The city of Tyler’s animal shelter is now one step closer to becoming a reality after a vote Tuesday from the Half Cent Sales Tax Corp. board members.
They approved a $108,953 contract with Freese and Nichols, a Tyler architectural firm to prepare a preliminary schematic design for the shelter to be at 4218 Chandler Highway. Board members also approved for Tyler City Manager Mark McDaniel to go forward with plans to purchase that property, which was previously occupied by the Crème Lure Co. and the Kingdom Family Church. The property is in foreclosure and is owned by Region’s Bank, McDaniel said.
District 5 City Councilman Mark Whatley, who leads the city’s Half Cent Sales Tax board, abstained from voting. Whatley, whose company, Burns Commercial Properties is selling the Chandler Highway property, is the listing agent for the Chandler Highway location. Whatley had said in November he would make a commission on the sale of the property. He also abstained when the City Council approved the building of the shelter at their Nov. 13 meeting.
The city now contracts with both the Klein Animal Shelter in Jacksonville and the Northeast Texas Public Health District to house its unwanted animals and provide animal control services within Tyler.
The city spent $567,000 in the 2012-13 fiscal year for these services, Tyler Police Lt. David Long said at the Nov. 13 City Council meeting. “We impounded 4,225 dogs and cats in the 2012-13 fiscal year,” Long said. Those contract costs were expected to rise by 42 percent for a new contract based on growing animal intake and estimates, he said. McDaniel said the city has been in discussions with other jurisdictions and potential partners with the city. “As we move forward, we anticipate finalizing these agreements,” he said in November.
The property on Chandler Highway is listed for sale at $715,000, but the city signed a contract for $550,000 in November. It is listed on the Smith County Appraisal District website as being valued at $800,000.
City officials are now in the third week of a 30-day inspection period to see whether the 18,000-square-foot facility and surrounding property meets all of the requirements. “I’m hearing the building is in good shape; it has a good foundation, it has sprinklers, and has good exposure to Texas Highway 31 for adoption purposes,” McDaniel said. He added that the city has until Dec. 18 to complete its 30-day inspection period, and must close on the property by the end of the year.
City Engineer Carter Delleney said the $5,000 the city paid in earnest money will get the city through the 30-day review period. The shelter is set to be operational by October 2014. Delleney is not able to say when construction may start until the contract is finalized.
McDaniel said at the Tuesday meeting that because of the building’s size, it could possibly house a veterinary technician program in conjunction with Tyler Junior College and a veterinary clinic. “We would have to phase those things in,” McDaniel said, adding that the city does not have funding for a clinic and a veterinary program. Board members also discussed a possible dog park for the site, but said funding might have to come from private sources.