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Roosevelt Island Youth Center Now Closed Until Further Notice

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The Roosevelt Island Youth Center, once a thriving resource for local kids shut down, without notice or explanation, last week. No reopening is planned.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

In another, gross systemic failure of the Haynes/Hochul administration, the newly renovated Youth Center shut down last week. There is no official notice. In fact, RIOC’s website suggests it’s still open.

But that webpage has not been updated since last summer, even though a $150,000/yr Communications AVP was hired in August. His workload, from all appearances, is like his boss, President/CEO Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes’s, light.

A deeply set tone of general laziness saturates the state agency. Senior managers especially are either idle or spectacularly ineffective.

About the Youth Center Shutdown

“I am hearing word that the youth center is closed because of a ‘staff shortage.’ a concerned resident wrote. “No kids seen in the building.”

Youth Center Ana Medina confirmed that as the official story, but no formal announcement has been made. Medina also told a resident that there is no plan for any reopening.

A parent added, “But I also found out today that parents were warned since the week before Dec 20th that the Youth Center was going to be closed until further notice.”

Why hasn’t Team Hochul/Haynes notified anyone officially? In his President’s Report at a board meeting in the last week of December, Haynes never mentioned anything. Seldom Seen Haynes was not there anyway, leaving the job or reading his notes to Chief Counsel Gretchen Robinson.

Although the shutdown was already in the works, the lackadaisical board appeared fully unaware. Several are next-door or right across-the-street neighbors to the Youth Center.

Seeking Insight

The Daily reached out to Charlie DeFino. DeFino led the Youth Center for over twenty years as head of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program. In a sleazy move, RIOC replaced RIYP with its own state-run operation in 2019.

When asked if he had experienced a similar shutdown, his answer was simple: “Never in my life.”

But that’s not all. After kicking out DeFino’s group, RIOC increased operations funding from $200,000 to $750,000, spending hundreds of thousands more on infrastructure improvements, all while slashing programs and increasing staff pay.

Many saw it as more official corruption at RIOC, part of an ongoing process.

We should note that DeFino, also, doubted the official story about staff shortages. He suspects that the Youth Center is so restricted and out of touch with the community that the core problem is a lack of participants.

Don’t expect Team Haynes/Hochul to step up and clear the air. That’s not what they do.

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