To the Editor:
I write in support of the proposed RIRA Public Safety Committee resolution banning bicycles, strollers, and motorized scooters from the helix.
I am a person with a disability who lives across the street from the helix. On a daily basis, I see bike riders coming down the helix onto Main Street without stopping at the stop sign. Seemingly, they have no respect for people wishing to use the helix crosswalk or the Main Street crosswalk across from 2-4 River Road.
I am also a person who uses the helix when returning to the Island on my motorized scooter. I would be willing to use other methods to get onto the Island.
Jim Bates, President
RI Disabled Association
To the Editor:
The Roosevelt Island Residents Association’s Public Safety Committee has proposed that the RIRA Common Council endorse a plan to ask RIOC to ban bicyclists from using the helix for safety reasons. This plan will have the opposite result, and endanger bicyclists. How do I know? Because I am a cyclist who has both ridden his bike and driven his car on the helix hundreds of times.
If you ask the bicyclists who use the bridge and helix, you will learn that they do not favor such a restriction. They don’t want to be protected. It is absurd that a ban would be considered because of a single recent bicycle accident on the helix, one whose circumstances remain obscure. Accidents have been few and very far between.
What bicycle riders want is improved safety on the Island. There are ways to ensure that both vehicles and bicycles can use the helix safely.
Descending the helix is as safe as riding on any city street where vehicles and bikes share the roadway (which is never totally safe). Bicycles are in front of, and fully visible to, vehicles. Since they go nearly as fast, cars have time to respond in case of a bicycle-related problem. There is no rationale for banning riding in this direction. Instead, measures should be implemented to make sure that cyclists stay on the right, and motorists stay on the proper side of the road (including painting the double yellow lines regularly). Moreover, the condition of the roadway must be maintained. Loose sand and gravel dropped from trucks and potholes in the roadway that could cause bicycle accidents must be kept to a minimum. These are the responsibilities of RIOC and the Department of Transportation.
Riding up the helix is more problematic, since drivers ascending behind the bikes cannot see around the curve. However, there are solutions that can allow bikes and cars to safely share the road. The first thing that RIOC should do is prune the tree in the center of the helix. Its top branches are the major cause of the poor visibility. In addition, the line of sight can be improved by removing the guardrail on top of the concrete barrier (going up only). The concrete barrier itself is sufficient, and is as high as the guardrails on most steep, winding mountain roads. These are the types of innovations the RIRA Common Council should advocate for.
Sadly, banning bicycles will fail to solve the problem because bicyclists will ignore the signs and ride on the helix anyway. Motorists who mistakenly think there are no bikes there will be less alert for them, increasing the possibility of serious accidents. Lest anyone think that bicyclists who flout the rules deserve their fate, I would remind you that while jaywalking is prohibited, jaywalkers – and there are many Islanders in this category – do not deserve to be run over by automobiles, either.
Let us join together to consult with and support our bicycling community instead of enacting punitive and counterproductive rules, no matter how well-intended, that ignore the wishes of those most affected.
Mickey Rindler, Member
RIRA Common Council
To the Editor:
RIOC employee Othniel Maragh, an African American, was placed on paid administrative leave last September 29, 2014, 26 days after he filed a claim of racial discrimination against RIOC. According to RIOC, it took this extreme action due to complaints by fellow RIOC employees concerning Mr. Maragh’s behavior. As yet, some 330 days later, he still has not been told what he allegedly did, when and where the alleged acts took place, and who has made the allegations! Does this sound possible in this day and age? Is this Roosevelt Island or North Korea?
I have attempted through letters, emails, and even a paid advertisement in The WIRE, to reach out to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Secretary to the Governor William Mulrow, and Commissioner Darryl Towns. My inquiries have apparently reached deaf ears! Even Commissioner Towns, whom I know personally and worked with for several years, apparently does not consider this possible blatant act of retaliation against an African American employee by RIOC, a corporation whose Board he chairs, worthy of a response. I have also reached out to the RIOC Board. One Board member has tried to get to the bottom of what is happening, but has been stonewalled by the complacency of the rest of the resident Board members. I am of the opinion that the resident Board members, with whom I have worked closely and whom I view as all honorable, hard-working, decent people, are tired and spent. They are apparently satisfied that the Governor’s Office is handling Mr. Maragh’s case, and don’t want to “rock the boat” by inquiring about his situation. Even if this is true, does that make it right how Mr. Maragh has been treated? Does this sound like normal protocol for a New York State agency? What happened to Mr. Maragh’s basic rights? How can the State justify placing an African American employee who just happened to have filed a claim of racial discrimination 26 days prior on paid administrative leave without giving him specifics about what led to its actions? Why is the Governor’s office condoning RIOC’s possible blatant act of retaliation by its silence?
The writer is a former Vice President / Chief Financial Officer of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC).
To the Editor:
Having both the elevator and the lift out of service on the Manhattan side of the Tramway for so long has had a terrible impact on the elderly, disabled (especially in wheelchairs), and parents with strollers. An elderly resident with a cane was stuck in the lift two weeks ago, and suffered heat effects.
RIOC has known for years that we need one or two new elevators. Many people are unable to get to Manhattan for doctors’ appointments and other necessities.
RIOC must stop the obstacles and get moving on providing service for us.
I am writing to express my frustration with the continual disruption of service to both Tram elevators. This presents an enormous inconvenience to the residents of Roosevelt Island, and quite frankly, is unacceptable given the fact that the Tram is one of the two major forms of transportation off the Island.
To my understanding, RIOC does not maintain the Island’s F-line subway stop, the responsibility of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), so it is very difficult for me to comprehend why RIOC is unable to guarantee working elevators at the single off-Island public transportation service that it is responsible for.
What is the problem with the red lift? Why does it so often go out of service after being “repaired”?
What is the ETA on having the Tram elevator fixed?
As a resident of the Island who depends on the Tram for commuting purposes, I would like to have these questions answered.
Thank you for your time.
Dear Ms. Oh:
The Tram elevator has been an urgent priority to us for the past three weeks. We are in the process of replacing the 30-year-old elevator piston that lifts the Tram elevator. This special 20-foot, 600-pound steel piston is currently being fabricated and we expect delivery the week of August 23rd. As you can imagine, it requires intensive labor for installation. It will take a little more time to get this elevator running as it should. Thereafter, we will then be able to assure the elevator’s safety and no longer have a problem with oil leaks.
The red lift is not made for the excessive, constant use that now occurs. That’s the reason for the frequent break-downs; the red lift is being overused due to the main elevator being off-line.
The better news is that we’re on track to replace the existing hydraulic elevator and lift with two new traction-type elevators. We recently met with the designers and you will be impressed when you see the finished product. The new elevators should be completed by the fall of next year.
I completely understand your frustration. I’m staying on top of this elevator problem, so please be assured that the elevator will be back on-line shortly. I ask you, and our other residents, for further patience.
John J. Bost
Director of Engineering, RIOC
To the Editor:
I was very disappointed to see no coverage in your last issue about the recent telephone/cable outage that lasted about a week and created major disruptions. Even though it was neither as widespread nor as long as the previous outage, it caused a shutdown of our bank for a week and created major inconveniences for many merchants (as well as their customers), without access to necessary digital services.
It seems that no one learned a lesson from the first outage. I have the following questions:
• Who is to blame for this new catastrophe? How did it happen a second time?
• Are there official records of the locations of the Island’s underground wires and cables available to developers and construction companies working here, so future incidents can be prevented? We will have many new foundations dug in the next few years. Construction crews must know these locations in order to avoid damage to our infrastructure.
• If there are no records (how could that be?), shouldn’t RIOC immediately start compiling and disseminating this information?
This should never happen again. It is completely irresponsible. We need The WIRE to weigh in on this issue.
The publisher responds: No question – we need more reporters. Interested Islanders should email Briana.Warsing@gmail.com.
To The Editor:
I regret this disgruntled letter. Maybe I can’t function in the evermore inhospitable conditions on this “FDR Isle of the Disabled.” But, with increasingly complex paperwork required by the government of seniors and the disabled (of which I’m both – thank the stars for Ani’s essential help), and, with ever-deteriorating roads and quality of wheelchairs, I must wend my way to a newly antagonistic Island post office to mail Section 8 forms certified.
For me, this was eminently doable until 7/14/15. The new post office regime may be under tighter regulations – I don’t know. Still, it seems to me, a more accommodating attitude on the part of clerks would be beneficial to all.
I won’t recount the shoddy and shabby treatment to which I and my aide were subjected. But I’m losing sleep with chagrin over this incident, and must get at least a part of it off my chest.
Suffice it to say, I don’t know how to fill out a Certified Mail ticket, nor does my aide. I used to go alone, but with these new chairs and worse roads, I simply cannot. Nor can I use my hands nor breathe on my own. Nor could I read the damn ticket with my sunglasses and straw hat on. Previously, the clerk would fill out the ticket, swipe my card, and that was that.
Had I been spoken to with a modicum of respect, I might have maintained my cool, gone to the small side table with my aide, had her remove my hat and glasses, and had her show me the ticket so that I could read it and try to discern what must be entered where, and then direct her accordingly.
As it was, I left after my aide affixed four stamps to the envelope in question and dropped it in the mailbox. Now I must hope that Section 8 receives and accepts my mailing.
For my critics: This is not, nor were any of my previous letters ever intended to be, a “nasty letter.” I am simply reporting the facts as I see them.
Sharon A. Stern
To the Editor:
Regarding bicycles and the helix: Keeping people safe should be of paramount importance. Every one of us could be a cyclist or a driver, interchangeably.
The helix used to have a sign directing bikers to the escalator. When the escalators broke, the signs were taken down. There’s no reason that signs can’t go back up, cautioning bike riders, or people using any kind of non-motorized wheels, “Stay Safe. Use the elevator, not the helix, for your safety and the safety of drivers.”
I watched the commotion on the helix when the biker was hit a few weeks ago. Not only was the man’s leg broken, the bone was actually poking out of his skin, and the driver of the car was devastated.
Cycling up and down through Motorgate is far too treacherous. It’s not a solution.
Common sense dictates that non-motorized wheels do not belong in narrow, limited-sighted, winding car lanes, like those of the helix.
To the Editor:
During the last five years that I have been swimming at Sportspark, RIOC has made many improvements and additions. These changes have helped to accommodate the significant growth in Island population, and the continued aging of the Sportspark facility.
The following changes have been of significant benefit to the community:
Installation of a dedicated boiler to keep Sportspark operational when the steam plant shut down
Revamping of the water-heating system to better regulate the water temperature
Revamping of the air-heating system for much-improved air temperatures and ventilation
Improvements to the locker rooms, including addition of space heaters and bathing-suit spinners
Institution of membership options
Creation of an online registration system
Creation of many programs in a wide variety of areas, greatly increasing usership of both the gym and the pool
Thank you, RIOC!
That said, there is still much work to be done. Sportspark continues to age, and the Island population continues to grow.
I recently spoke with Jane Swanson, Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations for Cornell Tech. Based on our conversation, it is my understanding that Cornell currently has no plans to build a pool in Phase 1 (the next six-to-eight years). The plans for three of the four buildings have been finalized, and they do not include a new pool. The ideas being tossed around at this point for the fourth building, also do not include a pool. The 2017 opening of Cornell Tech will likely add many more Sportspark pool users.
The projected increase in Island population highlights the necessity for continued improvements to Sportspark for it to remain a viable resource.
Sportspark users, such as myself, ask RIOC to continue to do what is needed to keep the facility running. Please dedicate the funds necessary to perform the much-needed improvements to daily operations, and to perform the needed renovations.