WPCNR HUMANE NEWS. By Peter Katz. Special to WPCNR.
(Greenburgh, NY – July 22, 2015)
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner this evening told about 80 animal activists gathered at Greenburgh Town Hall that a deed restriction prevents Pets Alive, the current operator of what had been the Elmsford Animal Shelter, from selling the property to a developer or putting it to any commercial use.
Pets Alive had announced that it would close the shelter in the next couple of months, move any remaining animals to its shelter in Middletown, NY, and then sell the Elmsford property.
The deed restriction had been found and confirmed earlier today by Greenburgh Town Attorney Timothy Lewis and Town Board Member Francis Sheehan, both of whom attended the meeting. Feiner suggested that Pets Alive had hoped to receive from $3-million to $4-million for the property, for which it had paid only $10 in a land donation arrangement involving Greenburgh and Westchester County. At the time, the animal shelter had been operating in inadequate facilities off Saw Mill River Road, fairly close to some residences. The new location west of property which had been the Elmsford Drive-In Theater and now is Sam’s Club was a vast improvement.
Representatives of several animal rights groups in Westchester attended Wednesday evening’s meeting, as did a number of volunteers from the Pets Alive facility. There was a consensus that Westchester groups and animal lovers would be successful in running a new shelter at the Elmsford site, and Feiner took the role of catalyst to bring interested individuals together. He distributed questionnaires to help identify those in attendance and to begin assembling the talents needed for such a project.
Feiner said he would be meeting with representatives of Pets Alive in his office at 9 am Thursday. He, Lewis and Sheehan expressed the opinion that discovery of the deed restriction changes the dynamics of the situation, and provides tremendous leverage in negotiations with Pets Alive. Lewis explained that the restriction, which was in the property deed signed in the 1980’s by former County Executive Andrew O’Rourke, runs with the land and is binding on any entity holding title to the land. It specifies that the land can only be used for parks and recreational purposes, for municipal purposes, or for an animal shelter.
While Pets Alive has stated that repair and maintenance costs for the current building have skyrocketed and the building is unsound, several people expressed doubt about such being the case. Town Attorney Lewis noted that the building inspector has the final say as to whether a building is structurally sound, and Greenburgh’s building inspector has not declared the shelter to be unsound.
Some volunteers at the current shelter expressed concern that older dogs, who have been unwanted for adoption and have called the shelter home for years, would not survive a change in surroundings to Middletown. The current shelter in Elmsford is on more that 5 acres of land and has more than 30,000 square feet of enclosed space.