Council discusses animal shelter, amends ordinance for medical clinics on West Bank

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 22, 2023

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LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish’s existing animal shelter is ravaged with water damage, rotting wood and an odorous smell.

Consequently, animals are being housed in a 2,000-square foot metal building on the property, with the staff being housed in an adjacent temporary building.

Building a new shelter, however, could be costly, with a potential price tag of $5 million, parish officials were told Tuesday night during a parish council meeting in LaPlace.

Representatives from Beazley Moliere Architects and Longo Architecture Studio recently completed a needs assessment for a new animal shelter. The two Lafayette firms each specialize in the design and construction of animal shelters and formed a joint venture to complete the assessment.

Adam Beazley of Beazley Moliere said the wooden building that has served as the animal shelter has significant termite damage, with leaks and plumbing issues. He added there was no seal between the animal storage units, which means potential contamination, urine and the spread of disease from one unit to the next.

Beazley said the metal building currently housing the animals is not ideal for sheltering and also not up to code.

“Code issues for both buildings would need to be addressed,” he said.

Sam Longo of Longo Architecture noted that the parish took in 1,350 animals in 2018 and 1,483 in 2019. He said numbers were not used for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the declining condition of the wooden building

Longo proposed four different options for a new shelter, before recommending Plan A. He said that plan includes a 9,630-square-foot building at $400 per square foot, which would bring the construction costs to $3.852 million.

After factoring in additional costs and a five percent contingency, the building would check in at $5 million.

The building would include indoor/outdoor dog runs and demolishing both of the existing buildings.

Beazley said the $400 per square foot is based on a high level of materiality that offers the best protection from odor and other smells. He said the company uses special products, specific manufacturers and a HVAC united to mitigate the smell.

“It will make it a place where people want to come and want to adopt animals,” he said.

Longo presented three additional options that would come in a bit cheaper with the option to update in the future. But councilman Michael Wright pointed out there was only about a 20% differential with those options compared to Plan A.
“It will cost you more to add on later than to build up front,” Wright said.

“Option A is the best option,” Councilman Lennix Madere agreed. “If you put it off, in two to three years the cost will have gone up.”

“When you try to save you wind up spending more money in the future. If we are going to do it, get it all done and do it right,” he added. “The design we had before was not right. It was terrible.”

Councilman Thomas Malik said an odorless, pleasant building will have a positive effect on the atmosphere.

“It’s big turnoff when people smell this horrible kind of odor,” he said.

Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said she asked the architects to perform the assessment and an extensive overview of the needs of the shelter to help clear up what she called “a lot of misinformation” surrounding the facility.

She said the building had extensive termite damage because the belief it was all metal and there was no termite contract.

Hotard said much of the damage pre-dated Hurricane Ida but added the parish has an opportunity to determine what is needed in the future.

“Obviously our needs have changed and have grown over the years as it relates to our animal shelter program and needs in general,” she said.

Identifying those need and putting a potential price tag on will help the parish identify funding, Hotard said.

In other news, the council also amended an existing ordinance that will allow for medical clinics to be established on the West Bank. Malik said he had been contacted by a West Bank parent who had to leave the parish for a child to receive medical treatment.

Malik said the new language will make it easier for a clinic to locate in the area and the doctors to stay.

“We want to make it a friendly place to open a clinic,” Malik said.