Saturday, November 4, 2023

Scenes From Today's Roosevelt Island Great Pumpkin Event With IDig2Learn, Big Reuse, GRIN And Community Partners - Celebrating Pumpkins As Healthy Delicious Tasting Food, Scooping For Seeds, Smashing For Compost & More

Today was the Roosevelt Island Great Pumpkin Event celebration at the Manhattan Park Lawn presented by iDig2Learn, Big Reuse, Roosevelt Island Green Neighbors (GRIN) and local community partners including the Roosevelt Island Plogging Club Haki Compost Collective and the Roosevelt Island Garden Club with edible pumpkin meals provided by Beatrice Ajaero of Nneji Restaurant.

IDig2Learn's Christina Delfico and Anneliese Zausner-Mannes of Big Reuse describe the Roosevelt Island Great Pumpkin Event and GRIN's Anthony Longo  take us on a tour.


Friday, November 3, 2023

Roosevelt Island Resident Stephen Quandt's "Helping The Dogs Of Chernobyl" Work Featured On NPR's Morning Edition Presented By Storycorps

Stephen Quandt is a Roosevelt Island resident and animal welfare professional. Mr Quandt has worked with the ASPCA Field Investigation and Response Team, Animal Cares Center of New York and currently in private practice doing feline behavior consulting

Last July, Mr Quandt's work helping the Dogs Of Chernobyl was profiled on NPR's Morning Edition. According to Mr Quandt:

In 2019 I worked to help the dogs that live around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident of 1986 and gave a 3 minute condensed interview to StoryCorps that was featured on NPR's Morning Edition....

Mr Quandt adds:

I'm told it will get 6-14 million listeners, crazy right?

Listen to the July 28, 2023 NPR Storycorps interview of Mr Quandt about the Dogs of Chernobyl.

Transcript of the interview is here.

Mr Quandt reports more extensively on his work helping The Dogs Of Chernobyl 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

RIOC Replacing Buckling Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin Floors This Friday & Saturday, Taking One Tram Cabin Out Of Service Both Days - Residents Ask Why Do Work Taking A Tram Cabin Out Of Service On Busy NYC Marathon Weekend? Who Makes These Decisions?

Last Thursday, October 26, prior to the meeting of NYC Council Member Julie Menin with Roosevelt Island residents, two residents asked me about the buckling safety hazard of the Roosevelt Island Tram floor and shared theses photos.

Coincidentally, the next day, October 27, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) announced:

Dear Roosevelt Island Community: We will be replacing the floors in both Tram cabins over a 2-day period on Friday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 4th. Please be advised that this will impact Tram travel over those two days.

To accommodate the work, one Tram cabin will be pulled out of service each day starting at 10:00AM and will return to service once the installation is completed at the end of the day. The other Tram cabin will remain fully operational for island travelers while the work is taking place. Floor replacement should take one day to complete for each cabin....

Today, RIOC reported:

Dear Roosevelt Island Community:

We will be replacing the floors in both Tram cabins over a 2-day period on Friday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 4th. Please be advised that this will impact Tram travel over those two days.

To accommodate the work, one Tram cabin will be pulled out of service each day starting at 10:00AM and will return to service once the installation is completed at the end of the day. The other Tram cabin will remain fully operational for island travelers while the work is taking place. Floor replacement should take one day to complete for each cabin.

To help island residents with their travel while this work takes place, on Friday 11/3, RIOC will be running a special evening rush hour Red Bus Shuttle between Queens Plaza and Roosevelt Island. The service will operate from 3:00PM – 7:30PM, with the first shuttle bus leaving from Cornell Tech at 3:00PM, and the last bus back from Queens Plaza South leaving at 7:30PM. This shuttle will mirror the service provided by the Red Bus Queens Plaza Weekday Morning Shuttle.

On Saturday 11/4, RIOC will run it’s normal Red Bus Shuttle to Manhattan from 3:00PM – 7:30PM, with the first shuttle bus leaving the Tram Station at 3:00PM. The last shuttle bus back to Roosevelt Island from the Manhattan Tram Station will leave at 7:30PM.

Please plan your travel accordingly and leave extra time for yourself on those days. We also encourage everyone to utilize the MTA’s F-Shuttle Train, which runs every 20 minutes on the :02, :22, and :42 every hour, and the NYC Ferry for your off-island travel.

We appreciate everyone’s flexibility and understanding while we complete this necessary work.

-Team RIOC 

Roosevelt Island resident Nicole shares this message she sent to the RIOC Board of Directors yesterday:

Please can you let RIOC know that it is a ridiculous plan to take one tram out of service THIS Fri/Sat on a weekend when NYC will see a huge increase of tourists ( and likely Tram use) because of the NYC Marathon as well as use by guests from a fully booked Graduate Hotel.

The lack of oversight and foresight is absolutely absurd. Why are we paying senior staff at RIOC so much when they don't even have the intelligence to look at a calendar.  

Another resident noted:

Tram Floor replacement... Can't be done overnight?

Why not shut down at midnight, reopen at 6 am?

The floor probably does need some replacing as it was poorly installed & badly maintained, resulting in bumps & other safety hazards. A lawsuit waiting to happen, exacerbated by overcrowding, occasionally wet floors from too much rain & foot traffic, & who knows what else ...

And then THESE things —

A Friday and a Saturday? Seriously? 

One Cabin Out of service starting at 10 am till work completed; only one cabin Operating rest of time till completed...

The refusal by RIOC to provide ANY meaningful relief to RI residents & employees who depend on the Tram as their primary, accessible, barrier-free transportation to & from Manhattan for work, medical appointments, school, Etc. remains shameful & cruel, especially when we remain F-Train-challenged.

Why they can’t run some buses, charter some vans, do something after 10 am — whether the Tram floor is being replaced or not — is just lazy and disrespectful to folks of all ages & abilities...

I’ve been flexible & understanding for 40 years. I’ve appreciated & depended on the Tram. It would be helpful if RIOC would be flexible, understanding AND support Cy & his team to help us out. 

Who at RIOC makes an operational maintenance decision that requires one Tram Cabin to be shut down on a weekend, a NYC Marathon Weekend at that? Why? 

Who is accountable? 

Is it RIOC President Shelton Haynes? 

Is it Acting Chief Operating Officer Mary Cuneen? 

Mr Haynes plans to promote Ms Cuneen to the permanent COO position if the RIOC Directors aprove. Ms Cuneen's appointment as COO was on the October 26 RIOC Board meeting agenda but the meeting was cancelled. A new date for the Board meeting has not been publicly announced yet.  

UPDATE 7:35 PM - RIOC Board Member Ben Fhala replied to Nicole. According to Mr. Fhala:

Good evening Nicole,

Thank you for your message. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on operational matters as most board members, including myself, are not regularly updated on daily operational affairs. My main source of information is the RIOC Advisories, and that is the extent of our access to such matters.

I don't have information about the urgency, complexities, vendor coordination, expected timeframe, or whether the work will conclude before the afternoon rush hour.

The chair has forwarded your feedback to Shelton, Our CEO, who has acknowledged receipt. We hope he will either forward it to the relevant department or provide you with more context.

We appreciate your engagement with the board and look forward to hearing from you in our next Board meeting scheduled for November 14th.

P.S. I usually wait a few days before responding to allow time for others to contribute. As a new resident board member, I've made it my mission to ensure that all emails sent to the board receive a response, even if it's just an acknowledgment when we lack additional information to share.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

iDig2Learn, Big Reuse And Community Partners Invite You To The Great Roosevelt Island Pumpkin Event Saturday November 4 At Manhattan Park Upper Lawn - Bring Your Pumpkin To Explore It's Afterlife As Delicious Edible Food Source, Scoop Seeds And Compost

Roosevelt Island resident and iDig2Learn founder Christina Delfico reports:

For 2023, iDig2Learn – along with Big Reuse (funded by New York City Council Member Julie Menin) and many local partners including Green Roosevelt Island Neighbors (GRIN) and the Roosevelt Island Garden Club – is thrilled to host an expanded annual post-Halloween pumpkin event. During this spooky season, the Great Pumpkin Event will help participants explore the pumpkin’s afterlife – offering pumpkin smooshing to turn these squashes into compost. And new this year, per community feedback, is the addition of several activities to spotlight the pumpkin’s many edible uses.

Pumpkins are treasured globally – cuisines from Africa, Asia, and the Americas use this squash as a valued and delicious food source. In the United States, the pumpkin’s popularity translates into one billion pumpkins going to landfills each year. Given this, iDig2Learn has expanded the event to offer more options for post-Halloween pumpkins. Nneji restaurant owner, Roosevelt Island resident Beatrice Ajaero, will help us celebrate the pumpkin's many uses as food by preparing egusi, fonio and savory pumpkin hand pies to take-away (while supplies last) in exchange for people’s pumpkins. Additionally, participants will be able to trade pumpkins for cookies from Wengerd’s Farm or a locally baked piece of cake.

Everyone is invited to come to the event and bring their pumpkins with them. Please first visit the “Pumpkin Determination Station'' to see if your pumpkin has a new life. Whether it is mushy and only compostable, scoopable for seeds, edible or in need of paint and sticker removal, there are more options this year. The Roosevelt Island Plogging Club will scoop seeds at the event and local Girl Scouts will capture pumpkins to make pumpkin cake. Both the seeds and cake will be distributed for free for the community to enjoy the following Saturday at the    food scrap drop-off (November 11, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. in the usual compost drop-off spot behind the Chapel of the Good Shepherd).

The young and young-at-heart can also try the "leaf crunch" pile (falling into a pile of leaves) before those leaves become compost to feed island soils in the near future. Don’t have a pumpkin? No worries, you're welcome to enjoy a coffee from Foodtown and visit the Food Appreciation station!

Community feedback inspired us to boost this annual event’s activities and feature the pumpkin as a revered global food source, Diverting pumpkins from landfills is important. And equally vital is learning how to put food into bellies first, before placing food scraps into bins for compost. We are grateful to our neighbors who will be generously sharing more with us about the pumpkin’s many flavorful uses.

"I am proud to sponsor The Great Pumpkin Event on Roosevelt Island, a celebration that promotes sustainability beyond the harvest season. Redistributing edible pumpkins, which will be transformed into delectable creations, brings a second life to pumpkins and prevents them from going to landfills. Organic waste can be reused, further reducing our environmental impact,” said New York City Council Member Julie Menin.

“As a former classroom teacher, curiosity and mindfulness around sustainability makes all the difference,” offered Anneliese Zausner-Mannes, education director, Big Reuse. “Hosting community engagement events like this creates an opportunity for everyone to come together, to share and shine.”

"Nneji is thrilled to provide egusi, fonio, and savory hand pies for the Great Pumpkin Event to spotlight the versatility of the pumpkin as food," said Nneji restaurant owner, Beatrice Ajaero.

"We are focusing first on food for this free festival," stated Anthony Longo, co-founder of GRIN. He continued, "You’ll find a few fun ways to foster further pumpkin fever, smashing some, but also feeding folks first.” "Composting brings connections," emphasized Julia Ferguson from the Roosevelt Island Garden Club. "Food scraps and garden materials are natural resources that can boost soil health and reduce pollution. This year we will be further reducing waste and wastefulness, connecting to food and life by celebrating pumpkins."

“Girl Scouts host fun days that engage local groups for community service projects,” shared Aiesha Eleusizov, leader, Girl Scout Troop 3001. “This year we are collaborating with iDig2learn to capture Halloween pumpkins. With them, we will make pumpkin cakes to give back to the community on the Saturday following the event at the Haki Compost area.

“It gives Manhattan Park great pleasure and we are honored to participate in this wonderful annual event with iDig2Learn,” said Brian Weisberg, director of property management, GRC Realty, Manhattan Park.

WHAT: Great Pumpkin Event – several activities will be offered, including the “Pumpkin Determination Station,” food trade, squashing pumpkins for compost, leaf crunch and more.

WHEN: November 4th, 2023 – 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (rain or shine*) Volunteers, please note: setup is 10:00-11:00 a.m.; wrap-up is 2:00-3:00 p.m.

WHERE: Manhattan Park, 30 River Road, New York, NY 10044 – on the street level, central park upper lawn (across from Foodtown)

If raining: Motorgate Garage elevator ground floor lobby iDig2Learn is grateful to its many partners who are supporting this event: RIOC, Big Reuse (funded by New York City Council Member Julie Menin), Manhattan Park, GRIN, Roosevelt Island Garden Club, Haki Compost Collective, Foodtown, Girl Scouts, Roosevelt Island Plogging Club, Coach Scot’s Baseball Team, Wengerd’s Farm, Andrea Jackson and numerous local student and master composter volunteers.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Update On Roosevelt Island Rivercross Coop Building Legionnaires' Disease Investigation - Preliminary Tests Show Traces Of Legionella Bacteria In Common Areas - Building Management Working On Water Disinfection Remediation Plan And Advise Residents Not To Take Showers

Reported October 24:

I learned from several Roosevelt Island Rivercross building tipsters this past weekend that the NYC Health Department confirmed 2 cases of Legionnaires Disease among its residents....  


... the 2 cases were diagnosed in July 2023 AND September 2023....

According to an October 24 statement from the Rivercross Board of Directors and building management:

...The health and wellness of our residents and staff is paramount, and we are fully collaborating with the Health Department and our environmental professionals to ensure that we take all necessary steps to comply with this investigation, test our building water distribution systems, and are prepared to implement any required health remediating measures as directed to do so.

This investigation is being driven by the Department of Health and we remain committed in our efforts to expeditiously complete this process and eliminate Rivercross as the possible source for these cases.

This evening, the Rivercross building management sent out an update to residents:

Rivercross - Legionella Update

Re: Legionella Update

Dear Rivercross Residents and Staff:

As we previously advised you, we had preliminary hot water culture tests taken in our common areas in advance of the broader testing which will be required by the Department of Health (DOH). The results of those tests have come back and show traces of Legionella bacteria.

We have shared the results with the DOH and are awaiting their instructions for scheduling a second community meeting with our residents as part of their communication protocol. We will notify all residents as soon as the meeting is scheduled (likely early next week).

We and our environmental consultant have already submitted a Water Sampling Plan to the DOH, which has been reviewed and commented on by the DOH. Our environmental consultant will be submitting a revised Water Sampling Plan tomorrow incorporating DOH's comments. We and our environmental consultant are also working on a Remediation Plan and have requested the DOH to expedite approval of the Remediation Plan. The DOH has indicated that they will work with us, subject of course to their vetting process.

We and our environmental consultant have also received proposals from qualified remediation companies and are ready to implement water disinfection in the building upon receiving approval of a Remediation Plan from the DOH.

In the interim, please continue to adhere to the DOH's recommended guidelines. These guidelines recommend that residents, particularly those that are age 50 or older (especially those who smoke or vape), have chronic lung disease, have a weakened immune system or take medicines that weaken their immune system, take extra steps in their apartments as a precaution to minimize exposure to water vapor (mist):

Do not take a shower — not even a cool shower — since it could create water vapor (mist). Instead, take a bath, but fill the tub slowly. Try to minimize your time in the bathroom while the tub is filling.

If you do not have a bathtub, minimize water vapor (mist) with the following:

If you have a shower wand, remove the shower head from the shower wand and use this to fill a bucket slowly. Use the bucket as your water source. Also consider filling the bucket from a sink source, letting the water flow slowly.

If a bucket is impractical and you do have a shower wand, remove the shower head from the shower wand and use this at a low flow, turning it off when not needed. Residents can contact the door station at 212.751.6843 or enter a building link work order to have building staff assist you with this.

It is fine to wash dishes but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating mist.

It is fine to wash hands but let water flow slowly to avoid mist.

It is fine to drink cold water from the tap but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee, or cooking.

Additionally, as a reminder, if you fall into any of these risk groups and are experiencing symptoms associated with a cold, pneumonia or COVID, you should notify your health provider immediately and request a test for Legionella since it may take several days to get the results. Legionella infections are treatable with antibiotics and expedient diagnosis is best.

Thank you,


More info at this prior post, including the notice from NYC Health Department.

NYC Council Member Julie Menin Uses The Bully Pulpit To Influence RIOC For The Benefit Of Roosevelt Island Residents - New RIOC Director Asks Ms Menin For Assistance In Oversight Of RIOC

During the October 26, 2023 NYC Council Member Julie Menin's meeting with Roosevelt Island residents, I asked Ms Menin:

As you know, RIOC controls everything on Roosevelt Island. Can you explain what your influence is on RIOC and what your relationship is with RIOC?

Ms Menin answered:

... I've been very forceful.  Whether it's the OMNY issue which was stuck until I wrote the letter and got the other Electeds to write the letter. I think it's the power of the Bully Pulpit. 

The City of New York does not control RIOC. It's a state entity but I think there is a very strong role that we can play in terms of utilizing the power of the Bully Pulpit to either write letters to try to really shine a light on some of these issues that are happening...

... Yes, we do have a strong impact....

Here's the full discussion.

New Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Member Ben Fhala told Ms Menin: 

We would love more oversight. We're struggling to get the people who work there to actually work there.... We would love to have access to lawyers to try to help make people do their jobs.

Roosevelt Island resident Paul Krikler added:

The feeling that people have about RIOC is that there is no one there who cares about the residents and who tries to do things for our benefit so it's an easy reflex action to say no we can't do this.... There's no one there running the shop...
Here's video of the full meeting with Julie Menin

UPDATE 10:30 PM - Mr Krikler has organized a petition drive asking for all RIOC Board Members to be directly elected by Roosevelt Island residents.

For more info and to sign, click here.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Roosevelt Island First Annual Men's & Women's Doubles Pickleball Tournament Saturday November 4 At Sportspark Courts Hosted By Good Life On Roosevelt Island Association - All Ages Welcome

Join the Good Life On Roosevelt Island Association (RISA) for their first annual Men's & Women's Doubles Pickleball round robin format tournament at the Sportspark Courts.

Contact to register.

Here's more on Roosevelt Island Pickleball which opened in May 2023.

The Roosevelt Island Pickleball Courts are free and open 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset on a first come, first serve basis.

Sponsored Post - Atlantic Hurricane Season Is Here, NYC Emergency Management Department Wants You To Know Your Hurricane Zone, Be Ready And Be Prepared - Roosevelt Island In Zones 2 And 3

The NYC Emergency Management Department (NYCEM) reports:

If a hurricane comes to NYC, do you know your evacuation zone?

Knowing your hurricane evacuation zone in advance can prevent stress and evacuation delays if you are asked to evacuate because of an incoming hurricane or coastal storm. The City may order residents to evacuate depending on the hurricane's track and projected storm surge.

Use the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder or call 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115) to find out if your address is in an evacuation zone.

The Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder also shows City evacuation centers.

If you live in an evacuation zone, have a plan for where you will go if an evacuation order is issued for your area. If you are not able to stay with friends or family, you can use the Hurricane Evacuation Zone finder to locate your closest evacuation center. Check the Finder or call 311 at the time of the evacuation order in case your closest evacuation center has changed.

Everyone in New York City should know what to do in the event of a hurricane. Visit our page on Coastal Storms and Hurricanes to learn how to make an evacuation plan and keep yourself safe during storms. 

Roosevelt Island residents live in both Zones 2 and 3 depending upon the location of your building. As shown in the NYC Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder below, the Roosevelt Island buildings colored in brown are in Zone 2 and those colored in Yellow are in Zone 3. The nearby Evacuation Centers are shown too.   

The Octagon, Manhattan Park, Westview, Island House, Roosevelt Landings, Cornell Tech, Coler Hospital and Riverwalk 480, 475, 460 and 430 Main Street buildings are in Zone 2.

Riverwalk 405, 425, 455, 465 and Rivercross (531) buildings are in Zone 3.  

Sign up up here to get hurricane and other emergency alerts from NYCEM

Here's some scenes of what Roosevelt Island looked like during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012

and a report on damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Click here for more emergency hurrincane planning information

from the NYC Emergency Management Department.

Sponsored Post - Check Out Café At Cornell Tech October 30 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 October 30 weekly menu at the Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Café  

for Daily Hot Lunch Meals, Specialty & Grab and Go Sandwiches, 

Breakfast Staples, Make Your Own Salads, Flatbread and Neapolitan Pizza, 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,  

Thursday Sushi

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 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 Cornell Tech Café.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Fire Through Dry Grass Documentary About Experiences Of Roosevelt Island Coler Nursing Home Residents And Workers During Covid Pandemic National Broadcast Premier 10 PM Monday October 30 On PBS Television Series POV

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. 

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 makes its national broadcast premier 10 PM Monday October 30 on the award winning PBS television series POV. The film can also be viewed online at this link.

According to the Fire Through Dry Grass website:

Fire Through Dry Grass uncovers in real-time the devastation experienced by residents of a New York City nursing home during the coronavirus pandemic. Co-Directors Alexis Neophytides and Andres “Jay” Molina take viewers inside Coler, on Roosevelt Island, where Jay lives with his fellow Reality Poets, a group of mostly gun violence survivors.

Wearing snapback caps and Air Jordans, Jay and the other Reality Poets don’t look like typical nursing home residents. They used to travel around the city sharing their art and hard-earned wisdom with youth. Now, using GoPros clamped to their wheelchairs, they document their harrowing experiences on “lock down.” Covid-positive patients are moved into their bedrooms; nurses fashion PPE out of garbage bags; refrigerated-trailer morgues hum outside residents’ windows. All the while public officials deny the suffering and dying behind Coler’s brick walls.

The Reality Poets’ rhymes flow throughout the film, underscoring their feelings that their home is now as dangerous as the streets they once ran and—as summer turns to fall turns to winter—that they’re prisoners without a release date. But instead of history repeating itself on this tiny island with a dark history of institutional neglect and abandonment, Fire Through Dry Grass shows these disabled Black and brown artists refusing to be abused, confined, erased.

The NY Times review of Fire Through Dry Grass reports:

... The combination of firsthand footage with poetry makes for an intimate and raw film that gives a real sense of the confinement faced by the residents, some of whom compared the experience to previous jail stints. It’s a powerful reminder of how defining and devastating the pandemic was, and gives space to those whose voices were long ignored....

Here's the trailer from Fire Through Dry Grass.

Do you remember what it was like?


Fire Through Dry Grass can be seen 10 PM tomorrow, October 30, on the PBS television series POV or at this online link.