The RIRA Column

October 10, 2015

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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Fall has finally taken hold of our little ship in the East River. With the Fall for Arts Festival today (Saturday, October 10), and the Halloween Parade on October 31, and trick-or-treating in each of our buildings, there’s much ado on Roosevelt Island – and a lot going on with your RIRA Common Council.

Public Purpose Funds

The Public Purpose Funds (PPF) allocation process continues, to help determine RIOC’s financial support for a number of our local non-profits. RIRA’s Public Purpose Funds Committee reports that this year’s applicants have agreed to dates and times for the public interview sessions at the Good Shepherd Center. Beginning at 8:00 p.m. on the following nights, each organization will have a 30-minute slot for its Community Presentation and follow-up: Friday, October 9, Roosevelt Island Seniors Association, Roosevelt Island Youth Program (iDig2Learn), Roosevelt Island Disabled Association; Tuesday, October 13, Life Frames, PS/IS 217 PTA, Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA); Wednesday, October 14, Island Kids, Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance, Roosevelt Island Historical Society. After each applicant’s 10-minute Community Presentation, the PPF Committee and RIOC will have a question-and-answer session with the applicant, followed by an opportunity for public attendees to ask questions. All of the Community Presentations are open to the public, and you’re strongly encouraged to attend. After the Community Presentations have concluded, the Common Council will review the committee’s recommendations and vote on the proposed allocations. For more information regarding the PPF process, go to rioc.ny.gov/pdf/PPG_Guidelines.pdf or contact the Committee Chair, Dave Evans, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

AVAC System

On September 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Manhattan Park Community Center, the Roosevelt Island Committee of Community Board 8 heard a presentation by Rosina Abramson of ENVAC, consultants to the NYC Department of Sanitation, on the current status of Roosevelt Island’s AVAC system and the need to maintain and upgrade certain elements. Although it reflected ENVAC’s perspective, the presentation was informative about the challenges faced by the current system, the costs associated with its proposed maintenance and upgrade, and the fact that it has now exceeded its useful life by approximately 10 years.

Based on the presentation itself, on comments during the meeting about the existing problems of the system in buildings throughout the community, and on the recent stoppage that affected a number of buildings’ systems, the Roosevelt Island Committee of Community Board 8 will continue the discussion with the NYC Department of Sanitation. In addition, the RIRA Common Council will be asking its Island Services Committee and Planning Committee to take on the issue from the State perspective. We hope that, by working together, we can bring our once state-of-the-art system – which has been adopted by 30 countries in over 700 locations – back to being the worldwide model on how best to dispose of and transport waste. For more information about upcoming meetings, how you can get involved, and how you can help via RIRA’s Island Services and Planning Committees and via the Roosevelt Island Committee of Community Board 8, contact Island Services Committee Chair Aaron Hamburger 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., and/or the Roosevelt Island Committee of Community Board 8 Co-Chairs, Larry Parnes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tram Elevators

The need for repair and replacement of the Tram elevators continues to plague our local transport system. In working with RIOC on the issue, the RIRA Island Services Committee reports that although the old elevator was finally repaired at the end of August after an eight-week outage, the elevator still experienced 4-5 shutdowns in September, each lasting 1-3 days. As of the beginning of October, the elevator was in operation, but without new elevators, it is unknown how long uninterrupted service will continue. Furthermore, the installation of the new elevators is currently being delayed due to the bankruptcy of the firm performing the design; the project is not allowed to proceed until the court handling the bankruptcy transfers the contract to a different design group. RIOC estimates that it might be another six weeks before this situation is resolved, but still estimates that the new elevators will be in operation by the fall of 2016. The Island Services Committee is pessimistic, and estimates that the new elevators will not be operating until the first quarter of 2017. The committee will continue to monitor the progress of the project, and work with RIOC on finding interim solutions to ensure continuous transportation services for those who rely on the elevators to get off and on the Island. Interested in the issue? Contact Aaron Hamburger, Chair of the Island Services Committee, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information and how you can help the committee.

Ferry Service

Due to staff illness, the New York City Economic Department Corporation (EDC) had to postpone its presentation to the Common Council, the Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Committee, and Island residents regarding the planned Citywide Ferry Service. Originally scheduled for the 7:30 p.m. Public Session of the October 7 RIRA Common Council meeting, it is now tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m. before the November 4 Common Council meeting, in the Good Shepherd Center. Announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio as an expansion of the City’s ferry system, EDC’s plan proposes five routes connecting 21 locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, to be rolled out in two phases beginning in 2017. It will include a ferry stop on Roosevelt Island. Stay tuned!

Monarch Butterflies

In conjunction with RIOC, the Roosevelt Island Youth Program, PS/IS 217 PTA, Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network, Roosevelt Island Garden Club, Roosevelt Island Historical Society, and Roosevelt Island Girl Scouts (troop 3001 sponsored by Manhattan Park and troops 3244 and 3245 sponsored by RI Beacon Youth Program), iDig2Learn will be hosting phase two of the Monarch Butterfly Corridor Project on Roosevelt Island on Saturday, October 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., rain or shine, at Lighthouse Park (at the northern tip of the Island). Thanks to grants from City Gardens Club of New York City, Citizens Committee of NYC, and Grow to Learn, this free event will give families a chance to learn more about Monarch butterflies, what humans can do to help them, and how Roosevelt Island can play a key part in restoring the Monarch butterflies’ habitat and their flight migrations south to warmer weather every fall. There will be free family-friendly activities, including the popular archaeological dig box where you can hunt for shark’s teeth and fossils, story time by Eva Bosbach, face painting by Liyan Chen, butterfly-themed art with Neha Sharma, and, of course, planting milkweed for the Monarch butterflies. For more information, or how you can volunteer to help, contact Christina Delfico, Director of iDig2Learn, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Common Council Seats

With the latter year of the current two-year Common Council term under way, I strongly encourage residents of The Octagon and Manhattan Park to help fill the few open seats. The single year is a perfect way for those of you who are interested to get your “feet wet” in the business of the Common Council, to see what we’re all about, and to decide whether committing to a full two-year term is for you. We need your expertise, talent, time, and help! For more information, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Aaron Hamburger, Nominations Committee Chair, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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