The RIRA Column

February 13, 2016

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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Valentine’s Day weekends for the past two years were both forecast to be snowy and cold. This Valentine’s Day weekend is forecast to be the coldest this winter. As with all weather forecasts, one must take predicted conditions in stride; but as New Yorkers, and especially as Roosevelt Islanders floating in our little ship down the East River, we should never underestimate what Mother Nature may blow our way. Understanding how cold temperatures affect vulnerable members of our community in different ways, I implore you to check in on your infirm, immobile, and needy neighbors. Lend a helping hand as they seek comfort and warmth.

RIRA Polling Initiative: The Survey

Have you taken The Survey yet? If not, join your Island neighbors, family, and friends who have, and go to now, answer a few questions regarding Island life and community concerns, and have your voice heard by your RIRA Common Council! With just a few clicks, you can shape the term of the current and next Common Council, voice directly to RIOC and your elected officials what Island issues matter to you the most, and help determine the programming and advocacy platforms which affect your life on the Island.

Don’t have online access or prefer to respond through traditional pen and paper? Head to either our Roosevelt Island Public Library or the Public Safety Department, pick up and complete the survey and submit your responses. Common Council volunteers will also be available at the Roosevelt Island Public Library to assist in completing the online survey during the times and dates posted at the library. Also, keep your eyes peeled for when your Common Council Representative will be on hand in your building to assist in The Survey. We strongly encourage all of you to participate, go to and let your voice be heard! Have questions regarding The Survey or need assistance participating? Have other polling questions that were not raised but you believe should be asked of the Community, whether during the next round of polling or at a community-wide meeting? Email the Polling Initiative’s Chair, Adib Mansour, at and let your voice be heard!

RIRA Planning Committee Update

The RIRA Planning Committee is now chaired by David Lawson () of Westview, and they have set an aggressive agenda and timetable for the remainder of this term. For those unfamiliar with the work of the RIRA Planning Committee, it is the entity of the Common Council explicitly 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 – as well as monitoring and recommending positions on community planning matters, policies relating to energy, conservation, distribution and generation.

For the balance of this term, the Planning Committee has their eyes set on (1) developing, in conjunction with RIOC and the City, an Island-wide emergency plan; (2) enhancing the current transportation plan on the Island, including the planned ferry system, safety of bike circulation on roadways, and bike/pedestrian safety on the promenade, and identifying dangerous pedestrian/bike sections of the Island’s roadways; (3) accessing the long-term impact and change in demographics the arrival of Cornell Tech NYC will have on the Island’s infrastructure and support; and (4) environmental protection of Island residents, including air quality monitoring and the maintenance/upgrade of the existing AVAC system. Are you interested in getting involved or have suggestions on how the Planning Committee might tackle such issues? Send the Common Council an email at or reach out to David Lawson, Chair of the Planning Committee at .

Composting Initiative Partnership

The Roosevelt Island Composting Initiative, in cooperation with the NYC Compost Project and BIG-Reuse, report that in the first ten weeks of the composting program, Roosevelt Islanders have made a total of 576 organic kitchen scraps and organic waste drop-offs at the Roosevelt Island Saturday Markets under the Helix, totaling over 3,924 lbs. That’s close to two tons of waste that would otherwise have ended up in landfills! It will now be diverted to be recycled, composted, and used to rebuild Island and city gardens, thanks to Roosevelt Islanders.

But we are not done yet! Continue to bring your kitchen scraps and organic waste to be composted at the Saturday Market, supported by RIRA, the Roosevelt Island Garden Club, the PS/IS 217 PTA, iDig2Learn, the RI Girl Scouts, and 45 other Island residents as we look to reduce, reuse and recycle. And keep your eye out as the initiative grows! Want to find out more about how you can join the movement? Send the Common Council an email at

Uptick in Complaints re Pet Waste

As the last of the snow of the last blizzard has melted, I would be remiss not to mention the number of recent complaints and calls to RIRA, RIOC, 311 and the City of the failure by dog owners to curb their pets and pick up after them during the last snow storm. Although required by City law and finable up to $200 for failing to do so, a number of residents continually choose not to pick up their dog’s feces, causing unsanitary and unsightly conditions, which expose both children and adults, young, old and infirm, to a number of diseases, bacteria, and environmental hazards that only uncollected waste can cause.

As a dog owner, I can sympathize. I understand – especially when the temperatures freeze, snow is on the ground, or rains fall. It is not an option for any dog owner, however, not to pick up after one’s dogs. Notwithstanding seeking from RIOC, and individual buildings, the installation of more waste dispensers and receptacles in and around highly trafficked and used areas, as well as signage reminding of the local laws requiring pick-up, it is up to each and every one of us – pet owner and non-pet owners alike – to seek community enforcement of such rules.

We inhabit an Island of limited space with an exploding population – of both humans and pets alike – and it is up to us to ensure that the beautiful walkways and parks that we all enjoy are not, come spring, filled with animal waste.

Tags: RIRA Column

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