‘Duke’ Dog Park officially opens at Stotzky Park

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.

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