Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Unleashed Joy: A Day at Staten Island Dog Garden

Written by the Staten Island Board of REALTORS®

The opening of a new dog park at the Staten Island Animal Care Center (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 to 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.   

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 that 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 built for months and completed near the end of the year – soon after an article published in the Staten Island Advance/ 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 Council Member 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, “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.”


Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.