To the Editor:

We write this as a plea to all Roosevelt Islanders and stakeholders. We were two of the few Roosevelt Islanders at the RIOC Governance Committee meeting on Monday. The sole agenda item was to discuss the New York State Authorities Budget Office (ABO) Policy Guidance No. 15-01 that placed restrictions on grants and loans made by Public Authorities such as RIOC. The ABO states that “all state and local authorities which as a matter of practice or policy, grant or loan their monies without specific legislative authorization are to immediately end such practice or policy.”

Here is our urgent take-away from that meeting:

Though RIOC has questioned the ABO Guidance, there has been no relief received to date. Thus, our worthy Island non-profits who have applied for a slice of the annual $100,000 in Public Public Purpose Funds are left in limbo. If the conclusion is that there must be a change to the RIOC enabling legislation, that will require a long time period over which applicants will not be funded, causing adverse impacts upon their operations.

Given the enormity of the impacts, community leaders are already in the process of reaching out to our elected officials to determine how the RIOC enabling legislation can be used or changed to allow RIOC to continue granting Public Purpose Funds. Other ideas under consideration include the prospects of Islanders, building managers, and businesses providing temporary support for these organizations that serve our community until a more permanent fix can be found.

Residents can take two actions immediately. (More requests may come later.) Though different from the Public Purpose Funds matter, one is City Councilmember Ben Kallos’ Participatory Budgeting initiative to prioritize projects within his District for funding. Our Island has two that are in competition as listed below, along with the dates and times to vote. The second idea is that you donate to your favorite groups who have applied for Public Purpose Funds but, as previously stated, are in limbo. The official list of applicants are itemized below.

Mark your calendar and vote for City Councilmember Ben Kallos’ funds to go to two Island causes: a Green Roof for PS/IS 217, and upgrading the audio system at our library to include looping for hearing impaired.

Voting begins Monday, April 13, at PS/IS 217. Throughout that week, there are additional opportunities to vote. [See ComingUp, page 3.]

• Please donate as much as you can to your favorite groups who have applied for a part of the $100,000 in Public Purpose Funds and will likely not get their money this year. We need to raise thousands. The groups affected are: Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, Roosevelt Island Historical Society, R&R Concerts, Roosevelt Island Senior Association, Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association, Life Frames, Island Kids, Main Street Theater and Dance Alliance, iDig2Learn, The PS/IS 217 PTA, the Roosevelt Island Women’s Health Organization, and Roosevelt Island Day Nursery.

Ellen Polivy, Chair,
RIRA Housing Committee

Dave Evans, Chair,
Public Purpose Funds Committee

To the Editor:

Why is it that when Red Bus service is re-routed to bypass the Subway station stop, as it was one recent rainy morning (apparently due to a race with few runners), not a single notice is given.

This is not the first time this has happened: No alerts from the notification system, no signs at the Subway bus stop – nothing at all! I was one of many people waiting for more than 30 minutes in the rain for a bus that was never going to arrive.

Adding to the frustration was NextBus tracking that said a bus would arrive in a couple of minutes, then revise the forecast to 15 minutes or more.

Why is it that the littlest blip to service at the Tram station always gets alerted, even when the stop is simply moved across the street within sight, yet the Subway is consistently slighted?

Fix it, people. It’s damn annoying!

Stephen Silverstein


To the Editor:

Hudson/Related’s score for filling retail spaces looks like a dismally disastrous zero. Did we tie the can to Shane for nothing, since we’re actually worse off than before? Perhaps better we fire H/R! Isn’t it better to charge lower commercial rentals and have that steady stream of income than to hold out for higher prices for years?

Empire State Development (ESD), in tandem with Albany, is hell-bent on charging for everything but the air we breathe. While always trumpeting “affordability,” EDS has pushed its dream “gentrification” program for a high-income populace. It has given us the City’s most expensive supermarket chain and jacked up store rents to the point of backfiring. Are we more convenienced? Hardly. No longer is there an aromatic bakery or a fish palace. Our Island “institutions,” such as Gallery RIVAA, are newly space-charged, leaving endangered our village’s very soul. We took a big hit recently with the hardware and thrift stores.

And strong-arm rental squeezing of the Catholic Church for services is outrageous. George Bliss and his wife, two of my grandparents’ closest friends, donated the church to us and I know, first-hand, that they’d be horrified at the State’s crass grasping. They would feel strongly that, in their church, it would be unconscionable to exact any rent at all for religious services. A small fee for heat, air-conditioning, lights, and general upkeep would suffice, but big profit-taking on the church’s back is sheer usury! Money madness has sickened our puppet-masters and, by extension, H/R. The big losers? Guess. What a neck pain to have to scout up elsewhere so little as a nail!

Unrealistic hiking of retail rents can only lead to defeat. Merchants gulled into signing a lease (and recently some have backed away, inevitable misery) must pass on those costs through inflated prices. With our dollars going significantly farther elsewhere, will most of us shop here? No. Storekeepers are left high and dry.

The vicious cycle leaves instability and a bad rep for the Island.

Can the new booze emporium make it? Probably, given the nature of its product. The card shop? On the way out, we hear. Wholesome Market? It’s busy despite prices higher than Gristedes, as many will save themselves the trip up to the big one. The disheveled deli with floor removed – viable with such activity as generated at the new kid down the block? The ice-cream/sweet shop, with mostly seasonal product – can it survive?

If a fairly prosperous typical (but special) U.S. town is what we all want and need, the only obvious route is adequate resident representation on RIOC with the clout to set realistic merchant rents. Until then, look for more churning, more uncertainty, for a bleak and freaky-looking Main Street, attracting few residents and visitors – a ghost town with too many empty storefronts.

Thanks, H/R and NYS. We love you back.

Barbara Potts

Contact Info

The Main Street WIRE
531 Main Street #413
New York, NY 10044
Tel: 212-826-9056
Email: MainStreetWIRE@usa.net