Ridgewood site to get full-service animal shelter

A Ridgewood property, where a salvage yard and auto maintenance shop currently operate, is slated to become a full-service animal shelter.
A Ridgewood property, where a salvage yard and auto maintenance shop currently operate, is slated to become a full-service animal shelter. Photo Credit: Composite image

The long search for a site to build an animal shelter in Queens has ended at an industrial property in Ridgewood.

Animal Care Centers of NYC is under contract to purchase the property at 151 Woodward Ave., which currently houses a salvage yard and auto maintenance shop. The nonprofit is paid by the city to handle all stray and homeless pets.

But before any construction can begin, the site must undergo remediation to remove toxic materials that have seeped into the land.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is accepting public comments on ACC’s application to its Brownfields Cleanup Program, which is designed to clean up and redevelop contaminated sites, through March 1.

Projected to open in 2022, the 50,000-square-foot shelter will have space for 70 dogs and 110 cats, as well as for smaller animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits, according to the city Health Department.

The city has been under pressure for two decades to build full-service animal shelters in Queens and the Bronx, which have smaller animal receiving centers with limited hours and fewer services for stray and homeless pets. 

Finding funds as well as a large enough property accessible by public transportation and car has been an issue. Plans for a $60 million shelter in the Bronx were almost sidetracked last year by angry Co-op City residents who did not want it built near the complex.

In that case, the shelter — eventually approved — is being constructed on city-owned land.

There was no such option in Queens, leading the city and Animal Care Centers of NYC to look for privately owned property.

How much the nonprofit paid for the property has not been disclosed. But the city recently extended its contract to 2052 at a cost of $1.4 billion, enabling it to have the capital to purchase and build the shelter.

“We’ve been eagerly anticipating the reality of a contract and this site provides an opportunity for a completely new full-service animal care center built from the bottom up,” City Councilman Paul Vallone told amNewYork in an email.

Vallone sponsored a bill requiring the city to provide full-service shelters in all boroughs. It was signed last year.

His father, Peter Vallone, the former speaker of the City Council, was the sponsor of a similar bill that was signed in 2000, only to be repealed several years later because the city said it did not have enough money to build two shelters.

His brother, former City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., pushed to revive the bill during his tenure in office.

While animal advocates hailed the news that a new shelter would be built, some worried it might not be accessible to  those who live in eastern and southern parts of Queens.

The site is just blocks from the Brooklyn border. It is not far from the L and M subway lines. The L does not have any stops in Queens.

“The primary objective must always remain to bring this facility to Queens while acknowledging the concerns that are inherent in any siting process,” Vallone said in response to a question about the location.

City Councilman Robert Holden, who represents the area, had pointed the city to a site in Glendale that has been eyed for a homeless shelter.

“It is not centrally located in the borough, and accessing it via public transportation is not ideal,” Holden said of the Ridgewood site. “But we should be thankful that we are getting the shelter that we desperately need.”