Friday, January 30, 2009

1970's RI Concept Designs at MOMA

Jennifer, a former Roosevelt Island resident (mid 1970's through mid 1990's) was at the Museum of Modern Art and came across the current exhibition "Dreamland: Architectural Experiments since the 1970s" which included two works focusing on Roosevelt Island and thought we'd all find them interesting. The exhibit runs through March 16, 2009.
Thanks Jennifer !

Jennifer states in her e-mail that:

As you can see from the photos I've attached from the exhibit, these were not examples of actual built projects, but are interesting nonetheless. The first is an overall view of the artist's idea for the area of the island south of the 59th Street bridge. The second photo is a detailed view of his envisioned development. I've also included a photo of the placard detailing information on the designers

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blog Claims Development Plans Afoot to Demolish BOTH Coler & Goldwater

Update 3:30pm - Fri Jan 30th

It was noted by the Roosevelt Islander in an email to me that the guys over at Smart Growth removed not only the above and below renditions but all mention of the project name "Transforming Roosevelt Island".

Update 5:28pm

According to Ben Cuddy at Smart Growth, their source is someone working directly on developing the TRI Project ("Transforming Roosevelt Island") and cannot be revealed at this time as "its still a work in progress". Cuddy promises to update his blog as time goes on.

According to RIOC President Stephen Shane there are no new plans that he knows of to develope these sites (per the Roosevelt Islander this evening).

Original Post

The blog "Smart Growth" is asserting today that a plan called "Transforming Roosevelt Island" is being developed to demolish both Coler and Goldwater Hospitals. The gist of the blog post asserts the plan makes no sense. According to Smart Growth, Coler would be rebuilt but both locations would involve the construction of a total of 2400 new residential units.

No source for the statement that the plan is cited nor for the source of the renderings posted on their site and here.

From all indications we as residents have from NYC and NYC the City is not actively looking at this and this issue was closed (for the moment).

Per Smart Growth:
The State is calling this scheme “Transforming Roosevelt Island”(TRI). However, anything the State has done in regards to transforming RI has been shortsighted, only looking to increase "the potential to achieve 'best value' and increased returns on public investment." Again, in this case the State is shortsighted. Before adding two more developments to the Island the State should fix the transportation situation, which still is a problem, and fix the defunct commercial leasing practice that has plagued the island for to long. What they should not do, which they are, is claiming that RI is a good transportation oriented development that would help knit Queens and Manhattan together. Anyone with knowledge of NYC knows that RI is not the best way to connect the two boroughs. Rather, improved subway and bus service would connect the two boroughs better than new developments on Roosevelt Island.

Wanted: One Roosevelt Island Gypsy Woman

If you are a Roosevelt Island gypsy woman, between 41 years and 50 years, you are wanted for a role in a movie to be filmed on the island on February 3rd.

Actually the ad states:

Director: Katrina Sorrentino. I am currently a sophomore and this is my first Sight and Sound Film Project at NYU. The film is going to be very short, 16mm, black and white reversal film, no sound. It will be a quick shoot on February 3rd in the afternoon. If you're interested please contact me. I will provide you with a copy of the footage when the film is complete.

This female character is an eccentric looking gypsy who comes up to my main character, snaps a polaroid of him, and then writes on the bottom of it 'content.' She is sort of a teller of moods, a human mood ring if you will. I want her to look quirky and wise.
If you are interested in the part contact Katrina Sorrentino HERE.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Video: Roosevelt Island - I Cubed

"A short film directed and produced by Phanat Xanamane, Eugene Kwak, Seung Lee, and Seung Oh for a course called Reading New York Urbanism at Columbia University's Urban Design School. The title I-Cubed refers to the Infrastructure, Identity, and Isolation attributed to Roosevelt Island's (New York City) transportation features. " - Per YouTube description.

Interestingly I cannot turn on the sound if there is any. Direct YouTube link. Posted by phanat81. I think this woudl be infinitely more interesting if they captured the actual audio or posted their comments or interviews of those they met along their journies.

Resident Profiles: Sharon Stern, Poet, Tutor

There is a great story in today's New York Times, January 26, 2009, regarding Roosevelt Island resident Sharon Stern who closes the article by stating "I’m a poet, a tutor, a client of the home care agency and an employer of my staff.” The article highlights a life representative of so many on this island that are success stories even if those who are living those lives want to simply be seen for themselves and not the challenges they face daily.

UNFOUNDED REPORT of Sexual Assault at RI Subway Station

Gothamist is reporting that on January 25, 2009 at 12:05 pm there was a sexual assault on the F Line Roosevelt Island. The report has not been confirmed.

The Roosevelt Islander contacted both RIOC and PSD and neither had any additional information.

What is alarming and what I wrote in comments left on the Roosevelt Islander blog is that this station, if the assault was within the station, has two police officers, one on each platform guarding the tunnels and their for protection as the platforms are so far below the surface.

There are cameras which the token clerk can monitor of the escalators and the elevators but that obviously can do nothing to stop a crime in progress. Also I noticed last Friday that of the three monitors available to the clerk only two seem to be operating. It is unclear if this means specific views of camera are dark to the clerk or not.

It just shows at any time of the day everyone should be aware of their suroundings and take precautions.

UPDATE 1:00pm : According to Keith Guerra, PSD Director, via the Roosevelt Islander, the report of a sexual assault was unfounded.

I am not sure if this means there was no assault at all or that the assault was not of a sexual nature. I have sent an email looking for clarification.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Images: Lighthouse at Sunrise

Ritwik Dey from The Deydreamers Weblog apparently got up early to catch this sunrise shot of the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse. You can see the image in its full size over at Flickr. Check it out on a black background. Cool shot !

Public Projects Need a Strong Transportation Infrastructure

On Friday, the New York Times published an article about the ongoing effort to bring a memorial to Roosevelt Island for FDR in the form of a public park. I was quoted for two points (1) that the Louis Kahn design which calls for trees on both sides of the park will block the 360 degree views of Manhattan and Queens and (2) that the island would be inundated by visitors. This second point is what I want to address here as I did in my discussion with Mr. Beyer, the Times Reporter, as my point had a bit more to it than what was published.

Yes I am concerned about how many visitors might come to the island. I hope a lot of visitors come to the island and all stop by the local RIHS Visitors Center, the local Strabucks, Duane Reade and Nonnos as well as hopefully further North on Main Street. My concern is not whether the island can handle the increased visitors but more specifically whether our transportation infrstructure can.

In the coming year the Roosevelt Island Tram is scheduled to be taken off line for several months, some expect a year, to be basically reconstruct the entire Tramway system, from new cables, new cabins, new mechanical systems, everything. The question will be whether this new Tram and the existing subway service will be able to handle not only the increase in tourists but the continued residential expansion of the island.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Bashful Bus and other Transportation Woes

This evening’s “Town Hall” meeting, sponsored by RIOC, to welcome and introduce Columbia University’s Urban Planning study, was moderately attended but clearly and quickly detailed the transportation issues confronting island residents.

The evening began with an introduction of Dr. Floyd Lapp who laid out the purpose of the study, or studio, as it called and that he will fade into the background and let the students hit the ground running. After delivering his introductory remarks he opened the floor to local residents and employees to each voice our major concerns and in many cases what we each believe will solve the major problems.

As expected the major culprits such as red bus schedules, subway overcrowding, and concerns what we will all do when the tram is out were raised. But also smaller issues such as switching the pedestrian yield signs on Main Street back to Stop signs and lighting along Main Street were discussed. Issues such as height differentials between subway platforms and subway cars were also brought up which greatly affect many of our wheel chair bound neighbors.

The location and efficiency of a possible ferry was raised but not dwelled by many attendees. The issue of an elevator to the Queensboro Bridge was brought up but the idea of a stair case, which would be the equivalent of 21 stories, was discounted by Dr. Lapp as unrealistic to be actually used by most residents.

One of the more amusing Red Bus tales told was by an Octagon resident regarding an Octagon Express bus that arrives when no passengers are ready at the Octagon which then swings through the stop and seems to park just out of view of the stop almost like it is hiding but still can be seen from the stop. Only after an Octagon Local swings through and picks up the then assembled mass of commuters filling the Local does the Express peek out and pick up the stragglers and then continues, almost empty, down Main Street to the subway and Tram. Is this Express really hiding or it just being bashful and shy? Who knows but it is indicative of a larger transportation system that is clearly out of sync and behind the greater need according to the residents that attended this Town Hall.

Town Hall Mtg Tonight re Transportation Issues….Columbia to Begin Focused Study

At 7:00pm tonight within the Good Shepherd Community Center, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation is holding a Town Hall meeting to discuss transportation issues affecting the island. The meeting will also mark the commencement of a new urban planning study of the island with a defined focus on transportation.

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture’s Urban Planning program, under the direction of Dr. Floyd Lapp, a former Director of City Planning in the MTA’s Transportation Division from 1991-2000, will be examining the transportation alternatives and infrastructure.

The Columbia study will be the second study currently underway of the island by an academic institution. Hunter College's Urban Planning program is conducting a separate studio, termed AccessRI, with a broader focus on access to many issues including transportation, health services, shopping among others. That study is being sponsored by State Senator Jose Serrano.

Dr. Lapp has indicated that for any study to be worthwhile and effective it requires the participation of the public in the gathering of information and feedback. The Main Street WIRE in its last issue, dated Saturday, January 17, 2009, included a front page article about the study and included comments from Dr. Lapp.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Can NYC and NYS Justify $8M for FDR Park?

This weekend when I read RIOC President Steve Shane's column, in the Main Street WIRE, and was reminded that NYC and NYS have jointly committed $8 million in total to the planned FDR Four Freedoms Park to be built at Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park I could only cry. How in this economy could this make sense? I don't see how either legislative body could allow such appropriations to continue? How can the constituents of any legislator supporting these appropriations not let them know this is wrong? Yet each of our local legislators supports this plan and no one thinks its improper in today's world.

Think how many job training programs this money could fund? How many New Yorkers could be kept in their homes? How many meals can be provided to out of work City residents? Would you close a city shelter to justify a park?

Are these statements alarmist? Perhaps not. Both Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson are predicting the worse is yet to come. Each has already called for massive cuts in existing and prospective budgets. So I ask each of you now how can we keep in the City's and State's budget $8 milion dollars for a park even if the intent is to honor as great a president like FDR? The answer is we can't and we should not.
PS: The $8M is only for Phase 1 of the park's construction and is dependent on FERI matching the $8M. The projected costs for the complete memorial is in excess of $40M and you can bet if the park is started and FERI can not raise the additional funds they will be looking to the City and State to bail them out and to pony up additional funds.

A Poll for a New Private School by a Local Dad

At the top of this blog's right hand side bar is a poll requested by a local Roosevelt Island father who wants a local alternative to PS 217 and is willing to go as far as paying a private school if one were to open up on the island. This blog is running the post as an opportunity for parents and others to discuss their thoughts about the public and private education alternatives available to children living here on Roosevelt Island.

For purposes of full disclosure, as I have stated in the past, my own kids go to public school off the island. My older child started pre-school at an off island District 2 school before we moved to Roosevelt Island and that child continued there. My younger child followed into that program.

It is unclear to me what research this father has undertaken about either PS 217 or other schools but again I offer this post and the side bar poll as an opportunity to discuss the issue.

Currently the Roosevelt Islander blog (right hand side bar - about 1/3 to 1/2 way down) has an ongoing poll asking whether a Gifted and Talented program shoudl be established at PS 217. With eight days left in that poll 98 individuals have voted "yes" and 20 votes have been cast for "no".

This current poll asks whether you would send your child to a private school if one were to open on Roosevelt Island. The bottom three answers were not requested by the local father but added by me as I thought the poll needed to include these answers. Hopefully they do not dilute the father's polling intent.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Community Viewing of Inauguration Today at 11am

Starting at 11am watch the inauguration live with your Roosevelt Island neighbors at the Good Shepherd Community Center.

Bicycles in the Snow

Ritwik Dey from Deydreamers has posted a number of wonderful shots of Roosevelt Island in the snow over on his Flickr pages and are definitely worth checking out. The above shot can be found HERE.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Does Roosevelt Island Get the Full Creepy from Cold Souls?

A number of residents who recall the movie "Cold Souls" being filmed here on Roosevelt Island can now read the reviews of the film on line at Variety, Cinema Blend, and other web sites.

The plot line includes a stop by the actor "Paul Giamatti" playing a version of himself who at one point comes to a clinic on Roosevelt Island where they will relieve you of your soul for a time. Based on the review the scenes on Roosevelt Island are limited but repeated so we don't get the complete creepy treatment we got from "Dark Waters" but enough apparently.

Per the Cinema Blend website the Roosevelt Island based lab is named "Soul Storage". According to past blog posts there were scenes filmed at the Octagon and aboard the Roosevelt Island Tram but it is unknown what interior or exterior shots of the Octagon, the Tram or the Island have made it to the final cut. No official movie poster yet or stills that I can find featuring the Island.

A Former Resident Powers Up "The Electric Company"

As a kid in the 1970's "The Electric Company" was always a pretty cool show so when I heard PBS was bringing it back (see official website) in time for my own kids I was thrilled.

As the blog title states, former resident Jenni Barber who is now starring on the show, as Lisa, once lived here on Roosevelt Island (granted it was a sublet). So if your kids end up watching the show and you recall this actress's face you may have seen her on Main Street.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Is Roosevelt Island the Sixth Borough?

In response to last Sunday's NY Times piece about NYC blogs one blog, Idealist in NYC, compiled a list of currently updated NYC blogs and for some reason elevated Roosevelt Island to its own borough and severed our connection to Manhattan. Amusing. Is that possible?

Like Washington Square Park I was caught off guard by this political developement. Has anyone notified Jessica Lappin (our City Council Member) that she has just lost a chunk of her voting constituency?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Has Brooklyn Paid Roosevelt Island for our Granite?

Stop. Thief! Has Brooklyn Heights paid for the Roosevelt Island granite it plans to use in the construction of a new staircase for its East River Promenade park? We actualy want our granite back. Supposedly an FDR memorial is to be built on our island and we want to help reduce their costs by using our own granite.

So Brooklyn give us back our granite or pony up the bucks!

The mystery is when did Brooklyn grab our granite? And what is the article talking about where it refers to a rescue of the granite from the old Roosevelt Island Bridge? That bridge is still standing? Did someone steel the brick from its foundations? Are we in danger just to help some folks go down a stair. These are important questions.

I first brought up this travesty of justice back in October yet no response from Brooklyn has been received?

Monday, January 12, 2009

NYT: Focus on Dr. Resnick and Home Health Care

Today's New York Times blog "The New Old Age" profiled Dr. Jack Resnick's efforts to bring health care back into the home with a focus on the Community Health Forum he organizaed and moderated on December 29th at the Good Shepherd Church. Kudo to the doctor and please link through to the blog post on the NYT as for anyone who did not attend the forum it is well worth your time.

Flat Stanley Visits Roosevelt Island - Again

For the second time within a year I played host to a visiting Flat Stanley and took pictures of him on the Tram but also this time within the subway station here on Roosevelt Island.

So if you saw a reasonably sane guy taking pictures with a paper cut out drawing of a boy that was just me and Flat Stanley.

For those uninitiated about Flat Stanley check this LINK. For the complete set of pictures taken of Flat Stanley during this NYC adventure, mostly off-island, in the subway and GCT link to Flickr here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hunter College: AccessRI Community Survey

From AccessRI:

"Tired of waiting for the Subway? Concerned about the quality of life on Roosevelt Island? Worried about the Tram closing? Satisfied with the shopping on Roosevelt Island?

AccessRI, an urban planning studio commissioned by New York State Senator Jose Serrano, is announcing the release of the Roosevelt Island Community Survey. The survey covers many aspects of life on Roosevelt Island including housing, healthcare, transportation, recreation, retail and public safety. The purpose of the survey is to inform an accessibility plan that will address the major issues identified by the community.

The Community Survey can be taken by clicking the link below:
Roosevelt Island Community Survey

In order for our effort to be truly comprehensive, AccessRI is requesting the guidance of the Roosevelt Island community. Please visit our blog at keep track of the studio's progress."

Check out the survey and the AccessRI blog.

NYT: "You Talkin' to Me?" is Not My Style

Today's New York Times City Section includes an article titled "You Talkin' to Me?"about NYC bloggers by Gabriel Cohen. While I was happy to be recognized as a neighborhood blogger I had reservations seeing my blog listed. Other than transportation issues I have tried to limit my posts to my own views without being too controversial.

I will admit I see myself as the lighter of the two main blogs we have here on the island. The Roosevelt Islander, an excellent blog in my opinion, covers much more deeply many of the political and social issues affecting the island. I am just trying to have fun and only occasionally find myself getting deeper into the weighty issues. Perhaps this is a death knell to state this publicly but I did just start this blog for my own fun. I have come to hope you have kept coming back for that fun and occasionally to learn something more about our island.

It is apparent that our residents need increased access to public forums where they can express themselves freely and perhaps anonymously on issues they feel strongly about. Take in point the ongoing discussion / argument taking place on my post regarding the name change to Roosevelt Landings from Eastwood. As stated in the NYT article New Yorkers will when given the opportunity (granted sometimes not when it is applicable) find themselves arguing class wars, gentrification vs. affordable housing. The comments being left on my blog on this post almost daily reflects these feelings. Currently 40 comments have been left since the Octiber 14 publication of that post. I did nothing to inflame or encourage these posts. Although I admit they deserve further investigation and reporting. I would love to see an Eastwood based blog be created where these issues are examined from a residents point of view.

What was more amusing to me about being included in the article is that during the last several weeks I have not been able to devote as much time to this blog, due to work and other matters, and I admit I have felt some guilt about this. But then again it is only a blog right?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

R.I. Historical Society Exhibition: One Family's Photos from 1914-1919

Like many of us no one thinks that families were living on Roosevelt Island during the early 1900's. We all know about the prison, the alms and work houses, the hospitals and the lunatic asylum but few think of the island at that time as a home for a family as we do today. Yet the Effler family did just that and their family photos are on exhibition now at the Octagon through January 31, 2008.

I can truly say the photos will surprise you, make you smile and laugh. I know as I scanned them all for the Historical Society (the benefit or burden of living in the same building as the society's president). I am being good and not running any photos other than those in the press release.

Per the news release there is an opening reception this Sunday with special events including the following:

12 PM - Children’s Tour of Exhibit
1 PM - General Tour
2 PM - Dog Look-Alike Contest
3-6 PM - Reception and Refreshments

The Octagon, is an apartment building, located at 888 Main Street. DIRECTIONS: Take the Tram at 59th Street and Second Avenue or the F train to Roosevelt Island. Take the Octagon Local red bus for 25¢ or walk 20-minutes north on Main Street.

Fordham U. Students Examine R.I. Housing Issues

YouTube Video Posted by drtoulouse

At first when I watched the above video it seemed like the Fordham University students were under the impression that Roosevelt Island was dominated by public housing. But as the video progresses and focuses on Roosevelt Island (4:04 minute mark) it becomes clear that the students are aware that private development is one of the island’s biggest issues. Look for their interview of Geoffrey Fishman, Manager of Roosevelt Landings, formerly known as Eastwood. Mr. Fishman discusses the effect of the open market on the island.

It will be interesting to see Hunter College’s Access RI’s take on the same issue as their larger study progresses throughout the coming months. FYI, Access RI is not only about physical access to Roosevelt Island but also to services, housing and various other issues.

East River Time Lapse from Roosevelt Island

YouTube Video by conorfuhduh

The above time lapse on YouTube features a view of Manhattan, the East River and the Queensboro Bridge from Roosevelt Island around dusk. The building that is centered in the video which is lit brightly at its top is the Bloomberg building owned by Vornado Realty Trust (not Bloomberg).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What Does It Take to Start a Subway Mural Project?

Yesterday I read a great article about murals which were installed at the 86th Street subway station on Manhatan's West Side. I wonder if we could get permission to install similiar murals on the platforms and escalator passages at the Roosevelt Island subway station. It would brighten up a dreary station and add some additional pride to the island.

Now who can we call?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Duane Reade Not Leaving Roosevelt Island

If in the next few weeks or months you see a change in colors at the local Duane Reade it does not mean that the store is leaving Roosevelt Island or being replaced by some other chain it simply is the company's attempt at updating their image. See the story on the NY Times.

Friday, January 2, 2009

No Ivy League for Roosevelt Island

I had not heard of any plans for an Ivy League university to establish an outpost here on Roosevelt Island but apparently one group is ready to fight for the common man against such an idea.

For information about purchasing a patch 10 are currently available on eBay via The Netherlands.

We are currently awaiting a reply regarding the history of this effort to keep Roosevelt Island free of the dreaded Ivy League. If however a highly endowed Ivy League university wants to restore the Renwick Ruin as an educational facilty and work against FERI's plan to block the 360 degree views of Southpoint please apply immediately

The Power of a Simple Wave

I have never walked much less run across the Queensboro / 59th Street Bridge but I have always wanted to experience this view of Roosevelt Island and the Tram. Like many of us I have rode across the bridge plenty of times by car but the glimpses caught are so fleeting it has never felt real. I do still remember being a kid from Long Island in the mid 1970s seeing the Tram for the first time from our school bus as we came into Manhattan for some class trip. We were all so excited and were waving madly but no one saw us.

I came across a runner's personal blog, Pigtails Flying, this evening who herself waved to the Tram and received a wave back. She has taken this to be a good sign of things to come in 2009 as she rarely receives a return wave. My kids always wave from the Tram to runners and riders below and occasionally are awarded by return waves. Being on the receiving end does always make me smile so I hope this runner receives many more waves this year.

I put up the above photo not only for the view of the Tram but also of the Circle Line. My kids always wave to these boats and rarely if ever do the tourists see us as they all only have eyes for Manhattan's East Side as the boats head up and down the East River. It does sometimes feel as if our little island is invisible when this happens. So if you are on a boat and see a child (or adult) waving make their day just as somebody did for this runner.

Picture on Flickr by jag9889

15 Years Plus of Lighted Ruins

The night time lighting of the former smallpox hospital, on Roosevelt Island, started as a party favor from Arnold Scaasi, a Sutton Place resident, to his guests. It was then later picked up as a treat from an island based group to the larger city as a reminder that "we're part of the City".

Today the lights that shine upon the Renwick Ruin are a nightly fixture, with the cost borne by RIOC, and while the lights may be taken for granted by most of the City, they have become a fixture of the City's night time sky and still to this day a nice reminder that we are here.

Picture via Flickr by Mortbats.