Evanston’s Animal Welfare Board is unanimously asking City Council to build a new animal shelter, to replace the existing shelter deemed too small to meet present-day needs.
With a 4-0 vote Tuesday evening, board members sent a letter to Council, urging approval of the proposed $6.3 million project, planned for Oakton Street at the site of the current shelter.
Panel chair Kristi Bachmann said that “for the longest time,” it’s been clear that the present 1980s-vintage building is way past its prime, something, the board’s letter says “The City of Evanston has known for many years ….”
There is no fire suppression system, the building is not ADA compliant, and, the letter says, an unreliable air conditioning system has “broken down on the hottest days of summer, posing a great risk to both the animals and humans inside.”
The proposed new shelter would more than double the size of the current facility, which would be torn down after the new one is completed.
The new single-story building would have room for 48 dogs and 42 cats.
The non-profit Evanston Animal Shelter Association operates the current facility and will also run the new one.
The organization has taken a number of steps to reduce the shelter population, such as a pantry that provides pet food so people can better afford to keep their dogs or cats, rather than turning them over to the shelter.
Evanston has received a $2 million grant from Cook County for the new building. The Shelter Association has a campaign under way to raise another $1 million, with the rest of the $6.3 million total coming from the city.
The plans go to the Land Use Commission Wednesday night. Assuming the expected “yes” vote there, the question then heads to City Council, where final approval is also considered likely.
If Council signs on, Project Manager Shane Cary said construction should start in the spring, with completion expected some time next winter.
“The animals of Evanston and the residents who love them,” says the panel’s letter to Council, “deserve a new animal shelter.”
Update 9/28/22 4:20 p.m.: The city has now announced that the Wednesday night Land Use Commission meeting has been canceled for lack of a quorum. So the Animal Shelter project is likely to be on the agenda for the next LUC meeting on Oct. 12.
I volunteer at the shelter, and I can vouch for how bad the building has gotten. The kennel doors are held together with zip ties, the drainage system regularly backs up, and the floor is literally crumbling. The fact that the shelter organization has managed to provide quality care in such inadequate space is downright amazing. The new building would allow them to provide even more services to the Evanston community.
Long time volunteer here also. What the EASA is doing in the building is nothing short of miraculous. Having more space will be a godsend to the wards of the shelter.
This group has done nothing but support the Evanston community and goes way above and beyond for EVERY animal that arrives. A vast change from the old days.
When fundraising starts, please make sure to give a little in order to ensure that this happens.
Animal lover here… But $6.3 Mil ? Skokie C.A.R.E.S. acquired their building and built out their new shelter for under $2 Mil a few years back… To accommodate ~90 dogs & cats that is: $70,000 per animal accommodated. Is there a smarter way to do this? How about repurposing the former recycling center and renovating it to include room for 90 dogs/cats and even use existing space there for in indoor pet socializing area or bad weather indoor park? It’s my understanding that fostering animals is the latest model for communities. Where else in the community could use the savings? It is getting very costly to live in this community when fiscal responsibility is not considered for every single project effecting every single resident/taxpayer.
Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas
Did you know that C.A.R.E. used to be our shelter operator? That they also euthanized every other dog that they had control over? Did you know that when they were ousted from our shelter, they absconded with $1.25-ish million, that volunteers like me raised for expanding the shleter? “We don’t want a mansion, just a shelter expansion.”
I’m not proud of them nor do I want anything to do with them anymore.
So, if a razing of a building to make more room to do really good work costs more than what that other group did, no problem from me.
The plans for expansion have been talked about for years, within the shelter, the city council meeting and more.
Where have you been during all that talk? Finally we’re in the home stretch and you chime in negatively now? Do better.
Tim, Thank you for your perspective,
Former officers @ CARES were my neighbors here on Oakton. They moved from Evanston (to Skokie) because of the escalating costs of living here (think debt service on things like the Crown Ice Center, proposed sale of the Civic Center and building a $50 – 100 Mil. new glass and steel building downtown (w/o parking) and more!
I have been regularly communicating these feelings of fiscal irresponsibility to members of council all year… where were you? Also, I’m sure that the CARES people have another perspective on what you have presented here. I understand there was a lawsuit, what was the result?
This project feels like a Golden Fleece Award candidate… Just extrapolate what the cost per square foot is @ $6.3 Mil. Time to get creative and share the savings with the myriad of other groups in need here in Evanston.
Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas
(lifetime resident, activist, longtime multiple parcel taxpayer)
This is a hot topic for me, sorry to imply you’re not around complaining at the times you should. I’m frustrated that the “new shelter building” project has been a project I’ve tried to support for over 10 years, so your first post felt to me that “here we are finally getting ready to get this done, and some Brian guy jumps out of the woodwork to derail it”. It may not be the case, but that’s how I initially felt.
Let me break down some of your points with answers->
>>>>Former officers @ CARES were my neighbors here on Oakton. They moved from Evanston (to Skokie) because of the escalating costs of living here (think debt service on things like the Crown Ice Center, proposed sale of the Civic Center and building a $50 – 100 Mil. new glass and steel building downtown (w/o parking) and more!
Actually no. They were removed from the shelter as operators due to many factors including being completely about rampant euthanasia. I was a member of this group. I volunteered with the cat side. The organization was very into compartmentalizing each shift from each other and each “side” (dogs and cats) from communicating together. It’s when a few people who were sick of the constant devastation of “what happened to x dog from last week?” and being answered with “had to be euthanized due to behavioral/health issues” started talking together that the numbers were learned. This led to questions being asked, where the leaders would respond with “stop asking” or worse. From there it snowballed into what happened and why they were removed.
Sources aside from my own eyes:
>>>I have been regularly communicating these feelings of fiscal irresponsibility to members of council all year… where were you?
Volunteering at the shelter and/or being apathetic, as I can only do so much, and work at the shelter is very rewarding and immediate. I see how the city government can be, and it is sad and frustrating, but for me, I can only handle so much on my own.
>>>>Also, I’m sure that the CARES people have another perspective on what you have presented here. I understand there was a lawsuit, what was the result?
Yes, that RESCUE will try and spin the facts in their favor, and I had many cups of their Koolaid, I was with them until I wasn’t.
Unsure what happened with the lawsuit or whether there even was one. Ended up scooping cat litter and brushing cats instead. We can always raise more money. In fact the big gala event is coming up, please join me there.
As an Animal Shelter “we”* have to accept anything coming thru the door and do our best. A Rescue like what CARE now is gets to cherry pick the best fit animals for them. Although I still have animosity towards them, I do respect that they rehome animals regularly (especially since they have the option to cherry pick the best for them and no real control on what dogs need to not be alive anymore).
I doubt that something as tragic as this fire at their director’s home is in anyone’s future:
>>>>This project feels like a Golden Fleece Award candidate… Just extrapolate what the cost per square foot is @ $6.3 Mil. Time to get creative and share the savings with the myriad of other groups in need here in Evanston.
I support the animal shelter getting a better building.
*The opinions and “we”s I throw up are my own. I do not represent EASA nor do I imply that they agree with what I’ve posted. I could be wrong in some facts, but my feelings about this matter are very strong.
Also, due to this ongoing pandemic, I am not volunteering on a cat shift, but am uber supportive and fundraising for EASA.
Tim, thanks for taking the time to reply to my reply…
Let’s agree that there’s a lot of craziness in how our public monies are being spent… $6.3 Mil extrapolates to +$2000 per/sf building something that is twice as large as the current facility… IMHO, that is beyond irresponsible use of public treasure.
Also, you misunderstood me – my neighbors who are/were officers at CARES, moved to Skokie… not just CARES the org…
The need for well functioning Animal Shelter is not in question. The cost is. Who is responsible for taking care of the facility and who is responsible for ongoing maintenance of the facility. Our city has a a $360,000,000 budget and apparently every public facility has lacked proper upkeep. Just because a building is older does not mean you tear it down and start over. Millions of home and buildings of the shelter current age, in the country are maintained, renovated and/or expanded. For some reason certain staff and advisors in our city think every building needs to go. Maybe they need go, or recognize that budgeting and properly maintaining buildings is part of the job.
Going back to the cost the process was reversed. The architect and designers should have been told that there is 3 Million ( 2 million grant and 1 million raise) to work with and asked ” what will that buy” We have to be more fiscally responsible and we can get a great shelter for our needs and be fiscally responsible. We should be able to build/expand/renovate for much less the $6.3 million. https://costhack.com/cost-to-build-an-animal-shelter/
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