A tough first month on the job

Published 10:55 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Suffolk Humane Society recently welcomed a new executive director, Eileen Gizara. On the job for just two weeks, Gizara faces a bit of a tempest in a teapot regarding the society’s request for a conditional use permit to open a new office in a property at 412 Kings Fork Road.

Neighbors and other nearby residents turned out to a meeting of the Suffolk Planning Commission on Tuesday to speak out against the matter. Commissioners and Humane Society members, alike, seemed surprised by the opposition, and the commission voted to table further consideration of the request until April. The hope is that members of the Humane Society will take the intervening time to talk to neighbors and see if they can allay the concerns those neighbors raised during the public hearing.

Describing the kerfuffle as a “tempest in a teapot” is not intended to minimize what’s at stake. The neighbors’ quality of life could theoretically be reduced by a property filled with barking dogs, and the Humane Society’s future success could depend on an accessible location that’s central to the city it serves.

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But the matter will be decided one way or the other, lives will go on and everyone involved will move on to other problems and concerns. For Gizara, the whole matter will one day be a great story to share about how she started her new job, a story that one hopes will include a lesson about reaching communities through good communication.

There’s every reason to believe Gizara will be successful at the helm of the society, whether or not the organization is successful in its quest to move its office to Kings Fork Road. She has plenty of experience working with animals in veterinary offices; she has been involved with Mutt Strut, Suffolk Humane’s big annual fundraiser, since it began; and she’s already brought fresh ideas for increasing volunteer involvement with the organization.

One way or the other, the King’s Fork controversy will pass. Gizara and the rest of the folks with Suffolk Humane should do what they can to make something positive out of it. Perhaps this problem is really an opportunity in disguise.