Shelter moves aheadSuperior is moving ahead with a proposal to build a new animal shelter. The City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution to finalize the design of a shelter large enough to accept animals countywide for adoption, and enlist the aid of Animal Allies for a capital campaign to close the gap on financing the estimated $3.1 million project.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Superior is moving ahead with a proposal to build a new animal shelter.
The City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution to finalize the design of a shelter large enough to accept animals countywide for adoption, and enlist the aid of Animal Allies for a capital campaign to close the gap on financing the estimated $3.1 million project.
The council also accepted the offer by Douglas County to provide $410,000 in funding over 10 years, contingent on the shelter being built.
“I really appreciate the county for everything they’ve done,” said Councilor Mick MacKenzie, who has worked on the project since its inception five years ago. He said the whole project has been contingent on the county’s support, approved June 20 by the county board.
The city has about $2.2 million dollars remaining from bonds issued in 2011 for the project, said Finance Director Jean Vito.
Mayor Bruce Hagen said it’s very difficult to talk to potential donors to the capital campaign seriously when the city doesn’t even have finalized plans for the proposed 8,600-square-foot shelter planned for property near Bear Creek Park.
“Animal Allies is proud to work with you all and in the next few months you’re going to get tired of seeing us all,” said Rick Sailstad, director of Animal Allies. “We’re going to do the best we can to fill the funding gap to help you all out ... we will be the Allies of Superior for the next few months to get this project done.”
However, the council wasn’t unanimous in its decision to finalize plans for the shelter. Councilor Jack Sweeney and Denise McDonald both expressed concern about the cost of running the much larger shelter and filling the gap in available revenue to build it.
The council divided 7-2 in voting to finish the planning and accept the county’s money on contingency. Sweeney and McDonald voted against it.
“Let’s say we build it,” McDonald said. “We still have to operate it. We still have to have that money coming through. Where is that money going to come from? That’s what most of my constituents keep asking me.”
Councilors Dan Olson, Tom Fennessey, Warren Bender, Terry Massoglia, Bob Finsland, Mike Herrick and MacKenzie voted in favor of finalizing plans and getting the capital campaign off the ground, and accepting the county’s financial offer.
“A lot of people are extremely happy that we’re finally getting to this point,” MacKenzie said. “It’s been five years and thousands of hours of hard work and dedication and research by many people and organizations ... it’s been a well thought out project.”
However, Hagen said the council’s decision Tuesday night only provides the tools needed to make a decision about building the shelter.
“If we build it, we need to have funds to operate it,” Hagen said. “... Without these particular discovery points, we will never know the facts” such as the cost to build and operate the shelter.