New animal shelter project again facing delays

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish Councilman Lester Rainey recently brought a proposal to construct a new animal shelter before the parish council, but some council members say moving the shelter from its 2nd Street location would be a monumental waste of money.

Rainey introduced an ordinance at the September 26 council meeting to have six acres of parish owned land on Airline Highway near the airport transferred to animal control for the site of a new shelter.

The parish had planned on selling the land to waste management company SWDI for approximately $275,000 until the deal fell through and SWDI purchased land on Highway 51 near Interstate 10 for their purposes.

The land on Airline Highway has since been in legal limbo with Rainey trying to get it back for animal control to use, but Councilman Sean Roussel said that after the value of the land is included in the overall cost of the project, it’s going to be near $750,000, which would not be in the best interest of the parish as a whole.

&#8220This council has a history of wasting large amounts of money to appease a small group of people,” Roussel said. &#8220The shelter sits on property in front of a sewage treatment plant. If we move it somewhere else, we’ll be leaving garbage behind.”

Roussel also said that selling the land the facility is currently located on would be rather difficult as developers would likely be leery of purchasing property adjacent to a sewage plant.

The proposal Rainey presented to the council to construct a new facility on Airline Highway estimates the total cost at $475,000 before adding the value of the land. Houndsquarters, a Phoenix based company that specializes in building and maintaining animal facilities, would construct the proposed 3900 sq. ft shelter that would include over 30 new indoor kennels as well as outdoor space for the animals.

While $475,000 may seem steep for an animal shelter, Rainey said the cost won’t be getting any cheaper with construction prices on the rise and the council is just wasting time on this issue.

&#8220It’s time to get this over with and it’s one more project off of the to-do list,” Rainey said. &#8220Let’s get to some of the other stuff that needs to be done.”

Councilman Cleveland Farlough said once something concrete is put before him he’ll make a decision on the shelter site then, but for now he’s looking forward to getting back to what he considers to be more pressing matters.

&#8220My position is that I’m people first,” Farlough said. &#8220I’m not against animals but we have priorities right now with people that we should be working on.”

While its an issue some council members are ready to be finished with, some members such as Ronnie Smith still believe the shelter situation should be approached with caution, especially since it’s a project already several years in the making.

&#8220We’ve been waiting to get this finalized for seven years,” Smith said. &#8220Two weeks or another month isn’t asking for too much. I’m willing to give him (Rainey) the time that he needs.”

The council meets for its next regular session October 23 at the Percy Hebert Building in LaPlace.