Up for Bids, Youth Center May Get a New Operator

Written by Briana Warsing. Posted in Volume 37, Issue 3 - October 8, 2016

Anyone dreaming of running the Roosevelt Island Youth Center, located at 506 Main Street, has until November 4 to put together a proposal.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) posted a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an operator of the Youth Center on its website, as well as to the New York State Contract Reporter’s website. A pre-bid meeting was held on October 5 followed by a walk-through of the center.

The Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP), headed by Charles Defino, has operated the Youth Center since 1978. RIYP also runs a Beacon after-school program out of PS/IS 217.

An RFP “doesn’t mean we’re against Charlie,” said RIOC CEO and General Counsel Susan Rosenthal at an April Real Estate Committee meeting. “But we need some input and monitoring of what the role is of the Youth Center. What are the programs and what should they be?”


The RFP specifies that the operator provide year-round leadership, comprising educational, recreational, and cultural programs such as multimedia training, dance classes, art and music classes, science classes, leadership programs, high school/college/job preparation, life skills programs, and homework assistance.

The programs offered must target a diverse group of Island youth across the age spectrum and be provided free of charge. The operator is expected to provide all personnel, materials, and equipment to operate the facility, as well as solicit and manage youth activity.

The successful operator will enter into a three-year lease for the facility and an operating agreement to run the facility, and will receive a $200,000 grant. After the initial three-year period, RIOC may offer two one-year extensions. The grant agreement will be renewed annually, subject to the availability of RIOC funds.

RIOC is seeking an operator with 10 years of experience operating, maintaining, and managing a space of at least 2,000 square feet for not-for-profit recreation, enrichment, and cultural organizations, including facilities management, scheduling, and developing operating budgets. The RFP also requests successful fundraising and marketing experience, as well as successful experience working with racially, ethnically, and economically diverse communities.

The operator is required to maintain nonprofit status and demonstrate compliance with annual State and federal reporting requirements for non-profit organizations.

The Youth Center Space

The Youth Center building is comprised of several rooms, including a gym, a music room, game room, and computer room. The space, over 40 years old, is scheduled to undergo renovations, with project completion expected before the start of the contract. Should renovations take longer than expected, RIOC says they could be completed without the need to close the Youth Center.

At an April meeting of the RIOC Real Estate Committee, Rosenthal said that adding an ADA compliant bathroom would be the most significant piece of the renovation. Otherwise, Rosenthal characterized it as a “facelift” with new flooring and painting.

“Let’s move forward,” said Rosenthal. “We want a Youth Center we’re proud of.”

Regarding the current operator of the RIYP, Rosenthal said, “Charlie will be there. He will bid. He always makes believe he’s going to retire, but he’s going to bid when the RFP goes out.”

For more information go to .

Tags: Briana Warsing Island Life education RI Youth Center

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