The position of Public Information Officer (PIO) was recently
created by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) to increase
communication between us and our residents, to create a basis for a natural
exchange of information and ideas. RIOC understands the absence of relevant
up-to-date information creates a sense of disempowerment, mistrust and
frustration. We are working to change
that. We’re learning the more accurate information about our work that we share
with the island community, the more we will work together for the common good.
I hope you will try to get to know RIOC’s newest officer Alonza
I’m often e-mailed, phoned and stopped on Main Street by
residents, community leaders and business owners asking about the who, what,
when, why or how RIOC is going to do something they believe we should. Often my
answers seemingly disarm preconceived notions that RIOC is an indifferent
political oligarchy. This President’s Message column is a means of me providing
you information before the questions even are asked.
Let’s increase this dialogue so RIOC can continue improving our
service to you.
With the passage of the State of New
York’s FY 2018 State Budget two weeks ago, RIOC will
receive a $25 million payment to supplement its
existing capital infrastructure improvement program.
The payment is the
tangible result of a unique 2013 land-swap agreement - regarding a 2.62-acre
parcel to help facilitate the Cornell-Tech campus development - between the
State and RIOC. The money, according to the budget law, “is to be used in
support of the comprehensive, multi-year capital program for capital
improvements on Roosevelt Island.”
RIOC plans to add the
funds to its existing five-year $40-million major improvements schedule, an
aggressive plan that works to immediately address aging island infrastructure
and public facilities that have had neither improvements nor significant
repairs since their original construction 40 years ago.
Some of those capital
improvement items include: the 59th Street tram station elevator
construction, island-wide seawall railing replacements, Southpoint Park seawall
construction, repairs to the AVAC sanitation system, Sportspark and youth
center renovations, Motorgate parking garage repairs, Blackwell and Al Lewis
playgrounds renovations, and Octagon and Firefighters field improvements.
I recently received some questions from the Roosevelt Island
Residents Association (RIRA) about existing parking space and traffic striping
issues in the Motorgate parking garage.
Although it has yet to be announced, RIOC has finalized a Request
for Proposals to repair concrete spalls and expansion joints, re-waterproof all
surfaces, and redo striping at the southern end of the garage facility.
Our Capital Planning and Projects team has reviewed the scope of
work with the Motorgate engineering consultant. We expect to issue that RFP by
Upon the bid approval, by the RIOC Board of Directors, of the
winning contractor, the work will commence on floors 3, 4, and 8, which is Phase 1
of the total project. The repairs
will be conducted in two phases, as to not overly disrupt the garage’s ongoing
operation. Each phase is estimated to cost about $5 million; the work
for each phase will be shared once the contract has been awarded. RIOC’s plan
also includes new signage.
In the meantime, we’ve recently replaced and installed 13 new
closed-circuit TV surveillance cameras at the garage to bolster our efforts, in
addition to regular PSD patrols, to keep you and your parked vehicles secure.
RIRA also recently asked us to review their report and ideas for the
Sportspark renovation project. While we have more plans to solicit community
input on this project, we first should update you on the plan’s current
The first Sportspark RFP, set to be released by mid-June, is for design services and
biddable documents only; not for physical renovation (that will be addressed in
a subsequent RFP). Once we have a firm in place, then we will engage you,
and the RIRA committee (and utilize our Cornell community study on
possible programs) to receive your input and ideas on the renovation.
Members of our staff have reviewed the information
RIRA provided, of which a majority involves facility concerns that we
are aware of and agree should be addressed with the design. We recognize RIRA is excited about the project and so are we.
We look forward to working together. I will share additional updates as the project
Did you happen to notice the new outdoor basketball backboards and
hoops installed this week at Capobianco Field, Blackwell Field and Sportspark?
HELIX Repair Update
lane demolition of the Helix is about 70 percent complete. Now uncovered we’ve
found that the top of the structural slab is in much worse condition in some
areas than we anticipated. That deterioration was caused by insufficient
maintenance and inspection in addition to much heavier truck loads traveling
the road than what the Helix was originally designed for.
also hired an additional traffic engineer to review our existing traffic
control plan during the Helix construction and to present their findings and/or
recommendations to the RIOC Board and community.
24/7 Ambulance and NYPD Patrol Vehicle
also note that RIOC Public Safety Department Chief Jack McManus has
successfully lobbied the New York City Police Department and NYC Office of
Emergency Management to station an NYPD patrol vehicle and FDNY ambulance on
the Island 24 hours-a-day during the HELIX construction period meant to allay
concerns about potential emergency response times due to Helix construction
additional emergency response vehicles are dispatched to the Island, PSD is
safely expediting their entry and exit by freezing all Helix traffic, in both
directions, to accommodate those vehicles.
appreciate several island businesses – Gristedes, Coler Memorial Hospital,
Cornell Tech and the Department of Environmental Protection – for their
cooperation working with PSD in safely coordinating deliveries coming from
oversize tractor trailers until after 3:30 p.m. every day.
Manhattan Tram Elevators
The permits for the Manhattan
Tram Plaza elevator project were awarded earlier this month and construction
work will begin soon. As I mentioned in my last column, two new aesthetically-improved glass elevators –
that are more efficient and ADA accessible -
are being built to replace the existing elevators.
The project – which we will execute
with minimal impact on the Tram’s operation - is expected to last a year.
speed signs, also known as driver feedback signs, are designed to slow down
speeding drivers by alerting them of their, speed. They are being used across
the country and in the past week, you might have noticed that two have been
installed here on Roosevelt Island; one near Coler Memorial Hospital and the
other near the Cornell Tech loop. The signs are mobile and can be moved to
different locations throughout the Island as needed.
everyone that the Island-wide speed limit is 15 miles per hour. Please slow
down; speeding is hazardous to yourself, other motorists and pedestrians. Island
speed limits will be monitored and enforced by the Public Safety Department.
8 & 9, Rivercross Arbitration Settlement and Westview Ground Lease
RIOC’s Real Estate Development Advisory Committee met on Tuesday,
April 3 to discuss all three of this agenda items. I know many of you anxiously
await the details of the settlement and lease agreements of which I am not at
liberty to currently discuss. I do encourage you to attend our next full RIOC
board meeting Wednesday, April 18, at 5:30 p.m. in the Cultural Center Theatre.
Though its required environmental impact study is not yet
complete, I thought I should share some additional details about the Southpark
8 and 9 residential towers, located immediately north of the Ed Koch Queensboro
Bridge along Main Street on the island.
Building 8 will consist of a 21-story residential tower,
227-feet-tall with 341 affordable units. Building 9 will consist of a 28-story,
about 287-feet tall mixed-use building with 300 market-rate units and 7,000
square feet of commercial office space.
Building 8 is expected to be completed and operational by March
2020, while Building 9 is expected to be completed and operational by March
We’re making more changes at the Roosevelt Island Youth Center.
Our objective, since assuming management of the center’s
operations March 5, is to develop the center, and its programming, into
something that parents, students and staff could all enjoy.
Two weeks ago, RIOC posted new guidelines, which we intend to
enforce, to keep the facility safe, supervised, alcohol and drug-free. Parents and older teens will no longer be able
to roam the facility unsupervised; “sign-in” and “sign-out” and appropriate
behavior policies have been drafted and will be enforced. I’ve linked the complete set of new rules to this
letter and email. Please review these with your children, and explain that
these changes should be viewed as improvements.
More details on additional staff and programming additions, the
scheduled renovation of the center and RIOC’s efforts to create a youth soccer
program will be forthcoming.
Additionally, RIOC is proud to announce that we’ve waived all
field usage fees to allow for the Child Center Beacon at 217 in partnership
with the Roosevelt Island Center for Community Development and the Reviving
Baseball in Inner Cities to re-launch the Roosevelt Island Little League for
ages 5 – 13 at no cost to participants. I encourage you to join and enjoy your
child playing in the league’s 10-game season. Learn more and sign up here.
As we also announced previously, we are making island residents
and organizations’ field and room requests priority when booking space for our
outdoor fields and indoor facilities, according to availability. Capobianco Field will remain open year-round
with no permit required. The 440 square-foot Lighthouse and 320 square-foot Blackwell
rooms in the Cultural Center are also available free of charge with only a
certificate of liability required to make a reservation. Please visit our website, rioc.ny.gov, to see
availability for all our recreation and community spaces.
In response to several parents’ concerns about the Child Center
Beacon program here on the Island, we recently invited the program’s senior
vice president and the City of New York’s associate commissioner for Youth and
Community Development (which funds the Beacon program) to meet with a small
group of Roosevelt Island parents.
It was a positive meeting and our parents vented their
frustrations about the new Beacon program. We discussed the timeline of the
Beacon’s expanded programming including potential summer camps, improved parent/program
staff communications, and staffing ratios, among other things. Another
informational meeting will be scheduled to discuss their improvements by the
end of this month.
for the latest Roosevelt news advisories, upcoming meetings and facility
availabilities by visiting our new website, rioc.ny.gov. And, remember I want
to hear from you; email our PIO, alonza.robertson@RIOC.ny.gov, with your questions or concerns!