New Park Among Latest Draws To Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island is considered part of Manhattan but can seem a world away.
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Ever since a new neighborhood took root there in the East River almost 40 years ago, the island has undergone many changes with more on the way. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
The Roosevelt Island Tram is one of the best rides in town to and from what longtime residents say is one of the best places in the city to live.
"For me, it's like living in the suburbs but I'm in New York City," said Donald Semenza, a 36-year Roosevelt Island resident.
Once known as Welfare Island for its asylums, prisons and a small pox hospital, Roosevelt Island became a residential community in the early 1970s.
The Island's name was changed to honor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who now also has a brand new park on the island dedicated to him. Along the way the famous Tramway came in 1976 and Subway service in 1989.
"It's lots of changes and we embrace changes, this is good for us,' said Melody Specker, a 32-year Roosevelt Island resident.
More changes to come include Cornell University's plans for a high-tech campus. Construction is expected to begin in 2014. Plans are in the works to redevelop and revitalize Main Street.
One new addition, a Subway restaurant, along with new retail are recent additions to the housing stock. A state agency called the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation has managed the island for the last 40 years. The Acting President and CEO Donald Lewis says these are exciting times.
"With the park here we expect to have a lot more visitors from Manhattan because this is definitely going to be a destination spot, it's absolutely beautiful around here, and with Cornell, that's going to bring in a lot more students, and we figure more people to the island in general," Lewis said.
Lewis noted the recent renovation to the tram system and said they will be exploring other possibilities for extra transportation to and from the island. There is an ongoing dispute between residents and the corporation over control of its board.
While most residents who spoke with NY1 welcomed the growth, there were still some concerns about the island's future.
"Will it be more traffic? Yes. Will there be more crowdedness on the subway and the tram? Probably so, but I hope they'll figure it out," Specker said.
Specker adds she knows the island is changing, but is not moving because of it.