Animal advocates took a victory lap after the NYC City Council gave its stamp of approval to a full-service animal shelter.
Following a contentious fight, that ended when the mayor offered Councilman Andy King a 16-point deal that included an array of wish-list items for the councilman’s district, including community programming for Co-op City, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the $60 million animal shelter proposal for Bartow Avenue.
Community opposition in Co-op City fell by the wayside after last minute deal-making provided promises on a raft of programming for seniors and youth, as well as a number of projects the community has wanted for years, but had yet to materialize.
King said that he went back and forth between the community and the mayor’s office and the City Council several times before a Memorandum of Understanding was agreed upon.
The councilman said that after the unanimous council vote on Wednesday, November 14, he expects the mayor to sign the animal care center into law before the end of the year or at the beginning of 2019.
Funding for programs in Co-op City that will begin in the short-term are already in place, said King.
The councilman said he believes the public needs to be educated about the youth theater being planned on Bartow Avenue and a senior breakfast program, as well as other points of the deal.
“The neighborhood has fared well in this project,” said King. “When building in certain neighborhoods, we should do right by the communities where we develop.”
He said he expects the animal care center on Bartow Avenue to be a state-of-the-art building that is set back from the street that offers 1,000 square feet of community space and a bird study center featuring educational programming.
Advocates for animals were elated by the development, which was expected after the council’s Land Use committee voted 18-0 in favor of the full service animal shelter as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.
One of the co-founders of Bronx Animal Shelter Endeavor, Donna DeChiaro, said she understood why the Co-op City community was upset at first when the city-owned land, which the community had wanted for a youth center, was slated for a different purpose.
She said she was glad an agreement could be worked out which provided Co-op City with additional community programs.
“The host community hit the jackpot in terms of programming,” said DeChiaro.
Low cost veterinary care and a pet food pantry at the new animal shelter were key goals of BASE, she said.
She said that the council vote is in line with a citywide mandate calling for full-service animal shelters in all five boroughs by 2024, and signals a new chapter in animal services.
The organization thanked Mayor de Blasio and Jeff Dupee, NYC Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit deputy commissioner, for their work.
Bronx Animal Rights Electors, another group advocating for the shelter expressed gratitude to the mayor, Speaker Corey Johnson and King.
“This state-of-the-art animal shelter and veterinary clinic will be a beacon of compassion in the Bronx,” read a statement from BARE.