Animal rights advocates won a surprise victory after an 11th hour deal was struck that will likely lead to an animal shelter being built just outside Co-op City.
Councilman Andy King, who represents the area, urged his colleagues to support a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure proposal at an NYC City Council Land Use Committee meeting on Monday, November 5 to build the first full-service animal shelter in the borough in decades at 2050 Bartow Avenue.
King’s change of heart came after negotiations with Mayor de Blasio and his administration resulted in significant concessions for Co-op City in return for his support.
According to an animal rights advocate supporting the proposal, King met with constituents on Saturday, November 3 to explain the mayor’s concessions, as well as the additional program funding Council Speaker Corey Johnson offered.
The city’s Memorandum Of Understanding offered community space and programming in the new animal shelter, a youth theater across the street from the planned shelter in a closed Bingo hall funded by the City Council, a Beacon Program for youth at Truman High School beginning in 2019, a program providing meals for the elderly, fixing ‘Dead-man’s Curve,’ which connects Co-op City’s Section 5 to the rest of the complex, downzoning of C-7 zones from Amusement Park, playground upgrades at P.S. 153, P.S. 160 and M.S. 181 and adding a left-turn lane at Conner Street from Baychester Avenue. The MOU also agreed to improve areas that King represents outside Co-op City such as parkland along the Bronx River Parkway, repair of several heavily used streets, graffiti removal from the bridge traversing the Bronx River Parkway at 233rd Street and more.
The councilman explained that after the unanimous 18-0 City Council Land-use Committee vote, his conversations with the mayor regarding the community’s objections of the ULURP evolved.
Community Board 10 voted in favor of an animal shelter for the borough, but was opposed to the location in light of significant opposition.
“Since that time the conversation has changed,” said King. “Not only is an animal shelter proposed for the site but a number of amenities that will help improve the quality-of-life for the residents of Co-op City and the surrounding area, for our children, as well as the seniors, retirees and working families and individuals.”
The councilman said that some of the residents in Co-op City had gone from an emphatic “no” on the proposal to a less ardent stand.
King said that he believes that the animal shelter ULURP for Bartow Avenue will be approved by the full council on Wednesday, November 14.
The borough president, who originally voted against the plan, reversed his objection after learning about the recent developments, and said he looked forward to working with all community stakeholders to implement the plan.
“While I agreed with Co-op City residents that this was not the best site for it, I have always believed our borough needs a full-service animal shelter,” said Diaz. “This compromise brings us the shelter we require.”
Animals advocates in the borough were delighted to learn of the break through and the vote.
Bronx Animal Shelter Endeavor, which has been advocating for a full-service animal shelter for years, said in a statement that the decision was entirely in sync with a new citywide mandate that every borough have a full-service shelter with adoptions and programming by 2024.
“For decades our borough has been underserved in the city’s open admissions shelter system with a whopping 25% of animals entering the shelter system coming from the Bronx,” said Donna Dechiaro, BASE co-founder.
“We want the future animal shelter to boast 100% placement of Bronx animals entering the shelter.”
The animal shelter will feature educational programs, as well as providing over 100 jobs and more time and space for pet adoptions, said Poggi.
Roxanne Delgado, leader of Bronx Animal Right Electors, another organization advocating for the shelter, said that she had heard from sources the City Council received many communications in support of the 2050 Bartow Avenue site.
Ann Dempewolf of Edgewater Park, who is part of BARE, said she believes that the shelter will provide low-cost veterinary care and food, and believes that this will lead to a decrease in surrenders of pets for financial reasons.
BASE co-founder Marion Koenig thanked King for his support of the project.