Unrestrained weeds and overgrowth once dominated an area destined to be reborn as the new dog park.

SIBOR uses grant from National Association of REALTORS® to enhance Staten Island community

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (Updated Feb. 9, 2024) – The opening of a new dog park at the Animal Care Center of Staten Island (SIACC), Charleston, became a reality last year due to the efforts of the Staten Island Board of Realtors® (SIBOR).

SIBOR applied for and received a “Placemaking Grant” from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) with the intention of enhancing the community of Staten Island by transforming the unused and unattractive entryway of the borough’s Animal Care Center into a welcoming destination accessible to all neighbors and visitors.

The Animal Care Center has an emotional tie to the community, as it is dedicated the late Tommy Monahan, a 9-year-old Staten Islander who tragically passed away in December 2007 trying to save his pets from a house fire.

A walkable path was constructed to complement the arrival of surrounding well-groomed greenery during the creation of the new dog enrichment area at the Animal Care Center of Staten Island.

Rosanne La Fata, 2023 SIBOR president, and Annmarie Triolo, 2023 SIBOR secretary (currently serving on the organization’s 2024 board as president-elect) were – and continue to be – actively involved in community-outreach projects. Touched by Tommy Monahan’s story, both SIBOR officers wanted to help create a special place at the Animal Care Center in tribute to Tommy. The NAR Placemaking Grant made this possible. The idea of creating the much-needed dog park was brought before the SIBOR Leadership Team. A resounding “yes” was voiced by all who knew of Tommy, as they were deeply moved.

Funded by NAR, SIBOR and CrossCountry Mortgage, the project was worked on for months and completed near the end of the year – soon after an article published in the Staten Island Advance/SiLive.com highlighted the Animal Care Center’s first anniversary.

The article said: Along with the Monahan family and Borough President Vito Fossella, “Ed Burke, who is senior advisor to the borough president, Paul Sanders, senior administrator for Animal Care Centers of New York City, and Frank Rapacciulo, chief of staff for Councilmember Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore), toured the shelter and remembered the legacy of Tommy, along with the facility’s impact in the community thus far.”

The park offers a community-accessible area to help homeless animals, whether they are found, rescued or surrendered. The new, attractive outdoor environment – previously comprised of only mulch and potted annuals – now provides a public seating area and plantings that benefit dogs in the facility’s care when they are walked on the property. It enables the public to easily connect with the dogs in SIACC’s care, and increases the probability of the animals being adopted.

The project includes a scent garden with chamomile, lavender, rosemary, mint and barley grass. Outdoor enrichment spaces like this are proven to help shelter dogs de-stress by providing a scent environment to explore, full of plants that are safe for dogs to sniff and chew.

“The inviting outdoor area has made a positive impact upon the community and all concerned,” said SIBOR CEO Sandy Krueger. “On behalf of our 2,500 members, SIBOR leadership was inspired to support establishment of the park, which includes such features as an attractive, safe, flower-scented garden; wheelchair-accessible garden walkway and recreational path; accompanying flowering perennials and seasonal shrubbery; poles for tethering unleashed dogs, and a sprinkler system designed to meet the needs of the plants.”

Helping animals find their ‘fur-ever’ homes, a bench, with an adjacent plaque recognizing SIBOR’s support in the park’s creation, invites visitors to relax, enjoy the nature area, and comfortably interact with the dogs at the rescue center.

As explained on the website of the Animal Care Centers of NYC, http://www.nycacc.org, “Individuals from all over New York City come to Animal Care Centers every day of the week for reasons as diverse as reclaiming lost pets, adopting new furry family members and getting resources to help them keep their pets in homes.”

Visitors to the now completed park will see signage acknowledging the support of the Staten Island Board of Realtors®.

Media Contact: Barton Horowitz
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