RIRA Needs to Do More – Start By Letting Us Know When the Meetings Are

October 4, 2018

 RIRA is absolutely not doing much of anything for the residents. There’s never any response from RIRA President Jeff Escobar nor any published way of easily contacting the members. At their meetings we are given a time limit to talk at the beginning of the meeting, without ever finding out if the concern made it on to the agenda. We have no way of contacting them to get a concern onto the agenda. Further, we don’t all know the names and contact info for our building reps or the RIRA officers, so many of us have simply given up.


Instead, there is lots of moaning and complaining so that David Stone (Roosevelt Island Daily), Rick O’Connor (Roosevelt Islander blog) and the Roosevelt Island Parents Network have picked up what RIRA ought to be doing. Is it any wonder that RIOC is blamed when they have so much to do and they don’t really know what the real community concerns are, or whether it’s just a few annoying people who are taking their time and effort? We are, after all, a community of over 12,000 residents and workers!


As far as I, and many other residents, are concerned all we’ve seen RIRA do is when Lynne Shinozaki ran Easter Egg hunts and other Island events. In my opinion, and that of many others, RIOC would be a lot more responsive to the community if there was a more effective and stronger advocate association. As an example, except for Frank Farance, where was RIRA on the rat issue at PS/IS 217 or Charlie Delfino and the youth center? Where is RIRA on getting an expanded Beacon program? 


They even turned their back on us when Duane Reade stopped taking our drug plan insurance, and if not for Rick O’Connor they probably would still. That finally got RIRA attention when Aaron Hamburger’s insurance plan was absorbed into Express Scripts and he sprang into action. Nor did RIRA do anything to ensure that we could get prescription drugs delivered: I’m sure that parents of young children would not appreciate having to go to the pharmacy in 25 degree weather with a kid who has 103 fever to pick up the drugs prescribed by Dr. Grimm’s office!


Why did we have to only find out about the public water fountain contamination issue from someone who is concerned about feral cats, and not from RIRA? What is RIRA doing to ensure that the correct information about this issue and its remediation is given to the community?


RIRA must do a better job of letting the entire community know when and where they meet, and continue to publicize meetings, as well as invite resident participation rather than discouraging it. Further, I have never seen any meeting agenda, nor have most of our residents. And we have never seen any outcomes of the votes or actions they’ve taken: oh, wait, they did once when someone made a stink about their president arbitrarily changing a meeting date one summer without getting a full vote!


You know that once again, while the United Nations General Assembly is in session, boat traffic is stopped on the west channel of the river for fear of a terrorist attack. Thus, our access to the Island is often cut to allow the 36th Avenue bridge open to let tall boats, many of which are pleasure boats, go by. Those boats are not vetted, and could even be carrying bombs (which the powers that be don’t want aimed at the UN) but they deem it okay that one of those boats could aim a bomb at us or our power plant, or that an ambulance or fire truck could not get onto the Island for an emergency here. Why hasn’t RIRA, in all these years said one word about this?


And in all fairness to RIOC, Susan Rosenthal inherited an infrastructure mess which was totally ignored by her predecessors. The helix, the parks and athletic fields, the tram elevators (which former RIOC President Charlene Indelicato promised would be replaced by January 2015), Motorgate, and replacement of trees that are leaning dangerously or with roots that are creating havoc to sidewalks and/or pathways are a few that come to mind…and again, where was or is our residents’ association? Do we really have one or is RIRA just a monthly night out for some who want to socialize???


RIRA should have a fully functioning channel, including a website with the monthly agenda, results of each monthly meeting, as well as a way for the community to address them and receive a response. The WIRE and blogs such as Rick’s and David Stone’s should be vehicles for ongoing discussions and things that come up between their monthly meetings. In other words, RIRA must start functioning as a true residents’ association.


Raye Schwartz

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