Report From RIRA President Ellen Polivy - Roosevelt Island Cornell NYC Tech Concerns, Expired RIOC Board Seats, New President Welcomed, Web Site & Blood Drive
Ms Polivy Speaking at May 8 NYC Council Approval of Cornell NYC Tech ULURP Application
Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Ellen Polivy sends the following Report To The Community:
Welcome and Thank you
As RIRA President, I want to extend a warm welcome to our new RIOC President Charlene Indelicato and a huge thank you to Acting President and General Council Don Lewis and VP/Chief Financial Officer, Steve Chironis who both held together the leadership of our operating corporation while it was missing its President and Vice President of Operations. This was a rather large responsibility that they gamely handled as they both also managed to do their regular jobs at the same time. Garden Club, these two gentlemen deserve fresh flowers every week for whole summer. Thanks also to the unnamed heroes on the RIOC Board and the RIOC staff who stepped into the void and took on extra responsibility.
A big part of what RIRA does involves community outreach, and the best way to do that is on the web. We took a close look at our existing web site and decided it wasn’t up to the challenge, so our Communication Committee set out on building a replacement. Big thank you to Co-chair Jeff Prekopa for the web page design and construction. I just got a sneak preview of the new website, and I’m excited about what I’ve seen!
The new web site is much more dynamic, thanks to the addition of blogs for events we sponsor, issues we participate in, and work our committees do. Many of the blogs will be open for comments from the community. There are also new galleries of images and videos, updated document archives, a newsletter sign up and much more. All of this is done in a way that’s easier to navigate, and much more engaging. Like family albums, we expect that the archives and photos of the events we sponsor will be fun to look back at many years from now.
As far as community polling goes, we are still working up the best way to reach out to everyone and are still asking for
The new site will go live this week, so be sure to check it out at http://www.riraonline.com. This is very much a work in progress for us. We plan lots of new content and features over the coming weeks and months, and we will continue to make improvements to better serve you, the Roosevelt Island community.
Roosevelt Island Day is June 15, the day we all come out to improve our community. As we have done for years, RIRA will continue the tradition of our annual blood drive on that day. RIRA members will be recruiting donors at the farmers market for three weekends before the big day, May 25, June 1, 8 and the morning of Roosevelt Island Day.
We hope you will find it in your heart and veins to donate some of your valuable red stuff. The New York Blood Center has some reasons why:
Someone needs blood every two seconds.
Surgical, trauma and cancer patients and those with blood disorders need blood.
Every summer the blood supply in New York City shrinks.
There is no substitute for human blood.
Only 2% of the eligible population donates blood each year.
If only 1% more of Americans donated, blood shortages would disappear.
This year’s New York Blood Center coordinator Elisa Cavaliere informed me that many people have misinformation about eligibility. Prospective donors are prescreened. She urged people to please sign up even if they think they cannot donate. Even if they couldn’t give before, they might be able to donate now. Donating blood is easy and takes only ten minutes.
Let’s make this drive the best year for blood donations yet .
Cornell project is approved by City Council:
You might have already read David Stone’s article on the final land use vote on the CornellNYC Tech project. The Roosevelt Island Community Coalition will be having it’s quarterly membership meeting on Tuesday to review the final agreement the City made with Cornell for the approval of the land use deal. In my next column, I will give more specifics of our gains. Right now we have mixed responses to the ULURP agreements.
Nine months ago RICC created a lengthy term sheet compiled from the 35 organizations that are now in the coalition. Those terms made up the requests and discussions that took place since then. Some were negotiated by RICC directly with the Cornell team and some were championed by Jessica Lappin, Community Board 8 and Borough President Scott Stringer. To their credit, Cornell looked at each of the items on our list and studied them carefully sometimes going to the relevant City agency to discuss the feasibility. We did not get all of our terms. Some refusals were disappointing. Some of the items Cornell championed were surprising, like the walkway to the Queensborough Bridge. The City said no. They also looked into being a local shelter in emergencies. The City said no. But we did get many good programs for the community that we hope will build town gown relationships.
In the final down-to-the-wire negotiation, Jessica Lappin made sure that Cornell’s promise to “adopt” PS/IS 217 would create a long term and ongoing partnership with the school. Cornell has agreed to give extra attention and teacher development to the school starting small this summer and larger when they have a physical presence on Roosevelt Island in 2017. Although their ultimate promise sounds awesome, this start date is not soon enough for us. We would like to see planning start now for a start date next fall when the demolition of Goldwater starts. The people affected by the construction should get the benefits.
Cornell’s agreement to barge the bulk and heavy construction material is pretty big. At their barging presentation to the Community Board back in October, they said that the best they could work out with barging would be 40% to 50% by bringing in two types of mutually exclusive docks. At the last minute their construction guru figured out a way to have both systems work without a dock by some sort of magical levitation. Hence they will now be reducing their truck traffic by 40 to 50%. Best as I can figure, this means that their remaining trucks will be passing through Main Street one every ten minutes. If they can do this, perhaps they can do better and cut out trucking entirely. This is Cornell after all. They are the experts in technology. We will be finding out more about the barging when we meet with Cornell folks shortly.
We are passing the baton to our new RIOC President to get the remaining very real requests from Cornell like sharing the costs of infrastructure and services so community residents don’t subsidize Cornell through our ground rents. We are particularly disappointed in no money for our public purpose fund. RICC plans to continue talking to Charlene Indelicato just like we spoke to Don Lewis and all our other elected officials and boards.
President Indelicato came just in time. Although former Acting President Don Lewis is incredibly smart and capable, an elected President with a background in planning recommended by the Governor has more clout in negotiations than an Acting President. We look forward to working with her.
RICC’s role in collaboration with the Community Board is to keep our eyes and ears open to community concerns and continue an open dialogue with Cornell into the future.
Expired RIOC Board needs reappointment
Right now on the RIOC board, there are three Board members sitting with expired terms and two more soon to expire. Many of them have been reelected but not yet reappointed. Now that we have our RIOC President in place, when will the Governor seat the Board members elected by the community? Governor?