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Concerned Citizens Facing ‘Extinction’

Longtime Youth Center Faces Cutoff in County Funding

The Concerned Citizens for Roslyn Youth, a longtime nonprofit based at the Hector Gayle Roslyn Community Center, is facing extinction in 2010, a possible victim of the Nassau County budget crisis.

If the necessary funding isn’t restored, then the center, a staple in the community for 29 years, will stay open, but its youth programs will be terminated. The community center is located at 53 Orchard St.

As the budget crisis became more apparent, the center, according to Executive Director Janice Miles, had to do some lobbying on behalf of the county.

The center, Ms. Miles noted, receives discretionary funding. As such, it had to lobby for some of County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi’s programs, including red light cameras, a fuel tax, and a cigarette tax. Ms. Miles said that some members, due to their own status as homeowners, had misgivings about the fuel tax. At the same time, they had no choice. The light cameras and fuel tax went through, but the cigarette tax remains stalled.

And so, some funds were restored for the 2009 budget. In addition, a settlement between Wal-Mart and the Nassau County District Attorney’s office also freed up some money to be allocated to youth services, a development that has also kept the center in operation.

But these are just temporary measures. “While there have been restorations to our 2009 contract, we still are not totally restored and [we] face extinction in 2010, just five months from now,” Ms. Miles said.

One problem the center faces is its location. Ms. Miles said that about nine similar agencies would be receiving reimbursement dollars from New York State. Such funding is contingent on their ZIP code location in the county, Ms. Miles said. However, the needs of the Roslyn center are not considered urgent enough as to warrant such funding.

Ninety five percent of the center’s funding comes from the county. In all, Concerned Citizens’ total budget runs to $100,000 per year.

With that money is serious jeopardy, the center is looking for funds elsewhere. For four years now, Concerned Citizens has formed a partnership with the Sid Jacobson JCC for its K-5 after-school program. Concerned Citizen’s grades 6-8 and 9-12 after-school programs are located at the Orchard Street address.

Ms. Miles maintains that Concerned Citizen’s functions, despite its location on the prosperous North Shore, are vital ones.

“There are young people in this county who are using heroin and are not receiving services from the county,” she said.

Ms. Miles added that the center has long prided itself in getting local families to find jobs and become self-sufficient.

In addition to the after-school programs, the center specializes in Summer In School and Out of School Youth Employment Services. It has a Summer Recreation Center and a Summer Outreach program for youngsters, ages 14-18. It also sponsors a Back to School Fair and health services, such as mammogram testing.

“Our objective is to be change agents,” the center’s website states. “We are dedicated to creating tools and providing services to help our youth and families with their personal growth and development.”

Currently, the center is being operated by the Town of North Hempstead. The town has taken over all building operations, including maintenance.