Officials said the pioneering option to house the new Rockland animal shelter countywide would cost significantly less than the expected $18 million price tag to build the new facility.
Haverstro Supervisor Howard Phillips said the newly built warehouse on Beach Road could cost up to $5 million to purchase and could be renovated to accommodate stray cats, dogs, rabbits and other animals. He said the five cities could either buy the 15,000-square-foot building, lease the site, or reach a lease and purchase agreement. Completion of the project will extend until 2023.
The canceled county plan called for a facility to be built near the Hi-Tor Animal Center site across from the Rockland Fire Training Center off Route 45 in Ramapo. Supervisors and some county lawmakers rejected the county-led project when the projected price jumped from $8 million to $18 million due to rising construction costs and other economic factors.
“We can do something for as little as $18 million to $20 million,” Phillips said. “We have an existing building that can be retrofitted. The owner is interested in $4-5 million.”
Phillips said that township supervisors will continue to work on the details. He said they will also work with County Executive Ed Day and the Hi-Tor Animal Center Board to continue operating the deterioration facility until a deal on a new site is completed.
A property in the isolated Torne Valley in Ramapo has also been considered.
The High Tour contract expires on December 31. Cities are legally responsible for caring for stray animals but the county agreed years ago to provide land and funding. The primary operating funding for the nonprofit Hi-Tor shelter comes from the cities.
After years of on and off, Day announced earlier this month that supervisors would take over the animal shelter, after Rockland lawmakers refused to agree to borrow an additional $10 million to cover the increased costs of the previous plan.
Admins are looking for the operator
Supervisors are consistent in changing the management of Hi-Tor, replacing the volunteer council entirely after years of financial problems and concerns about the treatment of animals.
Phillips said the supervisors’ plan still includes Rockland Green, which operates a refuge with the Hudson Valley Humane Society, which has electrolytes at its Haverstraw facility. Rockland Green oversees waste disposal and recycling countywide. The agency’s board of directors includes the five city supervisors, county legislators, and the county executive office.
Before supervisors can sign a deal for the warehouse, they need two appraisals of the property’s value. The depot is located near several industrial facilities, including a joint regional sewage treatment plant.
Officials said complaints from local residents about the Ramapo baseball stadium fireworks and their impact on animals played a role in moving the shelter site. The smoker at the fire-training center also became a factor, Phillips said.
“Our main concern is the lives of the animals,” Phillips said. “They are stranded and living in appalling conditions due to human neglect. We want a cost-effective shelter.”
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