Friday, October 13, 2023

UPDATE To October 14 Roosevelt Island City Of Forest Day - Compost Tree Care Outdoors 11 AM At Lighthouse Park, Art And Dance Activities Move Indoors To Good Shepherd Church Starting At 12:30 PM Due To Rain Forecast

Roosevelt Island resident and iDig2Learn founder Christina Delfico reports:

Greetings from iDig2Learn,

Well the trees love the rain, so that is good.

WEATHER UPDATES: Due to rain predicted mid day for SAT OCT 14th, City of Forest Day WILL continue Saturday with 11 AM Tree Care at Lighthouse Park. However, the Art and Dance activities will MOVE INDOORS to Good Shepherd Church Community Center, 543 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NY 10044. This event is free.

11 AM - Compost activity for tree care with Big Reuse will continue outdoors at 11am at Lighthouse Park, 910 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, NY 10044.

12:30 PM - Create hats with Artist George Krassas & Coler friends using reclaimed paint (Good Shepherd, downstairs)

2 - 2:45 PM - Enjoy a mesmerizing dance performance of "Plastic Harvest" and "Arbor" by Jody Sperling's Time Lapse Dance ensemble with six dancers (Good Shepherd, upstairs).

Saturday's scheduled Plogging Activity is cancelled.

You can join the Plogging Club activity at their weekly meetup every Sunday 2-4 PM at the Good Shepherd Plaza's bell.

Stay tuned and follow IG:@idig2learn for upcoming events like the 11/4 Great Pumpkin Event and 11/11 Stop N' Swap in November.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Update On Who Is In Charge Of Dysfunctional Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Management - RIOC President On Leave For 2 Months, Designates General Counsel To Be In Charge Of Roosevelt Island, Both Suing NY State Officials For Racial Discrimination - Does RIOC Board Approve, Does It Matter?

As reported September 16, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Shelton Haynes 

and General Counsel Gretchen Robinson:

... filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in the Southern District Of NY against members of NY State Governor Kathy Hochul's Executive Chamber as well as the Commissioner, General Counsel and Deputy Counsel of the NY State Division of Homes and Community Renewal.

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.

According to the Haynes/Robinson lawsuit:

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....

Read the full Haynes/Robinson lawsuit here.

On October 5, I asked RIOC President Shelton Haynes, General Counsel Gretchen Robinson and RIOC Board Directors:

Who's In Charge Of Dysfunctional Roosevelt Island Operating Corp? RIOC President Shelton Haynes Tells RIOC Board Directors Not To Communicate With Staff And Staff Not To Talk With RIOC Board Directors

and following up on the September 27 and September 12 email inquiries below seeking comment regarding the:
  • Haynes/Robinson racial discrimination lawsuit and
  • Who's currently in charge of RIOC
Is Shelton Haynes still on Extended Leave from his position as RIOC President as described in Sept 14 RIOC Board meeting by Gretchen Robinson? If he is still on Extended Leave, who is the Acting President? Does the RIOC Board need to appoint  an Acting President or can it be done without formal RIOC Board approval?

In addition,why are RIOC Directors not allowed to speak with RIOC staff and RIOC Staff not allowed to speak with RIOC Directors. This has not been the policy under prior RIOC Presidents?

These are important issues of concern to the Roosevelt Island community. Answers from RIOC Board Members, Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson would be greatly appreciated.
On October 8, RIOC Board Director Ben Fhala answered:
I'd like to acknowledge receipt of your email.

Our board chair, RuthAnne Visnauskas, has instructed the RIOC executive team to prepare answers for review by the board and for the chair to respond. Please allow them sufficient time to work on a thorough response.
I followed up a few minutes later:
Thank you for the acknowledgment. 

Can you provide an estimate of what a sufficient time for the response is?
Mr Fhala replied last evening, October 11:
I have not received any communication from the executive team regarding the feedback requested by the chair.

Furthermore, I was  informed (not in writing) that Shelton has extended his medical leave. Aida made a statement to Lydia and me, which left us in some confusion, and we are currently awaiting clarification from the executive team. As a measure of caution, I believe it's best to allow the team more time to address our questions and yours, ultimately enabling the board to convey a unified message.

In addition, I want to note that I initially overlooked a message sent by Shelton on September 6th titled "RIOC Update" due to its subject. In that message, Shelton mentioned:

" ...through October 6th, with the possibility of extending it as needed.

... I am thrilled to announce that Gretchen Robinson, our Vice President & General Counsel, will be stepping up to act on my behalf."

This is the official communication as far as I'm aware that informed the staff regarding this matter. I'm aware that multiple team members have been confused or unaware prior to the last board meeting. Nevertheless, I eagerly await official updates from the executive team to hopefully clarify things.
Aida is Aida Morales,  Mr Haynes assistant and Lydia is Lydia Tang who was appointed to the RIOC Board on June 7, 2023 at the same time as Mr Fhala and Dr Michal Melamed.  
... executive team has instructed staff to "ignore" communications from new Resident board members, a directive officially confirmed on 08/31 by Aida Morales....
10 minutes after receiving Mr Fhala's response, RIOC Communications Director Bryant Daniels replied:

Thank you for your inquiry. President Haynes notified the RIOC Board and staff in late August of his approved leave. He is set to return to the office in late October. In his absence, Vice President and General Counsel Gretchen Robinson will be temporarily in charge with the full support of the Board.

Please note that RIOC does not comment on matters of pending litigation.

This morning, I asked RIOC Board Members, RIOC President Shelton Haynes and General Counsel Gretchen Robinson:

In reply to my inquiry, last evening, RIOC Communications Director Bryant Daniels reported that RIOC President Shelton Haynes is on leave until the end of October and General Counsel Gretchen Robinson is temporarily in charge of RIOC with the full support of the Board....

... I followed up asking Mr Bryant this question. 
Has there been a vote of the full RIOC Board approving Gretchen Robinson being temporarily in charge? If not, how does she have full approval of the Board and under what authority is she placed in charge of RIOC?

As you know, Ms Robinson is currently a plaintiff in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the staff of Governor Hochul's Executive Chamber and the DHCR. How can she be placed in charge of RIOC when she is suing NY State officials for racial discrimination?

My understanding is that Mr Haynes has been on leave since the end of August making it at least 2 months of Ms Robinson in charge.

What is the procedure for someone taking over the role of RIOC President when the current RIOC President is unable to perform the job? Is a RIOC Board approval vote required or can the current RIOC President simply designate a replacement himself without a Board approval?

Any comment from RIOC Board members?

No response yet. Will update when more info becomes available. 

UPDATE 10/13: RIOC Communications Director Bryant Daniels adds this morning:

To clarify, Gretchen is serving as Mr. Haynes’ designee (proxy) until his return. This does not require Board approval as his leave is only temporary. Board action would only be required if she were appointed “Acting President” which is not the case. As Executive Vice President, she is permitted to act on Mr. Haynes’ behalf.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Roosevelt Island Tram Line Stretching Almost To 3rd Ave During Rush Hour Tonight As F Shuttle Train Out Of Service For Couple Of Hours Due To Signal Problems - Are Transportation Problems Chasing Residents Off The Island?

At about 5:50 PM this evening a Roosevelt Island resident Tipster reported:

i waited 60 min on F Shuttle at 63rd to get to Island. Never came. had to take Tram that had a long line. 

According to the MTA:

 Here's the Roosevelt Island Tram line this evening down the staircase stretching to 59th street and almost over to third avenue.

Frustrated Roosevelt Island residents reported:

  • It's time to just walk on the Track back to Roosevelt Island.
  • On days like this, why can't RIOC send one Red Bus to 59th Street to get people home?
  • The Tram used to be such a nice bonus of living on the Island. Now I avoid it like the plague if I can help it ... If anyone here is an influencer, please tell tourists not to take it so that residents can actually live their lives, get to and from work/school.

Comments on the Roosevelt Islander Instagram Page include:
  • I’m trying to get on line for the tram and it goes more than halfway to 3rd ave, it’s insane
  • I hope they realize this nonsense is chasing the people that actually pay rent off the island….
  • 2-hour commute home for RI residents. Consistently more expensive and consistently longer. Resident-only lines or hours would be a minimum courtesy and still insufficient for what we pay in fares and taxes.
  • And no one makes the people on the tram take their backpacks off which takes up even more space
  • I took on Uber across from the tram $25 . I rather that then to wait on the line

F subway service resumed with delays at about 6:40 PM. At 7:15 PM Tram line was about a 10 minute wait.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Sponsored Post - You're Invited To Celebrate Roosevelt Island City Of Forest Day Saturday October 14 At Lighthouse Park - Raise Awareness Of Urban Forest Importance, Enrich The Soil With Compost From Resident Food Scrap Collection, Enjoy Ecological Theme Dance Performance And More Family Friendly Activities

Roosevelt Island resident and iDig2Learn founder Christina Delfico reports: 

In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of the urban forest, and the essential role residents play in caring for the “lungs” of our city, while having fun doing so, three organizations – iDig2Learn, Main Street Theatre and Dance Alliance (MSTDA) and NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler (Coler Hospital) – are collaborating to host City of Forest Day on Roosevelt Island.

This second annual event will be an enriching and inclusive celebration of nature outdoors. The day includes a series of four activities, supporting awareness of trees’ vital role in our local environment – they eat carbon dioxide and release oxygen, provide shelter for birds and butterflies and stabilize the land capturing rain during storm events, which reduces flooding. 

Roosevelt Island’s City of Forest Day details include:

WHAT: City of Forest Day

WHEN: Saturday, October 14 – 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.:

11:00 a.m. – join Gil Lopez of Big Reuse to learn about tree stewardship and participate in a community compost mulching activity to blanket existing trees and enrich the soil (funded by City Council Member Julie Menin) utilizing a truckload full of compost derived from the weekly resident food scrap collection. As such, feeding the trees will be a direct result of the Haki Compost Collective’s efforts – both those who volunteer supporting Big Reuse’s weekly collection and the hundreds of residents who drop off their food scraps.

12:30 p.m. – decorate hats using reclaimed paints with RIVAA Gallery featured artist George Krassas and residents from Coler Hospital (note, all materials will be provided)

2:00 p.m. – enjoy a 45-minute performance by Jody Sperling and Time Lapse Dance ensemble whose work “aims to investigate the relationship of the moving body to the ecologies we inhabit through performance, media, education and activism.” The company will perform two ecologically-themed works exploring the connections between humans and their habitat: "Plastic Harvest," exploring plastic proliferation; and, "Arbor," dwelling on the kinship between trees and humans.

3:00 p.m. – connect with the local teen-led Plogging Club to learn more about this invigorating and healthy way to keep our community clean

WHERE: Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park, 910 Main St, New York, NY 10044 (the northernmost tip of the island). Please note that in case of pouring rain, the dance performance and art activity will take place indoors at the Good Shepherd Church Community Center on Roosevelt Island, 543 Main Street, New York, New York, 10044 (the dance performance will be upstairs and the art activity downstairs). For up to the minute updates on these events, please follow iDig2Learn on Instagram.

This celebration on Roosevelt Island is just one of over 70 taking place throughout New York City on October 14 to highlight the vital need to better protect, maintain, and expand the New York City urban forest to benefit all New Yorkers. 

iDig2Learn is a part of Forest for All NYC (FFANYC), a diverse coalition of over 115 organizations across business, nonprofit, conservation, and environmental justice sectors that is working to expand the tree canopy of the urban forest in New York City to 30% by 2035. FFANYC in partnership with the Parks and Open Space Partners – NYC Coalition and NYC Parks is presenting this citywide.

As we celebrate City of Forest Day, iDig2Learn is thrilled to join with Coler Hospital and Main Street Theatre and Dance Alliance to host this day on Roosevelt Island. Island residents and visitors alike treasure the island’s greenspace. No matter how you arrive – by ferry, subway, tram, bike, bus or foot – you cannot miss the abundance of trees on the island, which have been thoughtfully managed by the RIOC Grounds Team and partners Trees New York. Since 2022, with the help of these outstanding local partners, we have added 100 new baby trees, growing the urban forest by focusing on species that are known to support New York City’s habitat.

I am deeply thankful to our partners that support iDig2Learn’s ongoing efforts and programs, including Green Roosevelt Island Neighbors (GRIN), Girl Scouts, Roosevelt Island Garden Club and Coach Scot's baseball players. I invite everyone – our existing supporters and those new to our work – to join us for this joyful City of Forest Day to explore, celebrate and get to know our trees and what they do for us so that we can do for them. Each of the day’s activities has been designed to inspire us to do more to help our trees thrive.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Scenes From Today's Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Festival At The Rivercross Lawn - Meet Some Of The Local Muralists Transforming Blank Canvasses To Beautiful Paintings

The annual Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Festival took place today at the Rivercross Lawn after being delayed the last 3 Saturdays because of rain. Organized jointly by the RIVAA Gallery and Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), this year's mural theme was:

  • (1) Mythology and 
  • (2) Riverside Rhythms, A Day of Art Meditation and Nature

Solo artists and those working in teams began painting their murals on blank canvasses this morning.

A few hours later, I spoke with several of the Fall For Arts muralists about their work.

Roosevelt Island residents Thom Heyer,

Laura Hussey

and Zhuzhu Li.

Take a look at the 2023 Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts murals at the Rivercross Lawn.


The murals will be on display at the Rivercross Lawn thru November and then exhibited at Motorgate Atrium Art Gallery.