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Friday, August 2, 2013

Report From RIRA President Ellen Polivy - Roosevelt Island Evacuation Zone, CERT Training, Cornell NYC Tech EDC Lease Agreement And Common Council Resumes Next Month

Click here for the new NYC Hurricane Evacuation Map.

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Ellen Polivy sends the following Report To The Community:
OEM to speak about Roosevelt Island's new evacuation zones:

Thanks to the efforts of City Council member, Jessica Lappin, On Tuesday August 27, Office of Emergency Management will be holding a meeting on Roosevelt Island to tell us about our new evacuation zone. It appears that Roosevelt Island is now split between two evacuation zones. The new zones have more refinement in determining which zones to evacuate during any given emergency. On August 27, we will learn more about this. Meeting will take place from 6:30 to 7:45 at the Manhattan Park Theater Club. Our Government Relations Committee is considering inviting candidates to talk to the community after the OEM presentation. Taking advantage of an existing crowd for a relatively short but important meeting, anyone who would like to remain will have the chance to hear the candidates who choose to come. If we can pull it off, we will let you know.

CERT class forming now:

Hurricane season is soon upon us. Super Storm Sandy occurred last October. In anticipation for any possible emergencies on the Island, the Roosevelt Island CERT team is attempting to increase its membership. CERT, the acronym for Community Emergency Response Team reaches out to neighbors and teaches people to prepare for emergencies, builds community resilience by helping people respond appropriately during the emergency and helps in recovery. CERT has proved to be effective at helping first responders in emergency situations providing triage and backup assistance to allow the first responders to be more effective.

I am happy to report that RIRA's efforts to request a CERT class on Roosevelt Island has paid off. The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has generously agreed to hold its ten week training class on the Island providing we have a large enough enrollment. The Roosevelt Islander Blog call-out for CERT class applicants has been very effective. The Roosevelt Island class is almost filled. OEM has assured me that they will find a place for anyone who wants to take the class this fall. We need all interested people to get involved.

The volunteers on CERT are an elite group, having been trained in 10 weekly sessions on everything from fire safety to subway evacuation to protocols for mass disaster response. Please sign up to be a CERT trainee. When the course is completed you will have the status of being able to represent CERT in helping your community and the city prepare and respond to emergencies. The main expectation of CERT members is to help their immediate community. However, members are also offered opportunities to take additional courses, take part in FDNY disaster drills, are deployed to help in real disasters around the City and assist in many Citywide events. The work CERT does is respected and needed. One year we were invited to Gracie Mansion for a thank you cocktail party and photos with Mayor Mike.

The CERT Class will be held on Tuesdays from Sept 24 to Dec 3 from 6:30-9:30 on Roosevelt Island. To get an application, stop by Public Safety or email our CERT Chief at

Busy summer:

We still have another month, so please don't feel like I am rushing the summer when I say that the RIRA Common Council starts up again on Wednesday, September 11 at 8pm. I too, relish the last four weeks of summer even though my workload does not seem to have let up like I had hoped. Among my summer community volunteer activities were RIRA committees, RICC itemizing the gains and losses from our year long discussion with Cornell, the Community Board vote on the final lease for Cornell and back to organizing a CERT team training on the Island and an OEM presentation on our new evacuation status.

RIRA Common Council resumes:

At our next RIRA council meeting, We hope to have our new RIOC President Charlene Indelicato meet the Common Council. We will have also have presentations by Korean Association about their proposed gazebo in Southpoint Park and Island Shakespeare Theater Company about their ideas for space. Both groups are asking for RIRA support.

Importance of RIRA:

This brings me to the question; how does RIRA's support for the important work of Island groups help each organization and the community as a whole?

First, RIRA acts like a think tank- A group may be very insular because they are composed of people with similar interests and inclinations. By exposing their proposal to a wider breath of thoughts and relatively disinterested parties throughout the community, the group is forced to accurately assess their appeal and perhaps amend their plan to achieve broader acceptance.

Second, RIRA acts as a vetting organization. Since we discuss and evaluate proposals brought before us, we are providing the community's seal of approval. A group's proposal may be tempered by broader public discussion and then accepted. This deliberative quality is why RIRA has gained the respect of RIOC, elected officials, governmental organizations and funding sources as the voice of the community. A group vetted by RIRA is thought to understand the broader community needs and wants and is serving a real need.

Committee membership:

In the Fall, there will be lots of room on committees for all who want to join. Remember, all Island residents are RIRA members and all can join committees. Check out our new website which is in its formative stages as the committee chairs learn how to post onto it .

Roosevelt Island Community Coalition

We want to thank Cornell and Jessica Lappin during the Land use process. With the help of Cornell’s connections and collaborative work with Jessica Lappin, we were able to get access to many organizations to discuss Island issues.

RICC is an example of how the community has pulled together- Not just residents but also other stakeholders, the business, organizations, schools, not for profits as well as the residents to make our needs known to Cornell and the elected officials and governmental organizations during the land use review of Cornell. We hope to continue to ensure our Island is treated fairly and respectfully during construction.

Here is the RICC official statement about Cornell’s land lease approval.

The lease between Cornell NYC Tech and the City of New York was, unsurprisingly, adopted by New York City's Borough Board on July 18th.

The cup is half full; the cup is half empty.

RICC was pleased at certain inclusions in the lease -- notably Cornell's agreement to barge some construction materials in order to reduce the number of trucks on Main Street. RICC believes, however, that the barging agreement, lacking the element of an onsite cement plant, is at best a partial solution and will still bring too many trucks to Main Street, especially cement trucks. Moreover, the agreement --as are most agreements throughout the lease -- is worded in a vague, nonspecific manner that defies accountability. This will be a constant concern in near and distant future.

On the positive side, RICC and its community members were responsible for identifying and urging the inclusion of many of the community commitments that appear in the lease. (Actually, they are appended to the lease.) These commitments include "adopting" PS/IS217 by providing a variety of programs and services; mentoring for post high school young adults; computer training for seniors and adaptive computer technology for disabled residents; an environmental learning center for children (in the lease it became worded as outdoor space for children); meeting space for community groups; and the creation of a construction committee (to include RICC) for communication and oversight during the development process. RICC will do its utmost to help see to it that these and other Cornell commitments are ultimately fulfilled. Cornell is in the process of “operationalizing” the commitments to the community. RICC member organizations will be giving advice to Cornell in their goal of bringing their agreements to life.

Another positive note is that RIOC, led by Board President Charlene Indelicato, is involved in private discussions with Cornell and the City and will remain involved.

Now that the lease has been adopted, and the handshakes are over, RICC hopes that City agencies and officials will seriously consider providing financial assistance to Roosevelt Island as our community confronts the crucial years ahead.