NFAWL: Animal shelter at EPCAL carries $600K price tag

A kitten at NFAWL. (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

North Fork Animal Welfare League expects to pay between $600,000 and $650,000 to build a new animal shelter adjacent to the Henry Pfeifer Community Center in Calverton, according to NFAWL architect Robert Brenner, who spoke at a Riverhead Town Board public hearing about NFAWL’s plan Tuesday afternoon.

The purpose of the hearing was to determine if NFAWL is a “qualified and eligible sponsor” to lease the land from the town and was required to see if NFAWL has the ability and finances to carry out its proposal to build and run an animal shelter at the Calverton site.

NFAWL says it does, and that — combined with the efforts of Denise Lucas’s “Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter” group, which is holding numerous fundraisers to help pay for a new shelter — the new facility can be built at no additional cost to taxpayers.

“This is a win-win for the town and the League and all those interested in animals,” said attorney Peter Danowski, who is volunteering his services to NFAWL.

No one at the hearing spoke in opposition to the proposed lease with NFAWL. In fact, aside from town officials and NFAWL representatives, no one spoke at all.

NFAWL, which is under contract to provide animal control services to both Riverhead and Southold Town, plans to construct a new building with 21 indoor kennels and outdoor pens for dogs and an office for the kennel manager.

The building will be about 2,300 square feet, Mr. Brenner said, and is proposed to be located on land leased at no cost from Riverhead Town for a period of 50 years. It will be built adjacent to the Pfeifer building, which is situated at the former entrance to the Enterprise Park at Calverton, and will be connected to that structure.

The Pfeifer building will be renovated for use as a spay-neuter clinic and as a cat shelter, officials have said.

NFAWL has $322,624 on hand from a bequest it received in 2006 from the Estate of Patricia Troxel. That money — which represents the gift, plus interest — will be used for this project, Mr. Danowski said.

In addition to the Troxel funds, “There are additional funds to be spent to make sure this building becomes a reality,” Mr. Danowski said. “It is at no cost to the taxpayers, and we intend to provide this building as quickly as possible.”

According to financial statements NFAWL presented at Tuesday’s hearing, it had more than $1.6 million in assets at the end of 2013, received $214,844 in 2013 from its contract with Southold Town and $185,945 from its contract with Riverhead Town, which began in March 2013.

NFAWL has been handling animal control services for Southold Town since 1980.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who, like Councilman George Gabrielsen, had opposed holding Tuesday’s hearing, said that NFAWL’s contract with Southold expires May 31, 2015 and asked if there was any chance Southold’s animals could be kept at Riverhead’s shelter.

NFAWL director Gillian Pultz said no, and Mr. Danowski said the organization intends to extend their agreement with Southold.

Supervisor Sean Walter said the proposed kennel still needs to get site plan approval from the town. Since it’s located within the boundaries of the state’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act — which places restrictions on what type of development can be built — it must also get approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“We didn’t want to do anything until we had the lease in place,” Mr. Walter said. “But we’re cautiously optimistic.”

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