The RIRA Column

September 24, 2016

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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Jazz & World Music Festival

Do you hear that? Is it the rustling of fall leaves as our seasons begin to turn? Paint and paint brushes on 6-by-8 foot murals creating beloved works to be cherished on the Island? The laughter of families, friends and neighbors enjoying an annual tradition of a day of art and fun? The annual Fall for Arts Festival returns this Saturday, September 24, 2016, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on the lawn south of 501 Main Street. Throughout the years, this annual tradition celebrating our Island’s creative community and the changing seasons has evolved to include not only the creation during the festival of several 6x8-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.

A new addition to this year’s festival is the First Annual Roosevelt Island Jazz & World Music Festival. Saturday’s performances will be kicked off with the Gallery RIVAA Jazz Salonists, who have performed for the last three years at Gallery RIVAA’s First Sunday Jazz Salon events, and include performances by award winning Indian and Sharan desert blues and jazz vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia, who will be joined on stage by guitarist Rez Abbasi, Nitin Mitta on tabla (drum), and accordion player Will Holshouser, as well as performances by internationally acclaimed Sounds of Brazil guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and the Roni Ben-Hur Quintet, which will include Mexican vocalist Magos Herrera, drummer Helio Schiavo, and Itaiguara on bass.

Did we mention that this festival of world class, award winning performances and performers, along with community art and festivities, is free to Island residents? Please be sure to come by and take in a day of art, jazz and fun with your Island neighbors, family, and friends!

Community Election Coming

We urge you to consider running for a spot on the RIRA Common Council to represent the interests of your constituents and building. Garnering a spot on the Common Council, however, is more than just attending the Council’s monthly meetings. The work of RIRA is done largely through its committees where lively debates are held and resolutions are reached on key issues that affect our daily lives on the Island; each Common Council member is not only required during their term to serve on a committee, but also given an opportunity to chair such a committee. Are you concerned about the displacement of affordable units on the Island? Run for a Common Council position and chair the RIRA Housing Committee. Do you have ideas on how our infrastructure can more efficiently and safely service our growing population? Run to represent the interests of your building and join the RIRA Island Services Committee. The following is but a small slice of the active RIRA committees that you, as an elected Common Council Member, can join and even chair:

Government Relations: Ensures the establishment of ongoing relations with Local, State and Federal government and quasi-government officials. Members of this committee represent RIRA and the Roosevelt Island Community to the Local, State and Federal representatives and agencies who have jurisdiction over the Island.

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

Island Services: Monitors and reviews 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 those Island services and looks to provide solutions on how current Island services can better serve the Roosevelt Island Community.

Planning: 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, as well as recommends and implements policies relating to energy, conservation, distribution and generation.

Public Safety: 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: Creates social, cultural and educational programs and events promoting and improving community bonds on the Island. The primary task of the Social, Cultural and Educational Services Committee is to develop initiatives and programming which bind and strengthen the fabric of the Island Community.

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

Legal Action: Responsible for advising the Common Council as to the viability of legal action as a means for solution and recourse.

The success of each committee, if not the Island community at large, relies on the time and effort of Common Council members and the committees’ work. An organization is only as successful as those who commit themselves to its operation. When the new roster of Common Council members is elected in November, the new Council will reconstitute both the chairmanships and the composition of each of these committees.

If you have even a remote interest in serving on or chairing any of the above committees, I strongly urge you to run for a seat on the Common Council. By running for and being elected to the Common Council and either participating or chairing a RIRA committee, not only will you become more engaged in the Island community, but you will be providing an important service to those of the Island who really need them. Please reach out to the RIRA Nominations Chair, Adib Monsour at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on how to place your name on this year’s ballot.

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