Location, location, location locked down for Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter

Tony Casey • Sep 4, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin arrived at Tuesday night’s Animal Control Board meeting and got right down to business.

With not falling behind on the project to build a new Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter as the objective. Van Brocklin sought to solidify the board’s positions on the location of the shelter, the design of the building and air conditioning for the building.

City commissioner and board member David Tomita was prompted to give his opinion on the location of the shelter after it was noted that the options had been narrowed down to two potential spots. The Traco building off of Princeton Road was one, and the board’s front runner was at an empty lot at 3411 N. Roan St.

The mayor highlighted the visibility and central location of the North Roan Street lot, and said the best the Traco building had going for it was its shell structure, which would save some money in construction costs.

Tomita saw more highlights to the spot than that.

He said more space could be designated to the shelter’s spay and neutering areas, they could sell off the other property and end up with less out of pocket costs. He said it was about the animals, not the people, and said they wouldn’t care if they lived in a new building or not.

“Why wouldn’t we do this?” Tomita asked. He went on to say about the North Roan option, “We have precious, little resources, and we’d have $850,000 laid out before we put in brick one,” referencing drainage costs on the other property.

Board member and city commissioner Pat Wolfe agreed with Tomita that the other location warranted a second look.

However, the board motioned to move forward with the North Roan location.

The board expressed frustration with a consultant company brought in to bring donors to the project, not happy with their progress in that direction.

“There’s frustration that we’re not farther along than we are,” Van Brocklin said.

Dickerson, Bakker and Associates, of North Carolina, who had been paid just over $20,000 over the last four months, plus expenses, was represented by Gary Taylor. Van Brocklin and Taylor acknowledged that without a clear plan for the building construction in brochure form, the company had difficulty in presenting a plan to potential donors. Taylor said he had donors lined up who weren’t yet committing to a donation without a clear plan.

After considering a few options, the board, dependent on feedback from Washington County Animal Shelter director Debbie Dodds, agreed on a building with high ceilings, an emphasis on air circulation, and requirements to execute due diligence when using air conditioning. Dobbs reported what she said was the lowest number of shelter animals in August in years, and said it was because of their spaying and neutering successes.

With the motion moving forward, the board had a plan and was hoping to have a brochure out by the middle of next week, Van Brocklin said. He said he would be presenting the design plan to the City Commission at Thursday evening’s meeting, along with announcing the identity of a $100,000 donor.

Taylor expressed that with a brochure, he was confident they could get moving on pursuing more donors in the next few weeks. He said his group had corralled over $267,000 in donations for the project.

Despite their shortcomings in the way of donations, the board voted to continue using the consultant group as they have been.

Board president Pete Peterson still seemed confident that Phase I of the project, tallying over $1.6 million, which would include office space and a large area for kennels, would be completed by next summer.

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