Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Report From Roosevelt Island Residents Association President Jeff Escobar - You're Invited To Join RIRA Planning, Communications, Services, Housing, Governance & Other Committees, Happy Thanksgiving Too

  Image Of 2014-16 RIRA Common Council (RIRA President Jeff Escobar Kneeling Wearing Suit)

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Jeff Escobar sends the following Report To The Community:
Friends and Neighbors,

At the December 3, 2014 Common Council meeting, the Common Council will be reconstituting its committees, as well as electing and seating each committee’s chairs. The bulk of the work that the new Common Council will do this term will be completed in these committees. As has been reported in the past, any member of RIRA – and by virtue of one’s residency on the Island, every resident is automatically a member of RIRA – can serve on a committee. Here is a quick glimpse of some of what the committees currently have on this term’s agenda:

The Communications Committee is undertaking an overhaul of the website www.RIRAonline.com. The goal is to transform it to a useful resource for residents seeking current information about activities and groups on Roosevelt Island, and to serve as an electronic repository for official documents. The committee will also be undertaking an initiative to use social media and other forms of electronic publication to keep Island Residents apprised in “real-time” of the ongoing activities of the Island. Residents who are skilled in web development and writing are invited to contact the current Communications Committee chair Janet Falk at janetlfalk@yahoo.com for more details.

The Planning Committee this near term will be largely focused on infrastructure and transportation safety. With the advent of the Cornell campus coming online to full construction-mode in 2015, coupled with the tragic accident involving one of our neighbors who collided with a Red Bus, infrastructure and transportation safety will be the focus as RIRA works to find real solutions for the Island. Recently, the group reported its thorough discussion of the lighting and roadways where bicycle traffic proceeds; bicycle and pedestrian use of the promenades vs. Main Street; and the role of Public Safety in issuing violations for failure to yield and observe stop signs. During just that short discussion, there was general agreement that a traffic light should be installed at the base of the helix; “sharrows” or shared roadway arrows should be painted in the promenade roads; and lighting must be improved at all crosswalks. Pending further research and study, a resolution(s) prepared by this Committee will be submitted to the Common Council to be recommended to RIOC and all City public agencies.

As Hudson Related finishes work on its seventh tower, with the eight and ninth towers waiting in the wings, in 2015 the Planning Committee, Island Services Committee and the RIRA President will be calling for a number of Town Hall meetings and hearings with Hudson Related, RIOC, the City and Island Residents and Stakeholders to study the impacts – including environmental, social and economic impacts – that the construction of the seventh and remaining towers will have on the Island as it struggles with the construction of the Cornell Campus. Similarly, the Main Street Retail Advisory Committee will be pushing for the planning and completion of the lease-up of the remaining retail spaces on Main Street in 2015, setting forth their recommendations for the currently empty storefronts.

The above is just a glimpse of the work and initiatives that the RIRA Common Council Committees will be undertaking this new term. From Government Relations and Housing, to SC&E (Social, Cultural and Education) and Public Safety, there exists a committee which is calling for you, as an Island Resident, to come and serve. Interested in joining a committee or finding out more information? Attend the next RIRA Common Council meeting on Wednesday, December 3rd at 8:00pm in the Good Shepherd Center, or reach out and contact RIRA President Jeff Escobar at jeffrey.escobar@gmail.com.

Turning from service on RIRA Committees to service on the Common Council, an Orientation for New Representatives was held on Thursday, November 20. Topics included procedures of working within committees and bringing motions to the Common Council for discussion, as well as answering questions of new members. In addition, a presentation was made by Mickey Rindler, Chair of the Ethics Committee, on the recent requirements of New York State regarding disclosure of potential conflicts of interest, as well as a presentation by Lynne Shinozaki, a past SC&E Committee Chair, and Sherie Helstien, RIRA Vice-President, on what it means to serve on the Common Council and work being completed by committees.

If you are interested in serving on the RIRA Common Council, which meets monthly, there are still a few seats on the Octagon, Manhattan Park, Southtown and Roosevelt Landings delegations. Take the opportunity to perform direct advocacy by representing your building neighbors on the Common Council. Please reach out to either RIRA President Jeff Escobar at jeffrey.escobar@gmail.com or Aaron Hamburger, Chair of the Nominations Committee, at ashamburger33@gmail.com for more information. 

Lastly, as we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, the RIRA Common Council wishes to extend a joyous Happy Thanksgiving from our families to yours. Please take a moment to look back and reflect on the blessings of this past year, as well as remember those in our community who are less fortunate and in need. Whether through a donation to a local food pantry, handing out food at our City’s overburdened shelters, or pitching in at the dinner at the Senior Center, hopefully each of us will find a way to help everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Your RIRA Common Council