New animal shelter proposal headed to City Council

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It’s taken almost four years, but a proposal to fund a new $6.3 million building for the Evanston Animal Shelter should be on the Oct. 10 agenda of the City Council.

Evanston Animal Shelter architectural drawing. Credit: Submitted

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, during a special 17-minute meeting, the Animal Welfare Board agreed to send a letter of recommendation to the City Council that reads in part:

“The current facility is outdated and antiquated. The current building is not ADA compliant. The HVAC system is unreliable and has broken down over the hottest days of the summer posing a great risk to both the animals and humans inside. Also, there is no fire suppression system in the building. Additionally, most of the animals are housed in areas that were not originally intended for animal housing due to how the building is structured.”

“The city recognized a long time ago that the building was unreliable and on its last legs,” said Vicky Pasenko, executive director of the shelter. “So, this process started and we first met about a Cook County grant application in November of 2018 and then COVID happened and of course, everything in the world was affected by that.”

Credit: Susie Schultz

The proposal is scheduled to go before the Land Use Committee for a public hearing at 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 28, as it requires two special variances: 16 parking spaces where the city would normally require 25, and “one short open loading berth that is not located within the rear yard and is substandard in length,” according to the Land Use agenda.

The Cook County grant raised $2 million and the shelter’s capital campaign plans to raise another $1 million. The city is expected to fund the remaining costs for the $6.3 million building, which is to be built on the same spot as the current shelter, 2310 Oakton St.

From a pound to a shelter

Pasenko said when the building was built in 1987, it was never meant to house animals. “It was primarily a pound situation,” she said, where dogs were euthanized “and cats were never planned for.”

The designs for the new facilitydrawn by the Chicago architecture firm of Holabird & Root, also represents the city’s philosophical shift from a pound to a shelter.

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