Saturday, January 6, 2024

You're Invited To A Roosevelt Island Afternoon Of Chamber Music At Gallery RIVAA Sunday January 7 - Come Experience Magical And Joyous Music In The Intimate And Artistic Setting Of RIVAA Gallery, Start 2024 In Style

According to the Roosevelt Island RIVAA Gallery:

Join us on Sunday, January 7th at 3pm at RIVAA Gallery for an afternoon of chamber music

Yiheng Yang, internationally recognized fortepianist and faculty at The Juilliard School, is a Roosevelt Island resident. She presents a delightful afternoon of classical chamber music with leading period instrument colleagues, and plays on her Mozart fortepiano, which is a copy of an Anton Walter piano that Mozart owned.

The program ranges from an undiscovered Trio by Kozeluch, to one of Mozart’s chamber music masterpieces, his G minor Piano Quartet, to a rousing arrangement of Mozart’s F major Piano Concerto K. 459 for string ensemble plus fortepiano. 

Come experience this magical and joyous music in the intimate and artistic setting of RIVAA Gallery, and start 2024 in style.


RIVAA Gallery

527 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York, NY 10044

(212) 308-6630

Monday: Closed

Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday: 6 pm - 9 pm

Thursday: 11 am - 5 pm

Friday: 6 pm - 9 pm

Saturday: 11 am - 5 pm

Sunday: 11 am - 5 pm

Friday, January 5, 2024

RIOC Director's New Year's Resolution To Engage With Local Roosevelt Island Media - First Question On Roosevelt Island Transportation And Resident/Worker Tram Priority Boarding Preference

Ben Fhala was among the three local residents, including Lydia Tang and Dr Michal Melamed, appointed to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors last June. During the last 7 months, these three new directors have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to bring some transparency and oversight to RIOC.

Mr Fhala sent the following message yesterday to local Roosevelt Island media.

Dear Roosevelt Island Media,

I trust you had a wonderful New Year. As part of my New Year's resolution, I am committed to fostering more extensive discussions on operational and governance topics, particularly with you. My intention is to engage in ongoing dialogues until I am satisfied with the performance of the communications team, executive leadership, and board oversight concerning our fiduciary duties to RIOC and responsibilities to the community.

These communications do not represent official RIOC or full board responses; rather, they reflect my role as an appointed resident board member. My communications often receive approval from multiple board members and, over time, hopefully from the administration. It is imperative that these communications are published in their entirety to avoid any misinterpretation due to the sensitive nature of the topics discussed.

Feel free to respond or challenge any of these communications as you deem appropriate. If you agree, I am willing to address a list of your questions in a structured interview. Should these terms be acceptable to you, I am open to sharing my perspectives on oversight, myself, and general topics of interest.

I look forward to your response. Please understand that, given the significance of these matters, it may take a few days for me to reply. If you decide to publish my communications, kindly ensure they are presented in full to maintain context and prevent any misconceptions.


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 nor the full board but serves as a Resident Board member, offering information to the community and its stakeholders. 

A few hours later I responded to Mr Fhala:

Ben & RIOC Board Members

Ben, thank you for your efforts to communicate with the Roosevelt Island community on important issues of concern.

As you may know, there will be no Roosevelt Island F train shuttle service this weekend. As a result, the Roosevelt Island Tram is expected to be even more overcrowded than usual with very long waiting time for residents and workers trying to get back and forth between the Roosevelt Island and Manhattan 2nd Avenue Tram stations.

What preparations has RIOC made to reduce the transportation problems this weekend caused by the lack of F Train Shuttle service?

Will RIOC give Roosevelt Island residents and workers preference on the line waiting for the Tram this weekend? It could be as easy as allowing anyone with a Metro Card preference on the line since most tourists will use the OMNY payment system?

Will Seniors, Disabled and Parents with strollers be allowed to use the Tram elevator without waiting on the line?

Will there be a Red Bus shuttle to Manhattan?

Also, the RIOC General Counsel issued an opinion several months ago wrongly claiming that it would be illegal to create a separate Tram line for residents/workers who use the Tram for essential transportation and others who use the Tram as a Sightseeing attraction.

Is the RIOC Board aware that on December 7, Governor Hochul announced preferential treatment for residents of Queens and the Bronx who use the Henry Hudson Bridge and Cross Bay Bridge with a Toll rebate program which is not available for those who do not live in Queens or the Bronx. See Governor Hochul's announcement here.

If Queens and Bronx residents can receive preferential treatment for use of these bridges not available to others, will the RIOC Board provide a preference for Roosevelt Island residents using the Roosevelt Island Tram? If not, why?

Please let me know if the RIOC Board or staff have any comment on this matter?

Thank you. 

 Mr Fhala replied:

Thank you for your prompt response.

I am inclined to focus on more enduring questions, steering clear of any interference with the current administration. My hope is that lessons were learned from the past shutdown, and improvements will be evident. I hope that with the track switch the executive team has coordinated with the MTA to confirm the station will remain accessible.

As I understand it, PSD will be on-site managing traffic. I wish to express my confidence in Chief Kevin Brown's ability to assist commuters, especially those of age, disabled, and with young children. To my knowledge, there hasn't been any change in this directive. Despite the known conflicts between certain resident board members and the executive team, I am optimistic that a focus on the best interests of both RIOC and the community will prevail. @Brown, Kevin (RIOC) can you confirm and/or add any additional notes?

In the coming week, I plan to brainstorm with fellow resident board members articulate more comprehensive answers and thoughts in regards to your non-weekend specific questions.

A final note to our fellow residents: ther is no doubt that this weekend will be challenging one; If possible, consider avoiding the tram this weekend to alleviate stress on the RIOC operated systems. Instead, explore the alternative options of utilizing the ferry and the Q102.

@Daniels, Bryant (RIOC), is there anything additional you would like to contribute beyond the advisory sent out?


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 nor the full board but serves as a Resident Board member, offering information to the community and its stakeholders.
 RIOC Director Fay Christian replied today:

As stated in the RIOC announcement, this weekend, the MTA will provide bus transportation to subway lines in queens. The bridge situation in queens and Bronx was overseen by Governor Hochul.

I replied to Ms Christian:

Thank you for the response.

Could you clarify what you mean by: "The bridge situation in queens and Bronx was overseen by Governor Hochul."

RIOC"S reasoning is that it would be illegal for a preferential resident/worker line at the Roosevelt Island Tram.

Why does RIOC deem it illegal for resident/worker preferences on the Roosevelt Island Tram when it is legal for preferential resident rebates to be given to Bronx and Queens residents using the Bridges?

Is it within the power of the RIOC Board to set a policy of resident/worker preference on the Tram?

If not, why?

Thanks again.

Ms Christian answered:

Below is the quote taken from your email. I merely restated your comments. 

"Is the RIOC Board aware that on December 7, Governor Hochul announced preferential treatment for residents of Queens and the Bronx who use the Henry Hudson Bridge and Cross Bay Bridge with a Toll rebate program which is not available for those who do not live in Queens or the Bronx. See Governor Hochul's announcement here."

The answer to your questions can all be solved in your quote.

Mr Fhala, together with RIOC, the Executive Chamber of Governor Hochul's Office as well as other NY State Officials

Image From November 14, 2023 RIOC Board Of Directors Meeting

are currently being sued by RIOC President Shelton Haynes and General Counsel Gretchen Robinson. 

According to the 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. 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....
Mr Fhala's New Year's resolution is a good start.

No Roosevelt Island F Train Shuttle Service To And From Manhattan This Weekend, MTA 63rd Street Tunnel Rehab Project Work Will Switch Over To Manhattan Bound Track Starting Monday January 8 - Plan For Long Lines At The Roosevelt Island Tram This Weekend

According to the MTA 

there will be no Roosevelt Island F Train shuttle service 

at all in either direction this weekend as work on the 63rd Street Tunnel Rehab project switches to the Manhattan bound platform.

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):

Dear Roosevelt Island Community:

The MTA has issued the following alert regarding upcoming changes to the F-Shuttle Train in support of the ongoing 63rd St track replacement project. During the weekend of January 6th and 7th, the MTA will be running special shuttle buses in place of the F-shuttle train, which will be offline for the weekend:

Track reconstruction work will be moving to the Manhattan-bound track starting on Monday, January 8th.

In support of this switchover:

  1. F shuttle train service will be suspended starting on Saturday 1/6 at 5AM through Monday 1/8 at 5AM.
  2. Starting at 11:00 PM on Friday 1/5 and for the remainder of the weekend, a free shuttle bus will replace the Q95 and Q94 and will extend to connect Roosevelt Island, 21 St- Queensbridge, and Queens Plaza, following the current Q94 overnight shuttle route.
  3. This shuttle bus will run during daytime and overnight hours for the duration of the weekend and is scheduled to operate approximately every 5-10 minutes.

Beginning on Monday 1/8, F shuttle train service will resume on the Queens-bound track and will arrive and depart from the lower level of the Lexington Ave/63rd St Station. Q94 and Q95 shuttle service will resume with no changes.

Project completion is still slated for Q1, 2024, subject to change.

Other Methods of Travel

In addition to the MTA’s free shuttle bus, island residents may utilize the following methods of off-island transportation during the January 6/7 weekend:

  • Red Bus: RIOC runs a weekly Red Bus Shuttle to Manhattan every Saturday and Sunday from 3:00pm – 7:30pm. The shuttle leaves from the Tram Station at the top of every hour and picks up returning riders from the Southwest side of 2nd Avenue, between 58th Street and 59th Street, on the half hour.
  • Tram: RIOC is running the Tram on a rush hour schedule every Saturday and Sunday from 7:00am – 10:00pm during the ongoing MTA trackwork.
  • NYC Ferry: The NYC Ferry Astoria line serves Roosevelt Island and can provide off-island transportation to Queens and Manhattan. You can check its schedule here.
  • Q102 Bus: Travelers can also utilize the Q102 Bus to Astoria for off-island travel. You can view its schedule here.

Please be advised that we expect longer than average wait times for the Roosevelt Island Tram while this track change takes place, so please plan your travel accordingly. Extra PSD officers will be stationed at both the Roosevelt Island and Manhattan Tram stations all weekend to help ensure an orderly travel experience for passengers.

Thank you.

-Team RIOC

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Sponsored Post - 16 One Bedroom Affordable Apartments For Rent At Roosevelt Island Westview Building Ranging From $1,566 To $2,043 Monthly - Submit Your Application


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Sponsored Post - Popular Roosevelt Island Saturday Farmers Market Vendor Astoria Grown Begins Delivery Of Their Home Grown Urban Farm Microgreens January 6 - Sign Up Now For Your Roosevelt Island Microgreens Home Delivery

Astoria Grown is a family owned solar powered micro urban farm growing Microgreens located in a private home located a few minutes from the Roosevelt Island Bridge. Astoria Grown became a vendor at the Roosevelt Island Saturday Farmers Market last April and very quickly established themselves as a popular destination for Roosevelt Island residents with their tasty and healthy Microgreens and friendly service. 

Astoria Grown will begin Saturday delivery to Roosevelt Island on January 6. Astoria Grown will deliver pre-paid orders of their Microgreens to the lobby of Roosevelt Island buildings with doormen. 

If you are interested in delivery of Astoria Grown microgreens, please sign up at their website.

If you live in The Landings, email them to arrange a convenient Saturday AM delivery.

Astoria Grown will continue to be at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays provided the weather is above the mid 30’s. 

For a profile of Astoria Grown, please click here.

More info at Astoria Grown website and Instagram page. 

Please click here to arrange delivery of Astoria Grown Microgreens to your Roosevelt Island home.

You're Invited To RIRA Community Emergency Committee Review Of Yesterday's Roosevelt Island Earthquake And Earthquake Preparedness Presentation Virtual Zoom Meeting Thursday January 4

As reported yesterday: 

 The United States Geological Survey reported today a 1.7 magnitude earthquake hit NYC at 5:45 (10:45 UTC) this morning shaking up the residents of Roosevelt Island, Astoria and the Upper East Side....

Roosevelt Island resident Frank Farance reports:

In light of the earthquake Roosevelt Islanders experienced today (Tuesday), the RIRA Community Emergency Committee is presenting the highlights of October's presentation on Earthquake Preparedness. The presentation will cover immediate response actions, along with a review of yesterday's earthquake. This is a family friendly presentation on Thursday January 4 at 8-9 PM via Zoom. Come learn and ask your questions.

Date-Time: January 4, 2024 at 8-9 PM 

Zoom Link

More info on earthquakes from the US Geological Survey.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

1.7 Magnitude New York City Earthquake Shakes Up Roosevelt Island, Astoria and Upper East Side This Morning Says US Geological Survey - An Interesting Way To Start The New Year

The United States Geological Survey reported today a 1.7 magnitude earthquake hit NYC at 5:45 (10:45 UTC) this morning shaking up the residents of Roosevelt Island, Astoria and the Upper East Side.

At 10:30 this morning, I asked the NYC Department of Emergency Management (NYCEM):

There were tremors felt this morning on Roosevelt Island, Astoria and Upper East Side sections of NYC.

Do you know if this is accurate?

Any comment from NYCEM on this incident?...
NYCEM posted on X(Twitter):

According to PIX 11 News

I spoke with a USGS spokesperson who encouraged Roosevelt Island residents to report what they experienced this morning during the earthquake.

Here's more on NYC earthquakes.

UPDATE 12:35 - Residents reported hearing a loud boom or explosion like noise at the time of the earthquake. According to the USGS spokesperson, it is not unusual for a loud sonic boom noise to be heard accompanying an earthquake such as the one this morning. The spokesperson did not say the noise heard by residents today was from the earthquake, but that it was possible.

UPDATE 2:00 PM - I asked Con Ed:

Do you have info on any damage caused on Roosevelt Island by today's 1.7 magnitude earthquake?

Here's what we know so far.

Residents have reported hearing an explosion at the same time as the earthquake. Was there any explosion separate from the earthquake?

Any damage to Con Ed Transformers? Was there any power loss.

and the FDNY:

Do you have info on any damage caused on Roosevelt Island by today's 1.7 magnitude earthquake?

Here's what we know so far.

Residents have reported hearing an explosion at the same time as the earthquake. Was there any explosion separate from the earthquake?

Was anyone trapped in building elevators that needed rescue?

According to a Con Ed spokesperson:

There was no explosion involving Con Edison equipment, no damage to Con Edison equipment, and no customer outages.

We suspect that the earthquake was the cause of the noise.

You might want to confirm with the US Geological Survey, which is the federal agency that tracks earthquakes.

And a FDNY spokesperson:

580 Main Street – South of Roosevelt Island Bridge & Tram

Call received @ 0554 hrs.

Report of a building shaking and explosion

Units on scene investigating.

Gas and Electric utility ( Con – Edison ) requested.

No injuries currently reported.

Incident under control @ 0708hrs.

Unable to determine cause of reported explosions/ shaking –

Scene turned over to Con Edison

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) adds:

Dear Roosevelt Island Community:

We wanted to update you on the situation this morning that involved several loud booms and shaking on the island.

The USGS has now determined that a 1.7 magnitude earthquake occurred at approximately 5:45am this morning near Astoria, Queens:

Con Edison remains on the scene and has reported no ongoing utility concerns. The New York City Office of Emergency Management has also reported no injuries, no impacts to transit, and no structural stability issues at this time.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide the community updates as needed. Please know that preliminary reports indicate there are no ongoing safety concerns at this time.

-Team RIOC

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Best Wishes From Roosevelt Island For A Happy And Healthy New Year In 2024 - Cheers, We're Having A Party, Everybody's Swinging, Dancing To The Music On The Radio And With Some Classic Movies Too

Best Wishes to all for a Happy And Healthy New Year in 2024. 

Whether you're staying at home for a quiet New Year's Eve, watching the Green Bay Packer game hoping for a playoff spot or out partying, there's no better way to celebrate the end of the past year than with a traditional last song from Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes together with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band .
We're havin' a party
Everybody's swinging
Dancing to the music
On the radio
So listen, Mr. DJ
Keep those records playing
'Cause I'm having such a good time
Dancing with my baby



and Best Wishes for the 2024 New Year.

Watch Video Highlights From Trip To The Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Lightscape Holiday Light Show Last Night - Still Open Tonight And New Year's Day

If you're looking to enjoy some colorful Holiday Lights, check out the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Lightscape Holiday lights show that will be open for two more nights, tonight and New Year's Day.

It's an easy trip from Roosevelt Island. Last night, I took the Ferry to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and then a quick Uber ride.

Here are some highlights from last night at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Lightscape Holiday Lights show.