The RIRA Column

Mar 14, 2015

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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Like the end of the longest of nights, it seems that the dawn of spring has finally come to our little ship floating in the East River. As the snow and ice that have capped our streets, walkways, and parks for nearly three months melt to reveal fresh ground, our Island families, friends, and neighbors emerge from the cocoon of their apartments to bask in the warming sun and breathe the fresh air. Spring brings a number of Island celebrations intended to renew the ties that bond us as neighbors, and the first is...

Easter Egg Hunt

On Sunday, March 29, RIRA’s Social, Cultural and Educational Services Committee, in conjunction with over 25 other Island organizations, businesses, and charities, will be holding the Annual Easter Egg Hunt. Starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Manhattan Park Green across the street from Gristedes, Roosevelt Island children ages 8 and under are invited to participate in an egg hunt like no other. Rain or shine, this year’s hunt will include a visit from the Easter Bunny, story time under the tree, bonnet-making, children’s book giveaways, and, of course, the egg hunt. Space will be limited, and registration is required for this year’s event, so drop an email to the SC&E Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information and to be put on the pre-registration mailing list. We are also looking for volunteers to help stuff eggs and to assemble gift baskets, and we need donations of items for this year’s giveaways. If you have the time, talent, or know-how to help make this year’s hunt a very special one for the expected 500 child attendees, email the SC&E Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Hands-Only CPR

The RIRA goal of teaching every resident the life-saving skill of hands-only CPR continues, with free training provided every week from March through July to any interested Islander. Sessions are offered in various community locations – such as the Senior Center Lounge and the Good Shepherd Center – and in just 15 minutes you can join over 450 neighbors who’ve been trained to know when someone needs CPR, and what to do. For questions and information on how to register, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Participatory Budgeting

PS/IS 217 is officially on the ballot for this year’s Participatory Budgeting, in which residents of 24 City Council districts have the opportunity to vote on how to spend $25 million of taxpayer money. Through the hard work and support of Principal Mandana Beckman, the Parent Teacher Association, parents and friends, the Cornell Tech Partnership, City Councilmember Ben Kallos, and countless others, PS/IS 217 now has a real chance of bringing a 6,750-square-foot green roof and green STEM learning hub to our Island children – but they need your help. During the week of April 13, please stop by the following venues and vote for PS/IS 217’s Green Roof initiative: Monday, April 13, 7:30-10:30 a.m. at PS/IS 217; Tuesday, April 14, 10 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Senior Center; Wednesday, April 15, 3:00-7:00 p.m. at the Library; and Saturday, April 18, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at the Visitor’s Kiosk. No voter registration or proof of citizenship is required. There’s tough competition, against many others on the Upper East Side, so be sure to get out and vote!

Participatory Democracy

During last week’s RIRA Common Council meeting, a couple of the resolutions that were passed requiring RIOC action warrant mention here, because of their far-reaching effects on two long-standing non-profit community institutions – the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance (MST&DA) and the St. Cabrini Catholic Parish. Both organizations face onerous lease charges by RIOC that will change how they operate, provide their services, and use Island spaces. With MST&DA, as previously mentioned, RIOC’s lease rates for their use of the Cultural Center at 548 Main Street are so high that they won’t be able to provide the financial assistance needed by many Island families who utilize the programs. The St. Cabrini Catholic Parish faces similar RIOC-imposed challenges, with the demand for upfront payment of three months’ rent to reserve the Good Shepherd Center for its religious services (which the Church says it cannot pay, since it does not receive its collections in advance). Unsurprisingly, the Common Council voted nearly unanimously in support of two resolutions admonishing RIOC for its burdensome lease rates, and demanding that RIOC roll them back and work with both organizations to find amicable solutions for use of RIOC-controlled spaces. Show your support of MST&DA at a time when support for the arts and enrichment of our children’s lives is being whittled away. And help guarantee a place of worship and charity for Island residents who are immobile or who have no other community to turn to. Voice our continued commitment to keeping the services of MTS&DA and the St. Cabrini Catholic Parish available on the Island. Contact RIOC directly by either telephone at 212-832-4540 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and urge RIOC to work with these organizations to ensure their futures here.

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