The Roosevelt Island Tram is a beautiful symbol of our Island. Riding it to work every day is one of the best parts of my job as president of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. Besides the majestic views from almost 300 feet above the East River, the Tram and the Red Bus (which I also ride daily) are a fun way to listen to and observe the diversity of people, ages, gender, languages, and cultures who visit and live here.
More than 1.35 million people rode the Tram last year and, like any other machinery with that amount of volume, it requires mandatory maintenance and preventive safety inspections. Some of that work happened overnight earlier this month. Beginning February 26, we’ll undertake more, one car at a time for six days. While I apologize for the inconvenience, this work is necessary. The Tram’s operations team is diligent about their work ensuring that the Island’s signature icon is, and remains, safe to ride.
And just in case you were wondering, unlike the New York City subways, once the Tram operator engages the engine button, there is no way for the driver to reopen the door – even if you’re running up at the last minute and the Tram is still in the station. So please, don’t be angry at the operators.
Cultural Center Reopens
On February 5, the Island’s Cultural Center reopened after being closed for a month to allow for a mold remediation.
Last fall, RIOC contracted with two environmental testing companies to sample and assess air and physical samples throughout the center to detect mold. Small amounts of mold were found on the ballet room’s ceiling and floor as well as in the center’s media room. The spores that were found are common to indoor environments worldwide. Nonetheless, we ordered a complete fumigation, humidification, and cleaning of the entire building; and had the services performed when the center had the least amount of community need.
Subsequent testing found no detectable mold reservoirs in any of the areas sampled. In fact, samples taken outside the center found mold in the air almost 33 times higher than all the indoor samples.
We are happy to report the Cultural Center is back in business for hosting and use by all Island organizations.
Farmer’s Market Relocation
How sweet would it be if every RIOC decision to make a change on the Island was loved by everybody? Unlikely – unless it’s the relocation of the Farmer’s Market. Hear me out.
The repair to the Helix roadway and platform is going to take four months to complete. No longer could the Farmer’s Market vendors set up shop on Saturdays in the underpass. After careful consideration, we chose the Good Shepherd Plaza to be the most logical place aesthetically and strategically.
The plaza is beautiful and is centrally located. This change will bring energy to Main Street and may even encourage more activities there in the future.
Blackwell House Renovations
Roosevelt Island’s most historic landmark, Blackwell House, is undergoing a complete interior structural renovation, not a restoration as some may have thought.
That designation is important because when the work is finished, the farmhouse, originally built in 1796, will be a modern structure with handicap accessibility; HVAC, telecommunications, electrical, and plumbing modifications to code; and kitchen upgrades.
RIOC intends to use the building for a variety of community programs and activities including small group exhibitions, receptions, and meetings. Part of Blackwell’s second floor will become the new office home for the Roosevelt Island Historical Society and the Island’s growing library of document archives.
A portion of the $1.4 million renovation cost is being subsidized by a $364,000 grant from the City of New York that the Historical Society solicited and won. The project is expected to be completed in June 2018.
Exciting upgrades to the Blackwell House courtyard and playground are expected to begin later in the spring and fall of this year.
Your Comments and Questions
I sincerely hope that you are enjoying reading this column and learning more about what RIOC is doing and planning. Remember, I look forward to answering any and all of your questions directly. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, be well, stay safe, and see you at the next RIOC Board of Directors meeting on March 1.