If you are a Roosevelt Island resident, you need to know this information that has been provided for you by the Main Street Democratic Club. It is vitally important to all residents of the community regardless of political preference and whether you are, or are not, a registered voter:
Today- September 22nd, NYC Districting Commission Chair, Dennis Walcott, looked none too pleased as the commission rejected their own revised map and sent deliberation back to the drawing board. This means that even though the last iteration showed Roosevelt Island back in Manhattan instead of Queens….. NOTHING is carved in stone!
Roosevelt Islanders blew the roof off the commission’s comment department during the the last hearing process in August. We need to do it again! We were able to convince the commissioners of our issues previously; we must make sure those needs continue to be top-of-mind during their current deliberations!
Here are the many issues that helped to secure our success so far. As the saying goes…. “Let’s not mess with success!” Feel free to use them again.
- Our children’s educational facilities are PS/IS 217 and other Manhattan public and private schools. We fall within Manhattan’s School District 2 for elementary school and middle school children. Our school’s chances of receiving participatory budgeting, such as the funding that built our green roof, will be severely hampered.
- The vast majority of our children who do not attend PS/IS 217, attend schools in Manhattan, not Queens. Families are attracted to living on Roosevelt Island because of the safety and ease of commutation to Manhattan schools by our tramway.
- The Roosevelt Island tramway, operated and overseen by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC), is firmly rooted in Council District 5. It is imperative that the community maintain the direct relationship with the District 5 Council Member to insure the safe, efficient operation of the tram.
- Most of our working population commute each day to Manhattan, not Queens.
- In addition to supporting our school, our long established relationships with our Council Member supports quality of life programs for our families such as our Little League, NY Junior Tennis and Learning, our very active Senior Center, and additional projects and services. They are the life-blood of our community.
- The cost for policing Roosevelt Island is principally covered by Island residents, through land-leases paid to RIOC. Our first responders are Public Safety Officers who are Peace Officers with the State of NY, NOT police officers from Queens.
- Our crime statistics are consistent with neighboring Manhattan locations, not locations in Western Queens. Our NYPD protection could diminish when determined by comparing Roosevelt Island with the statistics of Western Queens.
- Roosevelt Island was conceived and built as a “Manhattan Utopian Community” by Mayor John Lindsay. Our area code is 212, not 718. We have a Manhattan zip code of 10044. For approximately 50 years, Roosevelt Islanders have considered themselves Manhatanites.
- The MTA considers Roosevelt Island a Manhattan stop.
- Our newly built and highly utilized public library is part of the Manhattan library system.
- Roosevelt Islanders frequently call on our City Council Representatives for constituent services, particularly, for help in landlord/tenant matters. Our cases are heard in Manhattan’s landlord/tenant court. A Queens City Council Member will be unable to provide the level of effective aid our residents need in housing matters.
- The character of Roosevelt Island is unlike that of Western Queens. We are highly residential with very few commercial establishments.
- Our community has a very diverse population with many residents from diplomatic services around the world as a result of our close proximity to the United Nations. Weil Cornell provides housing here to many research fellows and personnel from various nations who live on Roosevelt Island for a two year rotation and need the ease of commutation to the hospital. We have community residents from Nepal, Jamaica, China, Serbia, Russia, Japan, Switzerland, Vietnam, Israel, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Mexico, the UK, India, the Dominican Republic, Pakistan….. all across the globe, who live in harmony raising their families here.
- Our operating funds are derived in a very different way than in Queens. Even our public services such as grounds keeping and street cleaning are not covered in the same manner as Queens.
- Like the island of Manhattan, we are an Island, and share many of the same environmental protection issues.
- Our community fought for protections in the development of Cornell Tech which is only one third complete. We need to maintain the same vital Manhattan City Council oversight for Cornell’s next phase of construction.
Please note- no matter what happens with redistricting…. PS/IS 217 will remain in Manhattan District 2, our Zip Code will continue to be 10044, and our phone numbers will not change. We will continue to be a part of Manhattan because the City Charter, not election districting, determines where we are actually located.
The problem is that we will be part of Manhattan, but will not be allowed to vote for the Manhattan City Council Representative who can best impact our City services, provide vital support for families such as help with landlord tenant matters, provide supportive distribution of discretionary funding, and consider our needs for participatory budgeting.
Please take a few moments to send this important letter to the Redistricting Commission:
Subject Line: Opposition to Redistricting Roosevelt Island
To Members of the NYC Districting Commission:
Thank you very much for considering Roosevelt Island’s need to be retained in Manhattan District 5, as indicated in your most recently proposed district map.
I strongly opposed the redistricting lines that you previously proposed for Queens Council District 26 and Manhattan Council District 5, which shifted Roosevelt Island to Queens, for the following reasons:
The proposed change was a direct violation of City Charter Section 52 (1) (c) (d) and (e) and Section 52 (2), resulting in:
- Neighborhoods and communities of interest not being kept intact.
- The proposed district was not compact as instructed.
- The proposed district resulted in an extreme crossover district, crossing a borough boundary.
- The proposed district was very oddly shaped.
In addition, the Queens member would have needed to send representatives to 2 Manhattan Community Boards and hold membership in 2 Borough Boards. Queens and Manhattan residents may differ on public policy issues such as congestion pricing. Manhattan residents in the Queens district would be at a disadvantage in participatory budgeting. The demographics of our community best align with Manhattan. Roosevelt Island’s transportation links make travel to Manhattan simple and uncomplicated, while travel to Queens, and particularly to the Queens district office, is excessively complex and difficult.
Loss of representation in District 5, where the tramway is rooted, puts operation of our vital transportation link in jeopardy.
(Please select no more than 3 specific issues to include from the above stated list.)
Sign your name,
Write your street address.
Please send your letter to PublicTestimony@redistricting.nyc.gov and cc Joyce Short, the Founder of the Main Street Democrats at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At this time, there has not been a hearing scheduled for the commission’s next rendition of the map. Stay tuned for this information.
For the record here are the dates the meetings took place in August.
- Tuesday, 8/16 5:30-9 PM, Museum of Moving Image, Summer Redstone Theater 36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria
- Wednesday, 8/17 5:30-9 PM, Lehman College (CUNY) Gillet Auditorium, 250 Bedford Park Blvd West, Bronx
- Thursday, 8/18 5:30-9 PM, Staten Island Borough Hall, 10 Richmond Terrace, Rm 125
- Sunday 8/21 3:30-7 PM Medger Evers College (CUNY) School of Science, Health & Tech, Dining Hall, 1638 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
- Monday, 8/22 @ 6 PM, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture- 515 Malcolm X Blvd