08/10/13 6:00pm
08/10/2013 6:00 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Denise Lucas and her dog Duke at Saturday’s opening of the ‘Duke’ Dog Park at Stotzky Park.

Riverhead Town officials and members of the non-profit Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter group officially opened the town’s second dog park Saturday.

The ‘Duke’ Dog Park at the north end of Stotzky Park is named after Denise Lucas’s dog, Duke, a 7-year-old Husky/Shepard blend.

Ms. Lucas is the leader of the Move the Animal Shelter group, which has held dozens of fundraisers to help privately fund the construction of a new, and better, town animal shelter.

But along the way, she and her group also got involved in helping to establish the town’s two dog parks. The Isaac Dog Park off Route 25 in Calverton opened last summer.

“I’m glad it’s done so we can move on with our promise to the community to move the shelter,” Ms. Lucas said. “We’ve got to really work hard with the shelter project.”

Sept. 27 will mark two years since she got involved in the project, she said.

The town turned over management of its animal control department this year to the non-profit North Fork Animal Welfare League. Both Ms. Lucas’s group and NFAWL, as well as the Town Board, support moving the town shelter from its current location on Youngs Avenue to the Henry Pfeiffer Community Center on Grumman Boulevard in Calverton.

NFAWL has received a $300,000 bequest from Patricia Toner Troxel of Mattituck for use in building an animal shelter, but that money can’t be used for a municipal building. The plan is to build a new facility on the Grumman Boulevard site and use additional money raised by NFAWL and Ms. Lucas’s group to renovate the Pfeiffer building into an animal facility.

NFAWL has plans for a cat shelter and spay-neuter clinic, in addition to the dog shelter.

“However NFAWL and Denise want to do it, I support,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Ms. Lucas said the town’s highway department and recreation department, along with Councilman James Wooten, were helpful in getting the new dog park ready.

Mr. Wooten said there are still some things that need to be done, such as putting in picnic tables, hydro-seeding the lawn and connecting it to a water source.

Mr. Wooten said he’d like to build one more dog park in the eastern part of the town, but he has to discuss it with the rest of the Town Board first.

tgannon@timesreview.com

08/06/13 5:00pm
08/06/2013 5:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Baxter, Misha and Sidney of Selden with their owner Irene Rabinowitz at last year’s dog park opening in Calverton. Riverhead’s own dog park at Stotzky Park will open Saturday.

Isn’t it about time you throw your dog a bone? Riverhead residents now have the opportunity to do just that.

The opening of the brand new Duke Dog Park is set to take place at 1 p.m. Saturday in the upper parking field at Stotzky Park. Councilman James Wooten and other elected officials will be on hand to usher in the latest addition to the Riverhead community.

The park gives residents a chance to let their dogs run free and play in a large, secure fenced-in area. The new park comes just a year after the long-awaited dog park at EPCAL in Calverton opened.

Councilman Wooten worked alongside Riverhead resident Denise Lucas, the founder of the non-profit “Move the Animal Shelter,” or M.T.A.S, who played a big role in raising enough funds to build the park and for supplies.

“I think there is a big advantage to having a dog park in our town,” Mr. Wooten said. “There are a lot of seniors who live in condos who don’t have that space.”

Mr. Wooten said he believes Riverhead was one of the last communities to get its own dog park.

“It gives people a place to go,” he said. “I think there is a real need for it and I see a desire for it.”

The park is free to the public.

02/03/13 5:00pm
02/03/2013 5:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Riverhead News-Review People of the Year (clockwise from top): Civic person Georgete Keller, Educator Jeff Doroski, Overall POY Denise Lucas, Business person Rich Stabile and Public servant Ed Romaine.

The Riverhead News-Review held its annual People of the Year reception this week, honoring those who were selected in our first issue of the new year.

You can read more about our 2012 People of the Year by clicking on the links below:

Person of the Year: Denise Lucas

Public Servant of the Year: Ed Romaine

Educator of the Year: Jeff Doroski

Business Person of the Year: Rich Stabile

Civic Person of the Year: Georgette Keller

02/03/13 10:23am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) Joel Neumann, Charles Puglisi and Joseph Luck of Absolute Detailing help clean a car with MTAS founder Denise Lucas Sunday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) Joel Neumann, Charles Puglisi and Joseph Luck of Absolute Detailing help clean a car with MTAS founder Denise Lucas Sunday morning.

The Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter organization is holding a car wash Sunday at Riverhead Toyota on Route 58 to raise money to build a new town animal shelter.

MTAS founder Denise Lucas said the store was closed, but five workers from Absolute Detailing got to the garage at 7 a.m. to open up for the day.

“All five of them came to work for free today,” she said. “They came on their day off to raise money.”

The car wash will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs a $10 donation to the organzation. T-Shirts and other goodies are also available for an additional donation.

Ms. Lucas said she has already spoken with the North Fork Animal Welfare League, who will take over running the town’s current shelter this spring, about partnering together to get the new shelter built.

psquire@timesreview.com

Correction: The fundraiser will end at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon, not 5 p.m. as was originally posted.

01/05/13 8:00am
01/05/2013 8:00 AM
Riverhead Town, Riverhead Animal Shelter, Move the Animal Shelter, Denise Lucas

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Move the Animal Shelter founder Denise Lucas and friend Laurie Milford of Wading River at a fundraiser in summer 2012.

In August 2011, Denise Lucas took her 13-year-old neighbor to the Riverhead Animal Shelter to look at the dogs. The girl wanted to be a veterinarian but was terrified by the barking dogs and the sight of the shelter.

Animal advocates had long protested conditions at the town’s shelter, saying that better facilities were needed to care for the dogs. After her August visit, Ms. Lucas saw the same need.

Instead of protesting, she took action.

The longtime Riverhead resident and dog lover, who had never organized a single fundraiser before, soon began going door to door, business to business across the East End to raise money to build Riverhead Town a new animal shelter.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Denise Lucas of Move the Animal Shelter.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Denise Lucas of Move the Animal Shelter.

More than a year later, Move the Animal Shelter — the organization she founded — has raised thousands to put toward building a new town facility. She’s also spearheaded the town’s first public dog park, with a second park expected to open in the spring.

Ms. Lucas has kept up an impressive pace, holding dozens of fundraisers — from dinners to dog grooming events — and obtaining nonprofit status for her organization while still working her regular job.

It’s that dedication and drive that several town officials and residents have praised, and why Ms. Lucas is the News-Review’s 2012 Person of the Year.

“Denise Lucas came to me about a year ago, and she was on a mission,” said Councilman James Wooten, the Town Board’s liaison to Ms. Lucas’ group. “She was like a spitfire … for me personally, I think she’s just a breath of fresh air.”

Ms. Lucas began raising funds in September 2011; two months later, she had raised $12,000 for the new shelter. The money originally went into a special town fund, but it was later returned to the group once it received 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit.

The new shelter as designed should cost roughly $300,000, Ms. Lucas has said in previous interviews.

While raising funds for the new shelter, Ms. Lucas learned of the town’s efforts to get a dog park built. She immediately opened up another fundraising effort and raised $14,000 to help the town build its first public dog park: Issac Park at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. Ms. Lucas also enticed businesses to donate supplies or pay for various items needed for the park, like fencing and picnic tables.

The dog park in Calverton opened in July; Ms. Lucas is currently raising funds to have another, smaller dog park built at Stotzky Park near the soccer fields.

“This one person has accomplished so much for the town in just one year,” wrote Riverhead resident Jim Seuling, in nominating Ms. Lucas for Person of the Year honors.

On Dec. 18, the Riverhead Town Board voted to privatize the town shelter, putting it under the control of the North Fork Animal Welfare League, a nonprofit group that currently runs the Southold Town shelter.

But Ms. Lucas is not going to give up on her mission; in fact, the move may help her raise even more money to help Riverhead’s pets, officials said.

“This [privatization of the shelter] is probably better for her organization, because she’s going to be working with the North Fork Animal Welfare League,” Mr. Wooten said. “She’s reenergized by it.”

psquire@timesreview.com

07/21/12 3:00pm
07/21/2012 3:00 PM
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The long-awaited dog park at EPCAL in Calverton opened Saturday morning to the happy pants of about 50 dogs as the gate to the park was “unleashed.”

Jerry Bilinski of Riverhead was one of the first to arrive with his three rescue dogs: Petey, 5, a Chihuahua; Ozzie, 13, a Cock-a-poo; and Lucy, 3, a Maltese/Yorkie. Mr. Bilinski said he thought the dog park was long overdue for the community.

“Having lived part of the time in the city, as well as out here, we got to appreciate the way dog parks help socialize dogs and become a community meeting place for people,” he said. “We have this fence mentality for dogs here on Long Island, which creates a lack of socialism. Dogs are social animals. Dog parks are a place where dogs learn to play and hopefully become better behaved.”

The dog park is free for now and open from 8 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week.

The park has been in the works since March, planned by Councilman Jim Wooten, with the help of Denise Lucas of the non-profit group “Move the Animal Shelter” or M.T.A.S.. The town contributed $10,000 toward improvements of the infrastructure of the property with the help of the Town Highway department and Buildings and Grounds. Ms. Lucas’ group provided $14,000 for the fencing, signage, picnic tables, benches and dog poop-bag dispensers.

The owner of National Outdoor Furniture company, Deron Nakamura of Riverhead, gave a 25 percent discount on the furniture for the park. Mr. Wooten called it “truly a community partnership.”

Legislator Ed Romaine said: “If you get into politics and you want a friend — get a dog.” He’s has five.

The park is named “Isaac Park” after a 2-year-old Golden Doodle who belongs to Margaret Savercol and Lewis Topper of Mattituck. They met Ms. Lucas at a fundraiser for North Fork Animal Welfare at the Riverhead Project.

“We were excited to help her and were inspired by her enthusiasm and vision to create the dog park and a dog shelter that is in need of a lot of love,” Ms. Savercol said. “With this it is a great grass roots project.”

Ms. Lucas is continuing to hold fundraisers for M.T.A.S.. The new shelter plan is 100 by 120 feet, designed by local contractor Richie Cox, and will be able to house 40 dogs and 40 cats. She hopes the town will move forward and make plans to locate it near the dog park at EPCAL. She said the costs have been broken down and right now she has enough money for the plans and foundation. She still needs to raise $332,000. The next fundraiser is Friday night at Finnegans Wake bar in South Jamesport with Fred McLaughlin as the guest bartender. He is also the vice president of her organization.

According to Recreation Department director Ray Coyne and Mr. Wooten, a second, smaller dog park is already planned for Stotzky Park near field 6, the t-ball field, which they hope to have under construction this fall. Other plans for Isaac Park is the installation of a well for water at the park and irrigation for the softball fields by next spring. Tennis, handball and beach volleyball courts are also planned for the future.

photo@timesreview.com

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Mike Prestano with his dog Moxie, 3, who was rescued from the Riverhead Town Shelter. He said she is a little aggressive and he was trying to get her acclaimated to people and other dogs. “This dog park will help her,” he said.

07/20/12 10:00am
07/20/2012 10:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The big dog play area at the RIverhead dog park in Calverton.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The big dog play area at the RIverhead dog park in Calverton.

Riverhead Town officials are holding a “leash-cutting ceremony” Saturday at the town’s first-ever dog park.

The fenced-in space for dogs to run and play is separated into two areas, one for small dogs and another for large dogs. The park, located off Route 25 in Calverton, near the town’s new ball fields, also features picnic benches and a smaller fenced-in area for dogs and their owners to get prepped to let the dogs go in the larger area.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to noon.

Councilman James Wooten, liaison to the town animal advisory committee, spearheaded efforts to get the park built. There was a town code change needed, which held up the process for a couple of months.

Volunteers with the Move the Animal Shelter nonprofit also raised funds for the park.

In a press released, Mr. Wooten credited Move the Animal Shelter chairperson and founder, Denise Lucas, as well as the work of Riverhead highway superintendent George “Gio” Woodson, the town’s engineering and buildings and grounds supervisor Guy Cawley and their staffs, as well as town recreation director Ray Coyne and his staff.

He said those who pushed for the park felt the location would “encourage residents to visit the adjacent ball field site, provide a unique opportunity for residents to let their pets run free safely and legally without a leash, and provide a place for social interaction for dogs and their owners.”

While the town dedicated the land and the time of many staff members, the Move the Animal Shelter group “funded many of the improvements necessary to create the park,” the release reads. “Some of the features of the dog park include a six foot chain link fence, gates, area for small dogs and an area for large dogs, benches, picnic tables,  pet clean up areas, walkways and paved entrances.”

Called “Isaac Dog Park,” Mr. Wooten said the name recognizes “the generous gift from a private citizen who contributed to the park. I believe it is after a loved pet.”

All members of the public are invited to join the event.

mwhite@timesreview.com

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Move the Animal Shelter group raised funds to pay for the park's infrastructure and amenities. It was no immediately clear who 'Isaac' is, the park's namesake.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Move the Animal Shelter group raised funds to pay for the park’s infrastructure and amenities.