The Main Street WIRE Island House Tenants Are Buying, Virtually

The Main Street WIRE
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Recent sales and offering prices suggest that both sellers and buyers value a great view from a Roosevelt Island apartment as being worth an increment of $100,000 or more.
Showdown Next Week
Residents’ Votes Urged
For Two Island Projects in
Participatory Budgeting
Islanders can secure funding for
two Island projects next week, but
a heavy turnout of voters will be
The WIRE reported on one, the
green-roof plan for PS/IS 217, in
its March 28 issue (story online at
The second project, if it outdraws
votes for 14 off-Island projects
in the City Council district represented by Ben Kallos, will provide the community’s new library
branch with special audio-visual
equipment – including support for
an induction looping system that
transmits meeting (and other) audio
directly into the cochlear implants
or hearing aids of those with hearing disabilities. If it happens, it will
be a first on Roosevelt Island, even
though such systems are required
by federal law.
Voting throughout Kallos’ district starts this weekend from noon
to 4:00 p.m. at the district office,
244 East 93rd Street.
The first opportunity to vote on
the Island comes Monday (April
13) at PS/IS 217, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
Votes will also be taken at the Senior Center, 546 Main Street, on
Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00
• PS/IS 217 will be offering fullday Universal Pre-Kindergarten
starting in September. While only 18
slots are listed as
available, Principal
Mandana Beckman
urges all parents to apply. She’s
working on opening additional
• Work has resumed at Trellis
after a pause to sort out a design
problem. Co-owners Kaie and Alex
Razaghi estimate a mid-summer
return (editorial cartoon, page 3).
• A few trees that didn’t survive
the tough winter at Four Freedoms
Park are being replaced. Watch
for the truck that may appear to be
wearing camoflage.
• School tours and sessions on
the Gifted & Talented program are
set for mid-April at PS/IS 217. See
ComingUp, page 4.
• Next Friday (April 17), Cornell
Tech students will give Island seniors a short course in the fun stuff
on the web. See Senior Center
event listings, page 6.
There’s a full list of voting times
and locations on page 7.
Sharon Bermon, who has a
hearing disability and has worked
to promote the looping project,
points out that the cost of the
equipment is only a few thousand
dollars out of the $1 million being
awarded in the Participatory Budgeting process for the Island’s City
Council district.
Island House Tenants Are Buying,
Virtually Certain to Control Its Board
by Briana Warsing
Island House residents have until
April 20 to make a choice. Under
their building’s Offering Plan, they
can buy their apartments, continue
renting indefinitely without penalty,
or be bought out by the owner of
the building.
According to a recent count by
Island House Tenants’ Association
(IHTA) Treasurer Geof Kerr, over
half of the building’s residents have
decided to purchase, thereby putting control of the building into
But Questions Remain for Some
residents’ hands for the first time
in its 40-year history.
Island House is unique, both on
the Island and in the city, for being
the first building to exit the Mitchell-Lama program and remain affordable. Roosevelt Landings,
formerly known as Eastwood, left
the program and became a marketrental building. Mitchell-Lama
tenants were allowed to remain,
but as they leave, their apartments
The Garden Club takes conservation very seriously. In addition to the expanded composting
program, the club began a tight
ban on wasteful irrigation practices late last year. Schwayri noted
that signs have been prominently
placed around the garden imploring members to conserve water,
and that all water usage is monitored closely.
Musto echoed the importance
of the Garden Club’s work in
are renovated and rented at market
rate. Rivercross apartments are
being sold at market-rate prices,
with 45% flip taxes on sales keeping things affordable for owners
who remain.
The Plan
Island House, composed of 551,
555, and 575 Main Street, is a
400-apartment complex that dates
back to 1975. Like all the other
original Island construction, it was
built pursuant to the Mitchell-Lama
program, designed to promote affordable housing for middle-income residents.
According to one of the Offering
Plan’s architects, IHTA President
Graham Cannon, “The governing
theory for all of us was to maintain
affordability into the future. This
is not a one-time threshold; the purpose is for [future] families to be
able to buy into the building.” He
added, “The next generation will
still be buying at below market.”
Cannon was very firm that he
would speak only about Island
House, maintaining that “Each
building is its own world,” but it
could be argued that the goal of the
Island House Tenants’ Association
See Garden, page 7
See Island House, page 9
When April Showers Bring May Flowers,
The Community Garden Will Have Them
by Laura Russo
updated every six months in order
The most important harbinger of to increase the availability of open
spring on Roosevelt Island comes plots. Schwayri said, “With peonot with the casting off of goose- ple clamoring for a spot, it was imdown coats, but with another busy portant for us to try and speed up
planting season of the Roosevelt the process and meet the demand.”
Island Garden Club.
Schwayri also noted that the opA mainstay of the Island, the Gar- portunity to work in the garden
den Club offers residents the chance is not limited to someone with a
to be part of a movement that har- regular membership. Residents
kens back to the urban pioneers who can join the Garden Club as “Assotransformed vacant lots into vibrant ciates,” either assisting a member
green spaces on the Lower East Side who requires help with their plot,
of Manhattan in the 1970s.
or working on one of the club’s
Dr. Ali Schwayri, a participant committees like maintenance,
in the first Earth Day celebration compost, or the rose committee.
in 1970, founded the Roosevelt Associates are also allowed and
Island Garden Club 36 years ago. encouraged to participate in the
Back then, it was located in the club’s community outreach.
area that is now Manhattan Park
Community outreach is exGreen. “The area was completely tremely important to Schwayri
wild,” says Schwayri. “We didn’t and other members of the Garden
request any help or seek any ap- Club. This year, the club will not
provals, we went in and cleared only continue working with stuthe rubble ourselves and started dents from PS 217, but will also
be offering composting classes
Ron Musto, Garden Club Di- to Island residents starting in the
rector and an early member, re- spring, said Schwayri.
The classes are an outgrowth of
members when he and his wife,
Eileen Gardiner, saw
the garden for the first
Community Columns inside:
time in 1985. “We
were enchanted,” he
R.I. Tennis Association
said. “One of the very
first things we did after
getting our first apartment in Westview that
fall was to join the Garden Club.” the newly-expanded composting proA lot has changed since.
gram adopted by the club. As part of
Membership in the Garden a recent agreement with RIOC, the
Club has always been coveted, club receives garbage pick-up only
with prospective members often once a week, on Mondays. The club
waiting up to three years for a remedied the issue by banning all
plot. But the club recently made plastic bags and composting most of
two important changes to address their organic materials. Expanding
this issue. First, the bylaws of the composting not only drastically
the club were changed to limit reduces the amount of garbage promembership to Island residents. duced, but also represents a major
Second, the club’s wait-list is now conservation effort.
Future of Holiday Lights a
Question as Palermo Retires
By Laura Russo
Is it true that all good things must
come to an end?
After 20 years, the holiday tradition of lights on Main Street may
have seen its last season. Since
1995, Julie Palermo, Executive
Director and former President of
the Roosevelt Island Chamber of
Commerce, has been the sole person responsible for organizing and
installing the Main Street holiday
lights. Now, Palermo says she is
about to retire.
Palermo says that, while President of the Chamber of Commerce
from 1995 to 2005, the lights were
“a natural extension” of her duties. “Before I started this tradition,
there was nothing on Main Street,”
she noted.
At first, Palermo said, she wasn’t
aware of her responsibility. “A dear
friend and active member of the
[Roosevelt Island] community,
Faye Vass, came to me and said,
You have to do something,” Palermo said. “Main Street looked
so dull. Once the lights went up,
everyone loved it.”
At the time, Palermo remembers,
merchants on the Island were doing
very well and everyone was happy
to donate. Each light involves a
$250 rental fee. At the beginning,
32 lights decorated Main Street.
But the 2008 economic slowdown hit Island merchants hard,
See Lights, page 7
2 • The WIRE, April 11, 2015
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The WIRE, April 11, 2015 • 3
& DB
om's right! I'd better make other pla s for my wedding breakfast.
iDig2Learn is hosting an Earth Day event next Answers included “beg my parents” (i.e., negotiate
Saturday (April 18), 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on the with someone who has the power to say yes) and “ask
Tram lawn next to the Visitor Kiosk (rain or shine). friends to help” (i.e., get the community involved).
We will invite children and adults to plant flowers and The Scouts realized that a campaign was necessary,
join in activities such as an archaeological dig box and are talking to the community at the Farmer’s
to hunt for shark’s teeth, a creative art activity for Market and other venues leading up to Participatory
children with RIVAA gallery artist Connie Tanner, a Budgeting voting week. This was a fun way to create
“Jump-in!” exercise with Island mom Paulina Mansz, a framework with an action plan while illustrating that
healthy food tastings courtesy of Laila Amatullah every voice matters.
iDig2Learn also provides enfrom the Roosevelt Island Womrichment sessions in the spring
en’s Health Organization, Earthand fall at the Youth Center. As
inspired art with Bonnie Goodman,
part of collaboration with Charlie
a tree of life activity, and more.
DeFino, Executive Director of the
We will have special guests from
Roosevelt Island Youth Program,
NYC Parks, TreesCount! 2015, and
students participate in hands-on
you can learn more about joining
science in a renovated outdoor
a citywide initiative and tree stewlearning center space. Often, corardship.
porate volunteers and other groups
There is an ongoing conversation
about Nature Deficiency Disorder, suggesting that help out, which builds bonds between organizations
children who lose touch with nature and their natural that may have the same goal, but have not had the
surroundings miss out on the calming effect of the out- opportunity to work with each other. We can be
doors. As an Emmy-nominated media producer look- inspired by other interesting initiatives, like a landing to combine a love of science, children, and gardening, scape-architecture project that created a rooftop farm
starting the iDig2Learn initiative in March 2012 seemed for residents in the South Bronx to use and enjoy
natural for me. The philosophy behind iDig2Learn is in a modern affordable housing project called Via
that working together to create green spaces like science Verde. There, they helped tenants create a Garden
gardens builds knowledge, and creates another source Club, providing ongoing programming for years. The
of interest that will strengthen the bonds of friendship 5,000-square-foot communal garden produced an asin diverse communities for years to come. Our mis- sortment of organic heirloom herbs, vegetables, and
edible flowers in the first season. A
sion is to provide hands-on opportunithousand pounds went to Via Verde
ties where children and their families
Garden Club members, a Brownscan explore science and healthy food
ville food pantry, and an elementary
through plant life.
school in nearby Mott Haven.
But don’t be fooled. This initiaWhether it is following in the
tive goes way beyond healthy fruit
footsteps of the Historical Society’s
and vegetables. Educational gardens,
founder, Judy Berdy, the first to host a
or “transformative green spaces,” are
massive daffodil planting, or working
the hooks that captivate and excite.
with the community to produce an
Once you have your audience, you
Earth Day celebration, or guiding incan sneak in the science, renewable
spiration tours with PS/IS 217 students
energy, nutrition, technology, and
to the beautiful community garden to
vital career skills. Interconnectivity
meet the Garden Club, all is possible
is becoming the norm, and it seems
when everyone says “yes.” And the
we are in the golden age of policy that
iDig2Learn initiative has been overreflects our need to work with nature,
whelmed with “yes.”
not against it.
This spring, thanks to a Grow to
Cities worldwide are having conChristina Delfico, Founder
Learn Mini-Grant from the Mayor’s
versations about the growing human
Fund to Advance NYC, iDig2Learn
population, limited access to clean
[email protected]
will host science-garden sessions in the
water, and prevalent illness. Our entire food system is under review as people wish for Youth Center’s outdoor courtyard space. We will use the
local, clean food, and cities look to save on healthcare courtyard as an environmental learning center to enrich
costs. Architects are drawing self-sufficient vertical the school science curriculum by allowing students to
farms for cities in hopes that they will be created. One collect data, measure growth, explore living systems,
creative design by Vincent Callebaut Architectures understand weather, plant vegetables, and understand
imagined Roosevelt Island as a vertical farm loca- how plants aid our daily lives. This program will be
tion and called it Dragonfly. It is an exciting time of available to first-, second-, and third-grade students at PS
problems, and the fun part of any problem is finding 217, as well as hundreds of children who are at the Youth
creative solutions. How better than to pose a question Center after school.
The Earth gives us so much – oxygen, water, trees,
to children?
It is a joy inspiring young people to promote com- clean food, medicine, clothing, furniture, spices, cofmunity engagement, or look for ways to improve their fee, and chocolate! It seems only right that we show
environment using their own creative ideas. In one our appreciation with a proper party. Join us next Satparticular instance, the leaders of our Girl Scouts troop urday on the Tram lawn. Our sponsors at Riverwalk,
wanted the girls to understand a public project and the Shops on Main, Manhattan Park, Rivercross Tenants’
structure of how to get one off the ground. We used Corporation, and Roosevelt Landings support this free
the recent good news of the 6,750-square-foot PS/IS event for all ages. While there, please vote at the Visi217 Green Roof project making it to the District 5 Par- tor Kiosk (11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) for two Island projects
ticipatory Budget ballot as a long-term legacy project on the Participatory Budgeting ballot.
To volunteer to help with the event, please email
that would benefit the community. We had a lively
discussion with the Girl Scouts, starting with a simple [email protected]
question: What do you do when you want something?
For more about iDig2Learn, go to
To the Editor:
The last three or so publications
of The WIRE evoked a range of emotions. I was touched by the warm
personality of Autumn Ashley, who
makes the Sweet Shop sweeter, and
who, I subsequently noticed, was
added to the WIRE staff.
Further, there was a love story
revealed by a lady I consider wonderful. She fell in love with an Island artist and, much like herself, an
advocate for the folks on this sliver
of land. That story, as it progressed,
brought forth an “I-am-happy-foryou” tear. However, before ending,
it summoned a bit of sadness, before
a smile returned thinking about the
longevity of the art he and they created, some of which was on display
at the Island Art Gallery.
There was also a paid advertisement by a kind gentleman who
mentioned concern about racial
discrimination in a workplace here
on our small Island. If true, this is
not good, and something each of us
should work to overcome.
Perhaps the writings about
charges for rents to certain organizations were among the most
troubling. Yet, the concerns were
mitigated by the fine work of one
of our resident elected RIOC Board
members. She received welldeserved kudos for her efforts in
working cooperatively with an
agreeable RIOC President and staff.
And then, there is the shocking
ruling by the State Authorities Budget Office that, as of this writing, has
pretty much shut down the granting
of Public Purpose Funds to qualified and deserving 501(c)(3) organizations located in our community.
RIOC was similarly surprised.
I bemoan the thought of our
Island Youth Program being impacted, as well as our seniors, our
disabled, and many others. Though
we hope to gain the support of a
broad coalition of good folks inclusive of politicians, Islanders, potential donors, and RIOC to the extent
appropriate, it will be a daunting
way forward.
Paraphrasing David Bauer, this
Island is changing, we will have our
ups and downs. Yet, we hope the
net of all signals through our collaborative efforts will be an Island
friendly to the needs and desires of
its citizenry.
Dave Evans
The Main Street WIRE
Published by Unisource2000TM, Inc.
©2015 Unisource2000TM Inc.
531 Main St. #413, NYC10044
e‑mail [email protected]
News 212-826-9056
Urgent news 917-617-0449
Advertising 917-587-3278
Circulation 212-935-7534
Editor & Publisher – Dick Lutz
Managing Editor – Briana Warsing
Copy Editor – Ashton Barfield
Chief Proofreader – Linda Heimer
Proofreaders – Vicki Feinmel, Helke Taeger
Reporters – Jim Baehler, Andrew Gordon, Francine Lange,
Sara Maher, Alex Marshall, Laura Russo, David Stone
Photographers – Maria Casotti, Mircea Nicolescu, Kurt Wittman
Aerial Photography – Ken Decker; Jeff Prekopa
Editorial Cartoonists – Autumn Ashley, Anna Eppel
Advertising Sales – Ellen Levy
Circulation Managers – Sherie Helstien, Matthew Katz
Circulation Assistants – Jim Bates, Brandon Cruz
Human Resources – David Bauer
Legal Counsel – A. Ross Wollen
Technical Advisor – John Dougherty
Island History Consultant – Judy Berdy
Website NYC10044 – Jeff Prekopa, Laurence Vaughan
Peter Alpert, Bubu Arya, Marty Atkins, Steve Bessenoff, Barbara Brooks, Shelly Brooks, Carol Chen,
Gloria Cherif-Jamal, Billy Cuozzi, Caroline Cuozzi, Joan Davis, Joan Digilio, John Dougherty, Arlise Ellis,
Justin Evans, Jan Fund, Gloria Gonsalves, Matthew Gonsalves, Tiffany Gonsalves, Aaron Hamburger,
Ellen Jacoby, Todd Jagerson, Michael Kolba, Gad Levanon, Mary Mangle, Vincent McClean, Hezi Mena,
Bakul Mitro, Brett Morrow, Clinton Narine, Kiran Narine, Sandra Narine, Kumar Nathan, Halima Nooradeen,
Essie Owens, Joan Pape, Christina Park, Sue Pirard, Lucas Plaut, Judy Quintana, Brian Reccardi,
Ronnie Rigos, Ilonka Salisbury, Mondira Sarkar, Rick Seefried, Bob Specker, Betty Spensley,
Camilla Stacchetti; and...
Allison Pearlman and students of Legacy High School;
Kim Massey and students from the PS/IS 217 Beacon Program,
Juniors and Cadettes of Girl Scout Troop 3324
4 • The WIRE, April 11, 2015
– This Weekend –
Motorgate Gallery opens, Sat Apr 11 11am.
Racquet Club Open House Tour, Sat-Sun Apr 11-12 (also Apr 25-26),
Racquet Club, 281 Main St. Call Paul Montana at 646-884-9644 or
[email protected] for time. (Ad, page 10.)
Volunteer Open House, Sat-Sun Apr 11-12 10am-2pm, Four Freedoms
Roses for Roosevelt, Sun Apr 12 12noon-4pm drop-in workshop, ceremony 2-3pm, Four Freedoms Park.
– Regularly Scheduled Meetings and Events –
See separate listing, page 6.
– The Next Two Weeks –
Voting in Participatory Budgeting, Mon Apr 13 7:30-10:30am, PS/
IS 217; Tue Apr 14 10am-1pm, Senior Center; Wed Apr 15 3-7pm,
Library; Sat Apr 18 11am-5pm, Visitor Kiosk in Tramway Plaza (on
the Island). Alternative: Mon Apr 13-Fri Apr 17 9am-6pm, and SatSun Apr 11-12 & Apr 18-19 11am-5pm, Councilmember Ben Kallos’
District Office, 244 E 93rd St. (Story, page 1; voting locations, page7;
ad, page 10.)
Seniors Association Membership Drive continues, Mondays 11:30am1pm, Wednesdays 10am-12noon, Thursdays 12noon-1:30pm, entrance lobby at 546 Main St. Also Mon-Fri 2-3:30, adminstrative
office, 546 Main St. $15/year. Info 917-951-4137.
Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC) meeting, Mon Apr 13
6:30-8pm, 546 Main St., 12th floor. Updates on Cornell Tech issues.
Island Hospital Goes to War, Tue Apr 14 6:30pm, Library. Adults. The
Great War and the participation of
Metropolitan Hospital (now The
Book Discussion (book changed),
Capital in the 21st Century by
Thomas Piketty, Thu Apr 16
6:30pm, Library.
Cornell Environmental Hackathon, Fri Apr 17.
PS/IS 217 School Tours, Meet the Principal, and Gifted & Talented
informational sessions are set for Fri Apr 17, and Mon-Tue Apr 20-21.
RSVP to [email protected]
Children’s Flower Planting, Sat Apr 18 10am-1pm, Tramway Plaza (on
the Island), Earth Day activity sponsored by iDig2Learn. Archaeological
dig box, art with Connie Tanner, Jump-In exercise with Paulina Mansz,
and more. (Community Column, page 3.)
Tennis Association Opening Day, Sat Apr 18 10am, Octagon Courts
(see Community Column, this page).
Roosevelt Island Circumnavigation Boat Tour, Sat Apr 18 1:30pm.
Adults $58, students $42 ($15 discount for conservatory members),
sponsored by Four Freedoms Park in association with AIA.
Four Freedoms Democratic Club Spring Soiree, Mon Apr 20 7-9pm,
The Uptown, 1596 Third Av. Members $100, non-members $150. Info:
[email protected]
Movie Night at the Library, The Equalizer, Apr 21 6pm. Adults.
Earth Day, Wed Apr 22.
The Main Street WIRE – Sat Apr 25. Advertising deadlines: Display, Wed Apr 15 (ads
accepted after deadline on a space-available
basis); decision date for circulars/inserts, Tue Apr 21; 6,000 copies due
Thu Apr 23. Future issues: May 9, 23; Jun 6, 20; July issue date to
be announced; Aug 1, 29; Sep 12, 26; Oct 10, 24; Nov 7, 21; Dec 12.
News phone 212-826-9056; urgent matters, 917-617-0449. Email press
releases and feature-story suggestions to [email protected] Advertising (display & classified) 917-587-3278 or [email protected]
Racquet Club Open House Tour, Sat-Sun Apr 25-26, Racquet Club,
281 Main St. Call Paul Montana at 646-884-9644 or [email protected] for time. (Ad, page 10.)
Cherry Blossom Festival, Sat Apr 25, starts with a pre-event picnic,
11am, Southpoint Park. Bring food to share or buy food-truck lunch on
site; tea ceremony demonstrations start at 11am. At 1pm, performances
by the Koto Orchestra, the Shamizen String Ensemble, dance group Ichi
Fuji-Kai Dance Association, and karate and Samurai sword demonstrations. Also at 1pm, Cherry Blossom Walking Tour from Four Freedoms
Park. At Gallery RIVAA, musical soloists and an ink-painting workshop.
Islander Gerald Starlight performs New Works for Japanese Shakuhachi
Flute, Sat Apr 25 4pm, Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main St. Free. Info at
Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance presents Adult Musical Theatre
Studio: The World Goes Round, Sat Apr 25 8pm, Sun Apr 26 2pm &
7pm, Mon Apr 27 7pm, The Cultural Center, 548 Main St (downstairs).
$15; seniors/students $10; advance tickets at (Ad, page 8.)
– Future Weeks –
Cornell Construction & Task Force quarterly meeting, Mon Apr 27
6-8pm, Gallery RIVAA. Open to the public.
Movie Night at the Library, John Wick, Tue Apr 28 6pm. Adults.
Roosevelt Island Women’s Movie Group screens Makers: Women Who
Make America, Thu Apr 30 7pm, Party Room at 425 Main St. $8 donation + healthy snacks or drinks for six. RSVP to [email protected]
Jane’s Walk Tour of Four Freedoms Park, Sat May 2 12noon & 2pm.
Registration required via [email protected]
RIRA Common Council meets, Wed May 6 8pm, Good Shepherd Center, lower level. Meeting begins with public session, in which residents
and others may address the Council.
Family Folk Band performance featuring NikosKids, Sun May 9 11am,
Four Freedoms Park.
Uni Project Pop-Up Reading Room, Sat-Sun May 9-10 12noon-5pm,
Four Freedoms Park.
Mothers’ Day, Sun May 10.
See ComingUp, page 10
As we throw off the doldrums of winter and recharge ourselves with the warmth of spring, each of
us should also use this time to tend to the fabric of our
community, and to the ties that bind us to one another
and to the Island. As
I often say, we are
fortunate to have a
vibrant community
with leaders who
care about Roosevelt
Island. Residents
work day in and day
out to better our lives
here, through local
politics and governance, the PTA and
schools, religious
institutions, afterschool and childcare
programs, the Senior
Center, building tenant associations, and
Jeffrey Escobar, President
other community
organizations. For Roosevelt Island Residents Association
[email protected]
many neighbors –
for the tireless volunteers who worked so hard to make
this year’s Easter Egg Hunt memorable despite the snow
and cold; for the community organizers assembling a
formidable team to participate in this year’s Relay for
Life race and festivities; for the countless Island instructors who have successfully trained, thus far, over 500
of your neighbors in the life-saving skill of hands-only
CPR – for all of these neighbors and for many more, the
call to serve is not a question but a duty, to give back to
an Island that has given each of us so much.
RIRA Committees
In that spirit, I renew my challenge to each of you
to find some time to serve on a RIRA committee. As
I have said in prior columns, RIRA’s community work
and service occur largely through its committees.
From housing to public safety to Island services and
planning, there is a RIRA committee working in behalf
of the community’s interests and concerns.
What tends to be forgotten is that you, as an Island
resident, can serve on
a RIRA committee. As
provided in the RIRA
constitution, every resident of Roosevelt Island is a member of the
Residents Association.
Any RIRA member can
serve on a RIRA committee. Thus, as a Roosevelt Island resident, you are
a member of RIRA and can serve on any of its committees. You do not need to be an elected Common
Councillor. Are you concerned about the loss of affordable housing and other housing issues on the Island?
The Housing Committee is calling for you. Do you
want to get involved in the planning of infrastructure
for the Island as the Cornell campus is being built?
The Planning Committee needs your services. The
following are the active RIRA committees that you and
your neighbors may – and should – join.
• Government Relations Committee, chaired by
Joyce Short of Roosevelt Landings: This committee is
the RIRA representative to the various local, state, and
federal representatives and agencies with jurisdiction
over the Island, and it ensures the establishment and
maintenance of ongoing relations with governmental
and quasi-governmental officials. The main item on
its present agenda is to brief officials at all levels,
especially the newly-elected ones, about the Island’s
current concerns.
• Housing Committee, chaired by Ellen Polivy of
See RIRA Column, page 7
The WIRE publishes these columns, exclusively, as a service to the community and to the
entities invited to provide them, and does not control or censor their content.
The Roosevelt Island Tennis Association (RITA) is
a volunteer-led community tennis association promoting the enjoyment of tennis for all adults. It has been
functioning in one form or another for over 35 years.
Initially, it was simply a Singles Challenge Ladder
formed as a way for players to meet each other. It
was officially incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in May 1996 with Joyce Short as the president.
Now, we host a variety of events and act as the liaison
between the tennis permit-holding community and
the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC),
which approves the permits and owns and maintains
the Octagon Park Tennis Courts.
We are run by a volunteer executive board consisting
of four elected officers and three appointed advisors. I
am the current President, and have been serving since
2004. The other elected officers are Vice President
Alex Vologodskii, Secretary Alexis Villafane, and
Treasurer Beth Schrum. John Dougherty is the sole
appointed advisor at the moment. We review the rules
governing the
use of the Octagon courts with
RIOC on an annual basis, and
try to determine
the needs of the
tennis community and either
supply those
needs or convey them to the proper provider.
Since the New York Junior Tennis League provides
programming for youngsters, RITA focuses on adults.
Perhaps the most popular offering by RITA is the lowcost group lessons aimed at beginner and intermediate adult players, offered weekdays in the evening.
Classes are typically offered in a block of four lessons
to a group of four players of the same level for $50
(making each individual class $12.50).
Our signature event is Saturday morning doubles.
RITA players gather to play social doubles from 10-12.
Then, from 12-2, players who wish for more competitive tennis play matches for the Doubles Ladder.
During these hours, there are four courts reserved for
RITA play, and tennis balls are provided. The officers
and executive board members take turns hosting the
event, setting the teams to start play, and rotating players in and out of games. These games are included
in the cost of annual membership. Prospective RITA
members are welcome to attend one Saturday to “test
the waters” and see if the organization is a good fit
for them before joining. We reserve three courts on
Sundays from 10:00 to noon. Generally, the stronger,
more competitive players make use of this time.
We also host pot-luck picnics and round-robin play
on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day.
We hold an annual Club Championships Tournament for all members who have been participating
in the Saturday Doubles round-robins and/or lessons
throughout the season. Generally, we are able to hold
separate events for Women’s Singles, Men’s Singles,
Women’s Doubles, Men’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. This season, these events will be held over the
last two weekends of September and the first weekend
of October.
The final event of each season is the annual year-end
wrap-up awards ceremony in November, held at either
an area restaurant or
on the Island. The
trophies for the club
championships are
awarded, and players reminisce and
vow to work on that
sketchy backhand
next year.
year ’s
Opening Day event
will be Saturday,
April 18, starting at
10:00 a.m. All interested players are
welcome. Current
members can renew
their memberships,
Michael Kolba, President
and new members
Roosevelt Island Tennis Association
can join on the spot.
[email protected]
There’s no need to
sign up in advance; just show up with your racquet
and tennis shoes. It will be a great opportunity to meet
the RITA executive board, meet fellow players old and
new, and play some social doubles. In years past, we
had a pretty vigorous Singles Challenge Ladder, but
interest in it has dwindled in the last couple of years.
One goal for this season is to encourage more interest
and activity in the Singles Challenge Ladder.
While it is necessary for all RITA players to have
a RIOC-issued tennis permit (available online at the
RIOC website) in order to access the courts, it is not
necessary to be a member of RITA to use the Octagon
courts. However, we feel we have a lot to offer to a
wide range of players for the annual $20 membership
fee (which has not increased in over 25 years). In addition to the weekend play with free balls, the holiday
events, the low-cost lessons, and the competitiveladder play, members can use our ball machine for
individual practice for only $2.00 per hour. We are
registered with the United States Tennis Association
(USTA) as a community tennis association, but we
receive no funding from them. Membership dues and
tournament entry fees are our sole source of funding.
More information about our organization can be
found on the RITA website,
The Community Column features a broadly chosen rotating series of columnists and topics.
The WIRE, April 11, 2015 • 5
6 • The WIRE, April 11, 2015
Adventures O
curated by Sara Maher
Spring has sprung! The rain is falling, the wind is blowing,
and the scaffolding is blooming. Those of you returning from
sunny spring break locales, don’t despair. Those places may
have the beautiful weather, but we have the culture. (Right..?)
Listen In
Make Music New York has started a monthly podcast discussion series, and anyone is welcome to attend the live taping. The next discussion features
Make Music New York President
Aaron Friedman and composers
Charlie Morrow, David Rothenberg, and David Soldier discussing the particular challenges
of composing music that is not quite human.
F downtown to 14th St. and walk east to The New
School’s University Center at 65 Fifth Av. Wed Apr 15 at
6pm. Free.
Pass Over
The New York Public Library is showcasing the Rose
Family Seder Books, Passover-themed artwork collected by
the Library through 60 years of annual commissions from
the Rose family. Artists include David Levine, Saul Raskin,
and Milton Glaser; works range from stained-glass window
designs to paper puzzles.
F downtown to 42nd-Bryant Park and enter the
Steven A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Ave. Mon, Thu,
Fri, Sat 10-6; Tue-Wed 10-8; Sun 1-5. Through Sun Apr
19. Free.
Look Up
If you’re trying to get in touch with nature, an afternoon on the Upper East Side
probably isn’t your first choice, but 350
species of wild birds – nearly one third of
all bird species in North America – live in
or migrate through the city each year. Artist Alan Messer captured these tweeting
tourists in detailed paintings, illustrations, and field sketches,
now on display at the Arsenal Gallery.
F downtown to Lex-63rd and walk northwest to The
Arsenal at 830 Fifth Ave., third floor. Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
through Thu Apr 23. Free.
Walk Down
This one isn’t quite on the F, but it’s worth the transfer.
The 9/11 Memorial is hosting its second annual 5K Run/
Walk and Family Day to raise awareness about the memorial
and museum. Enjoy a non-competitive walk or jog along the
Hudson River before finding food
and fun at Family Day.
F downtown to W 4th and
transfer to the A, C, or E downtown
to Canal, then walk southeast to Pier
26 to start the race. Family Day is
adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza
at Greenwich St. and Liberty St. Sun Apr 26; race starts at
7:00 a.m. and Family Day activities are 9:00-2:00. Race registration is $50 for adults, $30 for teens ages 13-17, and free
for children under 12. Family Day is free.
Bend Everywhere
Shake that yoga mat out of hibernation and head down to
Luluemon’s Union Square location for free – yes, free! – yoga
sessions every Sunday morning. Instructors rotate every
month, so you can try different styles and schools before
settling on your fitness routine.
F downtown to 14th and walk east to 15 Union
Square West. Every Sun, 9:30-10:30am. Free, but you need
to bring your own mat.
Continuing Events & Activities
A listing of repeating or regularly held meetings & events (a listing of other events scheduled for this weekend and in coming weeks appears on page 4).
Art Exhibits
Vernissage XIV through Sun Apr 19, Gallery RIVAA, Wed & Fri 6-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm.
Islander Piaskowski solo photo show, Bloom, Octagon Gallery. 9am-8pm daily through Apr 19.
Kids & Family Yoga (ages 4-7 & caregivers), Thu 4:14 (May 6-Aug 29), Four Freedoms
Park. Members free; others, donation suggested.
Reading Aloud (children), Fri 3:30pm, Library.
Girl Scouts (6-13 yrs), Fri 6-8pm, PS/IS 217. Info: 212-527-2505.
Southpoint Park open daily 6am-10pm.
Lighthouse Park open daily 7am-9pm.
Four Freedoms Park daily 9am-7pm. Closed Tue. Free guided tours Sat 11am, 3pm;
Sun 11am.
Lunch, Mon-Fri noon, Senior Center, 546 Main St. $1.50. Menus outside social worker’s
office. Also see additional listings, this page.
Art, taught by members of the RI Visual Art Association, Sat 11am-2pm, Sportspark. Free.
Hands-Only CPR Training, 1st Wed 10:45am, Senior Center, 546 Main St.; 2nd Tue 8pm,
546 Main St 12th-floor conference room; 3rd Thu 5pm, Child School, 587 Main St.; 4th
Sun 5:45pm, Good Shepherd Center, 543 Main.
We Are New York English conversation groups, Fri 10:30am-12:30pm, through June 26, Library.
First Sunday Jazz Salon, 1st Sun (resumes May 4) 5-7pm, Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main St.
$10 donation.
Exercise & Sports
Basketball (all ages), Sat 2-5pm, Sportspark. Free.
Basketball (adults), Mon-Thu 7:30-9:30pm, PS/IS 217. Free.
Bike New York classes continue through winter; schedule at
Pilates with Karen, Wed 8:30am. Info 212-750-6223. (Ad, page 12.)
Ping Pong (all ages), Tue Wed Fri 6-9pm, Sportspark. Free.
RI Moms on the Move walk and exercise program, Fri 11am, Visitor Kiosk in Tramway
Plaza. Free. To confirm time: [email protected]
Sportspark extended hours (ages 16-25), Fri-Sat 9pm-midnight. Weight-lifting and basketball. Free. Note: ID and proof of Island residency required.
Swimming* (all ages; no instructor) – Sat-Sun 12-3pm, Mon-Fri 6-10am, Mon Wed Thu
Fri 7:30-10:30pm, Sportspark.
Swimming* (18 yrs+) – Sat-Sun 4-7pm, Tue 7:30-10:30pm, Sportspark.
Swimming* – Water Aerobics, Sun 12-1pm, Wed & Fri 9-10am, Sportspark.
Swimming* – Master class, Mon Wed Fri 7:30-8:30pm, Sportspark.
(*$5; free for disabled, seniors 60+, and ages 0-3.)
Tai Chi (all ages & levels), Mon 10:15am. Members, free; others, donation suggested, Four
Freedoms Park, Apr 6-May 11 & Aug 31-Sep 28.
Yoga (open-level), Mon & Thu 6:15-7:15pm, Sat 11:15am-12:15pm, Sportspark. $5. Mats available.
Yoga (Vinyassa-flow) with Keren Messer, Mon 7:45pm, Fri 10am, Good Shepherd Center.
Info: [email protected]
Yoga (Hatha) with Keren Messer, Tue 6:30pm, Good Shepherd Center.
Yoga with Jax Schott, Wed 7:30-8:40pm, Island Kids, 536 Main St. $15.
Yoga (open-level) with Lauren Blankstein, Thu 7:30-8:30pm, PS/IS 217 Beacon. Free.
Yoga at Four Freedoms Park, 1-hour classes, May 6-Aug 29. Info:
Adult Vinyassa, Wed 10:15am; Adult Hatha, Fri 6pm; Adult All Levels, Sat 10am.
Members free; others, donation suggested.
Zumba, Mon 6:30-7:30pm, Thu 6:30-7:30pm, Sat 10-11am, Sportspark. $5.
Birth through Toddler
Baby Story Time (0-18 mo), Mon 10:30am, Library. Advance registration required.
Baby Playtime (0-18 mo), Mon 11am, Library.
Mommy & Me Swim Classes for children 6 mo. to 3 yrs. Spots available for drop-ins Wed
10:30 and Sun 1:30 or 2:00. Info at
Toddler Story Time (18-36 mo), Wed 11am, Library. Registration required. Free.
Toddler Play Time (18-36 mo), Wed 11:30am, Library.
Island Kids Baby Group (0-14 mo.), Thu 10:30-11:30am, 536 Main St. Info: [email protected]
Read Aloud (3-6 yrs), Fri 3:30pm, Library.
Older Kids
(listed Sat-Fri)
Tennis – New York Junior Tennis League (ages 5-18), Sat-Sun 6-8am, Racquet Club. Free.
Swimming classes (age 3-up), Sat 3-4pm, Sportspark. $15 or $100/10 weeks. Questions/
registration, [email protected] or 917-261-2771.
Little Dragon Tang Soo Do (Korean martial art), ages 12 & under & caregiver, Mon 4:15pm
(Jun 8-Jul 13, Aug 10-31), Four Freedoms Park. Members free; others, donation suggested.
Tennis – Junior Tennis, Sat & Mon-Fri after school, Racquet Club. Info 212-935-0250.
Teen Time (ages 13-18), Mon-Fri 3pm, Library.
Beacon After-School Program for grades 1-8, Mon-Fri 3-6pm, PS/IS 217. Free. Info: 212527-2505.
Open Gym for high school students, Mon & Wed 6-8pm, PS/IS 217.
Board Games (5-12 yrs), Tue 4pm, Library. Free.
Teen Game Night, Wed 6pm, Main Street Sweets, 559 Main St.
Anime Club (teens), Thu 4-5pm, Library.
Regular Meetings
(listed Sat-Fri)
Toastmasters (public speaking), 2nd & 4th Mon 7:30pm. Info: 212-751-9577.
Sci-Fi Discussion Group, 1st Tue 6:30pm, Library.
114th Precinct Community Meeting, 4th Tue 7pm, Riccardo’s, 2101 24th Av., Astoria.
RIRA Common Council meeting 1st Wed (except Jul-Aug) 8pm, Good Shepherd Center.
Women’s Health Organization, last Wed 6:30pm, 546 Main St, 12th floor conference room.
Book Discussion, 3rd Thu 6:30-8pm, Library.
Office Hours
RIOC’s Community Office Hours, Mon 3-5pm, 591 Main St. Info: 212-832-4540.
Conversations with Cornell Tech Staff at Gallery RIVAA, Wed & Fri 10am-12noon &
1-4pm, 527 Main St.
Constituent Service Hours:
Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, 1st Wed 4-7pm, Senior Center, 546 Main St.
City Councilmember Ben Kallos, 4th Wed 2-5pm, Senior Center, 546 Main St.
State Senator Jose Serrano, Wed, Senior Center (Apr 15, 29) 4-7pm or Library (Apr 22)
3-6pm. Info: 212-828-5829.
Clinic on Housing Law, 1st & 3rd Mon 3-6pm, district office of City Councilmember Ben
Kallos, 244 E. 93rd St. Reservations and questions: 212-860-1950 or [email protected]
Free Legal Clinic, 1st Mon, sponsored by Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright. For appointment call 212-288-4607.
Policy Night, 2nd Tue 6:30pm, Kallos office (see above), 244 E. 93rd St.; help formulate policy.
Knitting & Crocheting Circle (adults), Thu 11:30am, Library. Info:
First Fridays with Kallos, 8-10am, district office (see above); questions and issues.
Food Box Orders from Helping Families Help Themselves, ordering 1st-11th of month.
Menu online at Info 347-985-7540; pickup at 546 Main St. 15th of month.
Senior Center
10:00 Zumba
11:00 Computers
5:00 Brain & Body Stretch
10:20 Shoppers’ Bus
10:30 Building Strength
11:00 Blood Pressure
1:00 Paint & Sculpt
9:30 Yoga Stretch
10:20 Shoppers’ Bus
10:30 Salsa with Luis
10:45 Spanish
11:00 Social Media for Seniors:
Facebook, Instagram, Photos, more
1:00 Bridge
1:30 Scrabble
9:25 Chair Pilates
10:30 Zumba
10:45 Ping Pong
12:30 Movie
1:00-2:30 Theatre tickets at discount
prices; see Rema or Annie
3:00 Computer Basics (Library)
9:00 Building Strength
10:30 Computers
10:30 Tai Chi
12:00 Korean Exercise
2:00 Art with John
2:00 Pokeno
Special Events
RISA’s Annual Membership Drive, Apr 1-30. $15/year. Join at the Center.
Google Maps, Internet Search, & Web Safety with Cornell Tech students, Fri Apr 17
4:15-5:15. Sign up by Mon Apr 13 via 646-632-4907 / [email protected]
Bus trip – Trader Joe’s, E. 14th St., Wed Apr 22, 9:30-12:30. See Bubu.
To join RISA, stop by the lobby at 546 Main Street.
Schedule in ComingUp on page 4.
The WIRE, April 11, 2015 • 7
Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project Still on Track
by Alex Marshall
If you stand outside Gristedes
and look across the East River toward Queens, you may be looking
at the future of sustainable energy
in the United States. No, not the big
steel shed with the outsize flashing
chimneys, but the two tiny buoylike things bobbing in the water
near the Roosevelt Island Bridge.
They mark the site of tide-driven
turbines that gave Gristedes and Motorgate electricity in the 2006-2008
period. They don’t look like much,
but the turbines were the first of their
kind ever to operate successfully.
On that basis, Verdant Power won
the first-ever commercial license
issued by the US for tidal-energy
power generation, in 2012.
The first array built under the
license is due to come on stream,
if that’s the expression, this year
or next. Trey Taylor, co-founder
and marketing director of Verdant
Power, told The WIRE that the first
two new-generation turbines will
be installed on the existing piles on
the bed of the East River, and will
shortly be followed by 30 more,
using anchored frames to gang turbines in groups of three. Together,
they will produce a megawatt of
power, enough for a thousand
homes. They’re designed tougher
and smarter than the early versions,
with fewer moving parts, so that
they turn more evenly, swing more
easily with the ebb and flow of the
tide, and require less underwater
Will that mean cheap tidal electricity for Roosevelt Island? Not
quite yet, says Taylor. The per-watt
cost would still be prohibitive. The
point, he says, is to prove that the
technology can work reliably on
a large scale over a long period,
and attract investors. This time
around, Verdant’s aim is to test its
Garden, from page 1
conservation and outreach, stating, “The gardens are now an active
partner in Island changes: a vibrant participant in a new awareness of our
shared space, our ecological concerns in everything from composting to
stewardship of trees and green spaces, and in our outreach on Roosevelt
Island and throughout the city.”
After the controversy surrounding membership and election practices
in 2013, Schwayri proudly notes a burgeoning new era of the club.
“The Garden Club has been rebuilding and is stronger than before; the
problems of 2013 are definitely behind us,” he said.
Schwayri encourages all residents of Roosevelt Island to witness the
changes firsthand. “We welcome the community to come and visit us,
we want to see the community involved.”
From May through September, residents will be able to take Schwayri
up on his offer – the garden will be open to the public on weekends,
from dawn until dusk.
new turbines and perhaps generate
enough dollars to consider a serious commercial project. Then the
waters may part.
Taylor talks a little like a prophet.
He foresees a time when RITE,
Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy,
could not only power the Island,
including the Cornell campus, but
provide drinking water by a process
known as reverse osmosis. He has
a vision of a bank of charging stations for residents’ electric cars, and
even a manufacturing facility in the
South Bronx.
If it sounds a little too good
to be true, maybe it is. The first
phase drew attention and commitment from a big hedge fund, but
the Great Recession took care of
that. Since then, private investment
has been hard to come by, and the
United States, unlike some other
countries, hasn’t been willing to
put a lot of public money into tidal
energy. The price of fossil fuels is
way down, making renewables still
more expensive by comparison.
So Verdant is fishing in other, less
oil-rich waters. With a small U.S.
government grant, it’s promoting
a scheme on the upper Euphrates
River, below the Karakaya Dam
in Turkey. There’s a 15-megawatt
project in Canada, and another that
might end up powering the Shannon Foynes Port Company bulkhanding facility using the tides of
Ireland’s biggest estuary to drive
the turbine array. There are discussions with the United Nations
Foundation about projects in Zambia and other countries in need of
Participatory Budgeting Voting – Where & When
16 or over? U.S. citizen or not, just show up. They’ll be ready for you.
Weekdays, April 13-17: Councilmember’s District Office, 244 East 93rd St., 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Weekends, April 11-12 & 18-19: Councilmember’s District Office, 244 East 93rd St. 12 noon-4:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 11: Lexington Houses, 1539 Lexington Ave., 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 12: Stanley Isaacs, 415 East 93rd St., 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Monday, April 13: PS/IS 217, 645 Main St., Roosevelt Island, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
Monday, April 13: Lexington Houses, 1539 Lexington Ave., 4:00-7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 14: RI Senior Center, 546 Main St., Roosevelt Island, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 14: Lenox Hill, 331 East 70th St., 2:00-6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 15: Eleanor Roosevelt H.S.,441 East 76th St., 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 15: RI Public Library, 524 Main St., Roosevelt Island, 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 16: Stanley Isaacs, 415 East 93rd St., 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 16: NYPL 67th St, 328 East 67th St., 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 16: NYPL Webster, 1465 York Ave., 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Friday, April 17: PS 151, 421 East 88th St.,7:30-10:30 a.m.
Friday, April 17: Carter Burden, 351 East 74th St., 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 18: Visitor Kiosk, Tramway Plaza, Roosevelt Island, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 19: St. Catherine’s Park, First Ave. & 67th St., 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Sunday, April 19: John Jay Park, 77th St. and Cherokee Pl., 12:00 noon-1:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 19: Carl Schurz Park, 86th St. and East End Ave., 2:00-3:30 p.m.
RIRA Column, from page 4
Rivercross: This committee addresses the issues and concerns
of residents regarding the management, living conditions, and
rental polices of the residential buildings, and is the RIRA liaison to the various building committees and housing task forces.
• Island Services Committee, chaired by Aaron Hamburger of the Southtown (Riverwalk) buildings: This committee supervises the delivery of transportation, parks and
recreation, sanitation, and postal and commercial services,
supervises common facilities, and assists individuals and
organizations who may experience problems obtaining Island
services due them. The committee seeks solutions for how
current services can better serve the community. It is also responsible for recommending and implementing RIRA policy
on all matters relating to common means of transportation on
and/or to and from Roosevelt Island.
• Planning Committee, chaired by Steven White of Manhattan Park: This committee represents RIRA on matters
involving future development of the Island, including but
not limited to commercial development, housing, vehicular
access, transportation, social services, and energy. It also
monitors and recommends positions on planning matters,
and recommends and implements policies relating to energy
conservation, distribution, and generation.
• Public Safety Committee, chaired by Erin Feely-Nahem
of Westview: This committee recommends and implements
RIRA policy on all matters related to safety, security, and
vehicular traffic and parking on the Island. It works with
the Public Safety Department and the New York Police Department Local Precinct 114 on behalf of the community to
address the law-enforcement concerns of residents.
reliable power without massive
Will it work? Cheap, endless
power from tides and currents
sounds like a great idea – but then,
it has sounded like a great idea for
a long time, and no one has made it
a viable proposition. On the other
hand, Britain starts work this year
on a $130-million seabed array in
the wild waters around the north of
Scotland, and may invest in tidalpower projects on a gigawatt scale.
Verdant’s concept, says Taylor,
was to start small, and build up and
out. And so far, RITE has worked,
producing electricity without disturbing the river’s ecology. Another advantage is that Verdant’s
turbines tend to turn close to where
the power is needed. There are
more people within 10 miles of the
Queensboro Bridge, for example,
than live in the whole of Scotland
– and most Scots live in cities far
from the stormy Pentland Firth. It’s
Lights, from page 1
and the number of lights had to be cut back to 14. While there wasn’t
nearly as much money, “people still donated what they could,” including
individual residents and families. “Even if it was only $50, people gave
because no one wanted to lose the lights,” noted Palermo.
Over the last few years, with merchants struggling financially, Palermo
said she began to focus her fundraising efforts on the building management companies and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. RIOC
sponsored lights on four Main Street poles.
Palermo also said that it was around this time that RIOC began to put
up holiday lights in Southtown. “I was doing the work in partnership with
RIOC... I was really happy, it was great to see the Island so beautiful.”
But, over the past few years, Palermo started to think about retiring. “After
20 years, it’s about time,” she said. “I am so grateful to the merchants
and the residents who trusted me with this responsibility,” she said, but
added that, as a member of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association
(RIRA) Common Council in addition to her day job as a chef and her
other volunteer work, the fundraising and organization of the Main Street
holiday lights is a huge commitment.
Now, she’s worried about who, exactly, will take the reins.
“Since we don’t have a lot of merchants, RIOC should really take responsibility,” Palermo said, adding, “This is especially true since RIOC
purchased lights for Southtown, instead of renting them last year.”
Palermo was shocked to find out that RIOC began to purchase their own
lights for Southtown. She said that, while working together, both parties
discussed the possibility of purchasing the lights rather than renting, to
maximize purchasing potential. “If we worked together, it would have
been so much easier.” She says RIOC did not inform her directly; she
found out inadvertently when making rental arrangements.
Palermo is moving forward with her plan to retire, although there is
no confirmation that RIOC will take over the responsibility. “If RIOC
doesn’t do it, who will?” she asks. “There is no one else.”
Palermo feels strongly that Main Street can’t be without the holiday
lights. She asked, “If RIOC can put up holiday lights in Southtown, can’t
they put them up on the rest of the Island?”
Palermo hopes to get confirmation from RIOC about taking over the
holiday lights in the coming days. Until then, there is a danger that a
holiday tradition will come to an end.
• Social, Cultural and Educational Services Committee, chaired by Lynne Shinozaki of Manhattan Park: This
committee seeks to assist in the creation and maintenance of
social, cultural, and educational programs and events that promote community bonds. It is also RIRA’s fundraising arm,
and actively seeks individuals to participate in RIRA affairs.
I strongly encourage everyone with even a remote interest
in serving on any of these committees to contact me at jeffrey.
[email protected] or [email protected], and I will connect
you with the aforementioned chair(s), who will be more than
happy to have you participate in the work of the committee(s).
Committee work by volunteers is essential to how the Island
fares as a community, and, by extension, to how its individuals fare. As with any other investment, your return depends
in part on how much you put in, so won’t you invest a little,
and join a RIRA committee? And, by participating in a committee (or two, or more), you’ll not only provide an important
service to the Island, but you’ll also become more engaged
in the community, and you’ll get to know more neighbors.
If you want more information, or you have a community
concern or question that you’d like to discuss, or you have an
event with which you’d like RIRA’s help, please reach out via
email at [email protected] Do you have an idea for another committee that RIRA should have? Are you interested
There’s more at
also rather easier, probably, to service small turbines in a tidal river
than big ones in remote waters far
from shore.
For now, Verdant has a memorandum of understanding with Cornell
University to explore applications
on its new hi-tech campus now
rising south of the Queensboro
Bridge. Cornell is committed to a
zero-net-energy approach, meaning that the campus will produce
enough power to offset the energy
it uses. East River turbine power
could be part of that, and part of a
variety of other applications, too.
It could end with Roosevelt Island off the grid altogether, able to
withstand anything climate change
(given the last couple of winters,
maybe a new Ice Age?) could throw
at New York City.
There’s no doubt that Trey Taylor
is deadly serious and committed to
the Verdant vision. Maybe, if the
price of oil goes up again…
in one that deals directly with environmental Issues, or K-12
education, or something else? Please let me know!
Speaking of recharging and investing in our community,
don’t forget to join iDig2Learn’s Earth Day activities on Saturday, April 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., meeting at the
Tram Lawn. Come out and join the children as they plant flowers and beautify the Island, embark on an archaeological dig
activity to learn more about their Island home and its environs,
and so much more. For information, contact [email protected]
com. Interested in volunteering and helping with the event?
Arrive early (around 9:30 a.m.) to register as a volunteer, or
contact Christina Delfico at [email protected]
Participatory Budgeting
Lastly, do make sure to vote for the two Roosevelt Island
projects currently on the City’s 2015 ballot for Participatory
Budgeting. As has been covered here and elsewhere, during
the week of April 13, you and your neighbors will have an
opportunity to vote for a Green Roof at PS/IS 217 and for
looped integration for the hearing-impaired in public facilities. Show not only our City representatives but also those
in City Council what matters to Roosevelt Island, and get out
and vote at the following locations:
• PS/IS 217 – Monday, 4/13, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
• Senior Center – Tuesday, 4/14, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
• Island Library – Wednesday, 4/15, 3:00-7:00 p.m.
• Visitor Kiosk – Saturday, 4/18, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.,
concurrent with iDig2Learn-hosted Earth Day event (10:00
a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)
Happy Spring!
8 • The WIRE, April 11, 2015
at 405 Main Street and 4 River Road
at 405 Main Street and 4 River Road
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Teachers with graduate degrees in Education and NY State Certification
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The WIRE, April 11, 2015 • 9
What They’re Doing, and What They’re Saying – A Sampler from Island House
as told to Sharon Bermon
Eve Sarfaty, an attorney, moved
into her three-bedroom apartment
in 1985. She has signed a purchase
“From the time I moved here, I
knew I wanted to stay on Roosevelt
Island and raise my children here.
I always wanted to buy my apartment, and when deals fell through
in the past, I was disappointed.
This opportunity is a win-win situation for me because it’s a great
deal. There’s nowhere else I want
to go, so I like the fact that there’s
a financial incentive for me to stay.
When and if I leave, I can sell at a
profit, or I can leave the apartment
to my children, who were born and
raised here. I don’t know of anyplace else in New York City with
the small-town community feel we
have on Roosevelt Island.”
Ivana Jesic, a computer scientist,
has had a two-bedroom apartment
with her spouse since 2005. They
have signed a purchase agreement.
“I’m glad that we are buying,
but we are afraid the sub-metering
bills will be so high that we will
have difficulty meeting expenses.
The building is old, very badly insulated, and I am not convinced
that the numbers we have received
– from the building owner and the
IHTA Board – are accurate.
“As a floor captain, I’ve met
many of my neighbors and I finally feel connected to them. In
my home country [Yugoslavia],
neighbors were almost closer than
family. It feels good to know that
if I have a problem in the middle
of the night, I can knock on a door
and get help.”
Judy Buck, a retired university
administrator, has lived in her onebedroom apartment since 2003.
“I have been pre-approved by
Amalgamated, but haven’t put in
a purchase agreement. I took the
new deadline of April 20 as an opportunity to think things through
again, talk with a few more people,
and agonize.
“If I buy, I’m afraid I will be over
my head at some point. I don’t
want to become a financial servant
to an apartment. The sub-metering
issue is frightening... the possibility of rising maintenance... I have
not yet heard of a conversion where
maintenance did not rise in a more
than minimal way.
“I will breathe more freely after
April 20. One way or another, I
will decide and I will live with it.”
Hope Dietsch, a tax accountant,
has had a two-bedroom unit for
almost 30 years.
“I am not buying because I am
not interested in having material
things. I don’t want the responsibility of owning anything – not a
car, good furniture, or an apartment
– at this point in my life. I’m very
happy having nothing.
“I don’t think we’ve been given
all the facts. The facts that we’ve
been given are not clearcut. I don’t
believe the bankers, the IHTA
Board, or anyone, because we deserve a better deal. We’re being
pressured to buy or not buy. The
vibes I pick up from people who are
buying is that they’re being pressured. Thank God, I don’t have to
be pressured.”
Stuart and Donna Chenkin, retired nonprofit administrators, have
had a two-bedroom unit since 1999.
“After much thought, discussion
and debate between ourselves and
our children, we have decided not
to purchase, but to continue as renters. Major reasons: our age and
health. It’s not about money. We
got approval for a mortgage from
one of the approved banks.
“This is our home. We don’t
want to move. We debated taking
the buy-out offer, but we love the
area, the convenience, and the good
“We are concerned that the rent
will keep skyrocketing and the
electricity costs are an unknown,
but we have made this very difficult
decision, and we look forward to
more years in the apartment.”
Island House, from page 1
to keep the building affordable is in line with the original
goal of Roosevelt Island and the General Development Plan
According to the GDP, Roosevelt Island was intended
to “make the maximum contribution to the [then] needs of
the City,” which architect John Johansen called a “unique
social and architectural experiment [that] represented great
financial diversity as well as a mix of race, culture, and mores
[by] accommodating low-income/highly-subsidized, middleincome/limited-subsidy, and high-income/conventionallyfinanced tenants.”
It took over a decade to get the current Island House plan
devised and in place, but efforts toward privatization were
under way over 20 years ago. Kerr recalls joining the IHTA
in 2004 for the express purpose of working on the exit plan.
Cannon recalls his experience. “In the 1990’s, there was
a clear sense that the Mitchell-Lama era would come to an
end at some point, and the owner talked about privatization
and a conversion. But there was never anything solid. That
changed after 2000. At that time, the owners of the building
were exploring selling the building, and one of the [potential]
buyers was talking about the affordable price of $320 per
square foot.”
Cannon said the IHTA opted to extend the ground lease,
“which gave us [the tenants] more ability to engage in this.”
Second, Cannon recalls, IHTA decided, We are not going to
sit here and see what happens, let’s be active participants.
The IHTA made their goal “structuring a plan that would
satisfy us and the terms of the ground lease,” Cannon said.
Maintaining Affordability
According to Cannon, the first question IHTA tackled was,
“If the building exits Mitchell-Lama, how do we make sure
that staying on as a tenant doesn’t [incur] a ruinous rise in
rent?” As a result, “The first thing we did, before anything
else, was put in a rent structure.”
The rent structure Cannon refers to is memorialized in the
Island House Affordability Plan: A Plan for Preservation of
Affordable Housing and Withdrawal From the Mitchell-Lama
Program (the Affordability Plan). It was created with the
participation of the New York State Division of Housing and
Community Renewal (DHCR), the New York Empire State
Development Corporation (ESDC), the Roosevelt Island
Operating Corporation (RIOC), the Island House Tenants’
Association (IHTA), and the owner of Island House.
Cannon says, “The number one priority was affordability,
and we took it to the tenants in 2009. It was basically an
outline [of the plan], before we put flesh on it, and we asked,
Is this where tenancy wants to go? That [positive vote] was
the green light that the owners, the State agencies, and the
Tenants’ Association took.” He added, “There was no exit
strategy that didn’t involve the tenants signing off.”
The Affordability Plan provides the opportunity for existing
tenants to purchase their apartments at below-market prices,
and for non-purchasing tenants to remain in their apartments
at below-market rents. Island House rent increases will model
those mandated by the New York City Rent Guideline Board,
with adjustments to reflect tenant income [a surcharge of up to
5% depending on income]. The Affordability Plan also sets
limits on resale prices in a nod to second- and third-generation
buyers whose income must also qualify.
Of the Affordability Plan, Cannon explains, “That’s in
place for 31-32 years. It’s locked in. Even if the building
never converted, everyone would be covered by that plan.”
But the building is converting. Cannon said, “We ended up
aggressively negotiating a price: $180 per square foot, with
significant owner contributions. The prices track a formulation and then they increment at 7.5% a year, compounding.”
The Offering Plan is made pursuant to the Affordability
Plan. As such, it imposes many conditions and requirements
that are not found in a typical cooperative or condominium.
Island House is considered a Cond-Op, a hybrid of the two.
The Affordability Plan imposes provisions including maximum resale prices, maximum rental amounts, and transfer
fees payable to RIOC, in addition to flip taxes (transfer fees)
payable to the apartment corporation.
One percent of gross sale proceeds go to RIOC. There is a
maximum resale price of $342.62 per share, which increases
by 7.5% per year. No affordable unit will be sold other than
to an income-qualified purchaser.
Cannon says, “The idea is that you can make a little money
when you sell. There’s also a qualified-buyer structure so
millionaires don’t come in and scoop up large apartments.”
He says, “The way a conversion like this works is very highly
regulated and very tightly controlled.”
The restrictions on subletting include limitations on the
sub-rent that may be charged, and are subject to Board approval.
According to Cannon, “The maintenance will be affordable. Flip taxes are quite high. They start at 50% and go
down to 30%.” (The flip tax decreases by 5% per year until
it lands at 30%.)
The Offering Plan itself is over 1,000 pages. The Attorney
General’s office oversees it. “Transparency is the bottom
line,” explains Cannon. The Offering Plan attempts to answer any question that a purchaser would ever have about
the building. Every bill, every document pertaining to the
building is in there. It addresses the building’s age and health,
special risks, and additional costs, and lists every apartment
with floor plans and insider and outsider pricing.”
Cannon says, “We know the five- and ten-year costs and
what will need to be upgraded. Window replacements will
start over the summer. The first co-op board will need to keep
a close eye on all of that. Island House is not a brand-new
building; it was built with codes that were applicable in the
A Typical Unit
There are 154 two-bedroom apartments in Island House,
each with approximate square footage of 1,000. The average
two-bedroom apartment without a terrace has 1,283 shares,
and one-and-a-half baths, and will cost $220,000 to a tenant purchaser. That same apartment will cost $688,380 to
a non-tenant purchaser. The monthly maintenance on this
hypothetical apartment would be $1,165.
The purchaser of a co-op apartment buys shares of the
corporation in which the apartment is located. Shareholders have the right to vote annually for the board of directors
members, usually at one vote per share.
Under the plan, renters cannot vote. Additionally, renters
will be unable to sublet their units, and there is no lease succession for rentals.
Not All Affordable
The owner of the building may rent or sell up to 35% of
the shares (140 apartments) at market price. Shareholders
of market-rate apartments are not required to pay the flip tax
in connection with a sale or transfer of a market apartment.
Cannon says, “35% is the absolute cap on the owner’s
ability to sell apartments at market. The others he can have
as affordable rentals or sell under the affordability plan.
That’s 140 apartments. Sixty-five percent of the building
will always be affordable.” Currently, there are 34 empty
apartments in the building that the owner has the right to fill
at market-rate prices. Because the owner is currently under
the cap, he’s made a buy-out offer in an effort to fill more
apartments with market-rate tenants.
Swimming Pool
“The pool was one of the significant issues,” acknowledged Cannon, explaining, “The owner wasn’t prepared to
sell the pool to be part of the co-op.” He added that, “We
did agree with the owner that the only real option for the
space is a pool or a gym – an amenity for the building. [The
owner] is constrained in what he can do there. He said that
the only customers would be people in Island House, or
possibly Westview. Since he’s the one selling his apartments at market price, he is interested in the pool looking
as good as it can.”
Cannon said, “ This is something the co-op board will work
on. Ultimately, the majority of board seats will be voted and
held by insiders in the building. The pool is not an antagonistic issue at this point. Smart people will have to sit down
and ascertain options and what we will do.”
The exclusive period ends on April 20. Until then, there
is not a sense of what final numbers will be. After April 20,
it goes to the Attorney General for approval.
For the plan to be declared effective, the required buy-in
level was 15%. At 50%, the owner-tenants will control the
building. Both numbers have been surpassed. But both Kerr
and Cannon are hesitant to celebrate. They both say people
may change their minds, and that it’s all speculation until the
exclusive period ends.
That being said, the first closing will probably happen in
The Cooperator, a publication, explained, “The purpose of
the [Mitchell-Lama] program was to encourage the building
of moderate-income housing, to keep more middle-class
families within [New York S]tate’s cities, and to help stabilize
city neighborhoods. Some say one of the real reasons for
Mitchell-Lama in the first place was so that these buildings
could stabilize borderline areas – clearing the way for the
private real-estate market to step in.”
The program worked. A total of 269 buildings with
105,000 apartments were built under the program. Developments were eligible to buy out after 20 years or prepayment
of their mortgages.
Many of the neighborhoods where Mitchell-Lama buildings were built – Independence Plaza in Tribeca or Independence House on the Upper West Side, for example – have
become desirable neighborhoods.
Roosevelt Island is in that group. The success of the original four Mitchell-Lama buildings made further development
Island House
Of the Island House plan, Cannon says, “This is what
happens when a group of wonderful people come together
over a number of years.” He characterizes the population
of Island House as “a slice of everything that’s good in this
city,” adding, “People deserve the right to some stability in
their life. For the first time in years, people know they can
live in the building for a long time.”
“This thing that people have talked about for years actually happened.”
10 • The WIRE, April 11, 2015
Advantage All-City Camps
More choices, more facilities, more
satisfaction for campers.
Check it out at our Open House!
718-706-WINE (9463)
Junior Tennis for kids 6-17
• 3 to 6 hours of tennis a day
• New York’s oldest junior tennis program
• Optional swimming, field sports and arts
Council Member Ben Kallos
Presents Participatory Budgeting
Monday, April 13, 7:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
PS/IS 217, 645 Main Street
Tuesday, April 14, 10:00 a.m.-1 p.m.
RI Senior Center, 546 Main Street
Wednesday, April 15, 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
RI Public Library, 526 Main Street
Saturday, April 18, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Visitor Kiosk, Tramway Plaza
NEW Sports & Arts for kids 5-14
• 1 hour of tennis a day
• Basketball, soccer & swimming
& arts
• Daily art program with artist Bonnie Lane
Open House April 11, 12, 25 & 26!
Roosevelt Island Racquet Club - 281 Main St.
Set up your Open House tour with Paul Fontana –
646.884.9644 or [email protected]
50¢ a word • 212‑751‑8214
Deadline for April 25 issue: Tuesday, April 21
Deadline for May 9 issue: Tuesday, May 5
Please see ComingUp, page 3, for other advertising deadlines – Smoking,
Weight, Confidence – $425 includes
MP3. Mention ad, $50 off. Call
thru 3/28 issue
For more information
and more voting locations,
please visit
Experienced in pain management,
chronic conditions, depression. Please
call Anne Kanninen L.Ac. 917-282-7328.
ComingUp, from page 4
Main Street Teen Theatre presents Urinetown, Fri May 15-Sun May 17.
Poster Screen Printing, Sat May 16 1pm,
with book talk about WPA, 2:30pm, Four
Freedom Park. Registration encouraged.
Child School/Legacy High School annual
Founder’s Dinner, Thu May 21, 6pm,
Terrace on the Park, 52-11 111th St., Flushing Meadows Corona Park 11368. $150.
For tickets,
Book Discussion, Black, White & Jewish –
Autobiography of a Shifting Self, by Rebecca
Walker, Thu May 21 6:30pm, Library.
Memorial Day, Mon May 25.
Main Street Children’s Theatre presents
Little Shop of Horrors, Fri May 29-Mon
June 1.
Bike New York Spring Kickoff Party, Sat
May 30, time & Island location to be announced.
Kidz Theater presents an afternoon showcase of musical theater, Sun May 31 1pm,
The Child School. Fundraiser for a performance trip to Disney/Florida to present the
CHESS INSTRUCTOR – Island resident,
10 years experience. Children &
adults, beginners & intermediate. Free
consultation. Moderate rates: 2‑hour
session $30. 212-750-9087.
showcase there. Adults $15, children $10.
Info: 212-371-2434.
Sunset Garden Party, Wed Jun 3 5-8pm,
Four Freedoms Park. Info:
RIRA Common Council meets, Wed Jun 3
8pm, Good Shepherd Center, lower level.
Meeting begins with public session, in
which residents and others may address
the Council
R&R Concerts presents Music on the Cutting Edge, piano performance by Islander
Roy Eaton, featuring Hajime Sakita, Japanese musical saw virtuoso, Sat Jun 6 7pm,
Good Shepherd Center.
Roosevelt Island Day, Sat Jun 13.
Imagination Playground, play with oversize architectural blocks, Sat-Sun Jun
13-14, Four Freedoms Park, on the lawn.
Flag Day, Sun Jun 14.
Book Discussion, Half a Life by V.S. Naipaul,
Thu Jun 18 6:30pm, Library.
Outdoor Movie, Sat Jun 27.
Independence Day, Sat Jul 4.
NOTARY – 212-317-0736 Tami.
Certified Reflexologist – Island resident
Diana Brill. Gift certificates available.
212-751-8214. RI resident. Will also
check mail, etc.
TENNIS LESSONS and play. Private,
semi‑private, and small groups for adults.
Get back in the swing with morning and
lunchtime sessions. Highly qualified
instructor, Joyce Short – 917-517-8572.
SCAN PHOTOS – Will teach a student
how to scan & retouch properly. $10 per
hour. Flexible hours. Contact John at
212-593-7610 or [email protected]
CLASSICAL PIANO with Irene. Read
music. It’s logical fun! 917-655-0028.
FREECYCLE.ORG/RooseveltIsland –
Give your unneeded stuff a better home
through Freecycle. It’s free to give/
receive; just post needs & wants. Get
everything for free.
CATCH YOUR CAT – Efficient help
with your feline escape artist. Vet‑
recommended, Island references.
917-355-1867 / [email protected]
NOTARY PUBLIC – 212-935-7534.
Letters Policy
The WIRE welcomes letters of interest to the Roosevelt Island community, and to/from officials. Recommended maximum
length, 350 words; longer letters will be considered if their content, in the judgment of the editors, merits the required space. All
letters are subject to acceptance and editing for length and clarity. Letters submitted anonymously will not be published; requests
for a Name Withheld signature will be considered, but
the writer’s name, address, and phone number must be
provided for verification and for our records.
for April 25 issue: Tuesday, April 21, 5:00 p.m.
Submit letters by email to [email protected]
net. Expect a confirming response and, if you receive
none, resend and call 212-826-9056 to alert us. Alternatives: Typed copy left at 531 Main Street, and clearly handwritten letters
will be considered, if brief (allow extra time for typesetting). We are not able to take telephone dictation of letters.
Letters deadline
The WIRE, April 11, 2015 • 11
rooseVeLt isLand
2 Pizza Slices
& Iced Tea
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• 12 Piece Chicken Wings
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• (2) 12” Pizza Pies
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• 6 Piece Chicken Wings
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Fried Chicken Specials!
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Your Choice of 1 lb. of Potato, Macaroni or Cole Slaw Salad
— Custom Cakes For Any Occasion —
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store hours: monday–saturday 7am–12 midnight; sunday 7am–11pm
pick up our in-store circuLar for more saVings • prices effectiVe to 4/23/15
12 • The WIRE, April 11, 2015
Dental Love LLC
501 Main Street, Suite A
Office Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 9:00am-6:00pm
Friday-Saturday, 9:00am-3:00pm
Come experience the Convenience, Comfort,
and Confidence our dental office has to offer.
Your entire Family is welcome!
Eco-Friendly Drycleaning
Exceptional Quality Dry Cleaning
• Expert
European Tailoring
Shirts Laundered
Convenient Monthly Billing
Cleaners & Tailors
Established 1969
Proudly Serving Roosevelt Island
For Over 20 Years
Free Daily Pickup & Delivery
Services offered:
General Dentistry
Cosmetic Dentistry
Specialists on staff:
Periodontist (Gum Disease)
Endodontist (Root Canal)
Orthodontist (Braces/Invisalign)
29-09 Broadway / Astoria, New York 11106 Tel / Fax: 718.726.2336
455 Main Street
7 days, 11am‑11pm
Free delivery
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All major credit
cards accepted ($15
Call 212-752-8722 NOW or
Book appointments online at
Insurance Accepted – CareCredit Financing
All that is good begins with a SMILE.
609 Main Street
11am-11pm Sun-Thur
11am-midnight Fri-Sat
Free delivery $6 & over
David Lloyd Marcus, Ph.D.
Psychotherapy and Counseling
Associate Professor
NYU School of Medicine
501 Main Street
Roosevelt Island
E-mail [email protected]
Jack Resnick, MD
Specialist in Adult Medicine
501 Main Street – 212-832-2310
office practice and housecalls for the homebound
Visit our Website
check lab results
make appointments
take a survey
internet health resources
get help finding insurance
read opinions
Disabled Association
Support for the Homebound
• Help with shopping
• Medications to be picked up
• Someone to talk to
Call DASH and one of our volun‑
teers will come to your apartment.
strength, balance, flexibility
Certified Instructor
Private/Group classes on Roosevelt Island
Board-Certified Psychiatrist
Call to schedule an appointment
Or email [email protected]
Complete confidentiality is assured.