Friday, June 8, 2018

RIOC Shuts Off Roosevelt Island Southpoint Park Cat Sanctuary Fresh Water Supply Says Wildlife Freedom Foundation - RIOC Says They Are Looking For Solutions To Water Supply Problems

Roosevelt Island resident Rossana Ceruzzi is founder and President of the Wildlife Freedom Foundation (WFF) According to the WFF:

... The Wildlife Freedom Foundation, Inc. is a non profit organization 501 (c)(3) formed for the purpose of protecting and conserving wildlife and caring for stray animal populations in NYC.

Among other causes, we work to control and reduce the population of stray cats in NYC through the TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) and get them adopted when possible; to provide care for stray cats who are not adopted or adoptable; to advocate to prevent and end ALL forms of cruelty towards animals...

... Our Cat Sanctuary in NYC is located on Roosevelt Island in the SouthPoint Park. It houses 22 happy, wonderful stray cats. They are all spayed/neutered, friendly and they love to meet and greet residents and visitors. Come to meet our cats! Share your love....

Ms. Ceruzzi is also a Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Member. During the June 6 RIRA meeting, Ms Ceruzzi reported that that three weeks ago the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) shut off the fresh water supply for the Southpoint Park Cat sanctuary without any prior notice.

Yesterday, I asked RIOC Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson:
At last evening’s RIRA meeting, Rossana Ceruzzi said that RIOC cut off the fresh water supply to the Southpoint Park cat sanctuary?

Is that true? Why?

Rossana said that RIOC claims the cat sanctuary hose is leaking and wasting water.

Rosana denied there is any leaking water and says they use the water judiciously. She also says that cutting off fresh water access endangers the lives of the cats.

Some RIRA members claimed RIOC is using the denial of fresh water as an excuse to remove the cat sanctuary from Southpoint Park.

Any comment from RIOC?
Mr. Roberson replied:
We applaud the volunteer work that the non-profit Wildlife Freedom Foundation (WFF) is doing on Roosevelt Island to help promote compassion and provide protection for wildlife, stray animals and more specifically the feral cat population on the Island.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) has a long history – more than seven years - of supporting the Foundation’s efforts by building several cat sanctuaries, providing locked storage facilities, installing car speed bumps near the cat colonies and just today, awarding the first half of a $5,000 public purpose grant to help subsidize WFF’s program and administrative costs.

But now RIOC - in trying to find a compromise over a water use dispute with WFF - is slandered as an animal cruelty corporation by a few who’ve only heard one-half of the story.

When we learned, more than a month ago, that the Southpoint Park irrigation system tap - of which WFF was using as a water source for drinking and cleaning at its Southpoint Cat Sanctuary - was causing pressure-related problems, we contacted WFF several times via email, telephone and in person to discuss potential solutions.

These alternatives included: installing a new water tap at the Southpoint Park comfort station (with the free use of a push cart) at no cost to WFF; installing a rainwater collection tank with a pressure pump, at no cost to WFF; or building a water line directly to the cat sanctuary, at their expense since this requires us tearing up the pavement, excavation, installing the pipe and then repaving. None of these were acceptable to WFF.

There are two other cat sanctuaries RIOC built on the Island; one near the rear of the NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler parking lot and the other at Pony Field just south of Octagon Park. RIOC does not supply water taps there, but the cats all had an abundance of fresh water in their bowls when we went to check this Thursday afternoon.

And in the six months of the year that the Southpoint irrigation system is not on and no tap is available to WFF (usually in the late fall and winter), none of cats at the Southpoint sanctuary go thirsty. WFF delivers water, by cart or by car, to keep all the felines hydrated.

And there’s one last point we should make. Irrigation system water, like the one WFF was using, is not potable; that means the water is not suitable for drinking by humans or animals since it’s contaminated by fertilizer, pesticides, feces and other contaminates.

Nobody wants the cats ingesting those types of pollutants. Let’s find a solution for the Southpoint Cat Sanctuary that makes healthy sense for everyone.
Here is the hose and water supply for the Southpoint Park Cat Sanctuary.

Below is the RIRA discussion on subject. The RIRA Common Council expressed support for the Cat Sanctuary and are seeking ideas for persuading RIOC to return the fresh water supply.

Some RIRA members were skeptical of RIOC's reason for cutting off the water supply speculating that RIOC may want to remove the Cat Sanctuary from Southpoint Park.

Will update when more info available.

UPDATE 6/10  - Correction, RIOC told Ms Ceruzzi that reason for shutting off water supply was "negative impact on pressure and flow".

UPDATE 6/17:
UPDATE 6/25 - RIOC agreed to restore the water supply to WFF Cat Sanctuary today following a meeting with Ms. Ceruzzi. According to this statement from RIOC:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) announced today an agreement with the non-profit Wildlife Freedom Foundation (WFF) to reactivate water access at the Island’s Southpoint Park cat sanctuary.

“WFF has agreed to use the water supply in a way as to not adversely impact the RIOC irrigation system,” RIOC President Susan Rosenthal said Monday afternoon. “WFF also does not believe that the recirculated, non-potable irrigation system water will harm the feral cats at the sanctuary”.

Those were two of the main issues RIOC cited earlier this month in statements explaining its decision to not permit WFF to connect to the irrigation system. (The non-potable irrigation system water – which is not safe to drink – has nothing to do with the Island’s domestic water supply).

The resolution came after an hour-long meeting between RIOC officials – including Rosenthal, Chief Operating Officer Shelton Haynes, General Counsel Jaci Flug, and Vice President of Capital Project Stephen Noone – and Rossana Ceruzzi, president of WFF and her legal representatives. Noone explained details of how the Southpoint Park irrigation system works, how the WFF tap had caused pressure issues, how sprinkler heads reabsorb excess run-off water - that often contain “harmful for human and animal” consumption organic fertilizers, pesticides, animal feces, and other materials – from the lawn and flower beds.

The Southpoint cat sanctuary is one of four sanctuaries for more than 60 feral cats on the Island. During the past seven years, RIOC has supported WFF by helping build the sanctuaries, enclosing sanctuary areas with chain-link fencing, providing free storage for cat supplies and food as well as this year providing $5,000 for WFF administrative and program costs.

“Considering the relationship RIOC and WFF have enjoyed for years, I’m very pleased that this is now resolved,” Rosenthal said.
Ms Ceruzzi spoke to the June 25 RIOC Board of Directors Meeting Public Session announcing the agreement to restore water to the cat sanctuary.