Supporters of the mayor’s proposal for an animal shelter across from Co-op City got a boost from the City Planning Commission.
The proposal to build the borough’s first full-service animal shelter in decades got a chilly reception from the Co-op City community when it was announced, but the CPC saw merit in the proposal for 2050 Bartow Avenue, citing the need for animal related services.
Councilman Andy King has gone on record that he will listen to both sides before making a final decision on the location for a Bronx facility.
A decision dated Wednesday, September 26, CPC, as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, stated the proposed full-service animal shelter and adoption center wouldn’t have a significant environmental impact and approved the site.
“This proposed action is consistent with the city’s commitment to provide New Yorkers with equitable access to animal care services,” stated the CPC ruling. “The commission notes that the proposed facility was requested as part of Citywide Statement of Needs for Fiscal Year’s 2017-2018, and that this site selection will add critical capacity to the citywide animal care system that handles over 35,000 animals each year.”
The commission noted that Community Board 10 referenced the need for a full-service animal shelter somewhere in the borough in its district needs report for fiscal year 2017.
However in the ULURP procedure for the site, adjacent to a Red Lobster restaurant that currently houses NYPD storage trailers, CB 10 supported the need for an animal shelter in the borough but not at the proposed site, just outside the Bay Plaza Mall.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also disapproved the ULURP.
Councilman Andy King said that as party to the ULURP process the City Council will take up the issue, with a hearing where the public can give testimony scheduled for Tuesday, October 9.
The CPC decision didn’t really surprise the councilman since for the most part CPC works with the mayoral administration that has been advocating for the proposal.
“This gives us the opportunity for the residents of the neighborhood to express their support or non support, and we as a Council will listen,” said King, whose constituents in the Co-op City community overwhelmingly oppose the animal shelter and have stated their position at previous meetings.
The councilman said that he would listen to what the community wants, and that he would also work with the mayoral administration to meet the criteria of the new law which requires a full-service animal shelter in every borough by 2024.
“We will make sure that the community doesn’t get offended, while we adhere to the law,” he said.
King said that local residents have been asking for years for something to be built at 2050 Bartow Avenue that would complement the Co-op City community, like a youth or health center.
King also said he believes animal right activists are more concerned with their agenda than all the things that have an impact on a neighborhood.
Matt Cruz, Community Board 10 district manager, echoed King’s comments about CPC supportive stance.
“Community Board 10 certainly is not opposed to an animal shelter, we just have concerns about the proposed location,” said Cruz, who added Councilman King’s support is very helpful in the matter.
While many local officials and residents continue to oppose the project, animal rights advocates in the borough were heartened by the CPC decision.
Roxanne Delgado of the Bronx Animal Rights Electors said she was happy that CPC recognized that finding a home for stray pets and a place for adoption in the borough was part of a citywide issue.
“We cannot afford to look for an alternative site,” she said. “For decades, the Bronx has been fighting for an animal shelter and now for the first time we have the funding, the site and the mandate that each borough have an animal shelter.”
She said that opportunity to build a state of the art 46,823 square foot animal shelter that could accommodate 70 dogs, 140 cats, 30 rabbits and 20 small animals was something that shouldn’t be passed up.
Donna DeChiaro, one of the co-founders of the Bronx Animal Shelter Endeavor, said that the group is hoping for intervention by City Council Speaker Cory Johnson to move the project forward.
“If we don’t get (this site), where are they going to put it?” she said.
Opponents of the plan claim the facility is not easily accessible by public transportation, would add the burden of increased traffic to an already congested area and the site had been earmarked to serve Co-op City’s youth population.