RIOC Schedules Youth Center Award Vote for Next Week

Support Mounts for RI Youth Program As Survival Vote Nears

Updated 41 weeks ago David Stone
RIOC Board in January before the meeting ended in chaos
RIOC Board in January before the meeting ended in chaos
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Heating up, RIOC's vote on who will manage the Roosevelt Island Youth Center tops the agenda for next week's Board Meeting as petitions collect over 1,000 signatures of support for RIYP, the Center's longstanding operator. Community divisions are on a collision course for Thursday with a preliminary bout set for Tuesday.

Late yesterday, RIOC sauced accumulating passions with some confusion, changing venues for two important committee meetings, from its 591 Main Street conference room to "the RIOC Warehouse (680 Main Street)," on Tuesday.

We know - What?

A Google Maps search shows 680 Main Street to be Gristedes, where it's actually 649 Main, the closest the internet giant could come to the mystery address.

More than the usual number of interested residents are likely to attend, which may have spurred the change. We asked RIOC to enlighten us.

The Tuesday committee meetings are preludes to a full Board session on Thursday, with the first, Operations, set to deal with "Legal Matters in Connection with the Youth Center Operator Contract Award." That business is expected to be closed to the public and media. A motion to go into "executive session" has already been announced.

In the Real Estate Advisory Committee meeting that follows, an update on the dicey "RI Monument" issue is up for discussion. Location of the 9-foot tall, red Helvetica fonts and possibly their life or death may be decided.

Its Survival At Stake, RI Youth Program Muscles Up Community Support

In the meantime, late last evening, the Roosevelt Island Youth Program submitted petitions of support containing 1,174 signatures to RIOC Board Chair Alex Valella and RuthAnne Visnauskas, who heads NYS Housing and Community Renewal, the agency that pulls RIOC's strings at the behest of Governor Andrew Cuomo from afar.

RIOC's Board, its President and relevant elected officials, including Governor Cuomo, were copied.

Two of the petition pages contain comments casting doubt on the intentions of individuals who've led opposition to the Youth Program.

"Isn't it curious how KIM MASSEY and ADIB MANSOUR (highlighted) support RIYP until they have a financial interest in the RFP?" read the first, accompanying an early, undated petition. Massey and Mansour are former Youth Program employees who signed on but have since supported opposition efforts.

The next page includes this note: "Isn't it curious how BRIANNA WARSING supports RIYP but continually writes articles against RIYP?" Warsing, who spells her first name with a single "n," is Editor-in-Chief of the Main Street WIRE. Her signature is near the top of the petition.

If nothing else, the comments underscore the volatile situation RIOC's putting Youth Center management out to bid, for the first time after four decades, aroused. Conditions have only worsened in the last year and a half as the State agency bungled a pair of competitive contests. Charges of bid rigging have been raised.

Although it's unlikely that the Board's vote on Thursday's first order of business, "Authorization to Enter into Contract with Roosevelt Island Youth Program for the Operation of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center," will put community conflicts to rest, it may establish a plateau in which funding allows programs for local kids to continue without interruption.

The Board meets in the Cultural Center at 548 Main Street at 5:30. Attendance is expected to be near capacity.


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