Inyo County has approved a game-plan for approaching fundraising, design and construction of a new Inyo County Animal Shelter.
Local leaders finalized a time-line last Tuesday that will get the ball rolling on design of the new building once fundraising efforts conclude in December.
In April of this year, ICARE of the Eastern Sierra approached the Board of Supervisors with a plan to utilize a combined pot of donated funds and county dollars to build a new animal shelter on a county-owned piece of property in Big Pine. The site for the proposed facility houses the current animal shelter – a converted dairy barn from the 1920s – that ICARE and county officials agree is inadequate for both the homeless animals living there, and county employees who work there.
This spring, ICARE vowed to raise as much money as it could for the shelter. Last Tuesday, ICARE President Ted Schade said the non-profit had raised $150,000 for the new building, and could likely raise more.
For its part, Inyo County budgeted $375,000 for the construction of a new shelter, and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department has $275,000 that was donated by a private citizen for the animal shelter.
In April, three possible designs for the proposed shelter were presented, ranging in price from $450,000 for the smallest and $725,000 for the largest.
Schade said last week that the ICARE Board would like to see the second option constructed.
County Deputy Public Works Director Jim Tatum pointed out that the county will have to upgrade electrical, water and sewer hookups “to ensure we don’t build a facility we can’t operate well.” The cost of those upgrades is not included in the price tags for the three proposed designs.
First District Supervisor Linda Arcularius asked Schade if the ICARE Board would be willing to modify the building proposals to drop the cost and ensure that the combined pot of money (from ICARE and the county) is enough to complete the project.
Schade said the ICARE Board has discussed and liked the second option, and “anything less than that, I’d like to see what the project looks like and see what we’re getting.”
Third District Supervisor Jeff Griffiths suggested constructing the facility in two or more phases, adding to the main building as funds are raised or become available.
Tatum said that is a possibility, but added that “if you go with a phased approach … it will be more expensive.”
Ultimately, the board directed ICARE to continue with its fundraising efforts until December, at which time the board will receive an update on the funding situation and direct staff on how to proceed with construction plans.
The board also directed county counsel to look into how the county can partner with ICARE to sell sponsorships for the new animal shelter in the way of having residents donate funds for the purchase of kennels in exchange for a commemorative plaque on the kennels they help fund. County Counsel Margaret Kemp-Williams said the sponsorship program is probably doable, but added that she would like to look into it, as there are strict rules about governments accepting donations or partnering on fundraising efforts.
“This is a really exciting place to be,” County Administrative Officer Kevin Carunchio said, adding that a new animal shelter has been on the county’s wish list for a number of years, and has seen its fair share of road-blocks. But at this point, “we don’t have any problems that money can’t solve,” and thanks to ICARE, money is rolling in.