The RIRA Column

March 5, 2016

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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It has been recently reported that the current President of RIOC, Charlene Indelicato, will be leaving her post in April to be the Village Administrator of Dobbs Ferry.  Although the RIRA Common Council has yet to receive official and proper notice of Ms. Indelicato’s departure, it is unfortunate that such departure, if true, comes at a time when stewardship of life on the Island and its residents is needed the most.

• Construction trucks are constantly rumbling up and down Main Street polluting our main corridor and causing transportation frustrations and delays on a regular basis.

• Infrastructure projects remain uncompleted, inhibiting Islanders’ ability to fully utilize the Island’s resources.

• Facilities are in need of repair and refurbishment, serving to mark our Island as aging.

• The Main Street retail corridor sits empty, and forcing residents to look elsewhere to meet their everyday needs.

• Community groups are forced to vy for space at a time when community and non-profit services are most needed.

• RIOC Board members’ ability to make decisions has been neutered by strong-arming and edict from the powers that be in Albany.

A vacuum of leadership and stewardship is not what the Island needs right now.  In fact, one could say it is what is needed the least.

Regardless, with Ms. Indelicato’s departure, an opportunity presents itself that would allow a suitable long-term RIOC President to be installed.  One would hope that Albany and the Governor’s office will do what is right and allow Island residents to participate in providing input on who the next RIOC President will be, and will install a RIOC executive who has the Island and the community’s best interests in hand. One can only hope, for it has yet – over the course of the Island’s history for the last 40 or so odd years – for this hope to be seen.

Participatory Budgeting

Among the 15 projects on this year’s Participatory Budgeting ballot in which residents of 24 City Council districts have the opportunity to vote on how $25 million of taxpayer money is spent Citywide, Roosevelt Island once again has two projects vying for your and our community’s vote.  What is Participatory Budgeting?  It is the City’s annual effort to allow residents of our City to democratically and directly vote on how to spend part of the City’s public budget.

Phase II in support of finalizing the effort to bring a 6,750 square-foot green roof and green STEM learning hub to our Island children is on this year’s ballot.  If you will recall, last year, through the hard work and support of Principal Mandana Beckman along with Ursala Fokine, PS/IS 217 Science and Math Coach and Sustainability coordinator, the Parent-Teacher Association of PS/IS 217, parents and friends of PS/IS 217, the Cornell Tech Partnership, City Councilmember Ben Kallos, Borough President Gale Brewer and countless others, the first step in the school’s efforts since 2013 to bring a green roof to PS/IS 217 became a reality when New York City residents overwhelmingly voted in support of pledging PS/IS 217 $500,000 towards the $1.5 million needed.  Manhattan Borough Gale Brewer pledged a further $250,000 in support of the endeavor last year.  Now, PS/IS 217 is on the cusp of making the green roof and green STEM learning hub of PS/IS 217 a reality – but they need your help.

Also on this year’s Participatory Budgeting ballot is the initiative to bring 10 Computer Carts to 10 New York City Public Schools, including our PS/IS 217.  If successful, each school will receive 32 new computers.

During the week of March 29, make sure you stop by the following Roosevelt Island venues and vote for PS/IS 217’s Green Roof initiative and the 10 Computer Carts for 10 Schools initiative: Saturday, March 26 at the RIRA Annual Egg Hunt at Manhattan Park, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.; Tuesday, March 29 at the F Train Subway Stop on Roosevelt Island, 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.; Wednesday, March 30 at the Tramway Plaza at 59th Street in Manhattan, 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.; and Thursday, March 31 at PS/IS 217 located at 645 Main Street, 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  No voter registration or proof of citizenship is required.  There’s tough competition, against many others on the Upper East Side, so be sure to get out and vote in support of the Roosevelt Island initiatives and make our voice, as the Roosevelt Island community, heard!

RIRA Annual Egg Hunt

The date has been set and this year’s RIRA Annual Egg Hunt is set for Saturday, March 26 at 11 a.m. at the Manhattan Park Green across the street from Gristedes.  The RIRA Social, Cultural and Educational Services Committee, in conjunction with other Island organizations, businesses, and charities invite you and your little ones ages 8 and under to participate in this new Island tradition.  As with last year, rain or shine, this year’s hunt will include a visit from the Easter Bunny, story time under the tree, bonnet-making, children’s book giveaways, the egg hunt, and so much more. Space will be limited and registration will be required, so keep on the lookout for more information on how to be put on the pre-registration mailing list.  Interested in volunteering to help stuff eggs and to assemble gift baskets?  Do you or your organization have items to donate for this year’s festivities and giveaways. If you have the time, talent, or want to help make this year’s hunt a very special one for the expected 500 child attendees, email the SC&E Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and contact the Common Council at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On Roosevelt Island We…

The RIRA Social Cultural and Education (SCE) Committee’s year-long “On Roosevelt Island We …” campaign is in full swing, and we invite your child to directly participate in the campaign by sharing ideas about what makes our Island so special.  Through the eyes, minds, words and pictures of our Island’s children, the SCE Committee’s multi-media campaign designed to promote good citizenship and raise awareness of the impact our Island Residents have on each other’s lives have begun to be posted throughout the Island.  If you or your child have an idea for an “On Roosevelt Island We…” poster, or your or your child’s community group or organization would like to participate in this year’s campaign, do not hesitate in reaching out at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to submit your idea or your poster. Submissions with children’s work will be reproduced, distributed, and posted throughout Main Street and on our Island’s Red Bus.

Many thanks to Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, chair of the RIRA Social Cultural and Education Committee for this initiative, Leila Vujosevic for chairing the RIRA “On Roosevelt Island We..” subcommittee, Adib Mansour for designing the flyers, and all the Island children’s groups and children for their participation!  And remember, when you see a poster, don’t just read it, heed it!

Composting Initiative Partnership

Since the launch of the Composting Initiative late last November, Island Residents have contributed, over a span of 14 Saturdays and 972 drop offs, over 4,804 pounds of organic materials.  That’s nearly two tons of organic kitchen scraps and materials to be composted.  Keep spreading the word. Every household counts! The Roosevelt Island Composting Initiative will continue its cooperation with the NYC Compost Project and BIG-Reuse and will continue to accept organic kitchen scraps at the Roosevelt Island Saturday Markets under the Helix to be composted and used to rebuild Island and City gardens.

Have you contributed yet?  It’s easy!  Every Saturday residents can drop food scraps like vegetables, fruit, bread, rice, egg shells, coffee grinds, paper tea bags, flowers and indoor plants beyond their prime.  No meat, oil or dairy please.  Store your organic scraps in the freezer or in a closed container.  Paper bags can go right in, or try a reusable container to hold your scraps until drop off!  Join your neighbors, RIRA, the Roosevelt Island Garden Club, the PS/IS 217 PTA, iDig2Learn, the Girl Scouts, and 45 other Island residents in the movement every Saturday as we look to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Want to find out more about how you can join the movement?  Send the Common Council an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Tags: RIRA Column

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