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Islip board to vote again on $5.5M bond for animal shelter

The Islip Town board rejected a bond proposal

The Islip Town board rejected a bond proposal last month to build a new animal shelter, even though animal advocates and some town officials say the current shelter in Bay Shore, seen here on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, is not adequate and requires contant repairs. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Islip Town board members are divided over funding a new multimillion-dollar home for the Islip Animal Shelter, with the possibility of a bond resolution returning for a second vote at Tuesday’s town board meeting.

Town board members Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Mary Kate Mullen voted against a $5.5 million animal shelter bond at the April 25 board meeting, defeating the resolution, which needs a supermajority of the board for approval.

Supervisor Angie Carpenter and board members Steve Flotteron and John Cochrane voted for the resolution.

Carpenter plans to reintroduce another animal shelter bond resolution at Tuesday’s board meeting at town hall. The cost of the new bond was not immediately available, according to town officials.

The current animal shelter on South Denver Avenue in Bay Shore, built in 1964, now lacks adequate food and linen storage and is in constant need of repairs to its mechanicals and infrastructure, said James Heil, town commissioner of the Department of Environmental Control.

“It’s built on a low area of high groundwater near a creek, so there’s been settlement,” Heil said in a phone interview. “Back in the day when the mechanicals were installed, they were not to the standards of today.”

He added, “We’ve been doing a lot of repairs just to keep it functioning. We’ve maintained the population so that we’re not overcrowded. But it’s just not a 21st century complex for the animals.”

If the new bond is approved, a 20,000-square-foot shelter would be built in Central Islip on town-owned land on Carleton Avenue, Heil said.

Bergin Weichbrodt said she voted against the animal shelter bond because of the cost.

“I would consider a bond resolution in the future that would call for a smaller and less expensive facility. The current proposal is a 20,000-square-foot building with a price tag of nearly $6 million. That’s the size of town hall,” Bergin Weichbrodt said in a statement. “Supervisor Carpenter needs to stop taxing our seniors and our veterans out of their homes.”

Mullen did not respond to messages asking for comment on her vote.

Dorothy Zammetti, 64, of Bay Shore, came to the April 25 town board meeting to support the new animal shelter and said the current shelter is “very outdated, very antiquated.”

“The runs are old and small, and the cat cages are very small and they live in a 2-by-2-foot square with no ventilation,” said Zammetti, a school bus driver and animal advocate. “People tell me when they’re looking for a particular animal and I tell them to go to the Islip shelter, and they say they don’t want to go to the shelter. It’s too depressing.”

Heil said the cost of the proposed new shelter has been streamlined down to basic functionality, and that modern municipal shelters have to host a veritable zoo of animals these days.

“We handle birds — today we had 12 wild ducklings — and we have rabbits, we have a couple of parrots,” he said. “We have to be able to handle beyond dogs and cats.”

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