Saturday, December 16, 2023

Roosevelt Island Farmers Market Shoppers Enjoy Christmas Carols From The Sugar Hill Mennonite Mission Choir Today

Roosevelt Islanders shopping for their fruits and vegetables at the Saturday Farmers Market today were treated to Christmas carols from the Sugar Hill Mennonite Mission Choir.


UPDATE 12/17

More Christmas Carols from the Sugar Hill Mennonite Mission Choir at yesterday's Farmers Market.

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


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

QuickStart Camp for younger players

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

Junior Tennis Camp for tennis lovers

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


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


Friday, December 15, 2023

Sponsored Post - Roosevelt Landings Wishing You A Joyous Holiday Season And Happy New Year

 The Landings Wishing Roosevelt Island Community A Joyous Holiday Season And A Happy New Year. 

 From the team at C+C Apartment Management and L+M Fund Management

NYC Mayoral Budget Cuts Force Haki Compost Collective To Suspend Roosevelt Island Food Scrap Drop Off Site After Tomorrow, December 16 - Haki Exploring Options For 2024 Return And Looking For Ideas

Tomorrow is the last day of the Roosevelt Island Haki Compost Collective Food Scrap collection drop off site for this year and for now, into next year.

At this time, it is not known if and when the site will return in 2024.

As reported last November 24:

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

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

The Haki Compost Collective reports:

Dear Roosevelt Island community,

We have a few updates on the status of our food scrap drop-off site.


The mayoral budget cuts will end our direct partnership with Big Reuse, at least for the moment. The last day they will collect our material will be this Saturday, December 16As per DSNY, all green toters need to be returned on that day.

Big Reuse, like all the community composting organizations, is trying to raise funds to continue composting at the Queensbridge site. Even if they are able to maintain the site, they do not know if they will be able to continue neighborhood collections. If you would like to donate to Big Reuse, our partners for the past 8 years, click here.

We don’t want to lose the NYC green bin program which is the only true food scraps-to-compost program. The sidewalk orange bins burn food scraps for energy. Their inefficiency has been at full display in city council hearings as well as in the media. While the fight to keep community composting is an uphill battle, it is not over yet. Please continue to:

Haki Compost Collective volunteers are investigating alternative options if Big Reuse is unable to continue to pick up our food scraps. We are looking into

  • hiring a hauler who could take the scraps to a farm upstate to be composted
  • discussing with RIOC any options for composting
  • talking with other community composter partners around the city about their plans.

If you have any leads or ideas, please contact us!

In the meantime, because nothing is certain and we do not have a concrete plan, we will announce the following at the Haki table on Saturday:

"Due to mayoral budget cuts that affect our partner Big Reuse, Haki must take a winter break to regroup. We are actively pursuing other options. Please provide your email to get updates in January. In the meantime, please put your food scraps in the orange bins by the tram, Manhattan Park, and the Octagon.

Thank you so much for your support through the years!"

Haki Compost Collective
Interested in volunteering with us? Email us at
Follow us on Instagram @hakicompost

Sign up here for Haki Compost email updates.

Fox 5 New York has more

on NYC budget cuts impacting composting programs.

UPDATE 12/16 - At least for now, today was the last day of the Roosevelt Island Haki Compost Collective Food Drop Off Site.

It was a sad day for the dedicated volunteers and composters.

Hopefully the Food Scrap Drop Off Site will return to Roosevelt Island in 2024.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Sponsored Post - Happy Holidays From The Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association, Thank You For Your Support All Year Long - Solstice Holiday Group Show By RIVAA Artists Opening Reception Saturday December 16

Happy Holidays From The Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA), Thank You For Your Support All Year Long.

RIVAA is a member organization dedicated to establishing an art center in its unique Roosevelt Island location on the East River in New York. 

Gallery RIVAA is located at 527 Main Street and

is currently exhibiting Solstice, a Holiday group show by RIVAA artists with a public opening reception on Saturday December 16 from 6-9 PM.

Click here for the RIVAA Gallery website and Instagram page for more info.

Please Support RIVAA Gallery. 

Thank You.

Get Your Tickets For Anastasia The Musical Youth Edition Performed By Roosevelt Island Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance Saturday/Sunday December 16-17 - Congrats To MST&DA On 40th Anniversary Of Serving Roosevelt Island Community

The Roosevelt Island Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance (MST&DA) is performing Anastasia The Musical Youth Edition this Saturday and Sunday December December 16-17.

According to MST&DA:

Anastasia Youth Edition is the spectacular new musical about discovering who you are and defining who you’re meant to be. From Tony winners Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, creators of such Broadway classics as Ragtime and Once On This Island, this dazzling show transports its audience from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing con man and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love and family....

Click here for tickets and more info.

Congrats to MST&DA on their 40th anniversary. 

Looks like they had a great time celebrating at The Sanctuary last night.

More info on MST&DA including upcoming shows and classes available at their website and Instagram page.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Sponsored Post - Roosevelt Island Shops On Main Street Wishing You Happy Holidays - From Your Friendly Neighborhood Shops

Roosevelt Island Shops On Main Street Wishing You Happy Holidays.

From Your Friendly Neighborhood Shops.

RIOC Staff Attempts To Push Through Acting Chief Operating Officer To Permanent Position At Board Meeting Today After Failing To Get Directors Approval At Meeting Last Month - How Does RIOC Hire Executive Staff?

Last November 2, I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Shelton Haynes and RIOC Board Directors:

 I am preparing a story on the process by which RIOC Executive staff are hired.

Among the items on the cancelled October 26 RIOC Board of Directors meeting agenda was:

Dhruvika Amin - VP CFO Appointment and

Mary Cunneen VP COO Appointment

Did RIOC conduct an Executive Search for either of these senior positions at a Public Benefit Corp with an approximately $30 million budget and more than 100 employees? Were either of these positions publicly advertised?

If yes, what did the search consist of? If not, why was there no executive search for these positions?... 

There was no response so I sent a follow up message on November 6. RIOC Board Director Ben Fhala replied later that day writing:  

These questions are of utmost importance. If you happen to receive a response before the meeting, please keep us informed. Otherwise, we intend to bring these questions up during our Q&A with the candidates for these roles, as they hold significant importance.

I was informed through informal channels that the CFO was hired approximately two months ago, but the recently appointed board members have not been involved in the process. To the best of my knowledge, the selection process has included some board members while excluded others.

Thanks, Ben Fhala*

Resident Board Member

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

The November 14 RIOC Board meeting agenda items included the appointment of Dhruvika Amin as RIOC Chief Financial Officer and Mary Cuneen as Chief Operating Officer. Ms Cunneen has been the Acting Chief Operating Officer of RIOC since September 2022. 

Prior to the November 14 Board meeting, a Roosevelt Island Tipster emailed the following on Ms Cunneen's proposed appointment:

Check Mary's bio on the website vs what her resume says. Her resume just posted with the Board materials, leaves out a job she held at RIOC when she first started. We fired Erica Spencer-el for much less.

During the November 14 RIOC Board meeting, Directors asked questions regarding the executive search process conducted for the CFO position, Ms Amin's qualifications and her willingness to work with Board members as they perform their oversight function of RIOC. 

Ms Amin's appointment as RIOC CFO was approved by the RIOC Board. Here's what happened.


Following Ms Amin's approval, the RIOC Board considered Ms Cunneen's appointment as Chief Operating Officer. The RIOC Board asked similar questions but they also asked why she has refused to speak with Board members and answer their questions about RIOC operations. 

Ms Cuneen response that she is open to working with Board members was received with skepticism by Board members based upon their previous experience interacting with her. Ms Cunneen also responded to other questions by Board members by "deferring to the Chair" of the Board meeting or saying "I don't recall."

Discussion of Ms Cunneen's appointment was then moved to a closed Executive Session without the public being present.

Ms Cunneen's appointment as RIOC Chief Operating Officer was not approved at the November 14 RIOC Board meeting.

Here's what happened.


RIOC staff are trying again to get approval from the RIOC Board for Ms Cunneen's appointment as Chief Operating Officer at the RIOC Board of Directors meeting later today.

Yesterday, I asked RIOC President Shelton Haynes and RIOC Board Directors:

I am following up on my prior inquiries regarding the hiring process for  Roosevelt Island executive staff.

I understand that Mary Cuneen's appointment as RIOC Chief Operating Officer is on the December 13 RIOC Board of Directors meeting Agenda after failing to be approved during the November 14 RIOC Board meeting.

During the November 14 RIOC Board Meeting, RIOC Assistant Vice President Administration Tajuana Sharpe told the RIOC Board that an Executive Search was conducted for the position, that 7 or 8 candidates were interviewed and that advertisements for the Chief Operating Officer position were posted on websites. According to Ms Sharpe, Ms Cuneen was the best candidate for the job.

Please confirm the accuracy of Ms Sharpe's statement. 

I did not see any advertisement on the RIOC website or any other public notice of the RIOC Chief Operating Officer position. I did see notices for the RIOC Chief Financial Officer Position. Please forward any links to public advertising for the RIOC Chief Operating Officer Position.

I spoke with former RIOC President Susan Rosenthal about the qualifications of Ms Cuneen to be the RIOC Chief Operating Officer. According to Ms Rosenthal, Mary Cuneen was removed from her position as Director Of Parks and Recreation because of her poor management skills and placed in a new position where she did not have to manage staff. Ms Rosenthal added that both she and then Chief Operating Officer Shelton Haynes believed Ms Cuneen's skill set was better used in a position where she was not managing more than a small group of staff. Ms Cuneen was moved to a new position with less managerial responsibilities.

Ms Rosenthal added that she thought Ms Cuneen was a lovely person, that she personally liked her but  she was not competent as a manager of staff.

Also, during the November RIOC Board meeting, RIOC Directors asked Ms Cuneen about her previous refusal to speak with and answer questions by RIOC Board members exercising their oversight function and apparent discrepancies in her resume. Will Ms Cuneen continue her refusal to speak with and answer questions from RIOC Board members performing their oversight function of RIOC?

For comparison purposes, RIOC's sister agency, the Battery Park City Authority, recently completed an Executive Search Process for President CEO. According to the Broadsheet news site:

... a professional search firm had reviewed “dozens and dozens of resumes that would be appropriate, many of which would have been very good candidates. They presented us with six or seven very highly talented candidates that were diverse, extremely competent, and had great credentials. It was a tough decision. We got down to a couple finalists and we interviewed the finalists and quite frankly the process worked very smoothly, and I think we got an incredibly good candidate that was ultimately vetted by the Governor’s office.”...

Was a similar executive search used for the RIOC Chief Operating Officer position?

I am preparing an article on this subject. Please let me know if anyone from RIOC will respond.
There has been no reply.
We'll see what happens at today's meeting. Stay tuned. 

UPDATE 9 PM - Following an Executive Session, the RIOC Board voted to table the agenda item appointing Ms Cunneen as Chief Operating Officer meaning that no vote was taken.

Discussion Of Roosevelt Island Governance And Representation On Agenda For Community Board 8 RI Committee Meeting Thursday December 14 Via Zoom - You're Invited To Participate And Share Your Thoughts

Here's the Agenda for tomorrow's Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Committee meeting

and video of the October 19 CB 8 Roosevelt Island committee meeting.

Click here for access to the Zoom meeting.

Sponsored Post - Roosevelt Island NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright Wishes You A Peaceful And Healthy New Year, - Contact Her Office If You Need Assistance

Wishing You a Peaceful and Healthy New Year.

Contact our office if you need assistance.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Big Changes For Roosevelt Island Coming With MTA's Proposed Final Queens Bus Network Redesign Plan - Q102 Eliminated Replaced By Q104 Going To Sunnyside Via Broadway In Astoria, No Access To Queens Plaza Subway Hub From Roosevelt Island

This is the new Roosevelt Island bus route and schedule proposed by the MTA's Queens Bus Network Redesign Plan.

 According to the MTA:


The proposed Q104 would be extended to serve Roosevelt Island at its western terminal, replacing Q102 service, which would be discontinued. The Q104 would continue to serve Broadway and 48 St, maintaining its connection with the 7 train. Most existing Q102 train connections would be maintained on the proposed Q104. Existing Q102 service along E Loop Rd/W Loop Rd south of the Roosevelt Island F train station would be discontinued. Existing Q102 service along 31 St would be replaced by the proposed Q105. 

To match stop spacing on other Local routes, Q104 stops would be spaced slightly further apart than existing to speed up buses and improve reliability. 

Both frequency and span would be increased to resemble Q102 service.

The proposed Q104 will connect to the N and W trains at the 31st Street/Broadway subway station which is handicapped accessible and connect to the M and R trains at the 48th Street/Broadway subway station which is not. The Q104 will also connect to the 7 train at the 48th Street subway station which is handicapped accessible.

The proposed bus route will be a big change for Roosevelt Island residents and workers who will no longer have access to the Queens Plaza/Queensboro Plaza subway hubs via the current Q102 bus 

which will be eliminated under the proposed Queens Bus Network Redesign Plan. But we will have better access to Socrates Sculpture Park and Costco on Vernon B'lvd as well as the restaurants and attractions in Astoria.

NBC New York reports on today's Queens Bus Network Redesign plan announcement by the MTA

and Passengers United has the full MTA press conference on the subject.

Monday, December 11, 2023

RIOC Board Of Directors Meeting December 13, Approval Of Budget, Chief Operating Officer Position Appointment And Pending Litigation On Agenda - The Circus Continues With Update On RIOC President And General Counsel Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against Governor Hochul's Staff, NY State Officials, RIOC And RIOC Director

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors will meet in person Wednesday December 13 at 5:30 PM in the Good Shepherd Community Center (543 Main Street) beginning at 5:30 PM.

 You're invited to attend,  ask questions and share concerns about Roosevelt Island during the opening Public Session before the start of the meeting. Sign up to speak here.

Among the items on the agenda for the December 13 RIOC Board meeting are:   

... V. New Business

1. Approval of the Proposed RIOC Budget for Fiscal Year 2024-25 (Board Action Required)...

3. Appointment of Mary Cunneen to the Position of Vice President of Operations/Chief Operating Officer of the Corporation (Board Action Required)...

VI. Chair’s Motion for Executive Session to Discuss:

a. proposed, pending or current litigation; and

b. the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation....

The appointment of Ms Cuneen as RIOC Chief Operating Officer was on the November 14 RIOC Board Agenda but was not approved at that time. RIOC Board members asked questions regarding:

  • Ms Cuneen's qualifications for the position, 
  • her previous refusal to speak with and answer questions by RIOC Board members exercising their oversight function,
  • accuracy of her resume and
  • whether an executive search process was conducted for the position.

Ms Cuneen's appointment discussion was moved from a public session to Executive Session without the public being allowed to attend. Following the Executive Session, there was no announcement  of any appointment to the Chief Operating Officer position. Ms Cuneen is currently the Acting Chief Operating Officer.

Also, the upcoming December 13 Executive Session agenda item regarding litigation may have to do with an update to the racial discrimination  lawsuit brought last Septmenber by RIOC President Shelton Haynes

 and General Counsel Gretchen Robinson 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....

On December 8, Mr Haynes and Ms Robertson filed an amended complaint 

adding the Executive Chamber for the Office Governor Of NY, RIOC and recently appointed RIOC Board Director Ben Fhala (pictured on right at November 14 RIOC Board Meeting) as defendants to their lawsuit. 

 According to this excerpt from the Haynes/Robertson amended complaint:


1. 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. After a seven-month investigation by an outside counsel—an investigation that was wholly out of step with prior practice of the RIOC Board of Directors (the “RIOC Board”) and referred to by one RIOC Board Member as a “f****** racist witch hunt”—State officials close to the Governor, led by Defendants Alejandro Valella (“Valella,” who provided updates to the Chamber on the investigation) and Diana Lopez (“Lopez”) intentionally delayed outside counsel’s publication of a report that exonerated Plaintiffs of wrongdoing, and instructed outside counsel to sanitize the first draft of the report to remove and cover up the findings that confirmed and supported Plaintiffs’ ongoing complaints of experiencing racial discrimination while working at RIOC. Other Chamber officials, including Defendants Roger Maldonado (“Maldonado”), Tania Dissanayake (“Dissanayake”), RuthAnne Visnauskas (“Visnauskas”), and Lopez, who were aware of the discrimination findings in the report, have discriminated and retaliated against Plaintiffs by, among other means: (1) installing RIOC Board Members (Ben Fhala (“Fhala”) and Lydia Tang (“Tang”)) —who, from the beginning of their board tenures, have been antagonistic to Plaintiffs—without consulting Plaintiffs (a departure from prior practice); and (2) preventing existing RIOC Board Members—who are supportive of Haynes and Robinson—from filling committee vacancies. Moreover, since Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit, Defendants have continued—and even escalated— their unwarranted targeting of Plaintiffs by initiating yet another frivolous investigation into them, interfering with their ability to do their jobs, and criticizing them to the media. Through their actions, Defendants have also subjected Plaintiffs to a hostile work environment. In doing so, they have made their message to Plaintiffs clear: GET OUT....

During the November 14 RIOC Board meeting public session, I asked:

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

There was no response to my question although Plaintiffs Haynes and Robinson did appear to have frequent, friendly and amicable conversation with defendants Visnauskas 

and Valella 

during the November 14 RIOC Board meeting.

You can read the entire amended complaint here.

The RIOC management circus continues. Stay tuned for more.

Sponsored Post - Check Out Café At Cornell Tech December 11 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 December 11 weekly menu at the Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Café.

The Cornell Tech Café is a great spot on Roosevelt Island 

for breakfast, lunch, Daily Hot Lunch Meals, 

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

Thursday Sushi,
beer, wine

and more.  

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

and great outdoor patio seating areas

 to eat, relax and people watch, 

even as the weather gets colder.

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

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

See you soon at the Cornell Tech Café.