The RIRA Column

June 20, 2015

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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As you all know, this past weekend Roosevelt Island made a splash in national and international news as our Four Freedoms Park hosted Hillary Clinton’s official campaign kickoff. For a brief time, we were the center of attention in U.S. politics, and, regardless of your political or personal views, the rally and the campaign’s visit created an occasion that is now forever part of our Island’s history – and we benefit from the recognition that it brings us. As some news reports pointed out, the campaign could have chosen a number of other sites for the kickoff rally. Many thanks to the tireless volunteers, supporters, aides, governing entities, and others who made the event successful and safe, and to all Island residents who were able to take the time and attend.

Roosevelt Island Day

Many thanks also to a number of our family members and neighbors who came out for Roosevelt Island Day. Whether you and your family showed up bright and early and enjoyed some of the free bagels, juice, and coffee provided by the Social, Cultural and Educational Services (SCE) Committee of the RIRA Common Council, or grabbed a shovel and gloves to help beautify and do some spring cleanup, or donated at RIRA’s Annual Blood Drive, or petted some farm animals and played some games, or enjoyed the musical stylings of Dave and The Versatiles, or learned to save a life with RIRA’s hands-only CPR team, or otherwise enjoyed the sights and sounds of Roosevelt Island Day, it is each and every one of you who make it such a wonderful day of community and fun. Special thanks to all the RIRA Common Council volunteers, SCE Committee Chair Lynne Shinozaki and SCE member Julia Palermo, and New Yorker Bagels for all their hard work and their contributions to this year’s event.

Cornell and PS/IS 217

Heartfelt community congratulations to Principal Mandana Beckman, PS/IS 217, and all of its students and families, and to the PS/IS 217 PTA, for the recent award of an additional $250,000 from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (with the support and guidance of Council Member Ben Kallos) toward the construction of a green roof at the school. As you’ll recall, due to your support and participation in this year’s Participatory Budgeting process, the school was able to secure $500,000 in Mr. Kallos’ City funds for the construction of its science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-based green roof. Special congratulations and thank-yous to Christina Delfico, founder and director of our Roosevelt Island organization, iDig2Learn, for her indefatigable leadership, entrepreneurship, and campaigning for the project. We look forward to seeing what grows on the green roof in years to come!

Public Purpose Funds

Here’s a short update regarding their status from the RIRA Common Council’s Public Purpose Funds Committee Chair, Dave Evans.

“Following the good news, announced by Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright during her May 21 Town Meeting with our local elected politicians and other representatives, that the 2015 Public Purpose Funding (PPF) would be restored, RIOC has restarted the process. It had begun on time, when Island non-profit organizations submitted their Letters of Intent by the January 16 deadline, but was suspended when a policy statement by the Authorities Budget Office threw into doubt RIOC’s ability to award grants. We are now advised that RIOC intends to provide appropriate organizations with their 2015 application forms by the end of this week. Once a few more internal procedures are completed, RIOC intends to hand over qualified applications to RIRA by the end of July. At this juncture of the Community Review Period, the RIRA PPF Committee will review the applications and hold open discussions with the applicants, and prepare funding recommendations for submission to the Common Council by the October meeting, if not earlier. Following Common Council approval, the recommendations will be submitted to RIOC for Board approval.

“Authorizing legislation for this resumption of 2015 PPF funding has been passed by the Senate, and the corresponding Assembly bill is awaiting a vote. The legislation will cover the 2016 funding as well, and we’re hopeful that a permanent solution will be in place by the end of that year, by tie-in with another bill. Both bills were developed with the assistance of the RIRA Government Relations Committee (of which I’m a member). The New York State legislative session is scheduled to end on Wednesday, June 17, and the news about whether the bills pass or fail will be covered elsewhere in this issue of The WIRE.

“For general information about the PPF process, visit the RIOC website at or the RIRA website at”

Relay for Life

If you’re reading this by Saturday, it’s not too late to participate in this year’s Roosevelt Island Relay for Life, today (June 20) from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Octagon Field across from the Fire Station. Join RIRA and the 13 other registered teams of walkers, and the volunteers, as we take strides against cancer and raise money for the American Cancer Society in its mission to fund research for a cure. Go to and click “Sign Up”. From there, choose “RIRA 4 Relay 4 Life” and join, donate, or otherwise volunteer.

RIRA’s Summer Hiatus

As the RIRA Common Council goes on summer break, we extend many thanks to all who have made this past year successful. If what the RIRA Common Council does is of interest to you, or if you have something for us to undertake when we reconvene in the fall, please take this time to reach out to one of your building representatives, to express your concerns or goals, or to ask questions, or to find out how you can volunteer and help. (Many of our committees will be meeting over the summer.) The success of the Common Council depends very much on the active participation of each of you, as the members of the community whom we represent. If you’re interested in taking one of the vacant seats on the Common Council, especially for Manhattan Park or The Octagon, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Aaron Hamburger, Chair of the Nominations Committee, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And, if you see any of us while you’re out and about enjoying our wonderful home this summer, please stop and say hello.

A very happy and safe summer to all!

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