Andy Foundation, Rec Comm ponder future of Yard Sale
The annual Andy Foundation Yard Sale, which draws mass community support and substantial fundraising for charity, will be held on Saturday, May 13 from 9 am to 2 pm at the Fieldhouse at St. Paul’s. But with fees rising for the rental of the prime and now renovated recreational facility, talk has turned to the future of the event in Garden City.
Early on in 2017 organizers Jill Palmeri and Amy McGoldrick of The Andy Foundation found out about an exponential rate increase for the venue of the annual Yard Sale. The Village of Garden City Parks and Recreation department outlined new facility rental fees commensurate with the facilities’ investment in its Strategic Plan, a blueprint way forward to upgrade infrastructure and Parks’ operations while securing returns on investment. The Board of Commissioners of Recreation and Cultural Affairs hosted Palmeri and McGoldrick at their February 16 meeting to discuss the context of the rate hike. Kevin Ocker, chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Recreation and Cultural Affairs (the village’s Recreation Commission for short) had an initial conversation with Palmeri and McGoldrick in early February and then relayed their concern to his board. They decided to offer – for a limited time of just May 2017 and perhaps 2018 – the same discounted package extended to the Jay Gallagher Lacrosse tournament of 50 percent the targeted fee, what was put up as a price point. But the volunteer organizers say the Foundation, established in 2004 as a “by kids, for kids” 501c3 nonprofit, simply won’t be able to continue its biggest fundraiser each year in Garden City unless some longer term compromise is reached.
The Andy Foundation event in 2016 was held in the beginning of May, with Parks’ Strategic Plan not yet in effect. With the new fiscal year in the village commencing June 1 and ending May 31, this spring will mark the first time they encounter the new cost structure and fee increases for rentals of village Parks’ facilities, as the Recreation Commission had decided on that starting with 2016- 2017 and this May will be the tail end of that cycle.
“We began to give the cost information to Jill (Palmeri) and certainly going from a lesser fee to a higher fee raises concerns. They asked who sets the recreational fees and that is a direct responsibility of this board. It ties into our whole Recreation Strategic Plan and the way we developed a plan to finance the huge investment we are making in recreational facilities. It takes a number of things,” Ocker explained at the February 16 meeting.
First was the hike in fees for rentals of fields by 35 percent. Next was the increase for all our recreation programs by over 20 percent, even for youth participating in dance, as their fees went up to help contribute towards major parks and recreation investments. Then comes the rental of facilities and a new individual fee for participants in all of the Garden City sports organizations.
“We instituted a newer fee for participants. They pay an individual fee each time they register to play or participate in programs that use our fields. Those are the steps of how we got to the fees I’ve communicated (to Palmeri and McGoldrick),” Ocker explained. He also said the Commission did not establish any reduced rental rates, but it did feel it was important to not include a graduated increase either.
McGoldrick and Palmeri asked if going forward there could be any special consideration on the village’s part for the rates of not-for-profits, charities run 100 percent by volunteers. The annual yard sale each May is The Andy Foundation’s single biggest event. A total of $25,000 to $30,000 is the expected gross proceeds each year, if all goes well and weather is decent. The event is a marquee fundraiser in the village and according to McGoldrick, other Andy Foundation events such as sports clinics, bingo parties, the “Andy Go Bragh” St. Patrick’s Day of 2015 social, or restaurant nights, are mainly just reminders of the charity operations in the village. At 195 Herricks Road in Garden City Park the Andy Foundation’s Yard Sale Shop operates Tuesdays through Saturdays, almost each day between 10 am and 4 pm, with a 6pm closing on Thursdays.
The 10th annual Yard Sale, held in May of 2013, set a record with $40,000 raised by close to 1,000 shoppers’ contributions. McGoldrick made it clear that the Commission understands the Yard Sale to be “a dollar by dollar fundraiser, run with 125 to 150 volunteers over two days.” Also in 2013 the Andy Foundation was able to hold its first Home, Harvest & Holiday Yard Sale in October, adding to village revenue and facility use. Aside from renting the usual venue from the Garden City Recreation Department, McGoldrick said table rentals and obtaining proper insurance are costs for the Foundation related to its prime event.
“Even with the consideration for this year, which we appreciate, it’s reflecting an increase of 800 percent for the fees we had been paying. There had been discussions in the past for the Fieldhouse of a different fee schedule for local charities that do not charge, there’s not going to be vendors there. Proceeds from the event go straight to the charity and then we would pay from it then. How can we go about that?” they asked.
Ocker says there’s specific circumstances for The Andy Foundation. For many years he noted the organization had activities in Garden City, and were therefore governed by a Board of Trustees’ policy for the group to pay a portion of costs, not to exceed $5,000, incurred by the village for holding events. Although no reduced rate will be established looking forward, the Commission is interested in graduated increases “so there is no shock factor.”
“What we have done now with this board (Recreation Commission) and our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, the charitable groups in town no longer fall under that. Everyone that uses the facility pays. We had this conversation in great length with Jay Gallagher (Dr. Tony Randi) too – we truly believe in your causes as individuals serving the community but we do also have to pay our financial responsibility for keeping the plan intact. All the fees and schedules are governed by this board and it is one of the main functions we have had, since its inception. When the Village Board adopted the Strategic Plan it is called out that we are responsible to insure that we’d finance the plan and continue doing the right things,” Ocker said.
Commission member Michael Ryder points out that just three charity events are involved with fundraisers using the Fieldhouse: the Andy Foundation’s Yard Sale, the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, and the Jay Gallagher fundraiser with the lacrosse tournament. Ryder asked if that may change, but either way he sees his peers on the Commission just attempting to be consistent.
“For this board I do not think it’s our responsibility for what each charity decides it can pay, the responsibility is administering the rates for rental of the facility. We are not trying to pick on anybody,” he said.
That rationale led The Andy Foundation to ask if that was the correct approach for certain groups, namely charities.
“I think it’s an unfortunate precipice to go down if the village doesn’t take into consideration what we do as a home-grown charity,” McGoldrick says.
Later Palmeri asked why there was such a huge increase “with no input” and it caught the organizers by surprise. There was some debate on whether or not the Recreation Commission was facing the same situation as it did at its September 2016 meeting, when it engaged in a difficult rate-hike dialogue with Dr. Tony Randi and the Bigganes (creators of The Molly Fund) in the room. And for the new rate impacts on 2017, the first casualty of the village’s increase will be this year’s Jay Gallagher tournament cutting back from a Friday and Saturday to a single day, Saturday. Ocker told The Andy Foundation it’s a very similar dialogue involved. But Palmeri contends that while all of the Jay Gallagher tournament’s money goes to charity too, there’s a big difference between the facility usages each event requires. Shopping and fields of play are not comparable, especially on maintenance. Also Palmeri suggests that the Yard Sale brings in more families and general public from Garden City and nearby who would have a chance to experience Recreation’s facilities for the first time.
At February’s meeting Recreation Commission member Judy Courtney called the fee increase schedule a lengthy debate and genuinely “a struggle for us, weighing the right thing with our responsibility as well as recognizing the good work your charities do.” She told Jill and Amy it was not taken lightly.
Separating the good that local charities have sparked in Garden City, representative of community values, from the administration of the village and related costs also befuddles the organizers. They point out the Andy Foundation event serves as a fundraiser “with buck by buck sales” earning almost the entire financial budget for the charity, led by efforts of 150 volunteers over two days in each of the past 13 years. She said the foundation has started a tradition of youth volunteerism in Garden City “never seen before in this capacity.”
“I appreciate your responsibility with the Strategic Plan and I am familiar with the S.W.O.T. planning (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and I understand the responsibility of both boards (Rec. Commission and Village Board of Trustees) to take care of things but we are asking and understanding how we could get any reconsideration about rates for not-forprofits, and how that can be handled for pure not-for-profits. It is not an appropriate facility to feel that you’re going to have tons of charities coming in for rentals – this is a unique situation.
Within two years raising it up 1600 percent is going to make it prohibitive. I would hate to see this charity and all the volunteer work, work that kids are doing from Garden City High School and Garden City Middle School, come to an end because we can’t afford the fees at the local village facility. There is not going to be another choice of facility – it ties our hands going forward whether or not we can continue with the event,” McGoldrick said.
This year many village residents and others have already volunteered and signed up, so the May event this year will go on. Ocker said he’s ready for the Commission and The Andy Foundation to continue the discussion on rates.
The Yard Sale Shop sells and accepts donations of jewelry, art, linens, lighting, books, housewares and much more. To volunteer or donate to The Andy Foundation, please call 516-739- 1717, email firstname.lastname@example.org, explore their website or visit the Yard Sale Shop at 195 Herricks Road in Garden City Park. The store is open daily Tuesday through Saturday, but it does not accept credit cards.