Redistricting is back with a vengeance!

Just as Roosevelt Islanders felt comfortably secure in Manhattan, the State of NY has thrown us a curveball!

Roosevelt Island’s Assembly Member, Rebecca Seawright

The redistricting map which was approved for the recent Assembly election was vetoed by NY State’s appellate court. While, for now, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright remains our representative, if the new map prevails, we will have a Queens Assembly Member, not a Manhattan Assembly Member from the 2024 election.

Here is Assembly Member Seawright’s announcement on this issue:

Commissioners on New York’s redistricting panel recently voted to advance a new proposed map for state Assembly legislative boundaries. I am very disappointed to see that the proposal for our AD76 would eliminate Roosevelt Island and redistrict it to a Queens Assembly District. I am committed to fighting alongside constituents to keep Roosevelt Island where it belongs.

Roosevelt Islanders were so powerful in their testimony during the New York City Council districting process, I believe together we can make an unequivocally strong argument to keep Manhattan’s Roosevelt Island with our Manhattan Assembly District 76. The process for state redistricting requires rigorous scrutiny, consistent with a process that ensures fairness, provides a platform for all voices, and carefully reviews all options.

The next steps are a series of public hearings around the State. The hearing in Manhattan will be on February 7, 2023 at the Hunter College Kaye Playhouse. I urge all concerned to share their views by testifying in person or submitting comments to the Commission directly at www.nyirc.gov/participate.

Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright

Important steps for Roosevelt Islanders…..

The next meeting to plan the community’s presentation at the NYIRC hearing (at 4 PM on February 7th) will take place Thursday, January 19th at the Senior Center at 546 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, at 7 PM. You do not need to be affiliated with any party or be a registered voter to participate in our resistance to change.

Redistricting our community to Queens spells disaster for several reasons. By NY State’s own redistricting rules:

  1. Districts must consist of contiguous territory and shall be as compact in form as possible.
  2. The commission must take into account the maintenance of existing districts, pre-existing political subdivisions, including counties, cities, towns, and communities of interest.

Here’s more:

  1. Roosevelt Island is located in the Borough of Manhattan. We are an isolated island situated in the middle of the East River. Our transportation links, used daily by our working population and school children, directly connect us to 63rd Street and 2nd Avenue, the next stop on the F train, and  60th Street and 2nd Avenue, a 3.5 minute ride by tram. Both stops are in District 76, our most contiguous point of connection point.
  2. Our tramway is operated by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) to link residents with Manhattan destinations. All maintenance, repairs, and capital improvements must be made by this state agency by connecting with mainstream Manhattan authorities. It is not part of the MTA system. Our tramway is a vital transportation link that is used each day by commuters in order to get to work, and by school children, most of whom attend school in mainland Manhattan. It has no connection to Queens and is of no consequence to a Queens Assembly Member.
  3. Many of our children go to public and private schools in Manhattan, not Queens. PS/IS 217, the only public school in our community, is only available on a limited basis to children through the 8th grade. Confirmed by the school’s principal, Mandana Beckman, the school can only accommodate 33 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Therefore, the vast majority of our public, middle school children attend District 2 schools in Manhattan. The mandated DOE District 2 school, which has the highest volume of Roosevelt Island middle schoolers, is Robert S. Wagner Middle School, located in the 76th AD. In addition, PS/IS 217 can only accommodate 15 of our 3K children, and 36 PreK2 children. The majority of our early learners, who PS/IS 217 cannot accommodate, attend DOE District 2 schools in the 76th AD. Our District 76 Assembly Members have all had long, established relationships with schools in our required school district. We need to retain this invaluable Manhattan “community of interest.”
  4. Our first responders for emergencies and crimes are NY State Peace Officers employed by the Public Safety Department (PSD), under the unelected management of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. They are not employed by the NY Police Department, (NYPD). Since our local policing is managed by RIOC, and operates outside the control of NYPD, we need the combined efforts of our Manhattan legislators to assure proper law enforcement and intervene on the community’s behalf when the need arises.
  5. Cornell, a NY State land grand institution, occupies several acres of Roosevelt Island. Two thirds of their land will soon be developed. Our community needs to insure Cornell’s adherence to the policies that were established by NY State, Manhattan Community Board 8, and City Council. We need the strong oversight achieved by having both of our Manhattan-based State legislators working alongside our Manhattan City Council Member and Community Board 8, to support the protections granted in the Manhattan ULURP process for Cornell’s upcoming construction.
  6. Since our inception almost 50 years ago, Roosevelt Islanders have established enduring relationships with many Manhattan based communities of interest. Due to our proximity to the United Nations, we have a large immigrant and non-resident population who retain close ties with the United Nations. We have many UN officials, UN staff, and their families living in our community.  The housing quarters for the staff of Cornell Weill Hospital, in District 76, are located on Roosevelt Island. Also, a significant portion of our population work at other nearby Manhattan hospitals in District 76. Many of our residents are actively engaged with religious institutions in Manhattan. Most of our working population commute to Manhattan for employment every workday.

Please take a few minutes to send this important letter:

Subject Line: Opposition to the State proposal for Redistricting Roosevelt Island

To: Members of the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission

Thank you for considering Roosevelt Island’s needs when determining the redistricting map for New York State’s Assembly. I strongly oppose the current proposal which removes Roosevelt Island from Manhattan’s District 76 and places it in Queens District 36.

New York State’s redistricting rules require:

Districts must consist of contiguous territory and shall be as compact in form as possible.

  1. Our Manhattan Island’s contiguous territory is Manhattan, not Queens.
  2. The proposed change to our district is sprawling, not compact.

The commission must take into account the maintenance of existing districts, pre-existing political subdivisions, including counties, cities, towns, and communities of interest.

  1. Roosevelt Island is being severed from long established communities of interest. Our political subdivision is not being respected.
  2. The City Charter of New York City recognizes Roosevelt Island as a Manhattan community.

The Constitution of New York State specifically provides two State legislators for each district, a Senator and an Assembly Member. Roosevelt Island, a Manhattan community, has a unique form of local governance. We are governed by an unelected, State appointed Public Benefit Corporation, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC). All of our local services are administered by RIOC, not by New York City. The Board of Directors for RIOC is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Governor of NY. Because of this unique relationship with the State of NY, in which our residents do not have a voting voice in their local government, it is imperative that we, a Manhattan community, have the combined efforts of both of our Manhattan based representatives, working together on our behalf, to provide us with responsive and fair dealing by RIOC.

  1. Please select no more than 3 issues from
    the numbered list to insert here.
  2. Sign your name
  3. Write your street address

~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • Create your letter and send it as soon as
    possible as an attachment to: https://nyirc.gov/participate.
    Please note- You may have to register first at http://nyirc.gov
  • Please send me an attachment of your
    letter as well. jm_short@ymail.com And…….
  • Also include the following addresses as cc’s –
    They are Co-Executive Directors:
    Karen Blatt & Douglas Breakell 
    Directors of Public Engagement:
    Miranda Goodwin Raab & Patrick Cameron 
  • Sign up today to speak in person at the
    upcoming hearing which will be held at 4 PM on Tuesday, February 7th,
    at Hunter College, Kaye Playhouse, 695 Park Avenue (on 68th
    Street between Park and Lexington.
    ) at http://nyirc.gov/meetings
  • An in-person meeting for all interested parties will take place here on Roosevelt Island, on Thursday, January 19,  at the Senior Center at 546 Main Street. Please email me at jm_short@ymail.com if you plan to attend. Please indicate “Redistrict Meeting” in your subject line.
  • Share this request with every Roosevelt Islander you know!

Schedule to speak at the February 7th hearing at https://nyirc.gov/meetings

For questions, contact me at jm_short@ymail.com.

Thank you for protecting the future of Roosevelt Island!

Sincerely Yours,

Joyce Short

Founder

The Main Street Democratic Club

Proposed Redistricting Map:

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