Friday, February 27, 2009

Letter Grades for Island Restaurants

Next year we will get to see letter grades in the window at each of Roosevelt Island's restaurants and food service establishments as issued by the NYC Department of Health. Under the current system the DOH posts online the number of violation points each establishment was issued at their last inspection. The lower the points the better the grade.

The New York Times has run a few articles and blog posts in the past week about restaurant inspections. One long time Roosevelt Island resident had the following to say in response to one piece:

This is VERY GOOD news. Restaurant inspection results and grades should be posted on front doors or front windows. Works very well in LA and other cities. Makes owners and staff concentrate on food safety AND sales.

Too bad the city’s deli’s & supermarkets are not covered by this requirement. The state does a terrible job of responding to complaints and supermarket and deli owners and staff make the barest attempts to comply.

As a 26-year resident of Roosevelt Island, it is outrageous that our Deli and Gristede’s pass (just by a rodent’s tail) their regular and/or requested inspections. One of our Island restaurants was closed 2 times by the NYC DOH and now are probably the better for it…

— anonymous

RIOC's Abramson Speaks at "Meet the Construction Chiefs" Event

The blog Real Estate BISNOW reported that Rosina Abramson, RIOC's Vice President of Planning and Inter-Governmental Affairs, spoke last night at the event "Meet the Construction Chiefs" sponsored by the organization Professional Women in Construction.

According to a web report of the evening by "New York Real Estate Scene by GreenPearl":

"[Ms.] Abramson ... noted that a number of capital projects are underway there, including the rebuilding of the tram, the renovation of the Blackwell House and an educational playground–which will be made from the parts of the old tram to teach children about engineering! She also took a moment to praise Lenore Janis, PWC president, for her farsightedness in, among other things, hosting a meeting that underscored the importance of government during difficult economic times. "Government projects are (economically) counter-cyclical," she noted. She went on to encourage planners, despite the slowdown these days. "Plan, baby, plan," she said, "cause you’ll never know when you’ll be ready to go!""

What's at auction on eBay right now? PSD Patch

Roosevelt Island related items at auction right now on eBay includes one item: an older Public Safety Department patch. Last night the auction also included two old Tram tokens, which are pereninals on eBay. If you are interested in the patch act fast as the auctions ends on March 1st and there are three bids already. [I am not the seller.]

For you "Buy It Now" folks the following items are available including a few books, a few pictures, an old newspaper clipping as well as a miniature RI lighthouse:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

B is for Boarding

When we moved in 2006 to Roosevelt Island on April 18th the Tram went out of service so we did not step foot in the elevator at the Manhattan tram station until service returned in late August. Once we did we were momentarily perplexed as to what the "B" stood for on the control panel. As we never thought to ask it was some time before we learned that "B" was for Boarding.

If you travel with a child ask them to guess what the "B" stands for. I am guessing you will get a few interesting responses if they don't know the answer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Film Shoot Destroys Tram Station

Unbeknownst to most Roosevelt Island residents who came to the island after the first Spider-Man movie the film shoot destroyed the island's Tram station captured here on film.

Granted the station destroyed was a 1/18 scale miniature of the station. Pretty cool video. Direct YouTube link by GMDFX. I don't recall any of this footage in the movie but watch for the close up at about 1:00 minute of the station's interior as it is pretty detailed of the yellow fencing etc.

Mystery Photo: A Piece of ?

For some the what and where of this Roosevelt Island mystery photo posted on Flickr by Ritwik Dey will be easy. For others they may take from morning 'till night fall to figure it out.

If you are stumped feel free to view my own Flickr photos here, for the what, and here, for the where.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Possibly 30 East River Turbines by Mid '10

According to a post by City Limits today if Verdant's application is approved there could be as many as 30 tidal energy capturing turbines by mid 2010 in the East River just off Roosevelt Island.

The article does point out concerns for the River's wild life which has reacted well to the three turbine array but whose reaction to a 30 turbine array is unknown. Erik Baard from the Long Island City Community Boathouse, is also quoted in the article regarding his views that the existing cables "are too close to the surface, presenting hazards to boaters and kayakers. "
“They have got to create a safer cable, rope and buoy system, because what they have now is not safe enough,” Baard said. “I also emphatically don’t want them narrowing or interfering with our navigation. The cables that go to the turbines can do that.” Neither Mr. Baard nor the Long Island City Boathouse filed comments with FERC, but he hopes that Verdant will redesign the 30 turbine array so that connecting cables have more slack, allowing them to drop deeper into the water. Taylor, however, said there will be adjustments to the cables, but no radical changes.

The current turbines partially supply power to the Motorgate Parking Garage as well as the Gristedes. The article does not define where the power generated will be used but earlier reports had the energy being used to power the local Roosevelt Island F Train subway station electrical systems.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Resident Profiles: Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Writing a blog about Roosevelt Island I find myself googling the island quite often to see what I can find. This evening it was a story on a Malasian website, The Star, regarding Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram who is the Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development in the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Definitely worth reading.

Urban American Posts YouTube Video re Roosevelt Landings

Urban American has posted a video commercial for Roosevelt Landings on YouTube depicting beautifully furnished apartments and views on Roosevelt Island. No mention regarding the current submetering situation or the quality of the heating systems or the ability of the apartments to retain the heat generated by the electricaly based systems.

Caution: Playground under Construction Despite Access

I went down to the new Roosevelt Island playground (former Castle playground site) that is behind / between Blackwell House and Eastwood and noted that while the site is obviously not complete that the fencing is horribly insufficient to prevent children from playing on the site exposing them to risk of injury.

While I was there a group of kids ran through and they themselves moved the portable fencing (as shown below) allowing greater access to the site.

There currently are exposed cement edge surfaces by the tables (which themselves are not yet anchored properly) that pose risks in addition to the small mountain of loose wood chips that is sitting along side of the new climbing apparatus just waiting for kids to slide under the unfinished structure. As well as several holes that have yet to be filled in completely.

I will admit I am also concerned how close the play area comes to the water / sprayground area. I would have hoped for some sort of buffer area. It is also unclear as to whether the wood chips will be the final play surface or wehther some sort of rubberized cushion surface wil be installed on top of the wood chips. Was thrilled to see the new swings though.

I have made an inquiry into RIOC to see if the site can be better secured in the period before it is completed and rated as safe for the island's kids. Makes no sense that it was left this open.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

CB8M: Hurricane Preparedness Video Roosevelt Island

The above video is from a 2006 meeting regarding hurricane preparedness on Roosevelt Island. I stumbled upon it this evening and wanted obviously to post it here. The video was prepared by Manhattan Community Board 8 and was of a CB8M Public Safety meeting they held on Roosevelt Island in the Good Shepherd Community Center. The video is presented on a channel labeled CB8M Speaks.

I don't recall too many individuals feeling that the meeting answered all their questions but the video is clearly worth watching by all residents that were not there that afternoon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reports that Roosevelt Island's Only Bank to Close

[Updated at 3:00 pm for the addition of the second paragraph and the revision of the fourth.]

According to a reader of this blog a letter has been sent to depositers at the Roosevelt Island branch of New York National Bank (a subsidiary of the Husdon Valley Holding Corporation) announcing that the branch is scheduled to close this June. I have not seen a copy of the actual letter and based on the above picture taken last night no public signs of the claimed closure are apparent.

Stephen Shane, President of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, confirmed the expected closing as RIOC received notification from NYNB as its landlord and as a depositor of the branch. According to Mr. Shane "neither the residents nor the merchants used it enough to make it economically viable [to NYNB]". RIOC has contacted Amalgamated Bank about the location but Amalgamated apparently does not want to repeat the failures of the former banks at that location.

As per this reader: This would be a terrible loss for the island since:
(1) It is the only bank here with full service,
(2) It serves the island businesses, seniors, disabled and those who cannot leave the island, and
(3) If the store is vacant will it be yet another storefront that RIOC would leave empty.

If the branch closes, the only bank ATMs on the island would be the two Chase ATMs and te ATM at Gristedes. The Chase ATMs are located at the Octagon and at the Duane Reade. It is unknown to this blogger if there are other ATMs at either Coler or Goldwater Hospitals.

My understanding is years ago there was an actual Chase Branch on the island and that only after a letter writing campaign to the State Banking Commission was NYNB found and brought to the island. It would appear that another grass roots effort may be needed if NYNB actually does close this branch.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

French or Italian View of Roosevelt Island?

Apparently the text on this short 44 second video of Roosevelt Island is either French or Italian. The first sentence apparently describes the length and width of the island. The second island mentions something about the hospitals but I am unsure if it is saying there was or still is a penitentiary on the island. Amusing.

Direct YouTube Link by stephtraveler

Eastwood Submetering Delayed due to PSC Motion to Stay

The State of New York Public Service Commission has issued an Order stayin g a previous order which granted Urban American permission to submeter and issue electric bills to the tenants of Roosevelt Landings (FKA Eastwood).

A large thank you should be sent to each of our elected representatives as well as their staffs, State Assembly Member Micah Kellner, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Scott Stringer, City Council Member Jessica Lappin and State Senator Jose Serrano.

The full text of the stay can HOPEFULLY be read by double clicking the below images:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Touring Roosevelt Island - 75 Years Ago Today

An article published 75 years ago today by the New York Times offers an interesting time capsule view of then Welfare Island. I have only posted here a few measly snippets, which truthfully don't even start the tour, but if you subscribe to the NYT you should have full access to the article. Sorry not trying to be an advertisement.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

For Subway Stairs - We're Counted Third !

Apparently a runner from the Prospect Park Track Club who likes climbing subway stairs has counted the Roosevelt Island subway station's steps and placed us third in total stairs among comparable stations:

>209 steps - Lex/63rd Street

>175 steps - Smith Street

>159 steps - Roosevelt Island

So do staircases step up onto little staircases to accept their gold, silver, and bronze medals?

For a video of what it is like to walk down the Roosevelt Island stairs here you are. Note this video was shot before the current restoration was completed of the half the escalators and once completed the stairs no longer felt so closed by the construction walls . Also the lighting is much much better than the light in the video.


Wanted: Individual to Sit on Coler Advisory Board

I was contacted by Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer's office to post the following information with respect to local Roosevelt Island institution Coler Hospital:

"Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer seeks community-minded individuals to serve on the Coler Specialty Hospital and Nursing Community Advisory Board (CAB).

The role of the CAB is to advise the Coler Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility by representing the views of the community in the hospital’s decision-making process and inform the community of the hospital’s goals and objectives.

CAB members provide a vital perspective on the development of hospital plans and programs, and they interact with community groups, local officials and hospital administration.

Individuals should have an interest in health care, be familiar with the Roosevelt Island community and available to attend monthly meetings during the evening.

For more information or to apply, please contact Jason Welch at 212.669.4546 or at

The opportunity to sit on the Coler Advisory Board is a great opportunity for a civic minded island resident to really make a dfference helping our neighbors with whom we share this island. So if you are interested please contact Jason welch as noted above.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Submetering at Roosevelt Landings (FKA Eastwood)

The New York Times ran a story yesterday about the submetering situation at Roosevelt Island's Eastwood complex, now known as Roosevelt Landings, and referred to the emergency meeting held on Saturday as well as the efforts of State Assembly Member Micha Kellner on behalf of the tenants affected.

The comments posted on this blog and others about this situation are amazingly scary. The article in this past weekends Main Street WIRE is a must read.

The issue of whether the heating systems and buildings are energy efficient on Roosevelt Island applies to each of the original WIRE buildings and the possibility of insane sub meter bills could be a possibility in each building. I live in Rivercross and I fully expect that if the building goes private, coming out of Mitchell Lama protections, that my apartment which has old and inefficient electric heaters will also be bound for direct electric bills.

The issues and resolution of the Roosevelt Landings electric bills are of interest to everyone in the original buildings and shoudl be followed closely. It is simply insane to expect many of the seniors in Eastwood to simply turnm down their heat during the daytime when many cannot leave their apartments.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Images: Basketball (not) on Roosevelt Island

The above image of a Roosevelt Island basketball net is from the blog Shattered Shattered. I am not sure how old the image is but I am sure the shooter could have found a better ball than this.

Overall I do have to say watching the kids and adults play ball on this island does provide some competitive games to watch. Apparently this game however was not one of them.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Letter to Editor re FDR Memorial

Matt Kats, our former Roosevelt islasnd Residents Association President, submitted a letter to the New York Times and the below image is the letter printed from this weekend's City Section (double click to enlarge):