The Recorder – Dog shelter looks great next to Montague Public Safety Complex for new facility

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Published: 09/11/2022 12:29:11

Modified: 09/11/2022 12:28:45

MONTAGUE — The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter is exploring the prospect of a new facility, revisiting a years-old conversation at Monday’s selection committee meeting.

Trish Howells, who serves on the board of directors of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter, urged the selection committee to consider selling or leasing Parcel 21-0-152, a 15-acre lot. 6 acres next to the Public Safety Complex along Turnpike Road. , for the construction of a new shelter. This new building would allow for increased rescue and training capacity, while increasing proximity to the public safety complex, Howells argued.

Howells said the sheriff’s office began discussions about a new dog shelter about seven years ago. However, for reasons unclear to Howells, the talks stalled. The circumstances remain the same, however, with the current shelter at 10 Sandy Lane “meant to be a temporary location”.

“It’s an old building,” Howells said of the shelter, which was once a Department of Public Works facility. “It hasn’t been fully renovated and we’ve taken care of that, but the intention has always been to find another location.”

According to Howells, the pick-up of stray or abandoned dogs by animal control and police has increased in recent years to account for 60 percent of total shelter admissions. Additionally, police cases involving animal cruelty, dog attacks and related incidents have increased in recent years to account for 15% of total shelter admissions. Those statistics, Howells said, make a new location closer to the public safety complex a rational transition for the shelter.

“There are still some possibilities on the table, but the more we think about it, the more we realize how good we think it is to have us close to the security complex because we are not totally a private shelter. “, Howells says, noting that the shelter “doesn’t have much luck” elsewhere.

City administrator Steve Ellis advised the selection committee to think carefully about what to do with plot 21-0-152. Montague has a “lack of large plots that have access to water and sewer” and this plot “is one of very few plots” of its size properly equipped with utilities, he noted. Because of this, he argued, the city could benefit more from keeping the plot for other uses.

“I really like that the dog shelter is in our community and I’m not saying there isn’t a reasonable way to go with this…but I do think there are significant trade-offs “, commented Ellis. “If a developer were to come to town with a desire, we cannot direct them to another development-ready parcel that has utilities, including three-phase electricity, water and sewer.”

“It is zoned ‘neighborhood/business,’ which allows for commercial use,” Deputy City Administrator Walter Ramsey added. “It also provides accommodation, so we need to at least think about what future needs might be.”

The Selectboard was responsive to both refuge and city interests.

“As someone who has thought about the empty land and development that might be happening in Montague…I would personally be more inclined to lease the site rather than sell it,” said Selectboard member Matt Lord.

“I think I would be in favor of leasing the site rather than selling it to them,” agreed Vice President Chris Boutwell.

President Rich Kuklewicz expressed a desire to continue the conversation in the future, acknowledging the importance of shelter to the region.

“I think it’s a good service for the community,” Kuklewicz said, “and I think it’s good for our city to have the shelter in town.”

Contact Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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