Author: Richard Lee
Community Voices 1: Energy and Green Living
| May 16, 2010 | 1:09 am | Community Voices #1: Energy and Green Living, Events | Comments closed

The first Community Voices event featured Jaime Stein and Adam Friedman.

Jaime Stein spoke injustices involving waste management. She mentioned Hunts Point, an area in the Bronx, which handles 40% of NYC’s waste and 100% of the waste from the Bronx. Hunts Point is home to a sewage treatment plant, a sewage pelletizing plant, and four electrical power plants. On top of all of this, Hunts Point has over 60,000 trucks traveling through due to the heavy fish, meat, and a produce industries of the area.

Jaime also mentioned the New York Organic Fertilizer Co. (NYOFCO), which is a plant that changes liquid waste to fertilizer to be used in Florida. Although the idea seems very practical and beneficial, the contract for this plant has not been renewed in a very long time. Also, this plant is not regulated in terms of waste and operation, which puts both the area around it and the product fertilizer at risk.

Another topic that Jaime discussed was the Clean-Water Act. She mentioned that this act didn’t really solve any problems, but that it just shifted the burden from the oceans to the communities.

To end her talk, Jaime talked about the South Bronx. Currently, the South Bronx area has a land to person ratio of .5 acres/1000 people. The New York recommended ratio is 2.5acres/1000 people. Also, the South Bronx area has a 25% unemployment rate. To fight these problems, Jaime presented the South Bronx Greenway master plan, which creates green spaces along roads. She also mentioned the Bronx Environmental Stewardship training, which would help provide jobs.

The second speaker was Adam Friedman from the Pratt Center for Community Development. He spoke about building sustainable communities through creating jobs and helping local business grow. Adam mentioned that in order to have productivity in a community, we need both environmentalism and economic development, and he mentioned that sustainability requires economic diversity and behavioral change.

Adam discussed the pros and cons to PlaNYC. He said that its strengths were in raising awareness, dealing with issues involving mass transit, energy, public health, and that it provided economic strategy. However, he mentioned that PlaNYC did not do anything to change economic trends in income disparity because it didn’t deal with direct job creation, zoning and space for green collar jobs, and living wages.

Adam proposed a number of plans to help fill in the gaps of PlaNYC. One of them was the Block by Block program, which had the goal of making neighborhoods more sustainable by changing housing. The changes in housing would reduce energy consumption and costs, while raising affordability and public health.

Another plan that Adam mentioned was the Sustainable Community Development: Houses of Worship. The goal of this project was to promote sustainable neighborhoods by creating jobs, promote sustainable practice, and to strengthen neighborhood institutions. The plan talks about houses of worship, that usually have lots of vacant space during the week, renting their space out to small businesses in order to help local business grow and thrive, while bringing the community together.

Roosevelt Island
| March 23, 2010 | 12:15 pm | 3/23/2010 | Comments closed

Brief History

Hog Island, Manning’s Island, Blackwell’s Island, and Welfare Island.  These are the former names of what we now know as Roosevelt Island.

From 1832 to 1935, Roosevelt Island was used like a quarantine area to separate the undesireables of society from everyone else. The island housed a penitentiary, an asylum, a smallpox hospital, and a pathology lab.

It was only after Rikers Island penitentiary was opened and the convicts of Roosevelt Island (known as Welfare Island at the time) were transferred that the island began to change for the better.

In the mid 1900’s two chronic care and nursing facilities were made: Goldwater Memorial Hospital and Bird S. Coler Hospital.

Then, in 1969, plans are set up to change the island into a residential community.  The plan consists of multiple phases, of which only the first is completed.

Unconventional Society

On the island, car use is very limited.  There is a very large garage where residents park their cars.  When on the island, everyone uses public transportation, which consists of the M102 bus and Roosevelt Island’s own on-island shuttle bus service.  The fee for the shuttle bus is a quarter.

Roosevelt Island is the only residential area in the entire country to use the AVAC (Automated Vacuum Collection) System, which uses vacuumed tubes to move tanks of waste from the island to their destination elsewhere.

My Visit

After just a couple of minutes of exploring the island, I felt as though I were dreaming, living in a different society.  To try to put the feeling into words: It was almost like I was on the TV show Lost and the rest of NYC was the wild areas of the island, while Roosevelt island was the area where the “others” lived.

View of Queens from one of the island's many park spaces: It was strange being able to look out into Queens, walk for 10 seconds, and be able to look out into Manhattan.

On my visit, I started walking along the Queens side of the island.  The view had alternating areas of industrial buildings and parks, which made me think for a moment that the land use on Roosevelt Island was normal and Queens was actually the strange, foreign area.

Shaded Sidewalks

On Roosevelt Island, the housing complexes were very tall and provided a lot of shade. However, there were many open spaces. It felt as though someone had taken a block from Manhattan and a section of Ally Pond Park in Queens, and melded them into a strange island. Also, many of the buildings were made so that the side walks were covered in shade.

In the context of what we learned a couple of classes ago, Roosevelt Island had MANY areas where people could sit. From benches, to ledges (that looked like they were made specifically for sitting), to picnic tables.

There were even pieces of art! In the water!

Overall, I feel that there is a lot to learn about city planning from studying Roosevelt Island, not just from studies, but from visits and through spending time on the island.

Richard Lee
| February 16, 2010 | 11:39 am | Uncategorized | Comments closed

Hi, my name is Richard Lee and I’m a music major on the pre-med track.  Right now, I’m trying to set my mind on a second major, probably a science.

This past winter I had the opportunity to two Spanish courses abroad in Argentina.  This picture of me was taken at the port in Mar del Plata (Sea of Silver), a city 6 hours away form Buenos Aires.