Iowa City Animal Center to launch fundraising drive

BY ARIANA WITT | JUNE 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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Twinkle roamed the floor of the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center Thursday. He poked his wet nose and lengthy whiskers into the cage of fellow felines before settling in the lap of Jackie Wieczorek, a veteran volunteer for the center.

“He’s always been my favorite,” she said.

The pudgy white and brown tabby has only lived at the shelter’s location, 4852 Sand Road S.E., for two months, but he may not live there much longer.

On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency proposed funding $960,000 for the construction of a new center — the previous Kirkwood Ave facility was destroyed in during the flood in June 2008. But even coupled with $107,000 from the state, officials said the funding won’t reach the new shelter’s estimated pricetag of more than $2.5 million.

“It’s a beginning,” said Misha Goodman, the director of the animal center. “We need a lot more funding to actually complete the size building that we need.”

Goodman said the center would still require an estimated $2.5 million to build adequate facilities for the 130 cats, dogs, and rabbits the facility cares for daily. She believes the price is reasonable given the services the center provides the animals.

“The previous building that we were in was overcrowded, so we need a building that’s about two and a half times that size,” Goodman said. “We’ll have to raise additional funding besides what FEMA has provided.”

Bob Josephson, an external-affairs officer for FEMA Region VII, said the allocated money is part of FEMA’s efforts to transition out of Iowa following the flood, reimbursing the businesses that met the organization’s requirements for federal funding.

“We’ve of course been looking at the projects and reconciling the costs,” he said. “I think certainly when an area is affected by a disaster, recovery is never easy, but I think things are going well between FEMA and the state.”

Previously, FEMA denied approval of two studies the city submitted, which concerned land near the proposed location on Napoleon Lane.

But following the latest study, the funding was allotted.

“It’s fantastic news that many have been waiting on for some time now,” said Kumi Morris, the architectural services coordinator for the city. “It gets us out of limbo.”

But there are still some budgetary questions remaining for the new center.

Though animal-center workers have started donation jug filled with loose change and a few dollar bills at the center’s temporary location, there are plans to formally begin a campaign to raise the millions officials say they need.

The effort is slated to begin in the next few months, Goodman said, following a 30-day public-comment session on the proposed building.

“In a capital campaign, what you want to do is make sure you’re educating the public on why the kind of building you want to build needs to be different from the facilities you’ve had before,” said Kym Leyden, the executive director of Friends of the Animal Center Foundation.

Leyden said a financial feasibility study will tell animal center officials if members of the Iowa City community can provide them with the funding still needed.

“If it finds them not feasible, we would come back and look at the structure of our plan and determine where we can get additional funds,” Leyden said.

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