The city council must vote on a an estimated $6.3 million renovation of the Evanston Animal Shelter on November 14.
The proposal calls for the construction of an entirely new facility. Not all of the funding will come from the city — two million will be provided through a Cook County grant agreement, and the Evanston Animal Shelter Association has pledged to raise $1 million. That leaves Evanston around $3.3 million.
The current setup is too smallwith air conditioning and heating issues that create a suboptimal environment for dogs and cats, according to the shelter’s general manager, Vicky Pasenko.
The permitting and potential construction of the building will take place later than originally planned. Review and approval of the project was delayed after a September Lands Commission meeting was canceled –– due to a lack of quorum. In accordance with Cook County grant requirements, the shelter is expected to be operational by November 30, 2023.
Pasenko said the shelter’s budget will not just fund the construction of the building. Other factors such as design, animal relocation, environmentally beneficial materials, and soil and toxicity issues factor into the total cost, she said.
“I don’t foresee the project in any way not going to happen, but the question is the debate around the cost,” Pasenko said. “I think people are convinced that the climate change component should be there.”
The refuge is committed to reducing its climate footprint. The building will be LEED silver certified, which helps save energy and promotes a more sustainable property. It also aims to eliminate the toxicity of the soil and sediment left in the area by the previous settlements that existed in this space.
“My volunteers are so excited to move into these temporary facilities because they’re so much better than the building we’re in now,” Pasenko said.
Shane Carey, architect and project manager for the project as well as the public works department, said the new facility solves problems such as clutter in the area and structural instability due to poor soils.
Carey is working to incorporate the Cook County grant requirements that the facility currently lacks. This includes a wildlife room, which contains injured animals, such as deer and pigs, that animal control collects and cannot deliver to hospitals.
“(Cook County) wanted to have a space that could accommodate (these animals), because there aren’t many animal shelters that can,” Carey said at the Land Use Commission meeting on Tuesday. October 12.
The one-story shelter covers approximately 8,810 square feet and has a kennel, 16 parking spaces and a small loading dock. It will continue its pantry program, safety net program and daycare program. The programs help provide food, supplies, short-term housing or medical assistance to owners to try to prevent them from losing their animals due to financial problems.
The shelter has four full-time staff and approximately 175 volunteers who work shifts to provide animal care every day, year-round.
Northwestern’s All Paws In Club, founded by current Weinberg Junior President JoJo Holm, supports the shelter through volunteerism and fundraising. Group Foster Fair last spring’s event raised $1,700, which will be used to fund the facility renovation project.
“What really excites us with both these temporary facilities that the animals will be in and also this new shelter is that we will be able to train more volunteers,” Holm said.
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