Interim city manager outlines pressing problems, safety issues
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – With its existing prefab animal shelter too small, uninsulated and with inadequate temperature control, City Council members pondered the shelter’s problems and possible solutions at a Dec. 2 study session.
The existing pre-fab building was put in place about a year ago, when a neighboring city declined to continue taking what it characterized as aggressive stray dogs from Lincoln Park animal control personnel.
Interim City Manager John Zech, mindful that city officials have multiple projects competing for limited city resources, outlined the need to expand the city’s animal shelter, while cautiously noting that while he could apply for a Financially Distressed City Grant from the Michigan Department of the Treasury, there is no guarantee that funding would be provided.
Zech said in September the City Council authorized him to begin looking at phase two of the city’s animal shelter, which currently consists of a prefab building at the Department of Public Works site, 500 Southfield Road.
Zech said he reviewed the animal shelter’s needs with three department heads most impacted by it: Police Chief Ray Watters, Public Services Director John Kozuh and Building Department official John Meyers.
The building has experienced extensive wear and tear since it was installed on the site, Zech said, and is a temporary shelter not meant to last a long time. He said his intention was to propose an amended phase two: not an additional prehab structure, but a sounder building that addresses problems that employees have encountered with the current configuration.
He said his revised proposal would also cost more than originally proposed, and unless a benefactor made a donation, Zech suggested bridging the proposed cost over two budget years.
Zech said the plan he developed for a long-term building, with the help of animal shelter expert Ray Parker, reflects the need for more kennel space, which is doubled with the proposed addition, with outside kennel runs. The proposal also includes isolation rooms, where dogs can be held until they are evaluated, and before they are released into the kennel population.
“The main concern was getting the dogs into the facility, and not endangering the public around them,” Parker said. “On the west side of the proposed addition, we have a drive-in yard that is fenced in, and also a garage, where a truck can be pulled in, and the door can be shut before the dog is removed from the truck. From there it is walked into an isolation and evaluation room.”
Parker said there were four proposed isolation kennels, and on the south side of the proposed building, a vestibule and a reception area. The proposal also includes adoption rooms, a restroom, a vet tech area and a support area, none of which are in the current prefab building.
Meyers said the prefab building is not insulated, there are maintenance problems with the doors leading to the kennel runs, and the building has no temperature control standards.
Kozuh mentioned his concerns with the prefab building’s pipes freezing. He also mentioned the need for a concrete pad underneath the current prefab building. He said last year’s mild winter may have prevented pipes from freezing.
Council President Donna Breeding said she doesn’t want to put the city at risk from a financial perspective, and she said the city’s need for a new courthouse and jail were a bigger priority for her than an expanded animal shelter.
“We will do whatever the majority thinks,” she said. “This is beautiful. It’s a pipe dream. I realize that we have to have something for these animals, but this just scares me – this much money.”