The future of the Johnson City/Washington County Animal Shelter may not be as clear as recently thought.
Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs has proposed to the city and to the county that the shelter’s operations be moved to a 16,000-square-foot building at 103 L.P. Auer Road. According to Dobbs, the location offers adequate space with at least a 20-year growth bumper and is located in an unpopulated area of the city, which should eliminate any noise complaints.
City Manager Pete Peterson said late Tuesday that after speaking with County Mayor Dan Eldridge, he felt it was in the best interest of citizens for the city to issue a request for proposals to see if there is a better location to use for a new shelter.
Peterson said this would allow for a public inquiry to determine whether anyone has property for sale or for donation that is suitable for a relocation site for the animal shelter.
“While a potential relocation site has been found, it is certainly prudent to pursue other suitable options, if they are available,” he said. “Prior to issuing the RFP, we needed to know how much funding was going to be committed to relocate the shelter.”
It appears the county is ready to commit up to $350,000, and Peterson said he expects the City Commission to match that amount at its meeting on Thursday.
“We’re not changing our mind, or trying to slow the process, (we’re) simply making sure that all potential options are explored,” Peterson added.
The County Commission’s General Health and Welfare Committee and its Budget Committee had recommended the commission approve jointly purchasing the L.P. Auer property, providing $350,000 toward the $700,000 purchase. In light of his discussion with Peterson, however, Eldridge asked that the recommendation be revisited at a later date.
The county plans to use a portion of the monies made from the sale of the Downtown Centre toward its half of the purchase. The Johnson City Development Authority has agreed to pay the county $1 million for the center and is trying to obtain financing for the purchase.
While the animal shelter facility at 525 Sells Ave. is owned by the Animal Control Board, the city owns the land under the building and intends to sell it for commercial development.
Press Staff Writer Gary B. Gray contributed to this report.