The RIRA Column

Apr 11, 2015

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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As we throw off the doldrums of winter and recharge ourselves with the warmth of spring, each of us should also use this time to tend to the fabric of our community, and to the ties that bind us to one another and to the Island. As I often say, we are fortunate to have a vibrant community with leaders who care about Roosevelt Island. Residents work day in and day out to better our lives here, through local politics and governance, the PTA and schools, religious institutions, after-school and childcare programs, the Senior Center, building tenant associations, and other community organizations. For many neighbors – for the tireless volunteers who worked so hard to make this year’s Easter Egg Hunt memorable despite the snow and cold; for the community organizers assembling a formidable team to participate in this year’s Relay for Life race and festivities; for the countless Island instructors who have successfully trained, thus far, over 500 of your neighbors in the life-saving skill of hands-only CPR – for all of these neighbors and for many more, the call to serve is not a question but a duty, to give back to an Island that has given each of us so much.

RIRA Committees

In that spirit, I renew my challenge to each of you to find some time to serve on a RIRA committee. As I have said in prior columns, RIRA’s community work and service occur largely through its committees. From housing to public safety to Island services and planning, there is a RIRA committee working in behalf of the community’s interests and concerns.

What tends to be forgotten is that you, as an Island resident, can serve on a RIRA committee. As provided in the RIRA constitution, every resident of Roosevelt Island is a member of the Residents Association. Any RIRA member can serve on a RIRA committee. Thus, as a Roosevelt Island resident, you are a member of RIRA and can serve on any of its committees. You do not need to be an elected Common Councillor. Are you concerned about the loss of affordable housing and other housing issues on the Island? The Housing Committee is calling for you. Do you want to get involved in the planning of infrastructure for the Island as the Cornell campus is being built? The Planning Committee needs your services. The following are the active RIRA committees that you and your neighbors may – and should – join.

Government Relations Committee, chaired by Joyce Short of Roosevelt Landings: This committee is the RIRA representative to the various local, state, and federal representatives and agencies with jurisdiction over the Island, and it ensures the establishment and maintenance of ongoing relations with governmental and quasi-governmental officials. The main item on its present agenda is to brief officials at all levels, especially the newly-elected ones, about the Island’s current concerns.

Housing Committee, chaired by Ellen Polivy of Rivercross: This committee addresses the issues and concerns of residents regarding the management, living conditions, and rental polices of the residential buildings, and is the RIRA liaison to the various building committees and housing task forces.

Island Services Committee, chaired by Aaron Hamburger of the Southtown (Riverwalk) buildings: This committee supervises the delivery of transportation, parks and recreation, sanitation, and postal and commercial services, supervises common facilities, and assists individuals and organizations who may experience problems obtaining Island services due them. The committee seeks solutions for how current services can better serve the community. It is also responsible for recommending and implementing RIRA policy on all matters relating to common means of transportation on and/or to and from Roosevelt Island.

Planning Committee, chaired by Steven White of Manhattan Park: This committee represents RIRA on matters involving future development of the Island, including but not limited to commercial development, housing, vehicular access, transportation, social services, and energy. It also monitors and recommends positions on planning matters, and recommends and implements policies relating to energy conservation, distribution, and generation.

Public Safety Committee, chaired by Erin Feely-Nahem of Westview: This committee recommends and implements RIRA policy on all matters related to safety, security, and vehicular traffic and parking on the Island. It works with the Public Safety Department and the New York Police Department Local Precinct 114 on behalf of the community to address the law-enforcement concerns of residents.

Social, Cultural and Educational Services Committee, chaired by Lynne Shinozaki of Manhattan Park: This committee seeks to assist in the creation and maintenance of social, cultural, and educational programs and events that promote community bonds. It is also RIRA’s fundraising arm, and actively seeks individuals to participate in RIRA affairs.

I strongly encourage everyone with even a remote interest in serving on any of these committees to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I will connect you with the aforementioned chair(s), who will be more than happy to have you participate in the work of the committee(s). Committee work by volunteers is essential to how the Island fares as a community, and, by extension, to how its individuals fare. As with any other investment, your return depends in part on how much you put in, so won’t you invest a little, and join a RIRA committee? And, by participating in a committee (or two, or more), you’ll not only provide an important service to the Island, but you’ll also become more engaged in the community, and you’ll get to know more neighbors.

If you want more information, or you have a community concern or question that you’d like to discuss, or you have an event with which you’d like RIRA’s help, please reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Do you have an idea for another committee that RIRA should have? Are you interested in one that deals directly with environmental Issues, or K-12 education, or something else? Please let me know!

iDig2Learn

Speaking of recharging and investing in our community, don’t forget to join iDig2Learn’s Earth Day activities on Saturday, April 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., meeting at the Tram Lawn. Come out and join the children as they plant flowers and beautify the Island, embark on an archaeological dig activity to learn more about their Island home and its environs, and so much more. For information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Interested in volunteering and helping with the event? Arrive early (around 9:30 a.m.) to register as a volunteer, or contact Christina Delfico at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Participatory Budgeting

Lastly, do make sure to vote for the two Roosevelt Island projects currently on the City’s 2015 ballot for Participatory Budgeting. As has been covered here and elsewhere, during the week of April 13, you and your neighbors will have an opportunity to vote for a Green Roof at PS/IS 217 and for looped integration for the hearing-impaired in public facilities. Show not only our City representatives but also those in City Council what matters to Roosevelt Island, and get out and vote at the following locations:

• PS/IS 217 – Monday, 4/13, 7:30-10:30 a.m.

• Senior Center – Tuesday, 4/14, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

• Island Library – Wednesday, 4/15, 3:00-7:00 p.m.

• Visitor Kiosk – Saturday, 4/18, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., concurrent with iDig2Learn-hosted Earth Day event (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)

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