The RIRA Column

September 12, 2015

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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September 11 is significant for many around the world, and especially for New Yorkers, including those on Roosevelt Island, who lived through the tragedy and lost so much. Our heartfelt thoughts, condolences, and well-wishes go to all who suffered or were affected by the events of that day. When you get a chance this weekend, please take time to reflect on where we were then, where we are now, and where we’re headed.

Public Purpose Funds

The Public Purpose Funds (PPF) process continues to evolve. In the interest of more openness, the PPF Committee has been hard at work with RIOC to schedule Community Presentations for interviewing applicants at venues and times where all interested parties and members of the public are able to attend. The committee has welcomed and applauded the efforts of RIOC to work with RIRA in this regard, and expects Community Presentations to begin around mid-September. Advance notification will be provided to applicants and the community. Given the turmoil generated in January by guidance from the New York State Authorities Budget Office to Public Benefit Corporations regarding public purpose funds, and the ongoing recovery from that situation, the schedule for Community Presentations will be tight, but the committee is optimistic that its work will get done. It expects to provide recommendations to the Common Council at its October meeting, and if approved, for them to be reviewed by the RIOC Board shortly thereafter. In the interim, the committee is hard at work reviewing the submissions from 10 applicants. As always, the total funds requested greatly exceed the amount allotted for disbursement, and the challenge will be to equitably and fairly determine what amounts to recommend for which applicants.

Join a Committee

With the summer behind us, and with Common Council sessions resuming, I urge all of you to consider service to the Island this fall on one of RIRA’s committees. RIRA’s work is done largely through its committees, and you, as an Island resident and therefore a RIRA member, are eligible to serve on as many committees as you wish. For instance, do you have ideas on how our infrastructure can more efficiently and safely serve our growing population while construction at Cornell goes into high gear? The Planning and Island Services Committees need your help. Here are the active RIRA committees that you and your neighbors may, and should, join:

Government Relations: As the representative of RIRA and the Roosevelt Island community to the various local, State, and federal representatives and agencies having jurisdiction over the Island, ensures the establishment and maintenance of relations with governmental and quasi-governmental officials.

Housing: Addresses the issues and concerns of residents regarding the management, living conditions, and rental polices of the residential buildings on the Island, and serves as the liaison for RIRA and the community to various building committees and housing task forces.

Island Services: Supervises and reviews the delivery of transportation, parks and recreation, sanitation, postal, and commercial services and common facilities; assists individuals and organizations who may experience problems obtaining Island services due them; and seeks to provide solutions on how current Island services can better serve the community.

Planning: Tasked with all matters involving future development of the Island, including but not limited to commercial development, housing, vehicular access, transportation, social services, and energy; monitors and recommends positions on planning matters; recommends and implements policies relating to energy conservation, distribution, and generation.

Public Safety: Charged with recommending and implementing RIRA and community positions on all matters related to safety, security, and vehicular traffic and parking on the Island; looks to work with the Public Safety Department and the New York Police Department Local Precinct 114 on behalf of the community to address residents’ law enforcement concerns.

Social, Cultural and Educational Services: Seeks to create social, cultural, and educational programs and events that promote and improve community bonds; develops initiatives and programming that bind and strengthen the fabric of the community.

Communication: The hub for community publishing and educating the Island community about RIRA initiatives and community events; seeks to find and develop better means of increasing the visibility of the community, and build better systems for information and event-sharing among the Island’s community groups.

Legal Action: Responsible for advising the Common Council and RIRA-at-large about the viability of legal action as a means for solution and recourse.

The success of each of these committees, and of the Island community, depends on the time and effort each of us invests in their work. No matter how rich or poor a service organization may be, it is only as successful as, and can only help the community to the extent of, those who commit themselves to its operation. I call on each of you who has even a remote interest in serving on any of the above committees to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. By joining and participating in a RIRA committee, not only will you become more engaged in the community, but you’ll be providing an important service to those on the Island who really need it.

Open Council Seats

Turning from service on a RIRA committee to service on the Common Council: A reminder that the Octagon and Manhattan Park delegations are lacking Council members for a significant proportion of their allotted seats. If you think that you could better serve the Island through direct advocacy and representation on the Common Council, you may occupy one of those seats through petition. Interested? For more information, 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..

Community Board 8

The Roosevelt Island Committee of Community Board 8 will hold a meeting on September 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Manhattan Park Community Center. There will be a presentation by Rosina Abramson of Envac, a waste-collection company that served as consultants to the NYC Department of Sanitation on the upgrade of Roosevelt Island’s AVAC system and the current planned non-use of the system by Cornell. The meeting will also involve discussion of recent developments in the construction and installation of the Hope Memorial in Southpoint Park, and the review of the Memorial’s design by the Public Design Commission. For more information concerning the meeting and how you can be more involved in the work of the Roosevelt Island Committee and Community Board 8, contact one of the Committee’s Co-Chairs, Larry Parnes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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