The Town of Hempstead placed the relocation of the Newbridge Road Park cat colony, scheduled for Tuesday, on hold. The town will work with the Humane Society to assess the colony at the park and to explore options concerning the habitat where the cats have settled.
No action will be taken until the Humane Society looks at the situation, consults the town and offers its recommendations.
Town spokesman Mike Deery told Newsday that the town originally wanted the move to take place because areas where the feeders are located have begun to erode due to the Whaleneck River. He also said that the Nassau County Health Department is concerned because people have complained about cat droppings near the park's pool deck.
Joyce Christie of Bellmore and Jennifer Jones of Merrick have been taking care of the felines for about 12 years. Both women said that moving the colony of more than 30 cats could threaten their survival.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the town said they want to make sure that both the park users and the cats are safe.
"The goal of the town is to ensure the health and safety of children and adults who use the park in addition to providing for the well-being of the feral cats."
Jones and Christie said that they were thrilled with the decision.
"I am totally relieved," Christie said. "I think that it is a sign that they are going in the right direction."
"This is just awesome," Jones said.
On Tuesday morning, the two women were in the park and doing their daily ritual--feeding the cats. They said that they were told by a park official that the move did not have to take place.
Jones' and Christie's lawyer, Liz Stein of New Hyde Park, said that the town made the right decision.
"I am very happy to hear this because the relocation should be a matter of last resort," Stein said. "They would be removing them from their shelter that they have grown accustomed to their whole lifetime and be exposed to elements and people who don't have their best interests at heart."
Christie and Jones said that they are grateful to all of the people that stood behind their cause and to the individuals that protested against the relocation on Sunday.
"These people have stood behind us and we are so thankful," Jones said. "I hope this decision is permanent."