Rhinebeck dog kennel faces flooding issues

The Rhinebeck town dog kennel is in rough shape.

After hearing reports over the summer that the kennel was prone to flooding during rainstorms, the town board continued to discuss possible solutions at its Sept. 8 meeting.

The 27-year-old 16-by-20-foot structure is located at the Highway Department on Route 308 and can currently hold three dogs. It is used for dogs that have been picked up by the animal control officer. According to town records, a total of 59 dogs have been temporarily housed at the kennel from 2009-2014.

In June, Bob Fitzpatrick, head of the town Maintenance Department, told the town board the kennel has been flooded in rainstorms in the recent past. Later in June, Roger Newkirk, Rhinebeck’s animal control officer, echoed Fitzpatrick’s recommendations and advocated fixing the cages. He suggested using large drains to the north and south of the structure to collect rain run-off and raising the foundation to prevent flooding.

Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia and Councilwoman Elaine Fernandez have both expressed their concern for the dogs and appear to agree that the issue is a pressing problem. In the past and again Sept. 8, Fernandez reported that dogs have been seen by several witnesses standing on hind legs to keep their heads above water during floods.

Fernandez, who is animal control liaison for the board, reported to the board that the cost of raising the foundation of the kennel is estimated at $10,300, without any other repairs. She also reiterated that the problem is an urgent one. “I don’t think we can go through the winter without doing something…It’s horrible,” she said.

“I think we have a lot of things to weigh and we shouldn’t be talking about one project without the context of all of them,” said Councilman Joseph Gelb, referring to other costly projects, such as a new pool pump, repaving recreation courts, and a new furnace for town hall. He suggested that the budget workshops scheduled for October are an appropriate place for further discussion.

Councilman Allan Scherr agreed, saying, “It’s a little hard to keep spending without knowing where we are going.”

Gelb suggested in June that the town seek a temporary solution by placing the dogs in local veterinary hospitals until their owners could retrieve them. At the Sept. 8 meeting, he stuck by his original views and reminded the board that the town of Red Hook has been open to pursuing a joint animal control effort to reduce the cost of services for both towns.

Spinzia confirmed that Red Hook Town Supervisor Sue Crane had expressed interest in pursuing the possibility of sharing animal control responsibilities between the two towns. “They are open to discussion, but they don’t have a solution,” she said.

Spinzia also expressed interest in finding a new location for the kennel because it is currently in the pathway of storm water runoff and stream flooding. “It’s problematic; we’re never going to be able to fix that grade, and we are always going to be fighting water,” she said.

In response, Highway Superintendent Kathy Kinsella reminded the board that alternative sites for the kennel have been discussed since 2010. “The only space down there at the Highway Department that can be used is either the space that it’s on or immediately adjacent, which is slightly higher ground…That’s my position on that,” she said.

Spinzia asked that a resolution be presented on the issue at the Sept. 22 town board meeting.

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