The RIRA Column

August 6, 2016

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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Happy Summer! The “dog days of summer” are upon us, and the Common Council hopes that the summer season has been safe and healthy, full of outdoor fun, family, and memories. Summer is a magical time on Roosevelt Island, and our little ship in the East River continues to buzz with the excitement and energy that only summer can bring. So far we’ve celebrated a well-attended Roosevelt Island Day festival, watched outdoor movies at Firefighters field, enjoyed the Fourth of July Fireworks at Four Freedoms and Southpoint Parks, Family Workshops at the FDR Memorial, children’s summer camps throughout the Island, and informal neighborhood picnics, barbeques, and get togethers at our Island parks. We hope you continue to explore and attend all that the Island has to offer during the waning days of the summer months, and spend a few minutes catching up with your Island neighbors and friends.

Blood Drive

Speaking of Roosevelt Island Day: thanks to your generosity and sense of duty to not only our Island community but to the greater New York City community, over 100 Island residents pledged to donate blood – far exceeding not only the average number of Island donors of RIRA Roosevelt Island Day Blood Drives of the past, but also the record set two years ago. Many thanks go to all of you who signed up to donate blood; and a heartfelt kudos go to this year’s RIRA Roosevelt Island Day Blood Drive chair and organizer, Westview Common Council Alternate Representative Bafode Drame, as well as the Common Council volunteers who helped sign people up to donate. Our Island community helped to save over 150 lives in the Tri-State area. Kudos also go to Southtown Common Council Representative Sharon Williams and her No-Hands CPR team for increasing the number of Island residents who received No-Hands CPR training during this year’s Roosevelt Island Day festivities. Truly, through the efforts of both Sharon and Bafode, countless people will be given a second opportunity at life, a very honorable endeavor indeed.

RIRA Elections

As summer comes to a close, fall and the election season draws near. This year’s elections will be a pivotal one not only for our nation at both the Presidential, Federal, and State levels, but locally on Roosevelt Island. When the Common Council reconvenes in September, it will be undertaking the arduous task of conducting the Island-wide elections for the new slate of Common Council Members and Executive Officers who will be representing you on the Common Council. As with the Presidential, Federal and State elections, our local Island elections will be a pivotal one insofar as the newly elected Common Council members will be dictating what initiatives and direction the Roosevelt Island Residents’ Association will undertake for the next two years, its relationships with RIOC, Cornell and the City, and the future of our Island itself. Issues such as explosion of the Island’s population, straining of the Island’s infrastructure, loss of housing stock, and environmental hazards and community well-being at risk, will be just a few of the issues that the Council will be tackling.

Do you have an interest in collectively solving these, and many other, Island issues? Want to find out more about this year’s elections and what it means to sit on the Common Council? Then read on from Adib Mansour, Chair of the RIRA Elections Committee:

“It has been an honor to be part of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) for the last two years. I’ve always heard of this volunteer-run organization whose members are elected by Roosevelt Island residents to improve our community and tackle any and all issues. In the first several weeks, I sat back and learned from all the members that have graciously served on the Common Council. I saw an opportunity to pitch in and offered to run an Island-wide survey to take a snapshot of the Island, in all the buildings. Five months later, more than 700 survey-takers have given us ample information and data to address at the end of this term and in the next term.

“All the monthly meetings I attended were filled with collaborative efforts to take on different issues with Common Council members chairing a variety of committees. These include the Planning Committee that has worked on Emergency Preparedness, transportation, the impact of Cornell on our daily lives, and short/long term parking, to name a few issues. The Social, Cultural & Education Committee taught several hundred residents Hands-Only CPR, organized Island-wide events including the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Egg Hunt Event, and the ongoing NYC Compost Project. Other committees include the Island Blood Drive in its 14th annual year benefitting the New York Blood Center; the Government Relations Committee, which serves as liaison to local elected officials, and the Public Purpose Fund Committee, which organizes the requests submitted by Island nonprofits for grants funded by RIOC. The Youth Initiative Committee I chaired has organized numerous events for the youth of the Island, including presentations by world-renowned chefs on Italian culture and cuisine and how their passions for culinary art became a worldwide business and established them as cultural messengers. Other undertakings include the Make It Count Leadership Project that teaches young students how a bank works and exposes them to new job opportunities in the financial field, as well as budgeting and organizing activities and events for the Seniors on the Island and earning recognition for their leadership engagement. One other committee I am particularly proud of is the Public Safety Committee that continuously meets with PSD Chief Jack McManus and takes on any issues that relate to the safety of our residents.

“The rewards of serving are far greater than the time commitment of three hours per month to enrich the lives of our neighbors and community. Anyone who is at least 18 years old may serve, regardless of citizenship or nationality.

“RIRA will hold its next election for representatives on November 8, and we invite you to be part of this organization. If you are interested in making a difference on Roosevelt Island, please contact me, Adib Mansour, Chair of the Election Nomination Committee at so we can arrange a conversation about RIRA and how you might participate as an elected representative. And keep an eye out for more information both in this RIRA Column and other media outlets as the details and timeline for this year’s elections will be announced in earnest.”

Public Purpose Funds 2016

Although the Common Council has been on its summer hiatus, many of the committees are still hard at work, including the RIRA Public Purpose Funds (PPF) Committee. RIRA PPF Committee Chair, Dave Evans shares, “Coming on the heels of completion of the Public Purpose Funds process for the 2015/2016 fiscal year, as well as the entering of State legislation securing the Public Purpose Funds’ future, RIOC has made provisions – as of July 2016 – for Island non-profit organizations to apply for funding, which will be disbursed later this year. The total funds available are One-Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00), but is expected to increase in future rounds. As of this writing, the organizations who have applied will now await the RIOC review of their application for suitability. Currently, the Chair is undertaking an effort to staff the RIRA PPF Committee with a suitable number of RIRA Common Council members from across the Island and to ensure they are properly vetted and trained in the procedures that will guide their work. The RIRA PPF Committee will begin and complete the most substantive aspects of its work during the month of September, and it is anticipated that the Common Council will make every effort to approve the RIRA PPF Committee’s recommendations and submit its report to RIOC in early October.” For more information regarding the Public Purpose Fund, the work of the PPF Committee, or the process itself, reach out to the Committee’s Chair, Dave Evans at and for details regarding this year’s process.

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