The RIRA Column

November 21, 2015

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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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 a special session of the RIRA Common Council on November 11, the committee presented their report and, after lengthy discussion, recommendations as to the proposed allocations of public purpose funds were affirmed by the Common Council, as follows:

• PS/IS 217 Parent Teachers Association (PTA), $17,000

• Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association (RIVAA), $9,300

• Life Frames, Inc., $5,000

• Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS), $8,000

• Roosevelt Island Senior Association (RISA), $15,000

• Island Kids, $7,000

• Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA), $11,000

• Youth Center-iDig2Learn, $9,000

• Main Street Theater and Dance Alliance $18,700

The approved recommendations have been sent to RIOC for adoption, and, if all goes well and the pending legislation concerning the Public Purpose Funds is either signed or otherwise ratified, the applying non-profits should be receiving financial support before the end of the year. For more information regarding this year’s and next year’s 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..

It goes beyond saying that the PFF process for 2015 funds, which took more than one-and-a-half years to conclude, was a long and often challenging one. RIOC and the members of the PPF Committee cooperatively worked very hard to keep the process transparent, adhere to the state and statutory rules and guidelines governing the process, maintain the highest standard of ethical decision-making from both a legal and personal standpoint, and work within the often difficult constraints that the process provided to ensure that all Island organizations who applied for funding received fair financial support. We and the Roosevelt Island community 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, especially given the circumstances of this year.

Community Polling

In December, RIRA’s Community Polling Initiative will be rolled out to directly ask you, our Roosevelt Island community, which issues you believe directly affect you as an Island resident, as well as soliciting meaningful and actionable feedback. The intent of the community polling is to help target areas of need so that both the present and future RIRA Common Councils can plan, allocate resources, and maximize efforts. Be on the lookout for more information on how you can participate in the community polling surveys 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..

PS/IS 217 G&T Forum

Are you a parent who is contemplating having your child tested for the New York City Department of Education’s Gifted and Talented (G&T) Program? Is your child currently registered for next year’s test and in the process of preparing for it? Do you have questions about both the G&T Program and other educational programming currently being offered at PS/IS 217? In conjunction with the RIRA Social, Cultural, and Education Committee, the Parent & Teachers’ Association (PTA) of PS/IS 217, and the Education and Roosevelt Island Committees of Manhattan Community Board 8, we will be holding an education summit on Monday, December 14, at 6:30 PM at PS/IS 217 for parents planning to have their child tested, for those who already registered for next year’s test, and for those who have questions about PS/IS 217’s educational programs. A tour of the school will be conducted at 6:00 PM. Representatives of the NYC Department of Education, Principal Mandana Beckman, and members of PS/IS 217’s educational programs will be on hand to answer questions on planning for your child’s next academic year and what your child should expect during the G&T testing process, as well as questions on what to expect from the curriculum of the school’s G&T program, the differences between the educational programs available at PS/IS 217, the keys to success as a PS/IS 217 student, and the future plans for the school’s curriculum. Stay tuned for more details, and reach out to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., with any suggestions or topics you would like to see covered.

Join a RIRA Committee

We are all community servants at some point in our lives. Whether it be as employees of government and for non-profits, elected officials, members of boards and community organizations, volunteers, philanthropists or merely donors to an organization serving a community, at one time or another a piece of us is contributed to the greater good. Service to the community, in the truest sense, attracts a special kind of individual and is often based on a sense of duty or a commitment to a cause that extends beyond the needs of the moment. For some, investing in your community ensures a return three times over to a place where you live, breathe, work and play. For others, it is giving back to a community that invested in them. Regardless of one’s motives, providing service to the community embodies the principles of common good, service to others and social equity.

With the election of David Lawson, Westview Representative, as chair of RIRA’s Planning Committee, the leadership of RIRA Common Council’s Committees is fully realized. As I have said many times, the work of RIRA is done largely through its committees, and you, as a RIRA member (as all Islanders are), are eligible to serve on as many committees as you wish. Are you concerned about the disappearance of affordable units on the Island? The RIRA Housing Committee wants you. Do you have ideas on how our infrastructure can more efficiently and safely serve our growing population? The RIRA Planning and RIRA Island Services Committees need your services. The following is but a small slice of the active RIRA committees that you and any of your neighbors may and should join:

• Government Relations Committee: 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, the GRC ensures the establishment of ongoing relations with local, state and federal government, and quasi-government officials.

• Housing Committee: Addressing the issues and concerns of Island residents regarding the management, living conditions, and rental policies of the residential buildings on the Island, it serves as the liaison for RIRA and the Roosevelt Island Community to various building committees and housing task forces.

• Island Services Committee: While supervising and reviewing the delivery of transportation, park and recreation, sanitation, postal and commercial services and common facilities, the Island Services Committee assists individuals and organizations who may experience problems obtaining Island services and looks to provide solutions on how current Island services can better serve the Roosevelt Island Community.

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

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

• Social, Cultural and Education Services Committee: Looking to create social, cultural and educational programs and events promoting and improving community bonds on the Island, the primary task of SC&E, Social, Cultural and Educational Services Committee, is to develop initiatives and programming which bind and strengthen the fabric of the Island Community.

• Communications Committee: The hub for community publishing and educating the Island community of RIRA initiatives and community events, the Communications Committee looks to find and develop better means of increasing the visibility of the Island community and build better systems for information and event sharing among the Island’s community groups.

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

The success of each of these committees, if not the Island community, depends on the time, effort and expense each of us make in our investment in these committees’ work. No matter how rich or poor a service organization may be, it is only as successful as, and can only service the community to the extent of, those who commit themselves to its operation. With the completion of the election, the Common Council shall be reconstituting both the chairmanships and the composition of each of these committees. Thus, I call on each and every one of us who has even a remote interest in serving on any of the above committees (or for that matter, on a committee that may not have been mentioned) to directly reach out to myself at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or to the respective Committee Chairs 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 Island community, but you will be providing important services to your fellow residents.

Contacting Your RIRA Delegate

Did you know that you can always contact any member of the RIRA Common Council either through email or social media? Aside from directly contacting me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., you can now send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or point your browser to, and your issue or question will be directly routed to your Common Councilor and those RIRA Common Council members and Committee Chairs who are in the best position to help.

Lastly, we would be remiss if the Common Council did not offer to each of you a full-hearted Happy Thanksgiving from our families to yours. As we all take this time to look back and reflect on the blessings of this past year while enjoying food and family, please also take the time to remember those in our community who are less fortunate and in need. In a city and community of bounty and excess, it can still amaze how many continue to be underserved. Whether it be through a donation to a local food pantry to handing out food at New York City’s overburdened shelters, do find a way to help all have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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