RIRA Review Begins Tonight

Entering the Home Stretch for Public Purpose Funds, RIOC's Gift to the Community

Updated 3 years ago Peter McCarthy
Kids Enjoy the Blue Dragon RIVAA Event Partly Funded by Public Purpose Grants
Kids Enjoy the Blue Dragon RIVAA Event Partly Funded by Public Purpose Grants
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Perhaps no other community gets a gift like this or is given a chance to shape its benefits. See the best of Roosevelt Island, starting tonight at the Good Shepherd Community Center.

The story of Roosevelt Island's Public Purpose Grants is worth telling again. The benefits are considerable, the uniqueness and generosity unquestionable.

In 1989, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation began distributing funds to local nonprofit groups helping the developing community in various ways. The money was set aside from cash collected from Manhattan Park, then finishing construction, in lieu of paying taxes on building materials.

Those funds ran out in 2008, but recognizing the importance of the grants, RIOC then began setting aside $100,000 from its annual budget to enable them to continue. In an effort to engage the community in deciding who gets money and how much, RIOC asks the Residents Association to appoint a committee to review applications and, based on stringent criteria, make recommendations. 

RIOC's Board of Directors makes the final decision, based on what RIRA tells them.

Entering the final stage of the process, the Public Purpose Grant Committee hears presentations from applicants, starting tonight at 7:30 in the Good Shepherd Community Center, 543 Main Street, and continues with a final group tomorrow, same time, same place.

The public is welcome to attend and to ask questions along with the committee. Here are the applicants in order of appearance and our completely unsolicited suggestions:

  • Roosevelt Island Disabled Association "...supports the operating costs of providing transportation for participants that live on Roosevelt Island and are in need of specialized transportation." This much deserving group has received grants previously.
  • Carter Burden Center for the Aging is a Roosevelt Island newcomer that has brought their forty year record of contributing to the welfare of seniors to the island. Led by Bill Dionne and, locally, Lisa Fernandez, Carter Burden graces our Senior Center with a refreshing professionalism. Well deserving of a grant.
  • Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association, a pioneering cooperative of local artists, has been the consistent bright spot on Main Street through fifteen unsettled years for the neighborhood. President Tad Sudol and his team have extended their reach to Southpoint Park's Blue Dragon children's sculpture to auxiliary galleries in the Octagon and, remarkably, Motorgate. No group has a broader reach than RIVAA, which should again receive a generous grant.
  • Roosevelt Island Seniors Association, after being displaced by Carter Burden, has used the Main Street WIRE to argue for its existence as a competing organization. It's important to note that RISA is now headed by RIRA members, which presents the committee with an immediate conflict of interests. Funds are short. RISA should be bypassed in the granting process.
  • Main Street Theater and Dance Alliance "...strives to nourish creativity by providing high quality theatrical and dance training as well as performing opportunities to everyone in our diverse community." That they do and very well. This popular group is well-deserving of a generous grant.

Thursday evening's line up:

  • Life Frames provides unique learning experiences for children, helping them to understand themselves in the natural world that surrounds us. An irreplaceable resource that richly deserves a grant, again this year.
  • Roosevelt Island Historical Society, under the dynamic leadership of Judy Berdy, sets an anchor in the community that reminds us of what came before us. RIHS has an almost uncanny ability to get support within and outside Roosevelt Island for resources like the Visitor Center and is highly worthy of a grant, again this year.
  • PS/IS Parent Teacher Association looks for a grant for specific worthy projects. They carry on the tradition of PTA community involvement and well deserve funding.
  • Island Kids uses its funds to help eligible children attend its summer camp. A great group deserves funding again for their useful programs.

If you have some time, spend a little of it with the Public Purpose Grant Committee and the applicants tonight and tomorrow. Help them make decisions for how RIOC's generosity should best be used for helping make Roosevelt Island a great place to live.


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