Thursday evening’s Town Hall Meeting was hosted by the Island’s elected representatives, and was billed as an opportunity for Islanders to speak up and get answers. Islanders did show up – Good Shepherd was packed – but they were surprisingly quiet.
Questions were written down, and passed to the front. They were primarily anonymous. Council member Ben Kallos answered most of them, but called upon the appropriate representative when there was someone better suited to answer the question.
Update on 911 System
Officer Nicholas Morales, with the New York Police Department, gave an update on the Island’s new 911 system. “We haven’t run into any problems,” he told the crowd. The new system does a better job of making sure emergency responders can find us. There was a casualty last year because 911 did not arrive in time due to the confusion.
According to Morales, the 114th precinct, which includes Roosevelt Island, has seen a 40% decrease in crimes this year, including in all seven major index crimes. “Last year we only had six shootings,” he said. “Six shootings is still too many, but we’re very proud.”
He said crime on the Island was also down, including burglaries and robberies. He credited Officers Matthes and Esposito with the 114th Precinct for much of that success. Matthes and Esposito are the Island’s Neighborhood Coordination Officers, which means they spend time familiarizing themselves with the community to better respond to neighborhood-specific crime and other conditions.
Public Safety Chief Jack McManus was asked by Sangeeta Joseph, co-coordinator of the Roosevelt Island Parents Network, about marijuana on the Island, specifically, what should parents do when they smell marijuana smoke, or see someone smoking. McManus advised, “The first step you should take is to call Public Safety. We will come and investigate right away. In order for us to write a summons, we need to see them smoking the actual marijuana cigarette. We do make marijuana arrests every week.” He also said that the community are his, “eyes and ears,” and advised Islanders to report everything.
Councilmember Ben Kallos commended Rick O’Connor from the Roosevelt Islander blog for giving him his first real view of the rats behind PS/IS 217. Since then, Kallos said he’s been in touch with RIOC about the issue and he thanked RIOC President Susan Rosenthal for “really trying to force the DOE [Department of Education], DSNY [Department of Sanitation New York] and others, to get together and solve this problem.” Kallos said he is grateful for the strong partnership between his office and RIOC. “It is rare to have a leader who is so concerned with quality of life that they get the City to do the right thing,” he said of Rosenthal.
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s “rat expert,” Caroline Bragdon, encouraged Islanders to attend the rat academy her agency is hosting at Good Shepherd on June 29. She also affirmed that she believed the school was “on the right path.”
Responding to a complaint about recent subway delays, Kallos said, “That’s one of the reasons we’ve been focused on the ferry service. The train is really unreliable.” Construction work on the Island’s ferry terminal began this week.
Another resident asked about the status of Citibike on the Island. Kallos said, “Roosevelt Island’s zip code, 10044, has more requests for Citibike stations than anywhere in the City of New York. I am in daily negotiations with Citibike about this.” I guess we will stay tuned.