Monday, June 24, 2019

Jeff Escobar, Conway Ekpo & David Kapell Join Roosevelt Island Board Of Directors - Manhattan Park Lease Amendment, MTA's Use Of Strecker Lab, Public Purpose Funds, Annual Report Among Agenda Items For June 25 RIOC Board Meeting

As reported June 18, 3 new members have been appointed to long vacant seats on the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors.

Image Of May RIOC Board Meeting

RIOC issued this June 20 press release announcing the appointments:
Governor Cuomo Appoints Three Members to RIOC Board

The New York State Senate has confirmed Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s appointments of David Kapell, Conway Ekpo and Jeffrey Escobar to fill three vacancies on the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s (RIOC) Board of Directors.

“I am delighted that Governor Cuomo has named three highly qualified candidates to our board,” said Susan Rosenthal, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. “I enjoyed working with Mr. Escobar when he was the president of the Roosevelt Island Resident’s Association (RIRA) and I look forward to working with Mr. Kapell and Mr. Ekpo in serving the interests of our residents and stakeholders.”

David E. Kapell

Mr. Kapell has recently served as a board member of the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA). He previously served the Village of Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island, NY for twenty-seven years in the positions of Community Development Director, Village Trustee, Planning Board Chairman and Mayor from 1994 until his retirement in 2007. He holds a master’s degree in Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Conway Ekpo

Mr. Ekpo is in-house counsel at Morgan Stanley where he is an Executive Director covering Morgan Stanley’s international Wealth Management business. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Rutgers School of Law, where he teaches a course on New York civil procedure. Mr. Ekpo earned his B.S. in architectural engineering at the University of Kansas and his J.D. at Rutgers School of Law where he was Managing Editor of the Rutgers Law Review.

Jeffrey Escobar

Mr. Escobar, a former president of RIRA, is a Senior Counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright, US LLP where he advises project owners, real estate companies, and joint ventures throughout the Americas on their deployment of capital on the most complex and large-scale projects. Mr. Escobar earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and in Spanish from the University of Washington and his J.D. from the New England School of Law.

About RIOC

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) was created in 1984 by the State of New York as a public benefit corporation with a mission to plan, design, develop, operate, and maintain Roosevelt Island. With a focus on innovative and environmentally friendly solutions, RIOC is committed to providing services that enhance the island's residential community. RIOC manages the two-mile long island's roads, parks, buildings, a sports facility, and public transportation, including the iconic aerial tramway. Additionally, RIOC operates a Public Safety Department that helps maintain a safe and secure environment for residents, employees, business owners, and visitors.
Mr Escobar is well known to the community as the former Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President, However, neither Mr. Kapell nor Mr. Ekpo are known to the community. According to a very reliable source, our elected officials were not involved in the RIOC Board Directors appointment process, at least as regarding Mr. Ekpo and Mr. Kapell.

None of the 3 new RIOC Board members participated in the 2017 RIRA sponsored RIOC Board Nominee elections.

It's not known at this time if the new RIOC Board Directors will attend tomorrow's meeting of the full RIOC Board. Among the items on the Agenda for the June 25 RIOC Board Meeting are:
  • Manhattan Park Lease Amendment
  • MTA Sublease Amendment For Use of Strecker Lab and 
  • Approval of 2019 Fiscal Year Annual Report
  • Authorization Of 2019-20 Public Purpose Funds among other items
RIOC is supposed to have Board Materials for Agenda Items publicly available on its web page prior to Board Meetings but as of today, the materials are not available for June 25 meeting.

You're invited to  attend and ask questions during the opening Public Session before the start of the meeting. Sign up to speak here.

Below is the full Agenda for June 25 RIOC Board Meeting:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a Board of Directors meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cultural Center Theater, 548 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York 10044.

The Open Meetings Law of the State of New York requires that all public bodies conduct meetings, convened for the purpose of officially conducting public business, in a manner open to attendance by the general public to observe and listen.




5:30 P.M.1

I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call
III. Approval of Minutes
1. May 9, 2019 Board Meeting (Board Action Required)
IV. Old Business
V. New Business
1. Authorization of Seventh Amendment to Manhattan Park Lease (Board Action Required)

2. Authorization of First Amendment to Sublease with the New York City Transit Authority
for Use of Strecker Lab (Board Action Required)

3. Presentation of RIOC's Audited Financial Statements for Fiscal Year Ending March 31,

4. Approval of Annual Report for Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2019 (Board Action

5. Approval of Report on Procurement Contracts for Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2019
(Board Action Required)

6. Approval of Report on Investments for Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2019 (Board Action

7. Approval of Property Report for Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2019 (Board Action

8. Authorization of Expenditure of the Public Purpose Funds for Fiscal Year 2019-20 (Board
Action Required)

9. Authorization to Enter into Contract for Octagon Comfort Station & Site Work (Board
Action Required – Materials to Follow)

10. Authorization to Enter into Contract with Apple Restoration & Waterproofing, Inc. for
Blackwell House Exterior Repairs Project (Board Action Required)

11. President’s Report

12. Committee Reports
a. Audit Committee
b. Governance Committee
c. Operations Advisory Committee
d. Real Estate Development Advisory Committee

13. Public Safety Report

VI. Adjournment
1 The RIOC Board Meeting will commence following a public comment period. The public comment period is not part of the meeting.
UPDATE 4 PM - Former RIRA President Matt Katz writes:
I have read the listing of new hires for the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC). I am glad to see that all three live (or at lest have domiciles) on Roosevelt Island. Jeff Escobar has been involved with the critical issues of this community for many years and has proved his value to this residential community time and again. I don't know Mr. Ekpo or Mr Kappel and have to wonder what credentials they carry, what familiarity they have with ongoing issues, and who put forward their names. I do know that, over the last seven years, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) has mounted four elections (referenda? plebiscites?) to fill those long-vacant seats and that none of this community's choices have been included. Having been one of many Islanders who have worked for decades to bring some semblance of democracy, and through the ballot box, to the administration of this State-operated Island, I am disappointed that, yet again, our efforts bore no fruit and we are saddled with a fait accompli. We deserve better.

Matthew M. Katz

RIRA President and CEO 2000, 2002, 2006, 2010
Roosevelt Island's NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright responded to Mr. Katz with the following:
Dear Matthew,

Thank you for your email dated June 19 regarding the new RIOC members nominated by the Governor. I am much relieved that the new appointees will fill long vacant positions, facilitating the conduct of important Roosevelt Island related business. Nevertheless, I too am disappointed that thoughtful recommendations previously submitted did not yield the results we hoped for. The process is deficient, in my view, and raises unanswered questions separate and apart from the qualifications or positions of the new appointees. I retain, of course, an enduring commitment to work with them to promote the very best interests of Roosevelt Island residents.

It seems to me that consideration should be given to a screening or search process that incorporates or involves community input in a more formal way. I am speaking with colleagues about instituting a requirement or statute that establishes the rubric for such a process. Although the RIOC appointments are currently the sole province of the Executive, the voices of the people of Roosevelt Island must not be ignored. I intend to explore introducing legislation that will ensure a more responsive and transparent process for the nomination, consideration and selection of RIOC board members.

Again, I much appreciate your interest and your views. Thanks for writing.