Report From RIRA President Ellen Polivy - Looking Back At Past Accomplishments, Moving Forward To Improve Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Ellen Polivy sends the following Report To The Community:
We urge everyone to come to our first meeting of the season on September 11 at 8pm. Judging from what happened last year, this promises to be a great season.
Looking backwards- Going forward
All our RIRA activities happened because some people decided to make a difference in their community. It’s easy to complain. But it is far more satisfying to achieve goals. More activities will happen this year. If you have ideas on what you would like to see happen, come share them. Our ideas are the drivers of the activities. If you would like to be part of making them successful please show up. If you have an idea, you can get involved in RIRA by emailing me at RIRApresident@gmail.com, or by coming to a committee meeting or the common council meeting.
Below is a sample organized by committee of what happened this past year at RIRA. It is impossible to acknowledge all the people who provided their skills and efforts Each activity requires many hands. If I left something out, please post a friendly addition.
We organized a CERT class to ensure that our community has additional community based support during emergencies. Thanks to the publicity of the Roosevelt Islander and the WIRE and all the people who sat at the RIRA table on Roosevelt Island Day our class is full. Thanks to all the new CERT members who stepped up when they saw the opportunity. The new CERT team is a quality group with varied experiences from all different buildings. It will be a very interesting training for them. We look forward to a robust CERT team and more classes in the future as the team grows.
Social Cultural Educational Committee
We created the best and biggest Easter egg festival anywhere in NYC.
We produced a huge Cherry Blossom Festival that attracted 10,000 people.
We sent a busload of volunteers to Hurricane Sandy struck Rockaway to deliver and serve home cooked hot food. Thanks again Romano for arranging this with Senator Serrano’s office.
We worked with other groups to beautify the parking garage and the plaza. Thanks to iDig2Learn’s founder Christina Delfico and RIOC’s Fernando Vargas, Margie Smith and Steve Chironis and RIVAA's President Tad Sudol the plaza and parking garage open spaces now have plantings and paintings and is much more attractive. Thanks also to the unknown people who created the artwork at The last Fall For Arts and planted the beautiful landscaping. This is the kind of community involvement we encourage in RIRA and we were happy to see the collaboration between all these community groups.
We co-sponsored the OEM Hurricane Evacuation meeting with Jessica Lappin and RIOC. I don’t have to go into detail on this presentation as Rick did a fabulous report on it. I urge everyone to read his report and watch the videos. OEM gave us important information about our evacuation status.
We invited candidates for City office to talk to the community at a candidates forum that we held at the end of the OEM meeting to allow the crowd a chance to remain a short time more, meet candidates for City office and ask them about Island issues.
We have a new and developing website and are looking into best ways to reach everyone in the community and how to elicit community opinion. This year, all common council agendas and minutes will be posted on the website. We are planning to have the committee agendas posted as well.
Are you a writer? The communications committee needs you.
Public Safety Committee
We advocated for a change of leadership at public safety and believe we succeeded. RIOC has hired an interim Director of Public Safety who is using a community policing model and training his officers in this model.
To make this happen was a mammoth organizational task requiring the work of many dedicated people. We reached out to victims of abuse and convinced the entire Common Council to support us by telling the victims stories.
Committee members attended every RIOC operations meeting and RIOC full Board meeting to tell the victims stories.
We held two educational community forums each attended by hundreds of people.
We posted a series of professionally created educational posters on the kiosks. Thanks to the creations of two artists on the committee Adib Mansour and Chris Enock.
A number of years ago, Erin Feeley-Nahem and Romano Reid saw a need for the older youth to have extended hours of indoor basketball at Sports Park . RIOC’s Steve Chironis took up the idea and created professionally staffed extended hours at Sports Park that still exists. This program is still going on.
Government relations committee
We have made contact with our elected officials and have working relationships with them.
Roosevelt Island Community Coalition was created by a tag team of RIRA members and became a separate organization to negotiate a community benefits agreement with Cornell with not just the residents, but with a coalition of 33 other groups in the community so that we have the most clout.
We have started planning a forum with Amalgamated Bank about mortgages and home buying.
Island services Committee
Our Island Services committee, often in collaboration with the Chair of planning committee keeps tabs on all the mundane services that make our lives normal. This includes, parking, streetscape, stores, transportation, services and infrastructure. When something goes wrong, they work with the right people at RIOC or the City to correct it.
We encouraged MTA to move a bus stop, worked with RIOC transportation coordinator Cy Opperman to give us the most useful red bus service and advocated at the Community Board 8 for a more reliable City bus schedule. With the backing of the CB8, we had more clout with the MTA to look at our unreliable Q 102 bus timing.
RIRA Council member Eva Bosbach knew parents wanted their children to learn to swim. She encouraged RIOC to create the “Mommy and Me” swim classes at Sports Park.
Raye Schwarz saw a need for better pharmacy services and she worked on it through the committee. With the backing of RIRA, her advocacy was taken more seriously.
Public Purpose Fund Committee
This hard-working committee reviewed over 20 proposals and gave out $100,000 in RIOC public purpose money that beautified our streets, and parks, educated our residents and enhanced our experiences of living on the island.
All it takes is a good idea and the willingness to work to make something useful happen. Please join us on September 11 and at the committee meetings.