A City Council districting hearing last evening got a vocal, red force of Roosevelt Islanders intent on reversing preliminary maps moving the community into a Queens-based City Council District. Organizers arranged a private bus for bringing residents to the hearing.
by David Stone
All Photos Courtesy of Ellen Polivy
“We had about 30 residents attend the hearing,” said Ellen Polivy. Photos show red-shirted Roosevelt Islanders dominating the audience. They advocated against a plan that moves the community from a Manhattan City Council District into Queens.
Redistricting was forced on the city by population growth recorded in the 2020 Census. Realignment was unavoidable. But the community has been in District 5 for decades, said several Roosevelt Islanders.
In fact, Roosevelt Island has never been anything but Manhattan. Its place in the city’s main borough was a salient point in its creation.
Enthusiasm has run high. “Joyce (Short) found out that Roosevelt Islanders have written more letters (protesting preliminary maps) than all of the other districts combined,” Polivy added.
Roosevelt Islanders as Leaders
The emerging coalition of leaders taking on the task of advocating for Roosevelt Island as a Manhattan Community answers a call. Short, Polivy and Lynne Strong-Shinozaki have been all over the community, buttonholing residents and gaining their support by explaining the issues.
Both Polivy and Strong-Shinozaki are past presidents of the Residents Association Common Council, a group missing in action during this crisis. Also among the missing: The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and its shy, bunkered CEO Shelton J. Haynes. Short was a longtime Common Council Member and a leader in the grassroots Maple Tree Group.
City Council Member Julie Menin has worked intently on the issue, submitting a well-thought-out argument to the commission. Another former Common Council President and Community Board 8 representative, Sharon Pope, spoke up in a virtual meeting last week.
Who Spoke in Support?
- Lynne Strong-Shinozaki
- Council Member and former Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
- Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
- Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine
- Community Board 8 Chair Russell Squire
- Tricia Shimamura, Community Board 8 Member
The Districting Commission is set to submit its final maps to the City Council in late September.