The operator of Glen Cove's animal shelter plans to leave the facility but the exact date could be decided in court after city officials served the Animal Lovers League with a notice to vacate on Dec. 3, giving it until Jan. 15 to leave.
Deputy Mayor Barbara Peebles said a city attorney is talking with the league's attorney about when it will vacate. "You need to have a firm transition date for anything, and that's what we're working on," Peebles said.
The league's attorney, Lake Success-based Christopher Renke, said officials were looking at legal options regarding such issues as when they would vacate, but he declined to elaborate.
"We're not dissolving," league president Joan Phillips said. "We remain dedicated to our mission for caring for homeless animals."
The organization is looking at locations where it could open a shelter or partner with another organization.
"We intend to bring our equipment and all the supporters of ALL with us," Phillips said.
Members of the new operator, Cove Animal Rescue, which filed incorporation papers with the state on Dec. 2, do not know what to expect when it moves in, board member Stefan Geiringer said.
"We don't know yet because we haven't been allowed in," Geiringer said. The organization plans to hire a former employee of the league to run the shelter but does not yet have a staff.
Phillips said the new operator hasn't reached out to her but a veterinarian on its board "will definitely be admitted to view all animals prior to any handover." She said they would also provide full records and medical treatment regimens for the animals.
The new operator plans to expand the existing 2,600-square-foot building by 2,000 square feet using a $300,000 interest-free loan made by an anonymous person, Geiringer said. The addition will provide a cageless environment for cats. "What concerns us is the overcrowding of the facilities," Geiringer said.
Phillips said the relationship with the administration of Mayor Reginald Spinello, who took office on Jan. 1, 2014, began to deteriorate when the league presented plans to expand the shelter by buying adjacent city property and building an education center in May.
Peebles said the city was already unhappy with how the shelter was being run. "To not even run the shelter the way it should be run now, there was no way that anyone would consider expansion," she said.
Peebles said the existing operator didn't provide requested data about its operations. Phillips said they provided what they were able, but didn't have the resources to compile data that weren't computerized.Peebles said officials concluded in August that the league needed new leadership.
Cove Animal Rescue was formed by three former league volunteers: Betty Geiger, Arthur Koppleman and Geiringer. Geiringer said the three met in the fall and discussed what they would like for the city shelter. They found a receptive audience in the mayor's office.
City officials decided in November to bring in the new organization, Peebles said.
Peebles said at a contentious City Council meeting on Dec. 23 that she had a 3-inch-thick folder of complaints about the Animal Lovers League but hasn't made them public. Phillips said that information should be released because the league was not given an opportunity to respond to the complaints.
City officials said Cove Animal Rescue will be paid the same as the Animal Lovers League. Geiringer said his group does not yet have a contract with the city. The league, which has operated the shelter for nearly two decades, receives about $93,000 each year from the city, which also provides maintenance, a van and pays for utilities.