BY JESSICA DOWNER
Residents of West Haverstraw gathered at the Village Hall for the first board meeting of the month to discuss fire department districting and the growing stray cat population.
The meeting opened with a report from the police department, showing a total of $10,354 in fines last month. A letter from Orange & Rockland was also read expressing their thanks to the village and the volunteers that helped families affected by the home explosion in January.
The issue of illegal rental unit expansion in public housing and how these units are not being inspected was discussed. Mayor Ramundo said that these expansions are dangerous for firefighters and proposed an increase on penalties for violators.
A motion to accept the resignation of former village clerk Kathleen Hoyer was passed. Catherine Welsh will be appointed as the new typist effective of Tuesday, April 10.
Also passed was a proposal to repair the softball field in Peck’s Pond before the season started. Because the field was destroyed by the hurricane last fall, FEMA will reimburse the village $26,800 for the repairs.
One of the major issues discussed was fire department districting along with a possible cut in funding for the department. Pablo Ramos, coordinator for Rockland County Enhanced 911 came to discuss the issue. Each firehouse in the county would file their own districting and send out maps to the adjacent firehouses.
Expressing concern about budgeting, John Tesik talked about how a budget cut would affect the fire department in the village. He talked about the cost of replacing equipment to follow codes. The possible cuts would be about $13,000, which is about 20 percent of the department’s budget.
“We want to work together to help you, help us,” said Tesik
The issue of the night was the growing population of stray cats behind the Dollar General and Pizza Hut in West Haverstraw. Yvonne Orr, a resident, expressed her concerns about the cats around her home. Her distress was expressed in the form of the letter, which was sent to the mayor three weeks prior.
After reading her letter, the mayor expressed his concerned for the problem as well and mentioned that he was just made aware of the problem recently. He also discussed solutions to the problem that would be humane for the feline occupiers.
An animal rights group named Four Legs Good Incorporated has been involved with the issue. Though they are from Pearl River, they have deep concern for the animals and offered solutions like humanely capturing the animals for adoption.
The floor then opened for any residents who wished to express their concerns. Many felt the same as Orr, saying the problem was not only a nuisance but also a health issue, especially for children that play outside. Residents talked about the smell of feces overtaking their living environment, and how the smell will get worse with the coming spring and summer months.
Some residents have attempted to help the animals and talked about the benefits of having them around. John Bolvi mentioned the population of rats decreasing and how he’s one person who has been feeding the cats.
Animal Control Officer Claudia Perry discussed the plans that the village had to take care of the cats in a way that made the residents and Four Legs Good happy. Mayor Ramundo suggested a round table where representatives of the neighborhood, Four Legs Good, Officer Perry, and members of the board could discuss the issues.