Iowa City officials approve new animal center

BY DANIEL SEIDL | MARCH 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City City Council unanimously approved the plans for a new Iowa City animal shelter on Tuesday.

The project wouldn’t have been possible without great contributions from the Iowa City community, Mayor Matt Hayek said.

“The community support for replacing our flood-damaged and inadequately sized animal shelter has been nothing short of phenomenal,” he said. “I’m always impressed by the enthusiasm of the animal-loving demographic in the community.”

The old center was damaged beyond repair in the 2008 flood, and since then, the center has been located in a temporary facility.

The animal center has seen an increase in the number of animals in the past year that put a severe strain on the resources of the temporary building, which was not designed to be an animal shelter.
The temporary facility is located nearly five miles from downtown Iowa City.

The new construction will be partially funded through a $1.4 million reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with funding from other local governments and general obligation bonds. In addition to this, fundraising will go a long way towards funding the project.

The Friends of the Animal Center Foundation promised to donate $1 million to the project over a five-year period, starting last year.

Councilor Jim Throgmorton said that this contribution from the foundation is very important to fund the project, as the city had been experiencing difficulties in finding funding for the building.

“Who would pay for it — that was [a] big problem,” he said. “I’m really happy that we were able to resolve those difficulties.”

These difficulties came about because Iowa City isn’t the only community that uses the animal shelter, Hayek said.

“Historically, Iowa City has provided an animal shelter for the broader region [of Johnson County],” he said. “When the 2008 flood wiped out our facility and forced us to start up again, we took a look at who was using the animal shelter as opposed to who was paying.”

Hayek said that after looking into the issue, the city decided that Iowa City was paying too much for a facility that other towns were using as well.

“Iowa City was shouldering an inordinate amount of that cost,” he said. “It became evident that there was an issue of fairness that we needed to deal with.”

After lengthy conversations with other local governments, they eventually came to an agreement to help fund the project, he said.

“It was not an easy discussion, but we kept at it and worked up an agreement,” he said.“”[It] will reflect a more fair-share approach.”

Councilor Kingsley Botchway said he is glad the project is moving forward.

“[It’s] great that it’s moving forward,” he said. “It means a lot to the area.”

Neumann Monson Architects, a local architectural firm, headed the project’s design.

The new building will have 9,500 square feet of occupied space consisting of animal holding, animal support, and office space. The new facility will also include of an additional 2,000 square feet of second-story space consisting of general storage and service spaces.

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