Starting the New Year with a Focus on Safety

January 6, 2018

A very happy and healthy New Year from your RIRA Common Council to all of you, our Island neighbors, family, and friends. We truly hope this past holiday season was a memorable one, filled with light, joy, and goodwill to all, and that, despite the hubbub and mad dash of the season, you were afforded a small opportunity to enjoy the brightness of the holiday. 


As of this writing, our little ship in the East River – along with the rest of the eastern seaboard – is facing down an Arctic “bomb cyclone,” a first for many. As the subzero temperatures, blizzard-like winds, and deep snow conditions affect us all, be sure to stay safe and stay warm. Be sure to also check in on immobile or homebound neighbors and friends, as well as those who are limited due to illness, to ensure that each is able to weather the storm and the deep freeze we face. 


Together, we can ensure that all the members of our Island family, friends, and neighbors have warm hands, warm hearts, and warm homes this winter season.


As we begin the long march towards spring, your Common Council continues to be hard at work. Here’s a quick glimpse of a couple of things your Council has been up to this past holiday season.


Public Safety Town Hall Forum


The RIRA Public Safety Committee has voted on and approved holding a community-wide Town Hall Forum on Public Safety similar to last year’s public form on public marijuana use. 


Partnering with and attended by representatives of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, Public Safety, the RIRA Public Safety Committee, and the NYPD, the proposed Town Hall Forum will provide the community an opportunity to assess and ask questions about the number of incidents and possibly unreported cases of public lewdness and assaults on the Island this past year. It will be an opportunity for residents to directly address Public Safety about community concerns, while allowing the department to provide an update on its efforts to address these concerns. 


We look to replicate the positive community effort and exchange that our Island residents and Public Safety were able to achieve during our last forum by having a healthy, open and honest dialogue as to safety concerns.


We expect the Town Hall Forum to be held sometime in either late January or mid-February. Look for more details in the following weeks. 


If you are interested in helping to organize the event, have questions or issues that you believe the Forum should address, or otherwise are interested in becoming an active member of the Public Safety Committee, reach out to Erin Feely-Nahem, chair of the RIRA Public Safety Committee at


Did You Pay-It-Forward?


For the third year in a row, RIRA conducted its annual holiday Pay-It-Forward program, where members of our community come together to meet the food needs of some of our most challenged neighbors during the winter holidays. 


Chaired and spearheaded by Sara Metzidakis, in conjunction with the RIRA Social, Cultural & Education Committee which is chaired by Lynn Shinozaki, the RIRA Pay-It-Forward Committee partnered with various community and religious groups, as well as private donors and volunteers, to collect, assemble, decorate, and deliver food boxes to a number of our Island families and individuals this December. 


We thank each and every individual and organization who helped make this annual holiday Pay-It-Forward program a success, and we look forward to partnering and working with each of you again throughout this coming year in the hopes of giving some comfort to our most food-challenged Island families, friends, and neighbors. 


We hope that more Island neighbors will come out to help, volunteer and donate. Interested in volunteering or making a donation to the RIRA Pay-It-Forward program? Reach out to us at or contact either Sara Metzidakis ( or Lynn Shinozaki ( for more information on how you can help this worthy cause. 


Approval of Public Purpose Funds


During the December 6 Common Council meeting, the RIRA Common Council received, reviewed, and ultimately approved the recommendations of its Public Purpose Fund (PPF) Committee for the allocation and disbursement of the 2017-2018 Public Purpose funds among nine Island organizations. 


During the December 19 Board meeting of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, the Board overwhelmingly adopted nearly all of the recommended allocations with the exception of one organization. 


Many thanks and kudos must go to Dave Evans, this year’s PPF Committee Chair, and the members of the PPF Committee, for their hard work and devotion of time in reviewing and hearing each of this year’s applications, determining the amounts to be granted, and ensuring that the allocation of funds recommendations are adopted by RIOC – all while safeguarding the integrity and fairness of the process. 


As we understand it, next year’s process should finally include an increase in the amount of funds and resources that will be made available to applying organizations, a long-held effort by members of the RIRA Common Council, and a welcomed initiative. Stay tuned for more information and how the next round of PPF allocations look to shape up.



Jeff Escobar, 

President, RI Residents Association





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