Review Food

Adib Mansour, Director of The Citizen Project's Children, Youth & Education Initiative reports:

The Citizen Project’s Children, Youth & Education Initiative, is proud to present the 3rd interview featuring students from the Child Center of New York’s Fourth graders.

In an effort to introduce our youth to the vendors on the island, they will learn about the intricacies of their businesses and appreciate their owners’ commitment to Roosevelt Island. Over the past few weeks, we've identified all the Island vendors and we’re in the process of interviewing them, starting with Roosevelt Pups, then Fusion Salon, and now ME Mediterranean Eatery

These 4th graders interviewed Alon Kruvi, owner and baker at ME Mediterranean Eatery

  • Martin, 
  • Aivan, 
  • Le Minh, 
  • Esther, and 
  • Orion. 

During the visit to the restaurant, the students had a hands-on experience in making sourdough, learned the rules of the kitchen, and how to be the boss of the dough!

The project culminated in their becoming food critics. Like Anton Ego in Pixar's Ratatouille movie, the students tasted and described what they thought of the restaurant's chicken shawarma, falafel, homemade bread, hummus, and kafta.

Here's the Interview Transcript of Alon Kruvi, Owner of Mediteranean Eatery.

Martin: Hello Alon, we are very excited to interview you and find out about your childhood, your family, your business, and your future plans.

Aivan: Please tell us about your childhood and where did you grow up?

Alon: I was born not too far from where Adib is from. Do you know where that is? He's from Lebanon and I'm from the country right south of it which is called Israel; and that's where I was born a long time ago, in 1965. You know how long that was? A long time; it was 57 years ago. I was raised there until the age of 9, we moved to California; so I spent some time in California and then we went back to Israel, and then went back to New York. So I was always back and forth, back and forth between the United States and Israel. But this time around I've been here for the past 16 years and lived on Roosevelt Island for the past… almost eight years.

Le Minh: When and why did you move to Roosevelt Island?

Alon: So we lived on the Upper East Side which is right across the water, and we didn't know much about Roosevelt Island. We were looking for an apartment; we had just enough money to buy an apartment and we came and the amount of money that we had was not enough to buy anything basically in Manhattan, and one day we saw a little ad here. There was, at Roosevelt Island, a nice apartment for sale. We came here; we saw it; it was affordable. We loved the place from the second we walked on this island; we said it was so cute, and quiet, and then nice. And that's it… I guess our destiny showed us that we were going to live here.

Esther: Please tell us about your education.

Alon: I went to the University of “Life”. Do you know what the University of “life” is? It doesn't work for everyone but it does work sometimes. I have what they call ADHD if you guys know what that is: Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder; meaning I'm very fidgety and my concentration levels especially in school, and especially if something that I wasn't really into, did not last very well. 

I was an okay student, very okay, very mediocre. I was not a good student. I found out later on in life that my way of learning is by observation, which is very important to learn. We have to learn so if you're good in school and you can understand, and you don't have any issues that prevent you from learning, then school is the way to go. My wife is a teacher and she enforced this. 

The way I was able to learn is not through the university - I did go to three different universities- I tried and I dropped out after three months because I just couldn't do it. My way of learning, like I said, is by observation, and believe it or not, a lot of this I learned.

1) I am third-generation in this in the food business, so my dad had a lot to teach me. 

2) I've worked with a lot of chefs in kitchens and restaurants and hotels, and stuff like that. I learned from experience by hands-on work. 

Believe it or not -and this is something no one wants to hear today- but YouTube taught me a lot also there are a lot of professional people on YouTube who taught me a lot also. There are a lot of professionals on YouTube that taught me. Any interest that I had that I wanted to know … especially like making sourdough.. I did not go to baking school I kind of heard professional people explaining and lecturing and then took it to my corner and experimented. Through experimentation, I learned. So that's my education.

Orion: Are you married and do you have children?

Alon: I am married for the second time. I have three children and my wife has one so we kind of combine the families together so we have four -I wouldn't call them children because my youngest is 19 so she's already an adult, and my oldest is 29. They're still children, but they're big children.

Martin: What made you open this restaurant and why specifically the Mediterranean cuisine?

Alon: Ooh good question on that one. Okay, so I've been doing Mediterranean Cuisine forever. Like I said I'm third generation… my grandma started in Israel before it was even Israel. It was still the state of Palestine under the British mandate -I don't know if you guys ever heard about that. Before 1948 she already had a restaurant and my dad was I would say the number-one restaurateur in Israel in the past, from the 1970s probably to the early 2000s. He was really big and famous in Israel as a professional. I learned a lot from that.

I moved to New York 15 years ago to open up places that serve Falafel and at a certain point, we had 14 of them; from Philadelphia, to New Jersey, even in the city. I had food trucks. I had everything. We were struggling to make money because we weren't selling meat; my partner was vegetarian by religion, and we could not sell meat. The culture here asks for meat. People want to have their meat. We were basically not making money, so we ended up with just a couple. I added meat to them; they were very successful! 

Then the pandemic hit. When the pandemic hit they all got destroyed in one day. My restaurants were in Midtown; nobody was in Midtown for six months. The landlords were still expecting rent. I could not pay the rent so I gave them back the keys. That was it! Right after that, I opened up a restaurant in New Jersey. I signed that deal right when the pandemic hit and then I built it and opened it through the pandemic. But the commute there was just too long; an hour and a half each way driving sometimes. It was exhausting. I didn't want to do it. I made my partner buy me out. I told him “if you don't buy me out, I'm going to shut it down”. So he was scared; he bought me out. I wanted to work close to home. 

I live across the street and I opened this thing over here. It was available. The reason I did Mediterranean Cuisine? I wanted to do a bakery; only a bakery. I didn't want to do Mediterranean anymore because I've been doing Mediterranean for 30 years already, and I'm kind of over it. I wanted to move on in life and my wife persuaded me to do something that would be easy for me. She said “you do this with your eyes closed, why do you want to experiment on new things?” So I did the Mediterranean. But the fire in me was still burning to make the bakery… so this is where we are right now. I know we need a bakery on the Roosevelt Island and I love baking bread and that is why I’m here in this Mediterranean place!

Aivan: How do you plan your menu and do you change it? If so, how often?

Alon: menu planning comes, I think, from experience and demand. You want to hear what the customers are saying. So if a lot of customers are coming in and saying “do you have Falafel and you say no no no no no. You've got to want to have Falafel because that's the demand. So you kind of always put yourself in a position where the market is asking for. Because if you want to sell something that the market has no desire for, you’re not going to sell much. If I'm going to sell purple hats that say “I love Alon” on them, I don't know how many people want to buy them. But if I sell a hat that says Roosevelt Island is the best place in the world, maybe more people will want to buy them. It all depends on what people are looking for. So I assumed that Mediterranean food would work here because there's no Mediterranean food on the island. That is where I decided on this menu and then I use my repertoire of things that I know how to make and make them downstairs.

Speaking about that, let's go downstairs. I'm just going to wash my hands. you guys probably waiting on the table so we can sit and actually try this food and we'll continue with the questions there all right

Le Minh: It seems you have recently started baking and selling bread as well. Please tell us about that.

Alon: Okay so you see right here (pointing to small bulletin board)… well right now it's about half full but I got more breads about to go in. this is something that we're missing on the island. Like I said before, I wanted to open a bakery before I did a Mediterranean, and my wife persuaded me otherwise if you remember that. But as we went into business I saw that we do need a good fresh bread here; my passion always is making bread and it couldn't hurt the revenue because Mediterranean food is great food but not everybody understands that, but everybody understands what bread is.

Le Minh: if you want to walk us through the bread and tell us about them?

Alon: Sure. We have different kinds of bread. Usually, the menu will be right here; whatever is available (card) will be flipped the right side up, and whatever is finished for the day we flip it to the other side. Here we got some sourdough, some Israeli Hala what we call, some seeded white loaves over there, and over here we got some whole wheat; the olives have finished for the day, and we're about to put more baguettes into the oven.

Martin: (as he’s eating) This is the best restaurant!

Orion: How has business been? Are you considering delivery?

Alon: Winter was slow here. Nobody was eating out. But that was fine. Let’s see where this will go but so far, we’re fine.

Orion: When did you start Uber Eats?

Alon: In the winter, but it is better when people come and eat here.

Esther: What are your favorite things about Roosevelt Island?

Alon: My favorite things… the community (and Adib). Those are the first two. I think we have a wonderful place here and I think it's the best-kept secret of New York! It's quiet; just quiet enough. The community is great, very supportive. People are very nice here. It's safe here. I just love it. It's beautiful here, we get to see the city, we get to see everything. We're in our own little Island. Very accessible.

Orion: Do you consider the environment in your business?

Alon: Yes I do. We’re starting with the forks that you’re using; they are made from corn. You see those plates, it is all from fiber that is compostable. They make them from corn and sugar. This (plates) is made from sugarcane. The straws that we have are made from corn. I tried as much as possible not to have plastic but we do but plastic is the enemy.

Orion: So the people that make these, they make them out of compost?

Alon: After they extract the sugar from the sugarcane, they are left with a lot of fiber. They make them with this fiber. They make these plates from the fiber.

Esther: What else are you planning to do in your restaurant?

Alon: At this point, after adding the bakery, I don’t have further plans to expand the restaurant. Maybe a couple of menu items in the future, but nothing major.

Martin: Does your family help you in your business?

Alon: My family does help me when they’re needed and when they’re available. Most of the time the employees that work for us. Occasionally, on vacations and when they are available they help as well.

Aivan: What is a typical day for you? 

Alon: A typical day for me is a day where -about 7:30 in the morning- I start setting up the restaurant for the lunch service. At which point after lunch service we prepare different foods and breads for the evening service. When that evening service ends at 8:00 PM, when we close, we prepare for the next day; we order vegetables, and other missing ingredients that we need for the next day’s preparation. Lastly, at 9:00 PM – 9:15PM, I go home, have dinner, relax, and start over.

Le Minh: Where do you see your business in the future?

Alon: So the mission for this business is basically where it is right now! We like what we’re doing. We like the scale of it. We like the location. We like the community. We want to make it a special place for Roosevelt Island and Roosevelt Islanders. No interest right now to expand to other places. We want to keep it the way it is.

Martin: Recently we met Cameron Koffman, Director of Constituent Services for City Council Member Julie Menin, and he told us that they are working on a “One Stop Shop” idea to help small businesses. When we met him, he told us that she is also the Chair of Small Businesses. Have you been in touch with their office?

Alon: I’ll tell you the truth, no. I haven’t heard anything. This is the first time I’m hearing about this. I’m not too much involved in politics. I like to do my own thing.

Martin: If you’re doing it by yourself, do you get any assistance from anybody outside of your restaurant?

Alon: From the bank (shrugs). Usually, politicians help when we cannot afford it or we cannot get access to something, and they send us help. Fortunately for me, no. I was able to do things by myself. I built this restaurant by myself. Whatever you see here, I built by myself. In six months I built this step by step and (pointing to a customer) I have a witness here. (Turns around and points to his wife) And here’s another witness. 

  Here's video of the young Roosevelt Island reporters interviewing Alon.

Mediterranean Eatery is located at 548 Main Street and open Tuesday thru Sunday 11:30 AM to 8:00 PM. Stop by, say hello to Alon and try some of the tasty Mediterranean food and fresh baked breads.

Roosevelt Island RIVAA Gallery Presents New Works By Artists From Our Neighbors At Coler Hospital - You're Invited To Opening Reception Saturday April 29

According to the Roosevelt Island RIVAA Gallery:

"Coler's Art Show" 

 It is with great pleasure that RIVAA Gallery presents new works by artists from Coler Hospital. 

The exhibition will open on April 28, 2023, with a reception on April 29, 2023, from 4:00-6:00 PM.

Join us at the opening reception and view one of our most anticipated events this year, showcasing Art by these talented Coler residents, valued members of our Roosevelt Island Community.

Thanks to the artists, to Art Instructor Robert Fernandez, curator of the exhibition and to Jovemay Santos Director of Therapeutic Recreation Programs at Coler for making this exhibition possible.

Opening reception on Saturday, April 29th , from 4-6PM.

The exhibition will run from April 28th - May 21st 2023,

Gallery RIVAA is located at 527 Main Street.

Here's how you can help support the Gallery RIVAA Renovation Fund.

More info on Gallery RIVAA available at their website and Instagram Page

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society reported on the 2022 Coler Art Show and shares some photos from the exhibit:

After a 3 year hiatus due to Covide-19, the Coler Art Show has returned. The show opened today at Coler. The works will be on display at the RIVAA Gallery later this year. It is an exciting event that the resident artists exhibit the works done under the guidance of the Therapeutic Recreation Department. The art program is supported by the Coler Auxiliary, Angelica Fund and other donors. 

Sponsored Post - Roosevelt Island Racquet Club Advantage Summer Camps, Best Summer Ever With 3 Great Camps For Tennis, Swimming, Learning & More - Take A Tour Or Sign Up Today

The Advantage Day Camp at Roosevelt Island Racquet Club Summer Fun 2023


Your camper will get a fantastic summer camp experience right here in NYC! On the West Side at Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club or East Side at Roosevelt Island Racquet Club.

LEARN & GROW Take enrichment classes and discover new levels of creativity and more with STEAM projects

TRY SOMETHING NEW Learn or improve your tennis game, take up rock wall climbing, express yourself with an art project

Visit our website for more info.

COME VISIT ANYTIME! Call us anytime to schedule a family tour: Roosevelt Island/East side, 212.935.0250 or West side, 646.884.9649. We’d love to see you!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Roosevelt Island Women, Tell Us About Your Shitty Bra - Cornell Tech Students Working To Revolutionize The Bra Industry With Custom Fitting From 3d Body Scans And On Demand Manufacturing

Zain Abdelrazeq and Vrinda Lohia are students in the Cornell Tech Runway Startup Program which:.

... is part business school, part research institution, part startup incubator. Based at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, Runway ushers tech founders through a paradigm shift, from an academic mindset to an entrepreneurial outlook. Participants come to the Institute with ideas for unproven products and markets and receive significant support as well as mentorship from academic and business experts in connective media, health technology, security & privacy and computer vision, among a number of other fields.

They are asking Roosevelt Island women to:

Tell Us About Your Shitty Bra

According to Ms Abdelrazeq:

We at Project B are working on revolutionizing the bra industry so we are creating custom fit bras from 3D body scans and on-demand Manufacturing.

and Ms Lohia:

We've realized women often wear misfitting bras and therefore that leads to a lot of health complications in their life. Most of them don't even know that they're wearing misfitting bras so we're trying to revolutionize this space. We're creating a bra that actually fits them well and also supports them.

Contact the Project Bra Instagram Page to tell Zain and Vrinda about your Shitty Bra.

@project_b_bra Join our bra journey: link in bio ✨✨ #bras #bodypositivty #entepreneurs #womenled #fyp #startup #3Dprinting #3Dscanning #3Dtech #perfectfitbra #BraRevolution #bratech #braupgrade #women #femaleempowerment #fashion #smallbusiness #diy ♬ Sunroof - Nicky Youre & dazy

Sponsored Post - Check Out The Roosevelt Island Café At Cornell Tech Weekly Menu For Breakfast, Grab & Go Specials, Daily Dish Hotline Items, Pizza Station, Salads, Sushi, Coffee,Tea, Smoothies Beer, Wine, Wifi & More - Wonderful Outdoor Patio Too

Check out the weekly 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 a great spot on Roosevelt Island for breakfast, lunch.   

Coffee, Tea, Smoothies, 

Beer, Wine

and Thursday Sushi too.

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

As the weather gets warmer, the Outdoor Patio 

is a great spot to eat, relax and people watch too

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 Café.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Know Your Risks And Be Prepared For Hurricane Season - You're Invited To Monthly Roosevelt Island RIRA Emergency Committee Zoom Webinar Thursday April 27 On Hurricane Awareness For The Whole Family

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Community Emergency Committee (CEC) Chair Frank Farance reports:  

To: Roosevelt Islanders:

2023 Hurricane Season, Spring Prep Edition
Our monthly emergency preparedness presentation is THURSDAY NIGHT at 8-9 PM so the WHOLE FAMILY can participate.  We do hurricane preparedness several times: Spring, Early Summer, and Late Summer.  It takes more than one session to be prepared.  This month we will talk about some preparedness elements that take some advanced planning, such as:
  • written plans
  • mobility
  • pets
  • testing our go bags and stay boxes
These are the kinds of things that will take several weeks to complete.  Here is the Zoom info:
Date: Thursday, April 27, 2023, 8-9 PM, the WHOLE FAMILY is welcome
Zoom info:
Zoom Meeting ID: 912 3049 8521, Passcode: 591680, Dial in:  +1 929 205 6099

Future meetings are the 4th Thursday of the month 8-9 PM with the same Zoom link.  I'm looking forward to your participation and hearing your questions!

More on Roosevelt Island 

2012 Hurricane Sandy Image From Brian Dorfman
 Hurricane preparedness here.

Roosevelt Island Pickleball Courts Look Ready To Open, But When? RIOC Says Grand Opening For Sportspark Recreational Facility Coming In May And Will Announce An Affordable Fee Structure For All Patrons

It looks like the Roosevelt Island Pickleball Courts outside the Sportspark recreational facility are about ready to open.

As I walked by the former Sportspark basketball court site today, I noticed the Pickleball netting had been put in place

as well as Pickleball Court General Rules And Regulation signage installed.

But when will the Sportspark recreational facility finally re-open?

As reported last March 9:

On February 23, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) announced huge increases in membership user fees for the Sportspark recreational facility which has been undergoing a purported $12 million renovation, was closed since September 2021 and incurred delay upon delay for its scheduled re-opening.

... Roosevelt Island residents began a petition to protest RIOC's new Sportspark fee structure with the support of local elected officials including Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright who said:

...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.

Roosevelt Island residents were outraged that RIOC's new Sportspark pricing structure was more in line with a privately owned Equinox Gym than an affordable community recreational center.

Today, RIOC announced via Twitter and Instagram that they are suspending until further notice the price increases for Sportspark....

During the April 3 RIOC Board Of Directors President's Report, Shelton Haynes reported:

... We are planning a Grand Opening for Sportsark next month with the ribbon cutting. The building has now passed all inspections possible. 

We are also going to be going out with a new fee structure that is very affordable for all patrons and that will be announced in another week or so. Again we thank you for hearing your voices. The goal is to make sure this facility is very affordable for all....

More than a couple of weeks have passed since the April 3 RIOC Board meeting with no further word on the Sportspark opening or fee structure.

UPDATE 4/27 - According to a spokesperson for Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright:

Concerning Sportspark rates – RIOC will be making an announcement within the next week.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Roosevelt Island Earth Love Day Celebrates Small Steps To Make A Positive Impact On Earth And Local Community - Learn About Some Of The Volunteer Efforts Being Done By RI Residents

Last Saturday, April 22, was Roosevelt Island Earth Love Day. The activities took place at the Rivercross Lawn, across the street by Blackwell Park Plaza and the Riverwalk Commons.

According to Roosevelt Island resident and iDig2Learn founder Christina Delfico

Today is Earth Love Day. We added the word "Love" about five years ago around Earth Day. We want to celebrate All Things to keep our Air, Land, Water and Sky clean which is good for humans of course but it's also good for all that live in the habitat like the birds the bees the butterflies.

You'll find ideas here at Earth's love day that talk about refusing, reducing, reusing. What goes along with that is the protection of the nature we have, protecting planting and the stewardship but also trying not to do too much waste like if you go to take take out food you don't need the forks and knives and spoons you have that in your apartment. There's something called skip the stuff and you just can tell the restaurant no thanks I don't need those. 

So small steps to do better to make a positive imprint on the earth and not a negative one....

Green Roosevelt Island Neighbors (GRIN) Anthony Luongo is concerned about Blackwell Park Trees being cut down by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC). According to Mr Luongo:

We're actually trying to take an inventory of the trees in Blackwell House Plaza. We understand that there's scheduled to be some construction in the future.

 I believe there are 160 kind of substantial trees in the potential construction zone and we'd like to make sure that they know that we care about those trees and that we need these trees. If they need to be taken down or something needs to happen to them, we would hope that there would be a discussion with folks that know about those types of things and a real conversation about that before any of them were taken down ... 

Carter Burden Network Roosevelt Island Older Adult Center Lisa Fernandez reports;

We received from the Office Of Addiction Services and Supports the proper medicine disposal bags. 

You take your medicine, open the bag, take your meds, dump it in, add a little hot tap water, pour it in,  seal it, shake it, put it in the trash. 

Keeps it out of our ecosystem, out of our water system. Simple.

You might not feel like lugging it to Duane Reade or CVS wherever they have the collection sites. 

Easy Peasy

Roosevelt Island Garden Club member Julia Ferguson with a group of volunteers worked on Riverwlk Commons Plantings and adds:

We're very happy to have worked with Matt Kibby, our Horticultural director on Roosevelt Island. We were able to order a lot of perennials shrubs and flowers... ... We've been hoping to work on this area for some time and this is a great opportunity.... it's been a really fun day...


 There was also Yoga Mediation with Roosevelt Island resident and Island Om owner Jax Schott on the Rivercross Lawn

And outdoor chess 

with NY Public Library Roosevelt Island branch Manager Carlos Chavez too.

Sponsored Post - Celebrate Annual I Love My Park Day By Volunteering To Assemble Adirondack Chairs, Weed & Mulch At Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park Saturday May 6 - Opportunity To Sponsor A Customized Adirondack Chair Featuring Your Name Or An Honoree Too

The Four Freedoms Park Conservancy reports:

It's not too late to join us Saturday, May 6th from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm for I Love My Park Day, the annual state-wide day of action to spruce up our beloved parks. We'd love to see you there!

In addition to mulching and weeding, you can help assemble our colorful Adirondack chairs that are available all season on the Great Lawn. All tools and materials are provided, just bring your green thumb and love for the outdoors. 


FDR Four Freedoms State Park is accessible by subway, car, tram, and NYC Ferry. 

New in 2023: For the first time, the Conservancy offers the unique opportunity to sponsor an Adirondack chair. For a tax-deductible donation of $250 or more, your chair will be customized, featuring your name or honoree for the 2023 season. Give the gift of a seat with a breathtaking view of Manhattan's skyline and the East River! 

For more information, kindly fill out this form.

Here are scenes from 2022 I Love My Park at the FDR Four Freedoms Park.

Monday, April 24, 2023

What Happened To The Original 1970's Roosevelt Island Affordable Housing Experiment - Plot Of Land Podcast Talks To Current And Displaced Residents To Find Out In Excellent Piece Of Reporting

Roosevelt Island was built by government in the 1970's as an experiment in developing affordable housing for a multi-income, multi racial and disabled population. What happened to the Roosevelt Island housing experiment from the 1970's to today is the subject of an excellent piece of journalism by the Plot Of Land Podcast. The reporters of this 2 part series are Melissa Fundira who grew up on Roosevelt Island and Jameela Hamond. 

According to the Plot Of Land Episode 6 transcript:

... Hammond: For this episode we’re going to join Plot of Land reporter Melissa Fundira. Melissa actually grew up on Roosevelt Island. Her family moved there from Gabon in 1999, when she was just 6 years old. Here’s Melissa.

Fundira: I don’t think it was a typical New York City upbringing for a kid. We had so much freedom to just roam. Some of my fondest memories were summers spent playing with other kids on the island. As young as 7 years old, 6 even, we’d leave the house around 10 AM, wouldn’t come back ‘til 6 PM for dinner. None of us had cell phones at that time of course, but we just knew there would always be someone to hang with if we showed up at Blackwell Park, or at the courtyard between 20 and 30 River Road, or any number of playgrounds and other public spaces. Our parents didn’t really have any reasons to worry about us.

My family’s originally from Rwanda, but my parents raised my brother and I mostly in Gabon before we moved to Roosevelt Island, so moving here was our first time living outside of Africa. And I can’t say that I really remember experiencing much of any sort of culture shock. There were so many other families from Africa on the island, so many other kids whose parents worked for the United Nations like my mom did.

It was such a dreamy place to grow up. As I got older, I started realizing that all the things I love about Roosevelt Island were really by design. And that we were all subjects in a grand social experiment. An experiment that wanted to prove that the government was capable of building quality housing for New Yorkers of all racial and economic backgrounds.

And like Jameela was saying earlier, this vision, one in which U.S. tax dollars go towards providing housing for all, this vision is closely tied to the island’s namesake: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt....

Listen to Part 1 of the Podcast or read the transcript.

According to the Episode 7 transcript:

... Melissa: This story, about the soccer and sports teams, is in many ways an analogy for what happened to housing on Roosevelt Island. When the original four Roosevelt Island apartment buildings opened, everyone was on the same team. Yes, there was class differentiation, but everyone lived in subsidized housing and shared the same spaces.

Today, there are those who buy or rent at market rate, those who are shareholders in a co-op, those fighting eviction notices, those living in Section-8 housing, and those weathering a new management company every other year hoping to not get priced out when the next lease comes along. Each scenario offers a different level of housing security, a different level of access to resources and opportunities; things like traveling soccer clubs for some kids and gutted soccer programs for others. It’s a far cry from the UDC’s vision of Roosevelt Island as a mixed community equally enjoying what the neighborhood had to offer. It’s a neighborhood divided.

Ross: The adults of my generation tried very hard, even the teenagers of, of my time, the 80s, the 90s tried very hard to curate and cultivate a neighborhood where everyone got along, right? Because that was the premise of Roosevelt Island, the social economical, uh, project. It was an experience. It's no longer that. As new buildings came in, as rents go up. It's becoming a haves versus have nots. You have people, what I call them temporary people making permanent decisions.

Melissa: Temporary is a tricky word, because the island’s newer residents aren’t all necessarily transient. Many want to make a long-term home of the island and believe in its original ethos. But still, that sentiment holds, and I’ve heard it get expressed in different ways. What people mean, I think, is that the island’s newer residents want their buildings to be more exclusive, which by definition, excludes people. And the ones being excluded, the people being shut out, they’re often part of a community 30, 40 years in the making, one founded on a principle of inclusion.

And that exclusion….

... Melissa: I reached out to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation several times for an interview. That’s the corporation set up in 1984 by New York State to run the island. I wanted to ask someone there about its priorities and goals when it comes to providing genuinely affordable housing for low and middle income residents. No one returned my requests.

As a public-benefit corporation, its goal is to develop the island and presumably, it can help set the agenda for what gets built or doesn’t get built. But lately, the majority of new housing there has been prioritized for upper middle income residents. And the last meaningful remaining plots of land on the southern tip of the island are now home to Cornell University’s tech campus and the long-awaited Four Freedoms State Park. These last developments are appreciated in many ways, but certainly many have wondered: what if the state chose to build more subsidized housing there instead?...

Listen to Part 2 of the podcast or read the transcript.

Here's some more interesting observations on the beginnings of Roosevelt Island as a residential community

and the gentrification of Roosevelt Island.


In October 2020, developer Hudson Related opened Riverwalk Park which had over 70 thousand lottery applications for an apartment in the 340 unit affordable housing building.

If you haven't listened to the Plot Of Land Roosevelt Island podcast by now, I highly recommend it.

Mayor Eric Adams Reports On PlaNYC - Getting Sustainability Done To Create A More Climate Resilient City

New York City Mayor Eric Adams submitted the op-ed article below to local NYC community media including Roosevelt Islander Online.

According to Mayor Eric Adams:

Community Op-Ed: PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done

Last week, New York City celebrated Earth Week by powering up new rooftop solar panels in Brooklyn, cleaning up parks in Queens, and releasing PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done, our new plan to create a more climate-resilient city for all.

This strategic climate plan builds on our city’s ongoing efforts to protect New Yorkers from extreme weather, improve quality of life, and support our new green economy. Most importantly, these new initiatives are not happening in some far-off future, but right now, in your neighborhood.

The plan includes a new public solar program that will help everyday New Yorkers afford the cost of installing rooftop solar panels, heat pumps, and other energy efficiency retrofits. The plan also includes provisions to advocate for Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) reform – reforms that will help people afford new air conditioners and assist with their utility costs to keep cool during increasingly hot weather.

Thanks to our robust public transit system, New Yorkers already have some of the lowest carbon emissions per capita in this country, but we can go further. We’re going to help more New Yorkers join the clean energy revolution by expanding our electric vehicle charging network across the five boroughs, so every New Yorker who chooses to drive can drive electric – especially our for-hire vehicle drivers. We are already electrifying our schools and our entire school bus fleet and working to reduce our emissions from every major source — buildings, transportation, and food.

The city will install solar energy, electric building infrastructure, green roofs, and other renewable energy on as much city-owned property as possible, including our DOE schools and our NYCHA buildings.

We will also phase out capital spending on new fossil fuel equipment and infrastructure and update our zoning practices to facilitate building retrofits and eliminate barriers to electrification. This is not only good news for our environment, but a path to more jobs and opportunity for New Yorkers working in the building trades.

Building a renewable energy future will bring down emissions and mitigate climate damage in the years to come, and it will also drive down pollution and improve air quality. We’re going to amplify that effort by getting polluting trucks off our streets, creating new low-emissions zones in neighborhoods that have seen far too much traffic and congestion in the past. And plans are already in motion to expand New York City’s tree canopy by 30%, planting thousands of new trees and improving our green spaces, parks, and recreation areas as well.

We’ve already seen what climate-driven storms can do to our city. From Hurricane Sandy to Tropical Storm Ida, we know that lives are at stake, and our homes and our infrastructure are at risk. This plan expands our efforts to prevent flooding and sewage problems, from building new overflow tanks along the Gowanus Canal to improving drainage in flood-prone neighborhoods.

All of these efforts will protect and sustain our environment, as well as lay the foundation for a new green economy. That’s why a big part of this new plan is about providing education, training and opportunity for New Yorkers to acquire the skills and training they need to succeed in this new job market, one that will protect our future and support a new generation of workers.

There is so much more to this plan, which New Yorkers can read at

New York City has always been a leader when it comes to climate solutions and environmental justice. We have so much to be proud of, and so much to protect. This new plan is a positive and practical roadmap to creating a cleaner, greener, and more just city for all.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Riverwalk Commons Flower Beds Receive Some Roosevelt Island Earth Love Day Plantings From Roosevelt Island Garden Club And Local Resident Volunteers

Roosevelt Island Garden Club members Julia Ferguson and Jack Burkhalter worked together with a group of community volunteers 

to beautify the long neglected Riverwalk Commons Flower beds 
yesterday during the April 22 Roosevelt Island Earth Love Day. According to Ms Ferguson:

We're very happy to have worked with Matt Kibby, our Horticultural director on Roosevelt Island. We were able to order a lot of perennials shrubs and flowers... ... We've been hoping to work on this area for some time and this is a great opportunity.... it's been a really fun day...

Will have more from Roosevelt Island Earth Love Day tomorrow later this week.

More about the Roosevelt Island Garden Club at their web site

UPDATE 4/25 - More on Roosevelt Island Earth Love Day here.