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New location for animal shelter comes closer to reality

City and county officials are ready to end the 10-year search and move ahead with the purchase of a new site to house their shared animal shelter.
“Believe it or not, all parties are on the same page,” Mayor Dan Eldridge told members of the General Health and Welfare Committee during the June 8 meeting.
Eldridge, Johnson City Public Works Director Phil Pindzola and Animal Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs toured the proposed new location, a 16,000-square-foot building at 103 L.P. Auer Road in Johnson City, with owner John Squibb Jr. a few weeks ago.
According to Eldridge, the governmental entities will jointly purchase and hold the title of the building and the 2.6-acre piece of property located one-quarter mile from the intersection of West Walnut Street and State of Franklin Road.
“The city and county will contribute equally to the $700,00 purchase price, which is $100,000 less than the asking price,” he said.
Dobbs also has approximately $190,000 in her building fund that could go toward the purchase or be used for renovations.
In addition, she said several donors have promised support when a final decision is approved.
Benefits of the proposed new location, Dobbs said, are a space that is almost four times larger than the current site; a climate-controlled building that will serve the animals better, especially during winter; a central location, making it convenient to respond to calls from the city or county; and a projected use period of 30 years.
Dobbs has consulted with a shelter planner architect who is offering his time on a pro bono basis.
“The high end for the renovations is expected to be $200,000,” she said.
Pindzola, who is serving as project manager, said the city is prepared to offer crews to do as much of the renovation work as possible at no cost, according to Eldridge.
“It is truly a partnership between the city and county,” Eldridge said, noting that he and City Manager Pete Peterson agreed this would be the only capital appropriation for the city and county.
The county’s portion of up to $350,000 will have to come out of the proceeds from the pending sale of the Downtown Centre.
“Any recommendation we make is contingent on the sale of the Downtown Centre,” Eldridge said. “I think it has to be, we don’t want to borrow the money.”
Chairman Pat Wolfe suggested an environmental study be completed prior to the final agreement.
Commissioner Joe Grandy moved to make a recommendation to the Budget Committee to purchase the building and property at a cost not to exceed $700,000, of which the county’s portion would not be more than $350,000 and its half of the closing costs, contingent on the sale of the Downtown Centre and a clean environmental study and title search.
Commissioner Joe Sheffield seconded the motion, which passed with a unanimous vote.
The meeting date of the General Health and Welfare Committee was also the deadline for appeals from two property owners who had not responded to final notices of their violations of the litter ordinance.
With the funding approved by the County Commission during its May 31 meeting, Zoning Administrator Mike Rutherford said crews would be sent out June 10 to clean up the properties, located at 165 Pickens Bridge Road and 103 Overhill Road.