SHELTER CLOSER TO BECOMING A REALITY

November 21, 2000 11:00 pm

After three years of false starts and many set backs, the South Coast Humane Society is close to building a new animal shelter in the middle of Brookings.

The non-profit animal organization has abandoned its efforts to erect a shelter on donated property near the Brookings Airport for a smaller parcel on Railroad Street, Humane Society officials said Monday.

When you look at all the development costs and the hassles with the first site, this new location is much better, said Humane Society member Bill Sieg.

The group recently offered $115,000 for a third of an acre piece of property at 828 Railroad St., near Pacific Avenue, Sieg said.

The owner has accepted the offer and the property is currently in escrow. The deal is expected to close at the end of December, pending the result of a conditional use permit public hearing scheduled by the city on Dec. 5, Sieg said.

Theres a lot of things still to be decided, but things are looking good, said Don McGehee, vice president of the societys board of directors.

McGehee said the society began its effort to build a shelter more than 3 years ago after South Coast Lumber donated an acre of land east of the airport.

The group had planned to use approximately $300,000 it had raised through donations and thrift store sales to build and operate the shelter. But poor soil, drainage problems and what Sieg called bureaucratic foot-dragging by Curry County officials thwarted their efforts to get things started.

Its been very frustrating, he said. And the delays, he added, were starting to harm the societys reputation.

People were beginning to ask questions. They were wondering if we still had the money, or had spent it, Sieg said. One lady, who had donated a lot of money and was in her late 80s, told me she wanted to see something built in her lifetime.

Curry County Planning Director Chuck Nordstrom said the property near the airport was plagued with problems from the beginning.

It was a terrible piece of property, Nordstrom. There was no way you could put a septic tank on it. It wasnt worth much of anything.

Sieg conceded that the society may have been focusing to much on the first property because it had been donated.

County Commissioner Lloyd Olds said society members encountered more problems then necessary because they did not communicate well with county officials.

They went off and did their own research and studies, and didnt contact us in regards to applications and permits, Olds said. They just didnt seem very organized.

However, Olds was glad to hear the society hadnt given up on building a shelter.

Id like to see it, he said. It would take a lot of pressure off the countys animal control officer.

In August, the society decided to look for an alternative site. A place with sewer, water and power already in place, McGehee said.

That meant somewhere in Brookings. The group began negotiating with the owner of an automobile renovation garage on Railroad Street. The asking price was $125,000.

Originally, the society had expected to spend up to $50,000 to improve the property near the airport, but now they are going to spend $115,000 for the new site, plus the cost of building the shelter, McGehee said.

South Coast Lumber has agreed to provide free lumber for the shelter, he said.

The society enlisted the help of longtime resident and engineer Buzz Hansen to design the shelter.

His plans include a 5,200-square-foot building, with 3,200 square feet dedicated to kennels and supply rooms. An office and a medical facility for visiting veterinarians and vaccination clinics will be in the front.

The shelter will house up to 50 dogs in individual wire kennels, and there will be a separate area that can house up to 60 cats, McGehee said.

The society has not yet decided whether to offer spay and neutering services at the shelter, he said.

The society has agreed with the city to knock down the existing building on the property to build the shelter. A parking lot will be at the front, with the building toward the rear. The society plans to hold general and educational meetings at the site.

Society officials said they did not anticipate any opposition to the shelter being built on Railroad Street because its in the middle of an existing industrial area and there are no residents living nearby.

The location offers easy access for volunteers and the citizens of Brookings, McGehee said.

City Planning Director John Bischoff agreed. Its a great idea and a good location, Bischoff said. They should have no problem as long as they meet the criteria of the conditional use permit. I dont see any major stumbling blocks.

If all goes as planned, the shelter could be completed and open for business by next fall, McGehee said.