The RIRA Column

August 6, 2016

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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RIRA Common Council Elections

​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, 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 principals of common good, service to others, and social equity.

​On Roosevelt Island, service to the community comes in many forms. For some, it is visiting with our aged community at the Roosevelt Island Senior Center located at 546 Main Street. For others, it is mentoring an Island youth at the Roosevelt Island Youth Program. Whether it be through attending the performances of the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance, waiting to locally buy a Christmas tree from the PS/IS 217 PTA in December underneath the helix, or directing a bewildered Island visitor to our Visitor Center run by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society at the kiosk by the Tram for a map and unique gift, we all, at one point or another, have served our Roosevelt Island community.

As our summer officially draws to a close, and the onset of fall and the election season draws near, I implore each of you to reflect on what makes our Island home great, what can be improved, and how you can make a difference in the lives of Roosevelt Islanders. With respect to that, I ask that you consider giving back to our Island community by running in November for a seat on the Common Council to represent the interests of your building neighbors, family, and friends. Just as this year’s general election will be a pivotal one for our nation, our Common Council elections here on Roosevelt Island will be equally critical and will require all of us to pay close attention to whom we pick as our community leaders and representatives for the next two years. With the Cornell Tech campus officially opening to the public, the exit of the Mitchell-Lama buildings to privatization, the dwindling amount of affordable housing on the Island, the arrival of the citywide ferry service, the lag in retail and service offerings, and the slow decay of our existing infrastructure, AVAC system, seawall, and roadways, this upcoming Common Council election will be a pivotal one that will lay the groundwork and dictate what life on the Island will look like in the coming years – if not a decade.

Do you have an interest in collectively solving these, and many other, Island issues? If so, I truly hope that you will heed my call and seek to run for a seat on the Common Council. Please reach out to Adib Mansour, Chair of the Election Nomination Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or your building’s representatives to find out how you can have a seat at the table. And keep an eye out for more information both in this column and other media outlets as the details and timeline for this year’s elections will be announced in earnest.

Resolution on Gristedes

During the RIRA Common Council’s September 2017 meeting, Island House Alternate Frank Farance requested a resolution originally seeking to boycott the Roosevelt Island Gristedes due to its unfair and prejudicial cancellation of their participation in the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Food Program, which provides nutritious and healthy food to families in need – including many families on our Island – as well as to demand an investigation by our City, State, and Federal elected officials of the basis for Gristedes cancellation of the program, and that the program be reinstated at the Gristedes location on Roosevelt Island. (See article, page 1.)

Council Member Lynne Shinozaki pointed out that RIRA fought for and demanded that the WIC program be brought to the Island nearly 25 years ago, adding that it is appalling and insulting to the Island community that such a key resource for many on the Island has been summarily stripped without forethought or consideration of the many who are affected.

The Farance Resolution, as amended by Council Members Ellen Polivy and Eva Bosbach and Vice President Sherie Helstein, received overwhelming support and was unanimously passed by the Common Council. In sum and substance, the Resolution demands that City, State, and Federal officials, along with RIOC and Hudson/Related as landlord of Gristedes, answer to the community and substantiate their basis to strip at least 27 Roosevelt Island families in need of their only resource on Island for supported food. Moreover, the amended resolution calls for RIOC and Hudson/Related to leverage their positions under the current and favorable leasehold with Gristedes to bring the program back to the Island.

How can you, as an Islander, help? Make sure to voice your concerns and objections over the cancellation and support of the RIRA Resolution to our Island elected officials, minimize your use of the Island Gristedes, and make sure to let all at management and above at Gristedes know of your support of the WIC program and that you object to the action taken by Gristedes and its owner.

Fall for the Arts 2016

A beloved Island tradition returns on Saturday, September 24, as the annual Fall for Arts Festival on Roosevelt Island descends upon and adorns our outdoor Island spaces. Through the years, this beloved annual tradition by Island children and adults alike, which celebrates our Island’s creative community and the changing seasons, has evolved to include not only the creation during the festival of several six- to eight-foot outdoor murals by Island residents, but also performances and performance art pieces offered by the many talented and gifted Island artists who call our Island their home. This year’s theme is Mosaic Vignettes: Scenes of New York City which will allow artists to design their own visions of NYC using diverse elements to create a collage of images.

All artwork will remain the property of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and may be displayed on Roosevelt Island to beautify the community in the future. Feel free to contact Jessica Murray at 212-832-4540 with any questions.

Tags: RIRA RIRA Column

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