Last year, in its rankings of America’s best communities, Niche.com – an online neighborhood data survey site – ranked Roosevelt Island as the “Safest Neighborhood” in the entire country! As for New York City, the site ranked the Island as the 18th “Best Place to Live” ahead of several other familiar Burgs, Sides, Points, Greenes, and even DUMBO.
We can no longer ignore the fact that Roosevelt Island is the city’s best-known secret. An oxymoron yes, but the recent recognition has only added to the renewed energy of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s staff and our positive outlook for 2018.
As we look forward to a banner year of new capital projects, facility improvements, and community programs, RIOC remains committed to more tangible progress; as Gov. Andrew Cuomo is apt to say, “We can do better, we must do better, and we will do better.”
My main goal of pursuing this new, bi-monthly column in The WIRE is to speak directly to you – the residents and businesses – to grow your trust and increase our capacity to administer the Island’s business with transparency and common sense.
Toward that aim, our most recent exciting news is that the Governor’s 2019 Executive Budget, unveiled in January, includes a $25 million payment to RIOC to support capital infrastructure improvements. The payment is the tangible result of a unique land-swap agreement - regarding a 2.62-acre parcel to help facilitate the Cornell Tech campus development - between the State and RIOC.
The payment is subject to approval by the State Legislature, currently in session in Albany. In a call last week with State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, she pledged her full support to lobby her colleagues and champion this item’s passage. A final budget is expected to be complete by April 1.
We are moving forward with the long-anticipated plan to repair the crumbling Helix Ramp and Flat Plaza. The $3 million construction project will begin next month. As to be expected, the pace and volume of vehicular traffic – cars, school buses, and delivery trucks – will be impacted. We are coordinating with Cornell Tech, which has begun their mobilization for construction of their new hotel and conference center. The current repair plan, submitted by Specialty Construction Systems Inc., will restrict travel to one lane while the adjacent lane is repaired.
New Public Information Officer
At our December Board of Directors meeting, I noted that RIOC was beginning the process of hiring a public information officer, who will be RIOC’s main liaison to the community and media.
We conducted an extensive search and interview process, and filled the position with Alonza Robertson, who joined us on Jan. 8. He comes with more than 25 years of experience as a former newspaper journalist, corporate communications strategist, and government and nonprofit media manager.
I am optimistic that Alonza, in this new position, will streamline conversation between citizens and various RIOC managers and directors to help ensure that the community is kept informed, and its inquiries are streamlined and answered in a timely and professional manner.
He will also be a main contributor to our website and social media pages.
We plan to launch a new RIOC website – with a series of new, user-friendly features – by March 1. RIOC retained CivicPlus, a municipal organizations web-design company, to help us build and restructure the site.
A major feature of the website is a new online portal that will make it easier for residents and visitors to reserve facilities, parks, and sites for special events.
The interface, run by RIOC’s Department of Parks and Recreation, allows citizens to access needed information without searching through web pages or placing calls to the permit department. Residents, who will receive priority, will now be able to conveniently view availability, book and confirm when they want to use any of our parks and facilities.
To help ease the transition and help orientate our users, RIOC staff will be offering online and in-person training in the weeks leading up to launch.
To ensure access for Roosevelt Island residents, the play area at Capobianco Field will not be subject to any permitting and will always be open to the public for free play. A room in the Cultural Center will also be available for free public use at scheduled times.
RIOC has moved forward on a request for proposals and call for bids to evaluate the Island’s nine public elevators, as well as the now-defunct Motorgate escalator, for subsequent repairs. Stay tuned for more updates.
Building Managers Meeting
At the upcoming Feb. 6 building managers meeting, we will have representatives from the City’s Department of Sanitation in attendance. We will discuss the state of the Island’s AVAC system, the anti-speeding program, snow removal policies, and the Island’s upcoming rollout of its emergency management plan.
The RI Monument sign
The prototype for the proposed RI sign will be on display again near Tram Plaza on Saturday, Feb. 3, from noon to 4:00 p.m. We encourage residents to come out, view the monument and share their opinions via on-site comment cards, as well as this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to providing you timely updates, I hope to use this column to answer your questions directly. Send your questions to email@example.com and we’ll select as many as possible for The WIRE’s February 16 issue.