Construction of regional animal shelter set to begin in New London

New London — With agreements and funding in place, preliminary work has begun on the regional dog pound at Bates Woods.

The animal control shelter is expected to double in size over the next six months, from 14 to 28 dog kennels - to help accommodate animals from New London, Waterford and East Lyme.

The city went out bid on the project and chose Brookfield-based BMP Construction for the work, which will be overseen by the city’s Public Works Department. The City Council recently approved the contract and use of $263,900 for the work, paid for by the town of Waterford.

Waterford, which shares an animal control officer with East Lyme, has been using New London’s facility since last winter when it was determined that Waterford’s pound was not worth the money to repair.

Waterford/East Lyme Animal Control officer Robert Yuchniak said that facility was built in 1956 for about $6,000 and was in serious need of a rehab. The facility did not meet state standards for animal shelters and was operating under a grandfathered clause because of its age.

A private fundraising effort emerged in Waterford in 2010 with the formation of the Ad-Hoc Dog Pound Committee. The goal at that time had been to build a new facility.

The money, more than $200,000 from private donations, has since been directed toward the cost of the regional shelter in New London – which is touted as one of the few local examples of regionalization of municipal services.

Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward said the regional facility makes sense and will lead to not only cost savings but better care for the animals, with modern facilities and more personnel on hand at any given time.

Waterford and East Lyme had initially been in talks with Montville for the possibility of a regional shelter on state land at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Facility in Uncasville. Those talks never materialized into a project, however.

New London Public Works Director Brian Sear said the only work to date at the site of the shelter is the clearing of some trees to the back of the facility – which is where the addition will be added. The stumps still have to be removed. Excavation is expected to start in the coming weeks.

Sear said the work will be performed without movement of the animals at the shelter. New London’s facility was updated at a cost of $160,000 in 2012 after it sustained damage from Superstorm Sandy.

An interlocal agreement is in place between the three towns to share in monthly maintenance and utility costs, food, repairs and equipment. Costs of veterinary, adoption and advertising bills for individual animals will be shouldered by the municipality the dog came from.

The dog pound is one of the regionalization initiatives being tackled by the city’s police department, which oversees the city’s two animal control officers. The department shares a radio dispatch system with Waterford police and is working out details of a regional emergency dispatch center.

Like other municipalities who have talked about regionalizing and consolidating dispatch services, labor issues have been one of the obstacles.

g.smith@theday.com

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