By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – The City Council approved a proposal Sept. 17 to purchase a 12-foot-by-60-foot 16-run commercial kennel for an animal shelter for $85,000 with funds from the capital improvement fund budget.
The prefabricated building would include a 10-foot-by-12-foot lobby, and 20 4-foot-by-5-foot animal boxes, each with an attached 5-foot-by-6-foot run.
City Manager Matt Coppler said in a summary memo to council members that city employees have been looking for a way to bring animal shelter services back into the city since the city of Taylor indicated that it no longer wanted to provide the service for the city of Lincoln Park.
Coppler said the supplier of the prefabricated shelter, Horizon Structures LLC in Pennsylvania, is a leading manufacturer of custom structures, and is on the Federal General Services Administration bid list.
He said the cost estimate of $71,639 covers manufacture, delivery and placement of the structure, and includes continuous floor drains, 100-amp electrical service connection, lighting, and heating and air conditioning.
Two months is the estimated order lead time, and site preparation, which includes a foundation pad, fencing around the facility and a parking lot, must be completed before delivery, which Coppler estimates will cost $30,000 to $40,000, and will use the former animal shelter site at the rear of the Department of Public Services site on Russell Street.
Coppler said in the memo that city staff has worked with state officials, and they are confident that the facility meets all state licensing requirements.
Coppler said the goal at this time is to take care of the city’s animal control needs, and not to take animals from other cities to help subsidize the cost of the facility.
“There has been another option that we have been exploring, but because we are getting to a time limitation, we have gone with this,” Coppler said. “However, because this is well under what our budget is, it gives us the ability to go back and look at an expansion to this that would allow us to service other cities.
“I have had conversations with at least one other city that may be interested; potentially another one down the road, but neither of those are in the position today or within the near future to participate in that.”
Police Chief Ray Watters said the proposed prefab building is about twice the size of the building the city used for an animal shelter in the past.
“It is probably not as wide, but quite a bit longer than what Southgate has now,” Watters said.
Coppler said in the spring they would likely want to add on more space for personnel to work and for people to meet with animals they are considering adopting.
“We are hopefully going to be adopting out dogs, and you want some space where someone can meet the dog in a closed area, so we would want those type of things,” Coppler said.
Coppler said that the 16-run kennel is the largest prefabricated kennel that the selected vendor produces, so expansion of some sort will be needed in the future.
Councilman Michael Higgins suggested that since a dog park is in the city’s five-year master plan, that a dog park next to the location of the proposed shelter might be something the city wants to consider.
Coppler agreed that it would make a lot of sense to locate a dog park by the animal shelter.
“It is not necessarily something we are looking at right now, because we are trying to solve the problem in front of us, but I agree that there is a lot of sense in doing that,” Coppler said.
Councilman Larry Kelsey suggested that the city seek advice from dog rescue groups to avoid making mistakes with the new animal shelter facility.
Coppler said the prefabricated facility represents a significantly more affordable option than a $1.5 million retrofit of an existing building into an animal shelter space that the city looked into earlier.
Coppler said that in the past, the city was charged $100 for each dog it took to the Taylor facility.
Mayor Thomas Karnes said using a Detroit animal shelter was rejected because of the time needed for an animal control officer to get to and from the location, and the Detroit facility wasn’t seeking animals from other cities.
Coppler said although he believes in sharing services with other cities when it makes economic sense to do so, he thinks Lincoln Park can do a better job and can contain its costs better and it won’t be left to respond to the decision of another city with respect to its animal shelter needs.
Karnes said cats will be sheltered as well as dogs. He said currently the city has no provisions to shelter stray cats.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)