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RMTAS makes donation to get animal shelter project moving

Denise Lucas

A $3,750 donation from Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter, a nonprofit organization formed six years ago to do exactly what its name suggests, will help Riverhead Town apply for state permits to build a new kennel at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, said Supervisor Sean Walter.

In 2012, the town entered into an agreement with another nonprofit, North Fork Animal Welfare League, to have NFAWL take over operations at the animal shelter. NFAWL plans to build offices and a new kennel using funds it has raised, including a $300,000 bequest from a Mattituck family to be used specifically for a new animal shelter on town land adjacent to the Henry Pfeifer Community Center.

RMTAS, meanwhile, has raised funds to convert the Pfeifer center into an RMTAS welcoming center with indoor kennels, a cattery, veterinary services and meet-and-greet rooms, according to the organization’s president and founder, Denise Lucas.

But NFAWL’s project is located within the boundaries of the state’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act, which places steep restrictions on new development near the Peconic River.

Mr. Walter said the town plans to hire a company called Land Use Ecological Services to submit an application to the state requesting a variance to allow the new shelter to be built within the boundaries of the Rivers Act. Doing so would cost $3,750, he said.

And that’s where RMTAS comes in: They’ve already donated the money needed for the application, the supervisor said.

Last Wednesday, the Town Board passed a resolution acknowledging RMTAS’ efforts and contributions.

“We’re very excited about it,” Ms. Lucas said in an interview. “The ball is moving forward and it’s finally going to happen.”

RMTAS has held numerous fundraisers since its 2011 inception, all with the goal of helping to relocate the town animal shelter from its current site across from the town landfill on Youngs Avenue. The group had more than $87,000 available as of the end of 2015, according to the most recent tax filings available.

Ms. Lucas said RMTAS hopes to have all of that money allocated by Sept. 1, 2017, at which point the organization will cease to exist.

Ms. Lucas said she has also raised money for other local service organizations, including the Elks Club, Hall, Veterans of Foreign Wars and RSVP, Ms. Lucas said.

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File photo: Denise Lucas with her dog, Duke, at her home in Riverhead. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)