Report From RIRA President Ellen Polivy - Updates Status of Cornell Negotiations, Urges Attendance at February 6 Planning Commission Meeting, Requests Answers To Roosevelt Island Emergency Preparedness Poll And More
Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Ellen Polivy sends the following Report To The Community:
When I ran for RIRA President, my goal was to foster an involved, compassionate, and politically powerful community. We are moving faster than I envisioned. In this column I want to talk about the impact a large group makes. I hope this moves you to show up to the Cornell NYC Tech New York City Planning Commission meeting described below. Roosevelt Island needs to have a huge turnout for the Planning Commission meeting on February 6.
RICC is a sprint
The Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC) is an expanding umbrella group of 35 organizations including RIRA that wants to make sure that our community is treated fairly when important decisions are being made about zoning, land use and construction of the Cornell campus. We are in discussion with Cornell to discuss our needs and concerns and give them the opportunity to be good neighbors. I’m pleased to report that we are making progress and our efforts have impressed all elected and appointed officials and Cornell.
We have developed a positive working relationship with key people at Cornell as well as the ultimate decision makers - elected officials and staff members in NYC agencies and departments. Elected officials have given us time to express our concerns and have been seriously advocating for us. Many of our requests are not simple. We can’t expect that they will happen overnight. Many of them require agreement and movement by multiple agencies. But we have put things in motion.
RICC is directed by a group of talented people who each bring their unique skill. This small group has collectively donated thousands of hours to volunteer on a project that they believe will determine the future of Roosevelt Island.
Perhaps our most important accomplishment is bringing together representatives of thirty-five community organizations to create our document of wants and needs. These groups were willing be give input and time to be involved in this incredibly long but never boring process of planning, negotiating and testifying. We want to bring more people to the table.
If you’re an architect, a city planner, an engineer, or a builder or have any skills that might be helpful– we hope you will become involved. If you’re not in any of those professions, but you’re smart and willing to work, let us know! RICC Board members have been working hard on this. But, now it is your time to help. We need your help showing up at the City Planning Commission hearing for a show of support. Many in our group have developed testimony that will be useful for the the City Planning Commission hearing. We will be meeting at 8:45 on Wednesday, February 6 at the Senior Center to travel on the subway together.
Forty meetings in Five months
What’s been happening since August when we held our first focus group? We’ve spoken at eleven Community Board 8 meetings , orchestrated two public hearings, had our requests passed unanimously by the Community Board spoke at the Astoria/LIC community board (CB1 Queens). We met three times with City Councilmember Jessica Lappin and her staff, met staff members at Borough President Scott Stringer’s office, spoke with State officials Assemblymember Micah Kellner and his staff, Senator Jose Serrano and his staff and Acting RIOC President Don Lewis and staff . We regularly meet with the folks from Cornell. All have remarked that our preparation and large turnouts have been an impressive show of community involvement. We have been treated with the respect that this preparation deserves.
I am awed, seeing how quickly a community can come together for a common goal. Being involved with this process has been a privilege. I have had the opportunity to work with some very smart people who all pull in the same direction. Try that experience some time. It’s a hoot. As a community, we all should be very proud of our successes and our ability to mobilize. I hope that more people will start to join us and come out to the public hearing or send in comments. For a comment template, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
RIRA is the Marathon
If RICC is a sprint, RIRA is a marathon of community involvement. Your representatives work hard at lots of activities for the Island.
I would like to highlight two RIRA Common Council committees that work incredibly hard to make a difference for the residents of the Island. Their efforts are crucial as they pay attention to the day to day life on the Island and to activities that bring joy to our lives. To volunteer or ask questions, You can reach me and both committees through RIRAPresident@gmail.com .
Social Cultural and Educational committee headed by Lynne Shinozaki is in the process of planning an Easter Egg Hunt (March 30), the annual Cherry Blossom Festival (April 13), and a new event based on a grant received by Christina Delfico, “Love Your Block.”(April 20) More about these activities coming up .
Island Services Committee headed by Aaron Hamburger keeps an eye on the services that make our Island run. Its members intervene when a service doesn’t work as well as it could. Currently the members are paying attention to our red bus routes and schedules, our new Public Library plans, parks and playgrounds, the Main Street corridor development and Motorgate. It is also advocating for a full service pharmacy. For more information on issues or bring to our attention new issues and concerns e-mail or phone (212-758-2623). Aaron will deal with the issue or direct the resident to the proper person on the committee who can handle the item.
The RIRA poll. In my last column, I announced the first RIRA poll to help each other in the event of another natural disaster and for civic activism. Click here to fill out the poll.