PRESIDENT’S REPORT – April 6, 2011
Matthew Katz, RIRA President
1. As you know, we have been displaced from this room two out of three meetings so far this year. The reasons were legitimate and reasonable, construction within the Good Shepherd Community Center, and we were made welcome at Sportspark and at the Child School. This month, we were again asked to move, this time to make way for a location company, filming a pilot at 504 Main Street, so that craft services could feed the crew. I reminded RIOC that we have a permit, signed and counter-signed, for the entire year, and that a RIRA Common Council meeting must be respected as the greater priority. RIOC agreed I’m glad to say, and so, we’re here. However, how our rights to this space will be treated during the remainder of our contract remains to be seen.
2. I have an action item under “New Business” this month. This June will mark the tenth year that RIRA has sponsored a blood drive on Roosevelt Island. I began planning the first one on September 11, 2001, and that resulted in a January 2002 drive that collected 67 pints of blood. Since then, we have fixed our annual drive during a more temperate time of year in June. There are four criteria that must come together to produce this event: First, a date for Roosevelt Island Day must be verified, and Urban America’s Doryne Isley, who invented the celebration, has set the date as June 11. Second, the New York Blood Center must confirm that they are ready to send the personnel and matériel that day, and that’s confirmed as well. Third, our colleague and RISA president, Dolores Green, must authorize the use of the Senior Center that day and she has done so. Finally, this Counsel must endorse the project and provide the personnel to solicit the donations. I will ask you to approve a motion to that effect tonight, and at the May meeting, I will ask all of you to sign up for a shift on one or more of four consecutive Saturdays at the Farmers Market to importune your neighbors. New York City is a tough sell for blood donors and Roosevelt Island, with our unique population, is even tougher. This is truly an event that will require all of us to pull off, so start checking your calendars beginning on May 21 for days and times you can volunteer.
3. The Manhattan community board appointments have been announced and I have that list. As you know, the community boards are the lowest level of municipal government and play a role in a variety of issues. This year, CB8 will include five Roosevelt Islanders among its number, who will constitute the Roosevelt Island Committee. Joining RIRA Vice President Ellen Polivy on the Board is our own Jeff Escobar, a first-time appointee. Our community board has been a valuable asset in reinforcing our efforts, especially by passing resolutions (unanimously, I might add) to introduce MetroCard service on the Tram and to move up planned renovation of the Roosevelt Island Bridge from a 2012 start date to 2006. In fact, that four-year project will be completed this year. I wish the new Board, and the Island’s committee, all the best.
4. RIRA Councilor, Jim Bates, is also president of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, RIDA. The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI), the agency responsible for Four Freedoms Park and the FDR Memorial, had no intentions of representing the former president as a disabled person. Jim created a separate site for an FDR Hope Memorial that includes a sculpture of FDR in a wheelchair and convinced FERI to cough up the first $100,000. Sculptor, Meredith Bergmann, and her concept are to be presented by RIDA at an exhibit this Saturday, April 9 at 6:00 p.m. in the Gallery RIVAA. Please make it your business to support our colleague by attending.