With the North Fork Animal Welfare League poised to privatize and take over management of the Riverhead Animal Shelter Friday -- a plan was pitched Thursday to relocate the animal shelter to Enterprise Park at Calverton.
For a year, Denise Lucas has worked with her Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter foundation to raise funds toward a new animal shelter, in a new location.
"There has been a movement afoot to relocate the animal shelter," said Councilman Jim Wooten.
Lucas has met with Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter and Wooten to discuss potential sites for a new animal shelter, Wooten said.
Originally, the thought was to site the facility near the dog park at EPCAL, but costs for infrastructure and a necessary expansion of the sewer district were prohibitive, Wooten said.
Instead, the possiblity of moving the animal shelter to the Henry Pfeifer Community Center was pitched.
Gillian Wood Pultz, executive director of the NFAWL, said the building was "the most feasible location at this time."
Wooten said Lucas agreed that not having to construct an entire new facility would be positive.
Wood Pultz reminded that the NFAWL has a $350,000 bequest to build either an extension to the town-owned facility or a freestanding structure that could be used for a spay/neuter clinic or other use.
While the NFAWL would enter into a long-term lease with the town for use of the Henry Pfeifer Community Center, they would not have any ownership rights to the building -- only to the new extension or free-standing structure that would be built with the bequest funds.
Funds saved by not having to build a new facility could be used for a kennel or other upgrades to the facility, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio suggested it might be more feasible to site the new animal shelter near the dog park; perhaps, she said, a lease agreement could work until a new facility was built by the dog park. The Henry Pfeifer building, she said, might be sold in the future.
The cost of siting the facility near the ballfields would be prohibitive, Councilman John Dunleavy said.
Richard Jordan, treasurer of the NFAWL, said the numbers on building a new animal shelter would be "in the millions."
Wooten said for years, he thought locating the shelter near the dog park would be a good solution, but now feels the cost would be too high.
Wood Pultz agreed. "I'd like to put it all in one compound but I don't see it happening any time soon."
He added that Lucas had raised between $30 and $40,000 last year to move the animal shelter and construct a new facility. "Realistically, it will take her 10 years to make a half million," she said. Lucas, he said, is willing to continue fundraising for site improvements and to restructure and relocate, rather than rebuild from scratch.
The board also discussed selling the current property on Youngs Avenue where the town animal shelter is located. Giglio said one possible owner might be a recycling facility, which currently has a property near the site, and expressed concerns with increased traffic in a residential area.
Dunleavy said the town might decide not to sell the parcel and, instead, could retain the land and expand its own yard waste facilities for recycling and other uses.
Councilman George Gabrielsen said the good news was that the town invested $450,000 recently on upgrades to the Pfeifer building.
The board agreed to move forward with relocating the animal shelter to EPCAL and decide later about possibly selling the land where the facility is now located.