After years of trying to create a place for local teens, the Rockville Centre Youth Council proudly cut the ribbon on the Spare Mug, its joint venture with RVC Lanes, on April 10.
The Spare Mug is a spot for young people to hang out in the bowling alley, a separate space with its own entrance and atmosphere. Teens will be able to spend time there after school, at night and on weekends.
“We want this to be the Youth Council’s home,” said John LaSpina, owner of Maple Family Lanes, the parent company of RVC Lanes. “We want you to be off the bridges and in here.”
The LaSpinas worked together with the Youth Council to create the space for teens. They will be supervised by bowling alley employees, but there won’t be chaperones hovering around — a selling point that the LaSpinas and the Youth Council hope will attract more teens.
The lounge features booths and tables, a snack bar (as well as access to the bowling alley’s offerings), televisions and free Wi-Fi. It will also host Youth Council meetings. Other community groups can also reserve the space.
Local officials were on hand to congratulate the council on its new space and help with the ribbon-cutting. “You are the most important thing in our village,” Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray told members of the organization. “Why? Because you’re the future of the village.”
A lack of places for teens to gather has been a long-acknowledged problem in Rockville Centre. Whenever a problem involving teens arises, there are renewed cries for officials to do something about young people roving the streets.
Youth Council members — teens themselves — recognized the problem. They know that many kids in Rockville Centre like to gather at the foot bridges that cross Peninsula Boulevard, where they drink, smoke and sometimes fight.
“Kids who used to go to the bridge can come here,” said Bryan Jaret, a three-year member of the council. He and his friends said they had been looking for an alternative to hanging out on one of the bridges, and they joined the council to help create that alternative.
Jaret added that the organization plans to reach out to teens all over Rockville Centre, not just SSHS. “Once word spreads,” he said, “they may need to expand this place.”