The Measure of Experience

January 22, 2018

Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation President Susan Rosenthal has put forth a motion for a Board vote to award the Roosevelt Island Youth Program a contract valued at up to $1.14 million over a three year period to operate the Youth Center at 506 Main Street for three years. The editorial team of The WIRE joins with the large number of Island parents, new and old, in urging the Board to vote no.


The most glaring flaw in the process has been the exclusion of the community’s voice, a necessity for a grant of this size, scope, and impact on Islanders. The disbursement of those funds, nearly four times greater than grants provided to all other Island non-profits combined, should come with a public forum and opportunity for public discourse, just as Public Purpose Funds do. 


With their decades-long connection to the Island, and years of experience dealing with RIYP, resident Board members’ voices are more important than ever. This is why we fought for a resident board. 


The award committee’s score results were incredibly close. In fact, Island Kids beat RIYP in three of the four categories, but a five point difference in the “experience” category led to RIYP receiving a higher overall score. If RIYP’s experience was the ultimate determining factor, then the resident Board should take into account the community’s experience with RIYP, too. The only way to do that is to delay any vote on the contract award until the voices of the community are heard. 


Despite the flawed process, Rosenthal, General Counsel Jacqueline Flug, and RIOC Grant Writer Sean Singh should be commended for trying to place some controls on a situation they inherited from prior RIOC administrations. 


It took years and the herculean efforts of many Islanders to create a Board that would reflect Islanders’ voices. The goal was to avoid having bureaucrats in Albany dictate how our money will be spent and who will provide services to our children. Let’s continue to honor that. 


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