05/07/14 5:30pm
05/07/2014 5:30 PM
Eileen Kreiling, manager of the North Fork Animal Welfare League's Riverhead shelter, with 4-year-old pitbull Benny, who has been at the shelter since February. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Eileen Kreiling, manager of the North Fork Animal Welfare League’s Riverhead shelter, with 4-year-old pitbull Benny, who has been at the shelter since February. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

In a divided vote Tuesday, the Riverhead Town Board scheduled June 3 hearings for two proposals connected with moving the nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League, which operates the town animal shelter, to the property holding the Henry Pfeifer Community Center in Calverton, a town-owned building that underwent a nearly half-million-dollar renovation about a decade go and has been underutilized ever since.

“It was a monumental day in Riverhead for the animals,” said Denise Lucas, head of Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter, another nonprofit that has held more than 40 fundraisers in the past two years to offset the cost of finding a new town animal shelter.

The vote took place in a room filled with supporters. And while none of them spoke, they burst into applause after a deciding third vote in favor of the hearings was tallied. Ms. Lucas said more than 30 “animal people” attended.

The 3-2 vote — with Supervisor Sean Walter and councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy in favor and council members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen opposed — technically concerned only two issues: scheduling public hearings on the transfer of the Pfeifer building to the town from the community development agency and signing a no-rent land lease allowing NFAWL to build a new kennel on the town land and use the building as a shelter.

However, the 3-2 split could foretell how board members will vote next month on moving the shelter to the Pfeifer building.

“The [current animal shelter] on Youngs Avenue is inadequate and poorly located,” Mr. Wooten said.

Mr. Gabrielsen disagreed, saying that the Pfeifer building “is a hostile environment for dogs” and adding that it’s in an industrial park next to railroad tracks. He’d prefer that the town sell or lease the property, and use the proceeds in the town’s recreation department.

“We’ve got close to 1,000 kids in lacrosse, football and soccer that need more room … versus 18 dogs in the shelter. Pick your priority,” Mr. Gabrielsen has said in recent weeks.

05/02/14 4:18pm
05/02/2014 4:18 PM
The Riverhead Town Animal Shelter. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Riverhead Town Animal Shelter. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

It looks like the dogs at North Fork Animal Welfare League could be in for a treat.

Three town board members have said they are in favor of a plan that will move the nonprofit from the town’s shelter on Youngs Avenue to the Henry Pfeifer Community Center building in Calverton, and will vote next week on scheduling two public hearings needed to move the plan forward. (more…)

02/28/13 10:00am
02/28/2013 10:00 AM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Henry Pfeiffer building on Grumman Boulevard goes mostly unused.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Henry Pfeifer building on Grumman Boulevard goes mostly unused.

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:

 

 

February 28, 2013 – Agenda by rnews_review

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Suffolk County FEMA official Jeff Simons (center) at Thursday morning’s town work session.

09/27/12 10:03am
09/27/2012 10:03 AM

The Riverhead Town Board will be discussing the town’s animal euthanasia policy as well as proposed zoning changes to the Route 25A corridor in Wading River during its regular public work session today, Thursday.

News-Review reporter Tim Gannon is live-blogging from the meeting, which starts at 10 a.m.

Other discussion items are on the agenda as well.

Click the play button below to follow along. Feel free to weigh in with comments.

03/25/12 3:00pm
03/25/2012 3:00 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Animal activist Denise Lucas will need to raise an additional $270,000 to complete her plan to build a new town animal shelter and construct several new dog parks.

Despite raising more than $30,000 for her plans to build a new town animal shelter and construct several new dog parks for Riverhead residents, animal activist Denise Lucas said she will need to raise at least another $270,000 through donations or sponsorships to make her vision a reality.

Now she’s hoping she can find generous donors to purchase individual aspects of the parks and shelter.

“If some high-roller in town wants to come up with 20 grand, we could get something [built],” said Ms. Lucas, who founded the fundraising group “Move the Animal Shelter” in October.

The new shelter, proposed as a 100 x 120-foot steel structure, would cost more than $330,000 in total, according to a preliminary work proposal for the building.

This figure, Ms. Lucas said, would be just enough to get the shelter built, and would not include equipment or other items for the dogs within. Those would have to be supplied later, though she believes community members would be more willing to donate once construction begins.

“I just want to get the project going,” Ms. Lucas said. “It’s been five months already, I just want something to happen.”

Despite the daunting dollar amount, Ms. Lucas is hopeful that a generous donor will offer to sponsor a section of the construction, like the shelter’s walls, which would cost just over $19,000.

The town, which originally planned to build a first dog park at EPCAL this spring, will also build two additional parks at Stotzky Park and Jamesport, Ms. Lucas announced. Of the $30,000 raised so far, $7,400 has been raised specifically for the new parks.

“I’m hoping to have the dog park [at EPCAL] open by April 28,” she said, adding that the other two parks should open in May and June, respectively.

Ms. Lucas is looking for sponsors to pitch in to purchase or donate individual aspects of the parks, such as benches and obstacles for the dogs to play on.

“I’m really asking if the community could come together and somebody please start helping, anybody, businesses or wealthy people, helping to pay for stuff,” she said.

Proposed legislation concerning dog parks was the subject of a public hearing Tuesday night at Riverhead Town Hall, where the public was able to give feedback on a proposal to add a definition of dog parks, along with fees for usage, to the town code.

In response to a question about funding the parks, Councilman James Wooten said Ms. Lucas’ fundraising efforts and permit fees should suffice. The exact legislation reads: “Permits for the Dog Park shall be issued by the Office of the Town Clerk upon proof of a current dog license, Rabies Vaccine Certificate and Health Certificate. Fees for the year-round Dog Park Permit are as follows: Resident $15, Non-Resident $30, Replacement of Lost/Damaged Permit $10, Amended Dog Owner Permit for each additional dog $5.”

In the meantime, Move the Animal Shelter has scheduled more events to help raise donations for the new shelter. Several of the group’s previous events were sold out, and Ms. Lucas expects large turnouts at future fundraisers as well.

The group’s next event on March 29 at Hy Ting Restaurant downtown will feature Councilman James Wooten and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio in a cook-off against Ms. Lucas’ friends. Tickets to the buffet dinner will cost $20 per person, she said.

Ms. Lucas has spent the past five months raising funds at a breakneck pace. But when asked whether she would want to raise money professionally for other causes, Ms. Lucas immediately said that wasn’t going to happen.

“Absolutely not,” she joked. “I miss my family.”

psquire@timesreview.com

Additional reporting was provided by Tim Gannon.