Iowa City officials move forward with animal care center plans


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Life is quickly becoming cramped for the furry residents of the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center.

So the City Council will step in.

“The space that we are in was not built for an animal shelter,” said Kym Leyden, the executive director of the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation. “We need to make sure that we are keeping the public safe.”

The council will vote today to set a public input meeting for a project that would construct a new animal-care facility. The proposed date for the meeting is March 4.

The former facility was damaged “beyond repair” in the 2008 flood, and recent crowding in the temporary facility has brought the issue to the forefront.

The animal center has seen an increase in the number of animals, especially cats, in the past year. The center saw a 50 percent increase in the number of cats in the center last summer, which put a severe strain on its resources.

The temporary facility is located nearly 5 miles from downtown Iowa City. The new construction will be partially funded through a $1.4 million reimbursement funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Designs for the project have been in the works for quite some time, said City Councilor Jim Throgmorton, and the issues with the current facility need to be solved as soon as possible.

“Over the past two years, we’ve been looking into the details of building a new animal shelter,” he said. “[The temporary facility is] way outside of town, in a space not really designed for habitation by cats and dogs; [it’s] terribly inconvenient.”

Neumann Monson Architects, a local architectural firm, headed the project’s design. Sustainability and durability are two of the most important factors in the new facility, said Neumann Monson project manager Sally Obernolte.

“We wanted to certainly have a long-lasting, durable building — at least a 50-year building,” she said.

Though the FEMA funds will greatly reduce cost, it won’t cover the entire estimated $3.1 million budget of the project. One thing that will go a long way toward covering the remaining cost is fundraising from the foundation, Leyden said. The foundation promised to donate $1 million to the project over a five-year period, starting last year.

“We made our first payment in June of this past year, so for the next four years, we will continue to make payments to the city of $200,000 per year,” she said. “Obviously, every dime matters, but we are certainly getting close to that [$1 million] goal.”

Any costs remaining after FEMA and the foundation will be split between Johnson County and cities within the county.

The public meeting is the next step in commpleting the plans, and it will provide an opportunity for citizens to show their support for the project, Leyden said.

“The public has been more that supportive of a new facility,” she said “If any kind of comment at all is there, it would be one of support.”

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