Friday, February 9, 2024

Scenes From Roosevelt Island Black History Month Celebration Exhibition Opening Reception At RIVAA Gallery, Meet The Heroes: Real & Imagined Artists - Black History Month Student Essay Contest & Jazzy Jam Session Too

This is the last weekend to check out the 2024 Roosevelt Island Black History Month celebration exhibition at RIVAA Gallery. According to RIVAA Gallery:

We are pleased to welcome you to our annual Black History Month exhibition. This year we are celebrating “Heroes: Real and Imagined".

The exhibition is curated by Micheline Hess, a Roosevelt Island resident. A comic creator, artist/illustrator and former RIVAA member, Micheline has reached out to artist/cartoonists for portrayals of their heroes from life or those heroes they have imagined and created. The exhibition opens on January 25 and will be on view at RIVAA Gallery, 527 Main Street, until February 11...

Here are some scenes from the January 27 RIVAA Gallery Black History Month Heroes: Real and Imagined exhibition opening reception.

Micheline Hess is a Roosevelt Island resident and and an artist/curator of the exhibition.

According to Ms Hess:

The name of the exhibit is Heroes: Real and Imagined. Basically what I was seeking to do was find a way to get people starting a discussion about Heroes that both exist in real life as well as the kind of Heroes they have created. as comic artists and illustrators and painters. Characters scenes that depict instances of heroism. In the way of the Arts bringing empowerment. Creating their own characters that they then write or draw their own adventures with... 

Meet the artists showcasing their work at RIVAA Gallery's 

Black History Month exhibition.

Also, Roosevelt Island's NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright is celebrating Black History Month with a student essay contest

and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) is celebrating with a Jazz concert.

No Roosevelt Island Subway Service To And From Manhattan This Weekend And Next 2 Weekends - Be Prepared For Long Lines At The Tram

There is no Roosevelt Island subway service to or from Manhattan this weekend. According to the MTA:

As reported January 12, according to MTA Assistant Director, Government & Community Relations Katerina Patouri: 

Dear Community Stakeholder,

Please be advised of the following service changes as part of the ongoing 63rd St Direct Fixation Project, upcoming in February 2024:...

... Feb 10-12th, 17-19th, 24-26th:

  • In support of the ongoing 63rd St track replacement project, the F shuttle train will be suspended for the weekends of Feb 10-12, 17-19, and 24-26:
  • F shuttle train service will be suspended starting on Saturday at 5AM through Monday at 5AM on the weekends of Feb 10-12, Feb 17-19, and Feb 24-26.
  • Starting at 11:00 PM on Friday 2/10, 2/17, and 2/24 and for the remainder of each 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.
  • 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.

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

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC)

Dear Roosevelt Island Community:


The MTA has announced planned service changes to the F-Shuttle train service for Roosevelt Island every weekend during the month of February. Here is the information shared with us from the MTA detailing the changes in service for the upcoming weekends:  


Feb 10-12th, 17-19th, 24-26th: NO Subway Service on Roosevelt Island


The F shuttle train will be suspended for the weekends of Feb 10-12, 17-19, and 24-26:

  1. F shuttle train service will be suspended starting on Saturday at 5AM through Monday at 5AM on the weekends of Feb 10-12, Feb 17-19, and Feb 24-26.  
  2. Starting at 11:00 PM on Friday 2/10, 2/17, and 2/24 and for the remainder of each 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.



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 all February weekends:  


Red Bus Manhattan Shuttle: During all weekends in February RIOC will once again run a 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. Please be advised that we expect longer than average wait times for the Tram while this emergency MTA work takes place, so you should plan your travel accordingly. Extra PSD officers will be stationed at both the Roosevelt Island and Manhattan Tram stations during these weekends, and if you are elderly or disabled and need help reaching the Manhattan side Tram platform, please make sure to speak with one of the PSD officers on site.


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.  


Thank you!

-RIOC Transportation

Be prepared for long lines


at the Roosevelt Island Tram 

this weekend.

UPDATE 2/12 - Residents report on whether there were problems with overcrowding at the Tram during the past weekend with no subway service.

Come Check Out The RIDA Roosevelt Island Winter Flea Market Saturday February 10, Clothing, Food, Magical Finds & Something For Everyone, Free Puma T Shirt Too

The Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) is hosting a  Winter Flea Market 9 AM - 5PM Saturday February 10 at the Senior Center (546 Main Street)

According to RIDA:

Come check out the RIDA Flea Market and shop without even leaving The Island. Clothing, Food and Magical Finds. Something for everyone.

RIDA President Wendy Hersh adds:

Come shop, eat and stop by the RIDA table to get your free 

Puma T shirt too!

Thursday, February 8, 2024

You're Invited To Help Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Students Research Process Of Applying For And Using Medicare

Cornell Tech researcher Ana Medinac reports:

Cornell Tech students are researching Medicare. If you are enrolled in or looking into applying to Medicare we'd love to chat.

Please reach out to

We’re researching the process of applying to Medicare, and how people go from researching the right plan for themselves to then applying, to then being able confidently use it.

We’re looking at the entire process and trying to address any points in our project.

Roosevelt Island's NY State Senator Liz Krueger hosted a virtual 2024 Medicare Coverage seminar last November 20. Here's the video of the seminar.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

RIOC New Interim Leadership Team Pledges Focus On Greater Transparency And Collaboration With Roosevelt Island Stakeholders And Local Media During Feb 1 Board Meeting - RIOC Directors Say They Plan Addressing Past RIOC Dysfunctions And Provide Necessary Oversight Over Audit, Budget, Operations And Governance Practices

During the February 1 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Of Directors meeting

February 1 RIOC Board of Directors Meeting
Deputy General Counsel Gerrald Ellis and Chief Financial Officer Dhru Amin presented what they describe as the RIOC "Interim Leadership Report" to the Roosevelt Island community.

According to Mr Ellis 

These are some updates that we would like to provide. The RIOC Interim Leadership Team, Dhru and myself, we're hitting the ground running and we're working to maintain the Island's vital services and to better communicate with the community. That's honestly one of our first priorities. We've already been at the Operations Committee meeting and Roosevelt Island Historic Society meeting. We also attended the Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island committee meeting. I think one of our our first initiatives is to focus on greater transparency and collaboration among Island stakeholders....

And Ms Amin:

Engagement with the local media. We have reevaluated our policies on engaging with local media and are now becoming more responsive to incoming requests for information and comment as you've seen over the past few days. We believe this greater level of openness will help keep Island residents informed of our initiatives and operations while also fostering better RIOC community relations....

Mr Ellis also described tours of Island operations and infrastructure with RIOC Board members among other items.

Following the Interim Leadership Report, RIOC Director Lydia Tang spoke about problems working with RIOC President Shelton Haynes and General Counsel Gretchen Robinson currently on paid administrative leave pending an investigation of them about workplace concerns raised by RIOC employees. According to Ms Tang:

As newly appointed resident board members, endorsed by elected officials and appointed by Governor Hochul, we bear the responsibility of overseeing RIOC's audit, budget, operations, and governance. It's crucial to counter some unfounded claims by Shelton and Gretchen, which tarnish the reputation of myself and Ben Fhala.

Systematic denial of basic access for oversight persisted for over seven months.

Despite six months of requesting a comprehensive Operations Tour, per ABO recommendations, it was only arranged after Shelton and Gretchen were placed on leave. Gratitude to Gerrald, Dhru, and Mary for the tour, with plans for Dr. Melamed and Mr. Fhala's tours.

Upon joining the Board, I approached Shelton and Gretchen positively, expressing empathy for Shelton's family crisis. Suggestions to "work smarter" were offered, advocating delegation and embracing the "new normal" of new Board Members. If my phone conversation were recorded, it would confirm Shelton stating that Gretchen acknowledged my voice of reason. Assuming antagonism hindered information gathering for our fiduciary roles, echoing the adage: "When you assume, you make an 'ass' of 'u' and 'me.'"

Flouting dysfunctional norms, I urged executive responsiveness to board inquiries. Months of Gretchen issuing advisories against responding to board emails, and delays in answers reveal dysfunction at RIOC, necessitating renewed inquiries.

In response to staff reports, we investigated a procurement contract. Information requests on executive team members aimed to address community concerns went unanswered. Salary requests sought to verify or refute an 18% raise allegation, and requests for work/paid-time details for the entire executive team echoed community and internal whistleblower concerns, all with unanswered queries indicating a potential cover-up and a clear disregard for our oversight responsibilities.

Meetings with staff sought answers to fiduciary oversight concerns. Despite positive interactions, such instances were negatively spun. Interactions with staff were restricted, assuming ill intent, obstructing fiduciary roles. This assumption manipulated the board, allowing the executive team to overstep their authority. Our plans involve addressing RIOC dysfunctions with a renewed focus on fiduciary oversight inquiries. We remain dedicated to providing necessary oversight over RIOC and its audit, budget, operations, and governance.

Here's the February 1 RIOC Interim Leadership Report and statement by RIOC Director Lydia Tang.


As reported January 26:

... It is unclear how long the new interim RIOC leadership will remain in place, how long the review of Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson's workplace conduct will take and if they will return to their positions as President/CEO and General Counsel respectively. 

But, Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson are attempting to stop the review of their workplace conduct and demand to be restored to their positions at RIOC.

On January 23, Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson filed an Order To Show Cause in the US District Court for the Southern District Of NY seeking a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction:...

 The Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary injunction sought by Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson seeks to stop any investigation of them and restore them to their positions.

Shelton Haynes, Gretchen Robinson (Standing), RIOC Chair Ruthanne Visnauskas at 11/14/23 Board Meeting


As previously reported, on September 12, 2023:

... Mr Haynes and Ms 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...

On December 8, 2023, Mr Haynes and Ms Robinson added RIOC and one of the newly appointed RIOC Board members Ben Fhala to their lawsuit. Here's the Haynes/Robinson amended complaint.

Reported on January 29 that the preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for February 9 at 10:30 a.m. 

Stay tuned. More to come. 

UPDATE 2/9 - The scheduled hearing for February 9 on the Order to Show Cause has been postponed. A new judge was assigned to the case. No new date assigned yet.

According to the Feb 8 case filing: 

NOTICE OF CASE REASSIGNMENT to Judge Analisa Torres. Judge Katherine Polk Failla is no longer assigned to the case. (tro)

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

You're Invited To February 7 Community Board 8 MTA Zoom Presentation On Proposed Queens Bus Route Redesign Eliminating Roosevelt Island Q 102 Bus Service To Queens Plaza Replaced By New Q 104 Route To Sunnyside Via Broadway In Astoria - What Do You Think?

The Manhattan Community Board 8 Transportation and Roosevelt Island Committees are jointly meeting virtually tomorrow, Wednesday, February 7 via Zoom for an agenda item of great importance to Roosevelt Island

residents and workers who currently use the Q 102 bus. The meeting will include a presentation:

... by the MTA/NYC Transit on proposed bus route changes: 

Queens Bus Redesign recommendation to replace the Q102 between S. Loop Rd. and Queens Plaza with Q104 service between the Roosevelt Island "F" station and Sunnyside via Broadway & 46th Street...

Click here to access the CB 8 Zoom Meeting.

The MTA's Queens Bus Redesign Plan proposes to eliminate the current Q 102 bus service and replace it with a new Q104 route.

As reported last December 12:

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 46th 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.

According to the MTA's website, the Broadway/31 street N&W and 46th street 7  subway stations are not yet handicapped accessible but upgrades are currently in progress.

Here are the proposed Roosevelt Island Q 104 bus stops.

The CB 8 Roosevelt Island Committee discussed the Queens Bus Redesign Project during it's December 14, 2023 meeting.


Click here to access tomorrow's CB 8 Zoom Meeting. 

Monday, February 5, 2024

Pioneering Roosevelt Island Family Sell Rivercross Co-op Apartment For Record Breaking $2.09 Million After 47 Years Of Ownership - What Happened To The Roosevelt Island Affordable Housing Experiment?

The  NY Post reported on February 2:

... At the Rivercross co-op, which stands at 531 Main St., unit 321 traded hands last week for $2.09 million — dethroning the previous record held by unit 10M at 455 Main St., which sold for $2 million in 2019.... The just-sold Rivercross home had asked $2.49 million when listed. The unit had long been home to the Enock family. This transaction marks the end of nearly five decades of their ownership.

The Enocks — led by the late patriarch David, the late matriarch Wanda, and their sons Christopher and Matthew — were pioneers on Roosevelt Island, being the very first family to call the Rivercross complex their home when they paid $27,000 for their co-op apartment and took up residence in September 1976....

Click here for the full NY Post article.

The 1900 square foot apartment has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths and a balcony.

Roosevelt Island resident and listing agent for this apartment sale at the Rivercrosss building, Kaja Meade, adds:

The Island is a great place to live and relatively afforable (by Manhattan standards). The Enochs are evidence that people who buy on Roosevelt Island love it and stay. There's also opportunities on Roosevelt Island across all price points and all have access to the same great amenities and views. As a resident myself, I love living here and know all its advantages - and I'm always happy to connect and show folks or educate people who may be new to Roosevelt Island. 

The Roosevelt Island Rivercross Co-op was built in 1975 under the NY State Mitchell Lama affordable housing subsidy program. A 1977 NY Times article headline declares:

Roosevelt I Coop Buyers Eager For Utopia To Begin

As reported December 3, 2013, the Rivercross Co-op voted to approve a market rate privatization plan and exit the Mitchell Lama program imposing a transfer fee on first time sales:

... equal to 45% of the difference between the gross selling price of the apartment and the Mitchell-Lama price of the apartment....

Here's what Roosevelt Island was like for the pioneering residents of the 1970's who benefited from the Mitchell Lama affordable housing program.


The Neighborhood Slice TV program in 2014 profiled an early Roosevelt Island pioneering resident, Sande Elinson, who moved here with her family in 1977. 

Ms. Elinson notes that Roosevelt Island:

... was all affordable. That was the whole reclaiming this and keeping people in the city. Keeping the middle class and then all these families, all these kids, we would sit in the parks and we realize, boy, we could set up a  baby sitting coop, a little league, an artists association a garden...

... What was available to us in 1976 on a teacher's income is not available now but the new buildings have young families in them....

... It's heaven... a beautiful wonderful place still to live. 


As reported in April 2023:

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

In 2020 reported:

You Tuber Black In The Core visited Roosevelt Island recently and made an excellent video report on Roosevelt Island history and current issues of affordability and gentrification....

One does not necessarily have to agree with all of the reporting in this video but the issues raised of gentrification and affordability are real....

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

Here's more on the past hard fought efforts to negotiate affordability plans for the privatization of the former Westview, Island House and Rivercross Roosevelt Island Mitchell Lama buildings.

There are currently 16 one bedroom income restricted affordable apartments for rent at the Westview building. The deadline to submit applications is February 28.