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Council wants other cities to help fund new animal shelter

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | APRIL 19, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City city councilors support plans for a new animal shelter but question whether they can fund all the amenities planned.

The councilors said at their work session Monday night they want other Johnson County towns that send animals to the facility to contribute money to the project, which is still in the early planning stages.

Officials from the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center presented updated plans for a new facility Monday. The Animal Center is temporarily located at 4852 Sand Road — roughly five miles south of Iowa City. The old center, at 111 Kirkwood Ave., was damaged during the 2008 flood.

Kumi Morris, the architecture service coordinator, told councilors the center needs more area to accommodate a larger capacity, updated materials, and improved overall function.

The selected site sits on the west side of South Gilbert Street, north of McCollister Boulevard.

Mayor Matt Hayek said Iowa City is giving roughly $700,000 for the facility and wished other towns would contribute as well since the facility takes in animals from surrounding areas.

"The question here is in respect to the construction of the new facility," he said. "If the county will benefit, can or should it contribute financially?"

Liz Ford, the former executive director of the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation, said the center's staff members struggle with limited space.

"The demand is still higher than we can provide, given the facility limit we have now," Ford said.

Misha Goodman, the director of the center, said overcrowding in both public, staff, and animal space can contribute to drainage and noise problems.

The new facility will likely be twice the size of the former space. Officials said it could relieve stress on overcrowded animals and reduce euthanasia.

The project is estimated to cost roughly $4 million. The Friends of the Animal Shelter Foundation has secured around $2 million in donations so far.

The center is waiting for results from an archeological study conducted on the selected land and approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has promised to provide $960,000.

Community supporters have pledged roughly $194,590 so far.

Though the city supports the effort, Councilor Connie Champion said she doesn't know if the shelter will be able to afford everything its workers are hoping for.

"I don't think we will be able to build the Taj Mahal they've anticipated," she said, but they will be given the necessities for a proper facility.

Morris said Animal Center officials hope to have the new facility completed by the fall of 2013.


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