Guest: Anti-Calverton civic group silent no more

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Land on which a cat shelter is planned in Calverton.
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Land on which a cat shelter is planned in Calverton.

I read in the News-Review that the Riverhead ZBA is set to approve a cat clinic and shelter “unopposed.” But that’s hardly the truth. The ZBA held a public hearing early last month while the rest of us were busy trying to clean up our properties or buy gas for our generators after the largest storm in 100 years! That doesn’t mean there was no opposition to the proposal. The paper’s article seemed to green-light the shelter.

I hope it’s not too late to change that.

I have two cats. I am not anti-cat, I just don’t wish for 40 or 50 more in my yard. Just because the president of the Greater Calverton Civic Association is in support of the cat shelter/spay and neuter clinic on his property doesn’t mean everyone in Calverton and Baiting Hollow supports the idea. Many of us oppose this idea for many reasons.

The Baiting Hollow Organization for Logical Development — which I established about two years ago to represent the majority of neighbors, and is just now getting active —  believes we need a balance in our communities. We have a solid respect for property rights, yet understand we need to protect our lifestyle. We never felt that our local civic association represented the general consensus of our community.

For example, most of the neighbors we spoke to were not opposed to an airport of some sort at the former Grumman Property. Most people seemed to like the idea of a racetrack being located there. Several proposals seemed to get shot down that many of us may have wanted. We want to enjoy our community, hope that our children will stay here, and still preserve the rural aspect of the North Fork while not stifling our growth as a modern town.

In the past, our local civic association has seemed to oppose every interesting proposition that has come along from developers to grow our community, create jobs at EPCAL and make our lifestyle and neighborhoods attractive to younger people. The civic had instead focused on “don’t change anything.” In other words, keep us a stagnant, empty, dull entity so we can live out our days reminiscing about how it always was here.

But now the civic association’s leader wants a cat shelter! So Mr. “I oppose everything” Rex Farr wants to expand his animal rescue operation to include a cat clinic run by the North Fork Animal Welfare League. And it’s not as if this rescue operation operates like a well-oiled machine. In the past, I have had town employees tell my wife she can’t get to work because the road is blocked by animals that escaped from the rescue. “That is just Rex; he must have neglected to lock the gate again,” she’s told.

And this is who the town decides to allow to lease out land for a cat shelter, in an area where we were also told that people tend to abandon animals in our neighborhood because they know they will be cared for by the dog pound or by “The Farrm” rescue? Mr. Farr already overburdens our community with problems.

A ZBA decision approving a cat clinic and shelter would just exacerbate it. With his record of opposing so many propositions that have been presented for our area, you would think Mr. Farr has a responsibility as president of the Calverton Civic Association to oppose his own application for a cat shelter.

Now I have the greatest of respect for the intelligence of the cat clinic applicant’s attorney, Peter Danowski. Yet when he says that since we already have a dog pound and a dump in our neighborhood, we shouldn’t mind a cat shelter too, I have to ask which thought process is right. Either he believes that a community already overburdened with issues deserves more similar issues — say your community has an abundance of halfway houses and group homes, then your neighborhood deserves more of them? — or he thinks we are mindless pine cones destined to follow his logic for the benefit of his client.

Finally, this is agricultural land. When did cats become an agricultural business?

I respectfully ask our ZBA members to deny this application; this is not a suitable site. Perhaps a building on the EPCAL property that the town could operate to take care of dogs and cats. Our community already has to deal with a main thoroughfare so littered with debris from people taking uncovered loads to the dump. Our road remains littered with debris, especially now with all of the storm debris being carted to the landfill.

We have to drive past the pound every day, we have an elementary school just to the other side of us from The Farrm, bicyclists, joggers and motorcyclists love to use this street and — directly where one of the sharpest turns is in the town of Riverhead — we need to add a cat shelter?

Spare our community and find a more suitable location. We tolerate plenty up here already.

AJ Travis is president of the Baiting Hollow Organization for Logical Development.