Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Expo Center house site picked for new County Animal Shelter

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Commissioners have found a new site to relocate the County Animal Shelter.

Between the Porter County Jail and the Porter County Expo Center and Fairgrounds sits a former homesite for the Expo director, on Ind. 49, that the County still owns. At one time the building was used as a child advocacy center for the Prosecutor’s office and storage for the County Museum.

“That’s where (the Shelter) is going to be,” said Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, showing a map image of the five-acre property during Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. “We finally believe we have a location everyone can agree upon.”

Evans credited fellow Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, for first suggesting the location after the board spent a good part of three years searching for a suitable site for a new, larger animal shelter.

The process began early in 2012 when the Commissioners received a report from Shelter Planners of America recommending the County build a bigger shelter in the wake of problems at the current 42-year-old facility, located on Ind. 2 south of Valparaiso.

Even with gradual improvements, Blaney said Tuesday that the current Shelter has poor ventilation and water pressure, as well as a lack of space where animals can meet with their potential adoptive families.

The Commissioners in 2013 proposed building a new shelter at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, but backed off due to opposition from the Porter County Parks Foundation and other park supporters.

Evans said the Expo Center site is desirable because there are no residencies in proximity that would be disturbed by the shelter. Blaney said the location follows recommendations it be in an accessible area with a lot of traffic since it is on Ind. 49 near U.S. 30 and Division Rd.

“It should work out good for all concerns,” Evans said.

The offer of $1 million by an independent and anonymous donor still remains available to the County, said Evans, adding that it “would be pretty foolish to let this pass by.”

The prospective price tag for constructing a bigger animal shelter has been estimated at different figures, but the Commissioners are looking to build the shelter for about $2.5 million. Funding for the additional $1.5 million will need to be discussed with the County Council, Evans and Blaney said.

Blaney said the Commissioners have fulfilled their charge by finding a site. “They told us to bring them a plan.”

Evans said the vacant home and outbuildings that are there now will be razed and County Highway Department crews will ready the site for construction in the spring. Bids will be sought after funding is obtained and building plans are completed, he said.

Blaney said the floor plans done by Shelter Planners in 2012 will be used “as a starting point” by the Commissioners.

The Shelter will have its own access point from Ind. 49, she added.

Evans and Blaney said that the new shelter will make sure that each animal brought there will be spayed or neutered to help control animal populations as much as possible.

 

Posted 12/3/2014