Riverhead Town’s sparsely-used Henry Pfeifer Community Center on Grumman Boulevard in Calverton may have a new purpose, as the town’s new animal shelter.
A group called Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter, headed by Denise Lucas, has been holding fundraisers for more than a year trying to raise money to build a new animal shelter for the town. The current shelter, on Youngs Avenue, is considered to be too small, and in a bad location, with a recycling facility surrounding it and the town landfill across the street.
While the RMTAS group had been considering building a new building, the idea of the using the Pfeifer Center was suggested last week by Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten, and was discussed at Thursday’s Town Board work session.
(See what else happened at Thursday’s work session by clicking below.)
That idea has met with support from Ms. Lucas’s group, from the majority of the Town Board and from the nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League, which takes over the operation of the town shelter on Friday morning.
Mr. Wooten said he originally thought a new animal shelter should be built behind the new dog park RMTAS built at EPCAL. But the cost of building a new building, along with the cost of extending the town’s sewer lines to the building, would be in the millions, officials said.
The cost of retrofitting the Pfeifer Center into a dog shelter could be done much quicker and with much less cost, officials said.
“I think I could get it done in a matter of months,” Ms. Lucas said in an interview, adding that the timing would be up to the town, since they are raising money to give to the town for a new shelter.
Meanwhile NFAWL has received a $300,000 bequest to build a new animal shelter and they have been planning to use it on a new cat shelter and spay/neuter clinic which they had proposed to locate on land leased from Rex and Connie Farr on Youngs Avenue.
But that proposal has met with widespread community opposition, and if NFAWL can build that facility on the town-owned land by the Pfeifer building, that controversy would go away. The bequest money cannot be used on a town-owned building, but the town could sign a long-term lease to allow NFAWL to situate the building at the Pfeifer property, officials said.
The proposed cat shelter was on the agenda at Thursday night’s Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, where the hearing was held over for 30 days, but which time, officials said, they believe a decision on the Pfeifer site might be finalized, and the Youngs Avenue proposal might be withdrawn.
To read News-Review reporter Tim Gannon’s blog on else happened at Thursday’s work session, click here: