Friday, March 6, 2015

Roosevelt Island Residents Association Community Update - Committees Work On Tram Elevator Status, Easter Egg Hunt, Cherry Blossom Festival, Relay For Life, Hands Only CPR Training, Skills Exchange & More

Below is the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA)

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

Community Update, formerly known as the RIRA President's Report.
Friends and Neighbors – With Spring almost in sight, we continue to battle freezing temperatures by day and blustery, stormy winters by night. Although recent forecasts hint at 50 degree temperatures on the way, it is hard to believe that we will be shedding our winter layers of clothing anytime soon. Despite the wintry weather, however, RIRA has been hard at work laying the groundwork for the upcoming spring, while addressing some of the Island's most pressing issues. Here is a taste of what RIRA and its committees have focused on these past couple of weeks:

Tram Elevator Update from Island Services Committee

Together with the Roosevelt Island Parents' Network, the RIRA Island Services Committee has been diligently working on addressing the long standing issue of prolonged out-of-service elevators on the Manhattan side of the Tram. For those who do not know, for the past year, both of the elevators have been intermittently placed completely out of service for prolonged periods, the most recent being the last two weeks. This unreliable and, often times unannounced, status makes life for many residents particularly difficult, especially for those parents and child caregivers with strollers, seniors and the mobility disabled. Whenever the elevators were placed out-of-service, neither RIOC nor the tram operators provided assistance to those unable to get down the stairs, nor was an alternate means of access to and from Manhattan made available. The situation had been aggravated by the winter weather conditions and those weekends and evenings when no Manhattan bound F-Train service was available from Roosevelt Island. With the street level elevator at the 63rd St/Lex Ave Subway station out of service at least until May 31, 2015, Island residents who rely on the Tram and Subway elevator system to give them access on and off the Island have been left with no good alternative.

Since last year, we have been pressing RIOC for a solid and long term solution to both the current state of the Tram elevators and to their eventual replacement. So far, we have been successful in reaching the following sub-goals: (1) the Board approval by RIOC to replace the aged and faulty elevator system as part of the 2014/2105 budget, (2) the replacement of the Tram elevator door and the repair of the “red lift”, (3) the consistent placement of signage informing residents when one or both elevators units are out of service, both at the RI side of the Tram and at the Manhattan station, and (4) for when both the Tram elevator and the red lift simultaneously go out of service, the immediate provision of Red Bus Shuttle Service to and from Manhattan until at least one unit is repaired.

Unfortunately, regarding the provision of Red Bus shuttle service to and from Manhattan, RIOC has failed to keep its promise to address the community’s needs. The Red Bus Shuttle Service, when provided, has only been provided to date on weekdays. We urge RIOC to change that practice so that, whenever and so long as both elevator units are out of service, Red Bus Shuttle Service is also provided consistent with the Tram’s schedule, including on evenings and especially on weekends. In addition, we have asked that, during these times, a Public Safety staff member be stationed on the Manhattan side of the Tram to assist residents with mobility issues.

Moreover, we have demanded that at least one of the elevator units be immediately repaired, so that the constant outages of service cease. We sincerely hope RIOC will do as promised and press the servicing company to either repair the presently out-of-service elevator quickly or hire another company to install a temporary moving platform next to the Red lift. As many have noted, both elevators are very old (they should have been replaced much sooner) and the replacement parts have proven hard to get. Moreover, with the constant break-downs and the overall replacement of the elevators now predicted to be completed in 2016 (at the earliest), we have urged RIOC or order all of the replacements parts now and store them appropriately so that the servicing company can use them right away for any repairs when necessary rather than having residents waiting for weeks to have at least one unit back in service. We continue to work for a quick and permanent solution to this very inconvenient situation.

RIRA Social, Cultural and Education Committee (SC&E Committee) Program Agenda for 2015

The Social, Cultural and Educational Committee of RIRA has defined this term as a celebration of this great community. Our goal is to create programs and events that give islander opportunities to enjoy the island and get to know each other better. We have tasked ourselves with a really ambitious goal we want to connect and unify this wonderfully divers community. We can only do this with your help support and participation.

Which of these events interests you? You can help out, in the planning of the event or on the day of the event itself. From community organizing to the stuffing of donated give-aways and hiding plastic eggs at the Easter Egg event, any and all community volunteerism is strongly encouraged.

Roosevelt Island Easter Egg Hunt: The Roosevelt Island Easter Egg Hunt, a favorite event in our community, returns this year to Roosevelt Island on Saturday, March 28th. 10:30 -1:30 pm at Manhattan Park please mark your calendars as space will be limited and pre-registration will be required. This year, we will endeavor to encourage our Island children to become good citizens by taking only a few eggs, so that everyone gets at least one this year. We will distribute books to encourage reading, have family games for the older children, and once again have Easter Bonnet Making for all. The Reading Bunny will be back in his tree this year, and we will have a very special guest return this year. We ask for children's book donations from Islanders, as in the past. The event is designed for children up to the age of 8.

Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival: The Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival is back this year!! Scheduled for Saturday, April 25, from 11:00 am-4:00 pm. We will focus this year on celebrating our Roosevelt Island community, the Festival’s tradition of spectacular performances, beautiful Cherry Trees and a chance to come out and enjoy your community. This year’s festivities will be kicked off with a community-wide picnic at Southpoint Park to meet your neighbors. Activities will help build deep community connections amongst the Island’s different age groups, everyone from young adults, 20's and 30's year olds, families to seniors during the event to and get to know each other.

Relay For Life: We plan do to our part to see that, for the 3 year, Roosevelt Island's Relay For Life is the most successful one yet; Islanders either participate in the day's events, pledge a donation or do both.

Relay For Life is a national fundraising event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to raise money for cancer research and services. Each team member solicits donations to raise money. At the event, each team member takes a turn walking the track. The Relay For Life event is scheduled for Saturday, June 20 from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm at the Octagon soccer field; participants are welcome to walk or run for any part of the day. It’s a fun day, with a lot of community spirit, entertainment and great raffles! Our goal is to have a RIRA Team and to also have a representative from each building or district on the island build their own team. Family and friends are welcome join any team.

The following programs are already underway:

Hands Only CPR Training: The Hands Only CPR skill training program returns for its second year of classes. Having trained more than 400 Roosevelt Islanders in the life saving skill of hands only CPR, our goal this year will be to train as many Roosevelt Islanders as possible, as well as to grow our team of trainers. Hands Only CPR does save lives, and we want the wonderful people of Roosevelt Island to stand out as a community who cares, and is ready to care, for others. A calendar of classes will be posted on the RIRA website and Facebook page.

Roosevelt Island Skills Exchange: The Roosevelt Island Skills Exchange (RISE) aims to provide an opportunity for residents who have a certain or unique skill to impart that skill to other residents who would like to learn it. Our Island has people with a rich array of teachable skills that includes many languages, styles of cuisine, work skills and hobbies. Through RISE, Islanders can earn RISE credits from teaching a skills course, which then can be used to take a skills class from another skilled Islanders. The skills courses will be offered online with full descriptions of teachers, schedules, locations, course offerings and expectations. There will be skills discounts for young people and seniors, as well as systematic evaluations of courses to help ensure quality. A forum will also be provided for participants to request a skills topic of interest that another in the community may be able to offer. This is a new way to get to know your Island neighbor, while learning a little on the way!

Looking ahead, we plan two more events:

Celebration of Lights: We are planning the first ever Celebration of Lights in November of this year. Details will be forthcoming, including the planned festive fundraising dinner as well as activities for community participation.

RIRA Showcase: We hope to again bring you our RIRA Showcase where members of Roosevelt Island take the opportunity to perform and share their entertainment talents with the community. 

Remember, these events and programs happen because you volunteer. Please officially participate in and join any of our planned events by writing to us at and let us know how you would like to help! Invite your neighbors and members of your community organizations to also get involved. So please, reach out! Any and all help is appreciated, and we can’t wait to see all of you at one, some or all of our planned events!

RIRA contributors to the update are:
Jeffrey Escobar, President
Aaron Hamburger, Chair, Island Services committee
Eva Bosbach, member ISC
Lynne Strong Shinozaki, Chair, Social, Cultural & Educational Committee
Anthony Longo, member SC&E
Rossana Ceruzzi, member SC&E
John Dougherty, member SC&E
Maria Newkirk, member SC&E
Sharon Williams, member SC&E
Lydia Tang, member SC&E
Julia Palermo, member SC&E
The next monthly meeting of the RIRA Common Council is Wednesday April 1.