The RIRA Column

November 7, 2015

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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With the passing of Halloween and the coming of Thanksgiving and the Holidays, your RIRA Common Council continues to be hard at work.  The following are just some of what’s going on with your Common Council.

Public Purpose Funds

The Public Purpose Funds (PPF) process has wrapped up and the RIRA PPF Committee’s debate over the allocation of the funds has concluded. During Wednesday’s RIRA Common Council meeting, the PPF Committee stated that they were refining their report and recommendations as to the allocations of public purpose funds, and recommended that the Common Council call a special session to debate the proposed allocations. As of the writing of this column, the anticipated special session to debate and discuss the proposed allocations is now currently set for Wednesday, November 11th at 8pm, with location to be announced. Once the Common Council has completed that process, the approved recommendations will then be sent to RIOC for adoption, and, if all goes well and if the pending legislation concerning the Public Purpose Funds is either signed or otherwise ratified, then the applying non-profits should be receiving financial support before the end of the year. For more information regarding the PPF process, go to or contact the Committee Chair, Dave Evans, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We commend the members of the PPF Committee for their hard work, dedication and tremendous contribution to the community and those non-profits organizations applying for funds. We also thank the RIRA Government Relations Committee for their role in getting the PPFs restored through advocacy with Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright.

Ferry Service coming

During Wednesday’s RIRA Common Council meeting, the New York City Economic Department Corporation (EDC) also gave its presentation to the Island community, in a joint meeting to the Common Council and the Manhattan Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Committee, its plans for Citywide Ferry Service – specifically as it services and effects Roosevelt Island. As announced by Mayor de Blasio earlier this year as part of his proposed expansion of the city’s ferry system, the NYC EDC has proposed five planned ferry routes which will connect 21 locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, including Roosevelt Island, which will be rolled out in two phases beginning in 2017. The contemplated ferry route servicing Roosevelt Island would originate from the Hallets Point development in Astoria, stop at Roosevelt Island and the planned dock in Long Island City, and then continue on to East 34th Street and Wall Street/Pier 11 in Manhattan.

The EDC confirmed that the Citywide Ferry System will be a reality, and that the planned route which would include the Roosevelt Island stop (the Astoria-Roosevelt Island-Long Island City-Manhattan Route) would be one of the first routes rolled out with the new Citywide Ferry Service in 2017. The EDC also announced that the planned ferry landing will be located on the Queens side of the Island, near the Tramway and subway stations, across East Road from Firefighter’s Field and the old Steam Plant. Although currently not contemplated to be part of the MTA Metrocard system, a ride on the ferry is anticipated to cost the same as a single subway ride ($2.75), and will permit free transfers between differing ferry routes (but not between the subway or Tram).

When asked whether there currently were any impediments to the planned rolling out of the ferry system in 2017, the EDC confirmed that no impediments currently exist – including for service to Roosevelt Island – and that the project is fully funded. Exciting times, indeed! For more information regarding the Citywide Ferry Service, timing of the program’s launch, and expected routes, go to, and keep your eye out for our next meeting with the EDC in early spring of 2016, as we check-in on the status of the construction of our ferry dock and status of the rolling out of the system. (Also see  story, page 1.)

Hands-Only CPR

The RIRA Social, Culture and Education (SC&E) Committee will be offering CPR training at the end of each monthly RIRA Common Council meeting for both RIRA members and anyone in the community.  To date, nearly 500 of our neighbors have received the training, making our community one of the best-prepared in the City.  The SC&E Committee will also hold one public class each month (the time, date and location will be announced in The WIRE and on the Roosevelt Islander blog) and will be asking your RIRA representatives to host a class in your building.  Sessions can be scheduled as a two-hour block, and neighbors can drop by during that period for a 15-minute lesson. Leaders of community organizations, such as the RI Parents Network, congregations of the local religious groups, family garden groups, and others are also invited to participate.

Please contact Sharon Williams at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule a training session in your building or with your RIRA representative for an upcoming meeting or event. New trainers are always welcome.  If interested in becoming a trainer, please contact Sharon.

RIRA Youth Initiative

As part of RIRA and its SC&E’s commitment to bridge youth and families, the RIRA Youth Initiative will be holding a number of events in the upcoming year to build awareness of other cultures amongst our youth.  One of the first planned events will be with celebrity chef Ciro Casella, who will speak about Italian culture and southern Italian cuisine.  During the event, middle school students and their families will be invited to come together and prepare pizza with his special recipe.  The chef will cover all material expenses and bring his own wood oven to cook the pizzas.  Another planned event will be with famous Italian designer Stefano Imbert, who will lead middle school students in a book-cover project, using cutouts and colors, while discussing careers in the creative industries.  For more details on these programs, and to volunteer in helping, please contact Adib Mansour via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Community Polling

RIRA’s Community Polling Initiative plans to conduct community polling in the next few months to assess a wide range of issues which directly affect you, as an Island resident, while obtaining meaningful and actionable feedback.  This survey will also help identify areas of need so that both the present and future RIRA Common Council can plan, allocate resources and maximize efforts to serve targeted needs.  Be on the lookout for the polling surveys in the next few weeks and remind your neighbors and friends to fill them out and return the completed surveys to RIRA.  For more details on the Community Polling Initiative, please contact Adib Mansour via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blue Dragon Sculpture

In March of this year, the Common Council voted to support the acceptance of an offer by Swedish sculptor Gustav Kraitz to donate his original Blue Dragon sculpture to the children, families, and residents of the Roosevelt Island community.  To be placed just outside Southpoint Park, the unique sculpture will invite children to climb, play and interact with the sculpture and its surroundings.  First brought to the Common Council by former Octagon representative Elisabeth Stapen and Gallery RIVAA through the SC&E Committee last year, the acceptance of the gift by RIOC has been a hard-fought battle which culminated in a letter of agreement signed between RIOC and the sculptor last week.  Many thanks to Stapen and her incredible vision and dedication to bringing the sculpture to Roosevelt Island, as well as the support of Gallery RIVAA and RIRA through its SC&E Committee.  Without their dedication, this project would never have come together.  We look forward to the planned installation and unveiling of the Blue Dragon in April of next year, during the sculptor’s 90th year and just in time for the spring of 2016!

SC&E Committee Happenings

The Social, Cultural & Educational Committee continues to plan for the final year of the current two-year Common Council term.  From the annual Spring Egg Hunt, to the Cherry Blossom Festival, Roosevelt Island Day, Public Service Announcement Project with the Island’s Girl Scouts, and a Bollywood Dinner and Dance, many programs are in the works.  Are you interested in planning a Community Readiness Program providing Islanders with emergency and disaster training?  How about Education Workshops on how families can navigate the City’s various public education programs, including the City’s Gifted & Talented program?  Interested in helping with the Youth Initiative’s Learn to Safely Skateboard program?  Or do you have an event that you think RIRA would want to sponsor?  Contact Lynne Shinozaki for more information at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and attend the SC&E Committee’s next meeting, and stay tuned!

Food for Seniors

On October 22nd, the Fresh Food for Seniors program, in its effort to expand its services to more senior citizen centers in Northern Manhattan, made its first delivery to the Senior Center on Roosevelt Island.  Started in 2012 in conjunction with GrowNYC and the Department for the Aging, the Fresh Food for Seniors program provides senior citizens throughout Manhattan with locally-grown fruit and vegetables for just $8 a bag, delivered to their senior center.  Through the efforts of the board members of the Roosevelt Island Seniors Association and the Borough President’s Office, our Roosevelt Island Senior Center is now one of the centers participating in the program.  To continue the service, the program will need more Island residents to sign up.  If you are a Senior interested in participating in the program and for more information, go to  The next pickup is scheduled for Wednesday, November 18, 3:00- 6:00 p.m., with orders to be placed November 9-10, 1:00-3:00 p.m.  Sign up, and let’s make this program a permanent one for our Island Seniors.

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