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Cats take center stage at Worth meeting again

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

Officials will draw up ordinance on how they will handle feral cats in the village

It’s been awhile since the hit play “Cats” was presented in Chicago, but in Worth, cats --the feral variety -- were once again center stage at last Wednesday’s board meeting in Worth.
This time with a plot twist.
Faced with new information, village officials are now looking at drafting an ordinance to deal with managed care of feral cats.
In February, they voted 3-0 against a project proposed by animal rights group, Triple R, which called for capturing feral cats, vaccinating/spaying/neutering them and returning them to their original site. The purpose of the plan was to reduce the spread of rabies and decrease the population of the feral cats. The plan was offered at no cost to the village. Funding for the services is provided to the animal activist group through donations.
Trustee Rich Dziedic said at the time that he was against it. “I understand there may be a problem with feral cats in general, not necessarily in our community, but we have existed this long without spraying and neutering them that we don’t need to do it now.”
He also said, “I would not want a colony of cats living next door to me and coming in my backyard and my garden.”
However, the plot thickens.
Since that vote was taken, it has come to light that Cook County has an ordinance regulating feral cat colonies within the county. In October, 2007, the Cook County Board of Commissioners amended its Animal and Rabies Control Ordinance, adding a section dealing with feral cats, the “Managed Care of Feral Cats.” The ordinance was enacted to further prevent the spread of rabies by reducing and controlling the feral cat population.
Additionally, the ordinance permits individuals living within Cook County, to maintain feral cat colonies provided they participate in trap, neuter, and release (TNR) programs sponsored by approved humane societies.
The new information has officials re-thinking their position.
Mayor Mary Werner said, “We hope to present an ordinance by our next board meeting [Tuesday]. While the Cook County Ordinance is a carte blanche approach, we will strive to make our ordinance as unobtrusive as possible, but it will be more strict than the county ordinance.”
Dziedic said that the village has some options, referring to a memo from the village attorney, Greg Jones, outlining various approaches. Dziedic said he recommended combining two of the options which include adopting a modified version of the Cook County Ordinance and adopting a zoning requirement for feral cat colonies. “Residents having a colony would have to seek a Special Use Permit,” he said.
Also present at the meeting were representatives of the Triple R group, including Pamela Caddick and Collette Walker. Caddick offered the assistance of Triple R to help the village draft its ordinance. “This is a service we offer and it will save attorneys fees. We are currently working with Richton Park in the drafting of its ordinance,” she said.

Park District turns 50
Last year, the village celebrated its 100th birthday. This year, the park district turns 50.
A request from the Worth Park District for a street closing on June 5 was for the celebration was unanimously approved. Depot Street, from 109th Street to 109th Place, will be closed from 7 to 10 p.m. for a kickoff celebration for the anniversary.

Trustee Colleen McElroy, said the park district is celebrating its Golden Jubilee at Gale Moore Park, with live music, a car show and a dinner.
Other bits:
• Trustee Tedd Muersch said that there will be a budget presentation for the Water’s Edge Golf Course on May 5. He also announced that a search is underway for a new superintendent at the golf course, as well as seasonal summer help.
• Public Safety liaison, Trustee Warren Soldan said that two police officers currently in training will be on patrol in two weeks. “Our streets will have an added measure of safety,” he said.

• A cell tower lease amendment for T-Mobile was approved. The amendment, allowing more space for T-Mobile, will bring a $1,000 a month to the village coffers.

• The board unanimously approved Werner’s request for a payment of $4,000 to the Worth Park District for expenses incurred in the Worth Days Parade.