COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Central Missouri Humane Society is considering three locations for its new home, with one being city-owned property at Strawn Road and I-70 Drive.
The current shelter at Big Bear Boulevard has outgrown its space and the almost 50-year-old building has also turned into a safety hazard with caving ceilings, crumbling walls, black mold and asbestos, according to spokesperson Michelle Casey.
Deputy City Manager Mike Griggs said in an email that the city has 4.6 acres of property available for the shelter along Strawn Road. A non-binding agreement and Memorandum of Understand between the city and CMHS were presented to City Council in 2018, with plans to build a shelter on that property.
Griggs said this included the city providing the property to CMHS free of charge, with all the planning and development to be done by the shelter. Along with this, the city would build a dog park and a parking lot near the shelter as a "complimentary amenity."
However, Casey said there are a couple concerns with the property including location and cost. She said the shelter is hoping for a more centralized location to better serve its clients, and would have to do lots of dirt work to get the land on Strawn Road ready for the project.
"That is still one of the options that we are exploring, but we did recently find out that the cost to prepare the site on Strawn Road is going to be quite significant, so that's another reason that we're just looking into other options," Casey said.
The location at Strawn Road near Sorrell's Overpass is the only land currently available to the shelter from the city. Griggs said this was discussed in May, with no other meetings on the matter taking place since then. He said CMHS was given a tentative timeline to have facility plans approved for the site by 2025.
Casey could not give the locations of the other two properties being considered by CMHS, but said they are not owned by the city.
Griggs said the city has had an agreement with the shelter since the 1970s that the city provides the site and pays CMHS to provide services, such as Animal Control. He said, ideally, the city's Animal Control will be part of the new shelter.
Casey said CMHS has plans to build the new facility with animal control spaces.
"We are happy to have them as a partner and continue our relationship in the same building," Casey said.
Griggs said if CMHS decides not to build on the city's land, there is no word yet on if the city will help with funding. In an email, he said, "At this time, the City has not designated any funds to be used for a new shelter. However, that could change based on City Council direction especially if the location of City's animal control services are included as part of this new facility. It's possible the City will provide funding that is commensurate with the size of the City's animal control portion."
Casey said a final decision on which property will be chosen is up to the shelter's board of directors. She said they hope to vote on a piece of property before the end of the year. She said it's estimated a new shelter will cost between $8 million and $10 million to build.
"We won't be able to operate out of our current building for much longer just because of the condition of the building, and that will directly impact animal control and therefore the city," Casey said. "So, really, just the more of us working together to get this new building, the bigger impact we can make on this community."
Griggs said if CMHS chooses not to build at Strawn Road, other potential uses for the site could be affordable housing, park use, city fire or police facilities or it could be sold for redevelopment.