Council approves intent for ARF land donation

Proposal for pet shelter near county airport

— With the promise of nearly an acre of land to develop upon, an up and coming nonprofit animal shelter group can pursue funding its next steps leading to a permanent facility.

At its Nov. 2 meeting, the Grangeville City Council approved drafting a letter of intent to donate a .48-acre section of land, along with the option to lease another half-acre piece of adjacent land, to the Animal Rescue Foundation, Inc. (ARF). With this intent in place, ARF president Melisa Bryant said the group will be able to solicit funds and begin the process for land surveying and engineering planning on a proposed regional facility adjacent to the city’s wastewater treatment facility on Airport Road.

ARF made its presentation and tentative land donation request to the council in September, proposing a 3,000-foot facility to accommodate both a pet shelter and in-house veterinarian office area, as well as an adjoining thrift shop to assist in funding operations. The estimated $900,000 facility is proposed to be funded through multiple public and private organization grants.

“We’re not asking the city or the county to make this work but the community to make it work,” Bryant said, reiterating ARF’s intentions this enterprise needs patronage of residents to make it successful. As part of this assurance, ARF has set a series of benchmarks to meet through each step of the process for accountability with the city, as well as to provide the city an opportunity to discontinue its support were the effort to fall short or discontinue operations.

“If it doesn’t work out, how do you foresee dividing up the building?” asked Councilor Pete Lane.

Bryant explained ARF plans a building design that were the shelter to fail, it could taken over and made useful for the city. The additional piece of land to be leased would be designed by ARF to have temporary improvements easily removed, were the city to need the half-acre for development or expansion in the future. Plans are for the shelter to incorporate a veterinarian student from a regional vocational college who would partner with ARF for animal care services in exchange for rent. If the shelter were to fail, she said there is still need for veterinarian services in the area and it would make sense for that vet to continue on in the building.

As proposed, the facility is centrally located to provide regional animal shelter needs for public and private interests in both handling and adopting out unwanted, abandoned and abused pets.

“We don’t anticipate needing any city or county support to make it work,” Bryant said, however, ARF coordinators have been talking with communities in the region on the proposal, many of which have little to nothing in the way of such an offering and recognize the need for such a facility. This would be put to them as a solution for their communities, one they could become partners with and contribute funds toward supporting.

At the September meeting, Bryant stated among ARF’s long-term goals would be creation of a regional animal control officer position as a partnership between local city and county governments.

At this point, ARF estimates land surveys and engineering to take three to six months and so has set a year to fund this portion. Funding the structure is estimated to take two years.

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