Got an Island Concern? There’s a Committee for That.

September 20, 2017

Friends and neighbors, with the change of the season to fall, your Roosevelt Island Residents Association Common Council has returned in earnest from its summer hiatus. And just as the seasons have changed, so too has life on our ship in the East River.


Transportation Woes


For many Island residents, it is still hard to believe that ferry service to and from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan and Queens is up and running. Be sure to download the NYC Ferry app to your phone for route information, schedules, and to purchase tickets. 


Despite the addition of ferry service, transportation disruptions and delays continue to plague us as work on the Tramway platform continues in earnest and overcrowding and delays continue on the F train. During your Common Council’s September 7 meeting, members of the public and the Common Council voiced frustration at the apparent disintegration of both on- and off-Island transportation service over the summer. Many disgruntled residents continue to report long lines at the Tram during both peak and non-peak hours, F-train wait times of upwards of 30 minutes at times, cancelled weekend Red Bus express service to and from Manhattan, failings by RIOC to communicate transportation issues, and a general lack of coordination between the MTA, RIOC, and the operators of the Tramway.


To address these concerns, your Common Council is inviting RIOC President Susan Rosenthal, Vice President of Operations Shelton Haynes, and Transportation General Manager Cy Opperman to the October 4 meeting to hear the community’s concerns, deliver an update on the progress of efforts to address these concerns, and to discuss solutions. 


The RIRA Island Services Committee, chaired by Aaron Hamburger, will also be meeting this month to discuss the issues raised, draw an outline for the October Common Council meeting, and condense the community’s issues. 


If transportation issues and the delays of this past summer are of interest and concern to you, we highly recommend you attend the Island Services Committee’s next meeting and attend our October 4 Common Council meeting. For more information, email Aaron Hamburger, chair of Island Services Committee, at and let your voice be heard.


Dangerous Crossings


Not only has this summer elevated transportation issues off and on the Island, but traffic and safety concerns have heightened on the Island as well. As longtime residents are apt to tell you, the Island was contemplated and planned as a community with limited car usage, to be easily navigable by foot or limited shuttle bus. But the use and number of cars on the Island has steadily increased to sometimes frustrating levels and dangerous speeds. One particular area of concern is the increase of cars travelling at often dangerous speeds on the north side of our Island, particularly as they make their way to and from the entrance to Coler Goldwater, as well as the Dayspring Church and Octagon Park past the Bright Horizons daycare center.


Over the summer, Public Safety Committee member Scott Piro and Public Safety Committee Chair Erin Feely-Nahem explored a range of solutions from the installation of speed bumps and other traffic-calming measures, to the painting of crosswalks and limiting access. If such safety issues are of interest and concern to you, attend the next Public Safety Committee meeting where such issues will be discussed, and reach out to either Scott Piro at or Erin Feely-Nahem at for more information and about how you can get involved.


Dog Park Improvements


Just as the presence of cars has increased on the Island, so too have dogs and the needs of our furry neighbors. Over the summer, Octagon representative Scott Piro was in talks with RIOC regarding improvement of the current dog parks, as well as plans for a new dog park on the Island. Are you a dog owner who wants to get involved? Reach out to Scott Piro at to join the conversation.


Fourth of July 2018


Speaking of being penned into tight spaces, Manhattan Park Representative Chris Gassman, with the help of the Island Services Committee, is exploring ways to improve the ticket reservation system currently in place for Island Residents at the annual Fourth of July celebration at Four Freedoms Park. As many of you are aware, this year’s system was less than ideal. We are looking for ways to ensure that Island residents are able to enjoy the holiday on our Island. If you have ideas on how to improve the process or are interested in helping to find a solution, reach out to Chris Gassman at or Aaron Hamburger, chair of the Island Services Committee, at


Welcome Cornell Tech Neighbors


Hopefully you all have wandered to the southern part of our Island to visit our newest neighbor, Cornell Tech, and its beautiful campus – officially dedicated this past Wednesday. To all Cornell Tech students, faculty, staff, and neighbors, on behalf of the Roosevelt Island Residents’ Association, let me extend our warmest welcome to you. We look forward to working closely with you all in the coming months and years on Island concerns. Be on the lookout in the coming months for more information from RIRA and Cindy Wilkerson, chair of the RIRA Cornell Tech Integration task force committee, on how our two communities may integrate better. Reach out to Cindy Wilkerson at on how you can get involved in this  and other issues affecting the Island.


Join a RIRA Committee


The above is just a taste of what your Common Council and RIRA were working on over the summer. If the above issues or any other Island concerns interest you, I call on you to consider giving service to our Island community on one of your Roosevelt Island Residents’ Association Common Council committees. The work of RIRA is done largely through its committees, and YOU, as a RIRA member – of which each and every resident is automatically a member by virtue of your residency on the Island – are eligible to serve on as many committees you wish. Reach out either to me, at, or for information on how you can help.



Jeff Escobar,

President, RI Residents Association

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