Archive for the ‘Yonkers City Council President Lesnick’ Category
In a bi-partisan effort to avert severe cuts to the Yonkers Public Schools that would result in 700 layoffs, the Yonkers City Council voted 6-1 early Wednesday morning to ask the State to create a Transitional Finance Authority (TFA). The Authority would refinance some of our existing debt resulting in a $20 million reduction in our operating costs for next fiscal year. While deeply concerned about deficit financing, the Council approved a version of a TFA that differs from the mayor’s version in that it has tighter financial controls, places the entire council on the authority’s board and has the State enact a wage freeze for all municipal employees. The wage freeze would go into effect when the bonds are issued and end when they are repaid. The legislation is now being reviewed, considered, and will hopefully be enacted by the governor, state legislature and the comptroller.
The TFA recognizes that “a condition of fiscal difficulty exists in the city of Yonkers , as a result of a weakened local economy, a decrease in real estate values and reductions in state aid to education.” The TFA implores the state to act favorable towards the agreement reasoning, “….the city is in a state of fiscal crisis, and that the welfare of the inhabitants of the city is seriously threatened. The city budget must be balanced and economic recovery enhanced. Actions should be undertaken which preserve essential services to city residents, while also ensuring that taxes remain affordable. Actions contrary to these two essential goals jeopardize the city’s long-term fiscal health and impede economic growth for the city, the region, and the state.”
Our priority has been, since this proposed budget was delivered to us, to help the Yonkers Public Schools, but we did not want to give this mayor, nor any future mayor, an unlimited credit card to continue to spend recklessly. By limiting the amounts the TFA can refinance to reasonable steps to reduce municipal expenses, we will instill good fiscal procedures without losing local control.
While union members have vowed to challenge this responsible legislation that saves jobs and gets our house in order, I expect the state legislature to do the right thing and work to make sure this is passed. Anything short of such, without providing us the money we need, would only be another slap in the face to Yonkers.
After all, it was only several weeks ago that they placed the city in further jeopardy by significantly under funding our schools with the budget they passed.
I also want to thank the thousands of men, women and children who contacted me and my colleagues over the last few weeks to voice their concerns. You truly helped to shape this important debate and your actions were nothing less than an example of democracy at work. Many of you argued, and I agree with you, that the proposed cuts to the schools were unfair to our city’s children and would result in extra costs for parents – far in excess of the money saved in this year’s budget.
In a separate piece of legislation, the Council unanimously passed an annual maximum cap on overtime that can be earned by each municipal employee to $20,000 per year.
The passage of this cap on overtime occurred a day after the Journal News once again issued a feature article on overtime and pension padding that this time focused on the city’s first retiring police officer to earn more than $300,000 in one year (a combination of salary, overtime and other benefits).
The Council voted unanimously to support the overtime caps in order to enforce the accountability of managing the city’s departments with the commissioners and the mayor. The mayor will now be required to issue quarterly reports to the council of any mayoral-approved deviation from the overtime caps. Council members have repeatedly sided with taxpayers and agree that like everybody else on a fixed budget, the City has to stop spending money that it does not have and cannot continue to ask the taxpayers for more and more.
As the legislation works through Albany and the mayor finalizes his projections for next year, we can expect the mayor to submit a revised budget to the Council next week that includes a fiscal plan to utilize the savings from the reduction of labor costs and the proceeds of the refinancing to help save some of the education programs. Ultimately, the Yonkers budget and the TFA must be certified by the state before it can be implemented.
Click Statedelegation@gmail.com to contact your state legislator.
Chuck Lesnick is the Yonkers City Council President. He is a Democrat. He is running for the Office of Mayor of Yonkers.
Posted February 5, 2011on:
Starting tomorrow February 5 and running through May 8, the Hudson River Museum will host an exhibit entitled The Chemistry of Color: The Sorgenti Collection of Contemporary African-American Art.
“The Chemistry of Color
traces developments in African American art throughout the 20th century, beginning with masterworks by Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, including paintings, sculptures, works on paper and mixed-media objects that are vibrant, bold, optimistic and spectacularly colorful. Artists represented include Benny Andrews, Sam Gilliam, Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar and Raymond Saunders. The 70 pieces express the new American ideals and identities forged in the period 1970 to 1990.” (HRM.)
In celebration of Black History Month, Yonkers Riverfront Library is pleased to host Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc. (YTI) in a journey through the African-American experience on Wednesday, February 16th, at 6 p.m. in the Riverfront Library Auditorium. YTI students, parents, alumni and board members will perform in a diverse and inspirational program incorporating music, dance and the spoken word.
Also this month, the Blue Door Gallery is producing a mixed media exhibition titled “OUT OF AFRICA.” It features art work inspired by the diverse cultures and amazing landscapes of the African Continent. The opening reception will be held Sunday, February 13th, from 2 – 5 pm. Artwork of several renowned African artists will be shown in addition to those of local area artists. Pieces from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art-Yonkers will also be on view.
This past week, United States Representatives Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel came to Yonkers City Hall to announce that 16 firefighters have been rehired as a result of a $4.9 million Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grant (SAFER). Last fall I along with our federal delegation authored letters of support for this much needed funding and I want to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the Dept. of Homeland Security and our Congressional delegation for supporting the SAFER Grant application and coming to the rescue of our city’s fire department during these tough economic times. This grant allows us to rehire firefighters and that will have an immediate impact on the safety and security of our city.
Yesterday, as president of the Westchester County Municipal Officials Association, I joined with WMOA officers, the NYS Office of Real Property Services, the Westchester County Tax Commission and the New York State Assessors Association to unveil the final draft of the report of the Westchester County Assessment Commission. The report outlines the goal of ensuring tax fairness, transparency, greater public support and understanding of property assessments and taxes for Westchester’s residents.
This week Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his budget plan. In keeping with his call for moving the state forward by instituting an era of reform and belt tightening, I applaud the governor on keeping to his agenda and promise to overhaul the complex levels of government our state presently sustains. However, I am concerned about its impact upon Yonkers and look forward to working with our state delegation and my colleagues on the Council to continue to deliver upon our educational and municipal needs and services. To that end, there will be a local organizing of the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) on Monday night, Feb. 7th at 6:00 p.m. at the Nepperhan Community Center. Parents and educational advocates are encouraged to attend.
People often ask me if I know of affordable places to live in Yonkers. The following link will direct you to a site that New York State has with listings in Yonkers (or anywhere else in NY).
On a personal note, whether you are cheering for the Green Bay Packers or the Pittsburgh Steelers during the Super Bowl, enjoy the game but please drive safely as we expect more bad weather this weekend. I, however, will be rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers since the owner of Yonkers Raceway’s father, Art Rooney, founded the Steelers in 1933, and the Rooney’s have been involved with the Steelers longer than there have been Super Bowls.
Westchester County Lawmakers and
Local Municipal Officials Unveil Final Report to Achieve Tax Fairness
for Westchesters Residents.
The report issued yesterday by the Westchester County Tax Commission and the New York State Assessors Association identifies the need to undertake a Countywide data collection project, require accurate updating and verification of property characteristics and continuous maintenance of all property records, which can be the fundamental component for achieving fairness and equity in the assessment system. “These surely are difficult times. We must provide New Yorkers with property tax relief,” said Chairman Jenkins. “Everyday residents have seen their property taxes rise at unsustainable rates and the soaring increase to their cost of living. The debate is no longer whether or not there is a problem, or what caused the problem. The debate is instead over how to ease the burden on homeowners.”
The Westchester County Assessment Commission, a coalition established by resolution of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, prepared the report that identifies the problem of outdated assessment methods and the lack of resources dedicated to the property assessment system in Westchester County. The report has taken 20 months to complete and over one thousand hours have been dedicated by a committee of elected officials, city managers, local assessors, state agencies and County representatives. “The study team reviewed current assessment administrative and valuation practices throughout the County,” said Al Gatta, Commission Chairman and Village Manager of Scarsdale. “By examining procedures, tools, resources and staffing levels in comparison to the statutory requirements and escalating assessment litigation, the study group defined a path to significantly improve assessment practices.”
Westchester’s municipalities collect property taxes, about 16 percent of which goes directly to finance county government. The county has more than 25 assessing jurisdictions that impose additional property taxes. In almost every municipality in Westchester, the property tax levy is based on a house’s valuation assessment. The county uses an equalization rate set by the state, which is then used to figure tax bills for homeowners in municipalities with varying assessments. The system results in unpredictable alternations in county tax bills from year to year among municipalities. Taxes fluctuate depending on development, tax challenges, or certioraris, and whether local assessment practices have changed. Some communities like Somers, Rye, Pelham, New Castle, Harrison, Mount Kisco and Eastchester will see their county taxes increase, while other communities like Mount Vernon, Peekskill, White Plains, Mount Pleasant and Greenburgh will see there rates go down.
In an effort to rectify this condition, last year, the County Board created the Westchester Collaborative Assessment Commission, which is responsible for the development of a regional model for the collection and maintenance of property data that would be used by local assessing units as the standard for recording the characteristics of every parcel of property in their communities. “It is proper, timely and absolutely critical for the County, cities and towns to form a partnership that will bring modern methods, tools and technology for the assessment of property that will no doubt advance the system to a 21st century model which will help bring long-term social and economic wellbeing to Westchester,” said WMOA President Chuck Lesnick. “Reassessment would lead to a fairer and transparent process in that property owners would better understand their tax bills.”
“This is a gigantic step towards resolving an age-old problem in Westchester that has resulted in years of bad assessment practices and unfair taxation,” said Legislator Burton. “The Board worked with our municipal partners to develop this project, which will significantly ensure greater transparency, equity and efficiency in the assessment process, which means immediate savings for taxpayers.”
The following are major observations and recommendations within the report:
The creation of a standardized and consistent data collection system that incorporates accurate and detailed property characteristics must be used to build the foundation of a modern mass appraisal system, and shall include a process for ongoing maintenance;
Potential funding options for a countywide program of data collection were devised;
A State and County calendar of dates should be established for all municipalities, including taxable status date, valuation date and tentative and final assessment roll publication dates;
The creation of a four-year reassessment cycle with year one establishing the base value of a property which shall apply to each of the four years of the cycle subject to adjustment within the cycle only if there is a change in use, physical condition or occupancy. The report specifies seven conditions under which an assessment adjustment is permitted;
Yonkers Council PTA/PTSA – Presents “Race to Nowhere”
Wednesday, Feb. 9th, 2011
Saunders High School
6:00 pm – doors open
6:30 Movie Screening
Commentary by special guests following the screening
Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio
YFT Union President Pat Puleo
Principal Pat Langan (DiChiaro)
Catherine Gallucci – Saunders English Dept. Teacher
Cynthia Robinson-Williams, YMHS parent
Jamar Brown, Lincoln High School Senior
Purchase Tickets in advance- $10.00
Proceeds will benefit the YCPTA Scholarship Fund
View the trailer -
Join the Dialogue! To join this committee, please contact: Kelly Chiarella, (914) 438-8694
Posted October 1, 2010on:
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I am happy to report that the Mark Twain Pool will remain open. Over the past two months I have heard from all of you, and some of you have even come to City Hall to our budget and finance committee hearing to discuss remedies to fund the pool and to share your concern on this important issue.
Thankfully, your voices have reached our parks commissioner and YPS superintendent, and this week they announced that they have found the necessary funds to keep the pool open. Many thanks for your e-mails and push to keep this vital Yonkers resource available for our residents.
I was pleased to visit the Monarch at Ridge Hill, the new luxury condominium community now under construction at Ridge Hill in Yonkers as we celebrated the construction progress with a “Topping Out” ceremony on September 14.
The ceremony, which traditionally celebrates the completion of the roof, a major milestone of any new construction project, in this case commemorated Monarch’s first tower, Phase I, which is 75 percent complete and will be available for first occupancies by spring of 2011.
When complete, Monarch at Ridge Hill will include 500 homes in four mid-rise towers on a seven-acre site within the 81 acres of Westchester’s Ridge Hill, located between the New York State Thruway and the Sprain Brook Parkway.
Ridge Hill, which is being developed by Forest City Ratner, is a 1.3 million-square-foot, mixed-use development that will include retail, dining and entertainment venues, as well as 160,000 square feet of office space. The development is expected to open in 2011. The open-air mall will have a village feel with a streetscape including outdoor seating, walkways and green spaces. The design reflects the tenets of the development trend called New Urbanism, which promotes complete communities in which residents can walk to neighborhood amenities rather than using their cars.
This Sunday, Oct. 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., my office, along with St. John’s Riverside Hospital, is sponsoring a “Walk to Find a Cure” for Diabetes. See the internet link and flyer below for more information and to get involved.
On Monday evening, at 6:00 p.m., we will be holding our 4th Annual Domestic Violence Vigil. The vigil is meant to cast a spotlight on domestic violence and help eradicate it by empowering abused women and children; alert and educate the public; promote agencies programs and organizations that provide domestic violence services; and foster partnerships with private corporations and foundations to assist local communities in funding programs that eliminate domestic violence and offer victims safe havens.
Last year the vigil drew more than 125 participants who joined together and lit candles to show their support and concern for battered women and their families. This year the council president will take part in the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence “Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” awareness campaign.
For a nominal small donation, purple light bulbs will be given out so that attendees can illuminate them and draw attention to the crime of domestic violence and support for its color of domestic violence awareness as it symbolizes the color of “black and blue.” All proceeds from the sale of the bulbs will go to My Sister’s Place and Victims Assistance Services. For information on getting a purple light bulb, contact Carol Bengis in my office at 914-377-6065.
City Council Rules Committee Next Meets
Tuesday October 5 at 6:30 p.m.
Conference Room 406 – City Hall.
YONKERS 83rd ANNUAL COLUMBUS DAY PARADE Sunday, October 3
Line-up: Yonkers & Seminary Avenues
March north on Seminary Avenue to Smart Avenue
Proceed on Smart Avenue
Make a left onto Midland Avenue
YONKERS 83rd ANNUAL COLUMBUS DAY HONOREES:
Special Recognition to All Veterans
Hall of Fame
Miss Columbus 2010
10-13 for Sgt. Roy McLaughlin
On Sunday, October 3, 2010, award-winning journalist, author and television producer David Simon, creator of HBO’s hit TV series “The Wire,” will be the featured guest speaker at a special event held in support of Yonkers Police Sergeant Roy McLaughlin from 12-Noon to 8:00 p.m. at The Social, Dunnwoodie Golf Course, 1 Wasylenko Lane, Yonkers, NY.
McLaughlin, a devoted husband and father of four young children, is a twelve-year veteran of the Yonkers Police Force. This dedicated and well-respected police sergeant was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. As a show of support, McLaughlin’s family, friends and fellow officers are joining together with the help of famed television producer David Simon to assist the McLaughlin family during this critical time and help offset his medical expenses.
In addition to guest speaker David Simon, the benefit will include Live Music & Dance, Pipes & Drums of the Police Emerald Society of Westchester, Raffles, T-Shirts, a Bouncing Castle, Face-Painting, Food and Family-Style Entertainment for all ages. Family and friends are requesting a $25 donation payable to Roy McLaughlin which includes food, soda and activities.
For event and donation information, contact Lt. Tom Phelan, President of C.L.S.A., at (914) 377-7370 or (914) 525-2834. Donations may also me mailed to C.L.S.A. – 104 South Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701.
Reprinted courtesy City of Yonkers
2nd Annual Golf Outing for the
Yonkers Animal Shelter.
The 2nd Annual Building Hope Golf Outing
benefiting the Yonkers Animal Shelter will be held on Monday, October 4 at Lake Isle Country Club, 660 White Plains Road in Eastchester.
Building Hope for the New Yonkers Animal
Shelter is a group of volunteers who work with the Yonkers Animal Shelter trying to improve the lives of the animals who live there.
Every dog and cat that finds its way to an animal shelter has a sad story. Some are simply lost. Others have been abandoned or mistreated, and are frightened and confused. For some unlucky animals, the animal shelter may be the best home they’ve had yet, the only place that has ever offered them food warmth and comfort.
Instead of a last stop, Building Hope wants to make the New Yonkers Animal Shelter a happy new beginning for homeless pets.
They can’t do it without your help. Please donate generously to this extremely worthwhile project.
Tee-off time for the event is 12 p.m., following an 11 a.m. registration. The registration fee included brunch, dinner and an awards ceremony.
All profits from the event will directly
support the New Yonkers Animal Shelter.
For more information, call Mike Silvestri at 914-375-1595.
First Annual Patrick Joyce Memorial Fund Benefit.
Please join Yonkers’ Bravest on Oct 10, from 2:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. at the Social at Dunwoodie Golf Course to celebrate Pat Joyce’s life the way in which he loved to celebrate, drinking good wine with good food in good company!
All proceeds will go to the Patrick Joyce Memorial Fund, which supports the Ronald McDonald House of NY and the Tree House program at the Bereavement Center of Westchester.
Dunwoodie Golf Course
1 Wasylenko Lane
Yonkers, NY 10701
Tickets are only $50.00 and include access to live bands, auctions, Irish dancing, bagpipers, and much, much more.
For event participation, donation or sponsorship information, please contact:
Performances By: Screaming Brocolli, The Benjamins, 27 West, Eileen Fogarty Band, Jameson’s Revenge & More!
PLEASE VISIT WWW.PATJOYCE.ORG FOR MORE INFO & TO PURCHASE TICKETS.
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Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick.
Please save the date For our October Events.
Chuck Lesnick and St. John’s Hospital Walk to Find a Cure for Diabetes.
Sunday, October 3, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The walk will be on the Old Croton Aqueduct.
Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Vigil.
Monday, October 4, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.
Yonkers City Hall, Council Chambers
Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Motorcycle Ride
Saturday, October 16, 2010, JFK Marina, registration begins at 11:00 a.m. kickstands up at 2:00 p.m.
Quality of Life Day
Monday, October 18, 2010 from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Please be advised there will be a Budget Hearing for the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget on Monday, May 3, 2010 beginning at 10:00 AM in the Council Chambers, 4th Floor, City Hall.
Discussion will be on the following items:
Veteran’s Agency (10 AM – 10:30 AM)
Human Rights (10:30 AM – 11:30 AM)
Building & Housing (11:30 AM – 12:30 PM)
Library (1 PM – 2 PM)
Hudson River Museum (2 PM – 3 PM)
Debt Service (3 PM – 4 PM)
We are requesting that all Budget Hearings be televised.
Note: Times may vary.
Council President, Chair
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ArtsFest Returns this Weekend.
We are entering our third week of budget hearings and we still do not know what to expect from New York State and when to expect it. I talk to members of our state delegation daily and while they are working hard on our behalf, the state is broke and there are significant differences between the two houses and the governor as to the restoration of education funding and property tax relief. 30 days after the state passes its budget, ours must be voted upon. Hopefully this will occur in time for the administration to send out tax bills on July 1st or we will run out of money shortly thereafter.
In my role as city council president and budget committee and finance chair, like you, I too am deeply concerned about the proposed cuts that Mayor Phil Amicone has put forward in his FY 2010-2011 budget proposal that may drastically impact local education and could result in hundreds of city layoffs and severe departmental service cuts. While the mayor’s budget is tentative pending the approval of the state budget, I will not stand by while vital programs like Pre-K are threatened and layoffs are enacted that may compromise our city’s safety.
A strong supporter of our municipal workforce and public school system, I also recognize that our taxpayers have long suffered from tax-increase shock. The mayor’s proposed service cuts will greatly affect our residents and a balance must be met to soften his budget axe. We need to make the appropriate structural reforms to ensure that our city can operate as efficiently as possible.
In the coming weeks, the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee will meet with all of the city’s department heads and commissioners to hear their budget requests. During that time, I look forward to hearing what budget reforms and initiatives the mayor’s departments have instituted. My office has tentatively scheduled Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. and Monday, May 24, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. for public hearings on the budget.
There is no doubt that this year’s budget will hurt. We are in the midst of a painful economic crisis. Like families across our nation, the city must make tough decisions and decide what services we truly need. We need to recognize that not every function and not every department is absolutely essential. An honest reality check requires that we make some basic structural reforms.
Our city faces many challenges but nothing past generations have not also overcome. With your input and participation in this important process, we will get through this difficult time together and our city will be better for it.
HMS Bounty to Visit Yonkers
Waterfront this Weekend.
The Yonkers Downtown BID welcomes this replica of the famous sailing ship to the Yonkers Pier this April 30th-May 2nd. Built in 1960 by MGM studios for the film Mutiny on the Bounty, the HMS Bounty has appeared in other Hollywood features including Pirates of the Cariibbean-Dead Man’s Chest.
The public is invited to tour the ship
10 AM-5 PM
April 30th, May 1st and May 2nd.
Tours are $10 Adults, $5 Children.
In honor of the ship’s docking for three days in Yonkers, the BID and the Yonkers Riverfront Library are sponsoring an HMS inspired double feature at the Library:
Sponge Bob Square Pants, The Movie at 4 PM and Pirates of the Cariibbean, Dead Man’s Chest at 6 PM. Admission is free.
For further information: 914.969.6660 or http://www.YonkersDowntown.com
Untermyer Performing Arts Council
Presents Alma de Mexico: Soul of Mexico XII.
Sunday, May 2nd
1 to 4 PM
945 No. Broadway
Music, Dance, Crafts in a beautiful setting
http://www.untermyer.com for directions.
Yonkers Arts Fest Returns May 1st!
Chuck to Salute Macy’s at Yonkers Business Week.
Some of the first memories Council President Chuck Lesnick recalls is living above Macy’s Parkchester store in the Bronx. For years, Chuck’s parents, Irving and Sheila, would tease young Chuck that it was not “the stork that brought young Chuck to the Lesnicks but that he came from the Macy’s boys department.”
Now, a few years later, Chuck gets to honor Macy’s during Yonkers Business Week on Wednesday, May 5, 4:30pm to 6:00pm when he offers opening remarks at a cocktail party celebrating the store’s expansion at the Macy’s Cross County store. The party will take place on the store’s rooftop parking garage deck.
Macy’s Cross County
800 Central Park Avenue
Actors Conservatory Theater
“Arsenic and Old Lace”
Directions to the theatre can be found at: http://www.actshows.org
To order tickets, please send an e-mail to ACTShows2@aol.com.
Questions? For further info, call 914.391.6558
Join Leake & Watts “Chop for Charity”
On May 18th, Leake & Watts invites you to spend an exciting evening with Bravo’s “Top Chef” contestants Dave Martin and Andrea Beaman!
Guests will enjoy a celebrity chef demonstration and cook-off as they sample the chefs’ recipes and a variety of wines. The evening will be hosted by Bill Evans, Senior Meteorologist/Author at WABC-TV, and the demonstration will feature students from the Leake & Watts Culinary Arts Training program at Biondi High School as sous chefs and judges of the cook-off.
Throughout the evening, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy wine and h’or d’oerves outdoors on the Salon Terrace overlooking the Hudson River.
Date & Time:
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
6pm VIP Reception
7pm General Admission
621 W 46th Street, New York, NY 10036
VIP Tickets – $300
General Admission – $150
If you have any questions, please call Carmen Alvarez at 914.375.8605.
For information about sponsorship, contact Meredith Barber at email@example.com or 914.375.8711
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As many of you are aware, my office annually takes part in Child Abuse Prevention Month and for the past couple of years we have sponsored a motorcycle ride throughout the City of Yonkers to draw attention to it.
Last year several hundred bikers from throughout the greater metropolitan area took part.
This year, due to budget constraints, our ride cannot take place but we are taking part in a BBQ at the JFK Marina on Saturday, April 24 from 12pm to 5pm.
Proceeds raised at the BBQ will go to the Child Abuse Prevention Center, Exchange Club of Yonkers, Cynthia Gibbs Foundation and My Sister’s Place. Our office has also partnered with Pizzeria Uno Chicago Grill for these worthy causes.